David Hume was a philosopher of the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment
When and Where was he Born?
26th April 1711, Edinburgh, Scotland.
David Hume was the younger son of Joseph Hume, Lord of Ninewells, a small estate at Chirnside near Berwick-upon-Tweed. His father died when Hume was two years old.
Edinburgh University. Studied Law.
Chronology/Biography of David Hume:
1734: Hume’s passion for literature caused him to abandon his studies of law at Edinburgh University. To keep himself and in order to try and remove his depression he decided to move into commerce at Bristol. After a few months working for a merchant he realised he had no talent for it and resigned. He then moved to La Fleche in Anjou, France where Renee Descartes had been educated at the Jesuit College.
1737: He returned home from France in order to arrange for the publication of his “A Treatise of Human Nature”.
1739: Publication of the first two volumes of “A Treatise of Human Nature” which aroused little attention from the public.
1740: Undeterred David Hume published the third volume “On Morals”.
1741: Published “Essays Moral and Political” which was more successful and had to be brought out in a second edition. These were to be an inspiration for the economic theories of his friend Adam Smith. Failing to get a university professorship he remained at his brother’s country estate at Ninewells in Berwickshire.
1744: Again Hime failed to get the post of moral philosophy at Edinburgh University due to his atheism.
1745: He spent a year acting as a tutor to a mad nobleman, the Marquis of Annandale.
1746: He accompanied General St. Clair on his expedition to France and acted as his Secretary.
1748: Again accompanied St. Clair. This time on a secret mission to Vienna and Turin. This was the year that one of his most important works “Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding” was published, which was said to inspire the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant.
1751: A second edition of the “Philosophical Essays” was published. David Hume was turned down for the post of Professor of Logic at Glasgow University.
1752: Published “Political Discourses” which he claimed to be the only work that was successful on publication. Appointed a keeper of the Advocates Library in Edinburgh, a post which gave him a small income and enabled him to carry out more historical research.
1754: Hume began publishing volumes in his large scale work “The History of England” which gained him international recognition.
1757: Published “Four Dissertations” which were mainly about the natural history of religion, the passions, suicide and immortality all though the last two names were hurriedly withdrawn before publication.
1758: The “Philosophical Essays” was republished as “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”
1763: David Hume acted as Secretary to the English Embassy in Paris where he was received with great favour by the court and literary society.
1766: He returned to London in January accompanied by his new friend Jean Jacques Rousseau, although the two were to fall out famously later in the year. In the winter he returned to Scotland.
1767: David Hume was recalled to London as Under Secretary of State for the Northern Department.
1769: Finally settled in Edinburgh for good and was the centre of a literary society, which, although not as dazzling as in Paris, was known for its moderatism.
1739: “Treatise of Human Nature”.
1741: “Essays Moral and Political”.
1748: “Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding”. “The Adventures of Roderick Random”.
1751: “Enquiry Concerning Principles of Morals”.
1752: “Political Discourses”.
1754: “History of England”.
1757: “Four Dissertations”.
1758:“Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”.
1779: “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”.
When and Where did he Die?
25th August 1776, Edinburgh, Scotland
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Old Calton Burial Ground, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
Places of Interest:
National Library of Scotland.
Statue outside the Royal Courts of Justice.