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The Unity of Hume's Philosophical Project

The Unity of Hume's Philosophical Project Hume Studies Volume 30, Number 2, November 2004, pp. 265-296 A Symposium on Louis E. Loeb, Stability and Justification in Hume's Treatise MICHAEL WILLIAMS 1. Introduction In both his Treatise of Human Nature and Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume presents a protean figure.1 By turns, he appears as a naturalistic theorist of the mind, a proto-Positivist critic of speculative metaphysics, and an utter skeptic. Can these various characters be seen to work together? On the whole, Hume's interpreters seem to think not. The typical approach is to pick a dominant personality, leaving Hume's other philosophicalpersonae to be squeezed in as an afterthought, deprecated, or simply ignored. Louis Loeb is a shining exception.2 His new book, subtle and densely argued, offers an account of Hume's epistemology that makes a sustained effort to come to terms with its multi-faceted character. However, while Loeb's interpretation marks a real advance in our understanding of Hume, it is not one that I find ultimately persuasive. As I shall try to show, for all his insights, Loeb too fails to provide a satisfyingly unified account of Hume's philosophical pro j ect. In the course of explaining why I think this, I shall indicate how http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

The Unity of Hume's Philosophical Project

Hume Studies , Volume 30 (2) – Jan 26, 2004

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Hume Society
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Copyright © Hume Society
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1947-9921
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Abstract

Hume Studies Volume 30, Number 2, November 2004, pp. 265-296 A Symposium on Louis E. Loeb, Stability and Justification in Hume's Treatise MICHAEL WILLIAMS 1. Introduction In both his Treatise of Human Nature and Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume presents a protean figure.1 By turns, he appears as a naturalistic theorist of the mind, a proto-Positivist critic of speculative metaphysics, and an utter skeptic. Can these various characters be seen to work together? On the whole, Hume's interpreters seem to think not. The typical approach is to pick a dominant personality, leaving Hume's other philosophicalpersonae to be squeezed in as an afterthought, deprecated, or simply ignored. Louis Loeb is a shining exception.2 His new book, subtle and densely argued, offers an account of Hume's epistemology that makes a sustained effort to come to terms with its multi-faceted character. However, while Loeb's interpretation marks a real advance in our understanding of Hume, it is not one that I find ultimately persuasive. As I shall try to show, for all his insights, Loeb too fails to provide a satisfyingly unified account of Hume's philosophical pro j ect. In the course of explaining why I think this, I shall indicate how

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Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 2004

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