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Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a sustained investigation into human nature, specifically the human mind. Hume's unrelenting empiricism (theory that knowledge is derived from sense experiences) forged a new path in the philosophy of mind—the study of the nature of perception, consciousness, personal identity, memory, imagination, free will, and moral psychology—that continues to influence thinkers in fields such as philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science (interdisciplinary investigations into the mind and intelligence). Because Hume's conclusions restrict the extent of legitimate knowledge claims, and because his "science of man" extends into social, political, moral, and economic areas of life, there is little his work has not touched.
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is written from the first-person point of view. Hume uses both the first-person singular I and the plural form we. For instance, he frequently introduces or sums up a point by saying "We may observe" or "We may conclude."
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a sustained examination of the human mind, its faculties, and its operations. Hume conceives of understanding as the faculty that reasons from experience. It is the faculty that reasons probabilistically, or inductively, drawing conclusions based on data. It is the faculty that reasons from cause to effect and vice versa.
This study guide and infographic for David Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.