David Hume

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About the book

Known as an essayist and historian in his day, this great Scot, David Hume, went on to become one of the most revered philosophers of the Enlightenment. Who the Hell is David Hume? takes you through his life and times, tracing his thoughts and his influences, before examining three of his key ideas. Hume influenced many great thinkers in his lifetime, including the philosophical giant, Kant, but he also brought inspiration to many other fields of thought, such as utilitarianism, cognitive science and theology.

Chapter 1: Hume's Life Story

Chapter 2: Influences on Hume's Thinking

Chapter 3: Causation and Induction
This chapter looks at Hume's scepticism about human powers of reasoning. He proposed that our demonstrative and probable reasoning are inadequate – it is instead our human instinct that makes assumptions.

Chapter 4: Free Will and Determinism
In this chapter, Hume sets out to reconcile free will with a deterministic universe governed by scientific laws.

Chapter 5: Emotions, Reason and Morality
The final chapter looks at whether principles exist which dictate a human's intentions and actions, and whether this affects their morality.

About the author

Mark Ian Thomas Robson received his PhD from Durham University. This was subsequently  published by Continuum Press as Ontology and Providence in Creation: Taking Ex Nihilo Seriously (2008). Since then he has written a number of articles in various journals. His latest one was published in the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal and explored the account of free will given by Henri Bergson. Mark Robson teaches at a large high school in Tyne and Wear, England.


"As a student of The University of Edinburgh, David Hume pops up everywhere! However, the classes I take only touch lightly on his work to compliment the main topic. So even though I see his name regularly, I only knew parts of his work at a very basic level. This book filled in all the gaps without over complications in language or in structure, which is exactly what I needed. I also enjoyed the timelines and pictures of places of interest regarding Hume, especially since I study in one of them!"

Claire Allison | Masters student, Edinburgh University

"The book opens with focus on who Hume was as a man, the world he was born into, and how the Enlightenment, secularism, and the debate between empiricism and rationalism influences his thinking and works. After which, Hume’s contributions to causation and induction, free will and determinism, and emotion, reason and morality are covered. 

As a teacher and examiner of Religious Studies and Philosophy, a further aspect of the book I like is the author’s use of Hume’s original 18th Century text, which he then goes onto explain in a clear and concise way, and reinforces understanding through the use of real world examples. The latter is essential with regards to A-Level RS/Philosophy AO1 –Knowledge and Understanding – exam questions, as when we mark responses, the students who tend to achieve the higher marks are those who are not only able to refer to theory, but are able to prove they understand what they say through clear examples and development.

In addition to the above, I believe university students will especially benefit from the author’s extensive bibliography, which could prove invaluable when writing an essay on Hume, and needing to refer to other scholarly works.

To sum up, if you are new to teaching or studying philosophy, and are finding texts dealing with Hume’s ideas difficult to digest, this book will equip you with the skills to get to grips with the basics of Hume’s contribution to philosophy, which in turn will make it much easier to move onto the more detailed and complex areas of Hume’s theory."

Adam Naylor | Teacher of Religion & Ethics, Jcoss Secondary School, London