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Hume: Second Newton of the Moral Sciences

Hume: Second Newton of the Moral Sciences , pp. 3-18 Hume: Second Newton of the Moral Sciences JANE L. McINTYRE The subtitle of A Treatise of Human Nature declares that work to be "An Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects."1 In the light of this expressed intent, and in recognition of the evident influence of Newtonianism on Hume's thought,2 many commentators have echoed the judgment that Hume's ambition was to be "the Newton of the moral sciences."3 A problem with this interpretation of the Treatise, however, is that there already was at least one prominent exponent of Newtonianism who could lay claim to that titleÂ--the rationalist Samuel Clarke. Philosophers writing on Hume often consider Clarke only as an exemplar of the ethical rationalism attacked by Hume in the opening section of Book III of the Treatise, but Clarke's credentials as a Newtonian were impeccable. Although he translated Rohault's popular textbook on Cartesian physics into Latin, Clarke's notes on the text introduced readers to Newton's system. By the third edition of 1710 Clarke's notes were printed at the bottom of the page along with the text; they presented criticisms of the Cartesian theory of vortices based on its inability to account http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Hume: Second Newton of the Moral Sciences

Hume Studies , Volume 20 (1) – Jan 26, 1994

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1947-9921
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Abstract

, pp. 3-18 Hume: Second Newton of the Moral Sciences JANE L. McINTYRE The subtitle of A Treatise of Human Nature declares that work to be "An Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects."1 In the light of this expressed intent, and in recognition of the evident influence of Newtonianism on Hume's thought,2 many commentators have echoed the judgment that Hume's ambition was to be "the Newton of the moral sciences."3 A problem with this interpretation of the Treatise, however, is that there already was at least one prominent exponent of Newtonianism who could lay claim to that titleÂ--the rationalist Samuel Clarke. Philosophers writing on Hume often consider Clarke only as an exemplar of the ethical rationalism attacked by Hume in the opening section of Book III of the Treatise, but Clarke's credentials as a Newtonian were impeccable. Although he translated Rohault's popular textbook on Cartesian physics into Latin, Clarke's notes on the text introduced readers to Newton's system. By the third edition of 1710 Clarke's notes were printed at the bottom of the page along with the text; they presented criticisms of the Cartesian theory of vortices based on its inability to account

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Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1994

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