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The Life of David Hume$
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Ernest C. Mossner

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243365

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243365.001.0001

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Man of Letters

Man of Letters

(p.2) (p.3) Chapter 1 Man of Letters
The Life of David Hume

Ernest Campbell Mossner

Oxford University Press

David Hume lived during the Enlightenment Age amidst that welter of ideas and social forces that was to make the eighteenth century part-and-parcel of modernity. However, it was Hume's distinctive, if not his unique, feature that while seeking to revolutionise the study of human nature, he never lost sight of the understanding of the general public. Welding philosophy and learning together with literature, he set himself up, not as specialist, but as a man of letters, according to the intellectual ideals of his age. Hume's philosophy proper, to be sure, might necessarily be restricted to the learned; his studies of government, economics, ethics, religion, and the social sciences in general might interest only the relatively well educated; but his national history might, and actually did, appeal to most of those who were capable of reading. This intellectual revolution was repeatedly prosecuted by him throughout his life in various literary forms.

Keywords:   David Hume, Enlightenment Age, human nature, philosophy, literature, man of letters, intellectual revolution, literary forms

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