The work of David Hume (1711–76), the Scottish historian and philosopher, constitutes a break with the assumptions of his predecessors who suggested that our ideas and practices answered to a rational design, whether divine or human. Instead Hume emphasized the origins of our ideas in sensation, suggested that reason was properly the slave of the passions, and located the origins of social and political institutions in utility and sentiment.
Hume's philosophy found its complement in his political essays and History of England, which emhphasized unintended results and the complexity of the historical process. Altogether Hume’s work constitutes the first thoroughgoing attempt since the rise of Christianity to characterize human experience in terms that offered an alternative to theologically-based or para-theological theories. As such, its importance for subsequent developments, like that of Kant’s work, is not to be underestimated.
This significant anthology contains articles on different aspects of his thought - his historical works, his political scepticism, his concepts of justice, liberty and property and moral evaluation.