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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This summary account of Hume’s life and works challenges the usual way of telling the story of Hume’s career. It is generally believed that what Hume most wanted to be was a philosopher and that Hume turned to politics and history because that desire was frustrated, principally by the reputation for atheism he had acquired as a result of his writings on religion. The author argues that, from the beginning, Hume was as interested in politics as he was in philosophy; that a career as an independent man of letters, and not as a professional philosopher, was what he most wanted; and that that career was a success, with the History of England its triumphant culmination. Hume’s religious skepticism was no obstacle to his living the life that he most wanted to live, the life of a sophisticated and widely respected citizen of the European republic of letters.

Keywords: David Hume, biography, man of letters, philosophy, politics, history, religion

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