Wednesday, September 24, 2008

David Hume (1711-1776 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

David started off, it seems, a very poor little boy, but through his Scottish thrift and frugality he ended up quite self-sufficient. David became an avid reader and lover of books. His main reading interest became Philosophy. Philosophy, they tell us is love of learning, but one of its roots is really man's intellectual search for, and argument over the possible existence or non-existence of God.
David is labeled 'the believing disbeliever.' In his autobiography he claims an abiding belief in God, but all of his writing is to the contrary. I think that it can be said about David that he believed in God, he just didn't believe in everybody else's God. He claimed all religion as superstition, all truth as unfounded, all science as folly, and all reason, for the most part, unreasonable.
Hume was the Socrates of his time. Another man who could prove that the entire world knew nothing and that he knew even less. Bertrand Russell says that David Hume must be wrong somewhere because if he is not then there is no basis for any type of human knowledge. He must be wrong says Bertrand, but even old Bertrand doesn't know where.
From the age of nineteen to twenty-three David suffered from serious depression. When he went to his doctor about it, the doctor laughed and told David that he had caught the disease of the 'learned.'
David then wrote his first book, 'a Treatise on Human Understanding,' a book which no one read, and even worse, no one bought. One fellow did like his book though, the third Marquis of Annandale. He was a super wealthy guy and he lived in a mansion at a place called Weldhall. He sent for David to become his private tutor. There was only one thing wrong though, the Marquis was as nutty as a fruitcake. He was locked up in the castle and guarded by people who were paid to push him off the deep end, so that other influential people in high places could steal his bucks. This guy was kind of like the Howard Hughes of his day. Old Davie should have written a book about his year at the castle with this guy.
But Davie was growing and had to move on. Davie really, really grew. Obviously developed an eating disorder and got very large. He liked the girls but they considered him a flabby kneed, blubbering joke. So he ended up hanging out at places that didn't really enhance one's personal moral reputation. He made friends with Rousseau. His previous training at the castle of the nut-cake probably helped him greatly, here.
In any case, he saved his money, became pretty well off, got a government job here and there, and wrote more books that annoyed the general public.
With all of his eccentricities he seems like a pretty interesting fellow nevertheless. I am going to put him on my reading list. Oh yeah, and like everybody else, eventually he died also, despite any 'reason' to believe that he wouldn't. It seems that, at least with regards to death, the inductive process was substantiated once again.