not saying he wasn't good bloke. He was also obviously brilliant. If one were debate him on his own terms, I am sure you would end up on the mat, every time. But to me it is the beginning of the sulfuric acid of modernist skepticism. Stripping away any sense of depth. But I have to confess something. As it comes across in the Forum, I have become something of an enthusiast (an amateur enthusiast, I will admit) for 'classic metaphysics'. Now probably if I had been of an earlier generation, someone who had all that material beaten into me by a school cane, I would hate it all, and love David Hume for liberating us from it. At the time he wrote his text, it was heroic in many respects, because the 'volumes of divinity and school metaphysic' that he consigned to the flames had become a suffocating orthodoxy. But I think the purgative of modernism has done its job. We have seen the world, shorn of all metaphysical depth and echoes of the sacred. Now it is time to look back again, and find out what those great traditions really did understand - and I am sure they understood something very important that we have completely lost. Hume can always win an argument because it has always been true that the metaphysical dimensions of existence cannot be demonstrated with reference to empirical experience. But I think classical civilization had a kind of compact, an implicit agreement, and a source of shared values, which provided a framework within which these subtle truths could be discussed and debated. Hume was at the vanguard of those who completely destroyed this agreement. Now if you stand up in a modern university and say any of the things we talk about on the Forum, you are laughed out of court. Hume has really held sway ever since in many minds and is a universal solvent for anything deep in philosophy. 'Bothered by metaphysical doubts? Spray it with Hume. That will dissolve the toughest stains.'
Well said. I also like metaphysics. Hume is a sort Flatland prophet. This made me wonder about his politics. Was he using skepticism against the ugly
side of metaphysics/religion? Was religion his real target? Did he attack the rationalists in the name of the passions? Here's some info on his politics. He's a good figure to look at.
It is difficult to categorize Hume's political affiliations. His thought contains elements that are, in modern terms, both conservative
, as well as ones that are both contractarian
, though these terms are all anachronistic. His central concern is to show the importance of the rule of law, and stresses throughout his political Essays
the importance of moderation in politics. This outlook needs to be seen within the historical context of eighteenth century Scotland, where the legacy of religious civil war, combined with the relatively recent memory of the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings, fostered in a historian such as Hume a distaste for enthusiasm and factionalism that appeared to threaten the fragile and nascent political and social stability of a country that was deeply politically and religiously divided. He thinks that society is best governed by a general and impartial system of laws, based principally on the "artifice" of contract; he is less concerned about the form of government that administers these laws, so long as it does so fairly (though he thought that republics were more likely to do so than monarchies).
Hume expressed suspicion of attempts to reform society in ways that departed from long-established custom, and he counselled people not to resist their governments except in cases of the most egregious tyranny
. However, he resisted aligning himself with either of Britain's two political parties, the Whigs
and the Tories
, and he believed that we should try to balance our demands for liberty with the need for strong authority, without sacrificing either. Neil McArthur (2007, p. 124) characterizes Hume as a 'precautionary conservative': whose actions would have been "determined by prudential concerns about the consequences of change, which often demand we ignore our own principles about what is ideal or even legitimate" 
, He supported liberty of the press
, and was sympathetic to democracy
, when suitably constrained. It has been argued that he was a major inspiration for James Madison
's writings, and the Federalist No. 10
in particular. He was also, in general, an optimist about social progress, believing that, thanks to the economic development that comes with the expansion of trade, societies progress from a state of "barbarism" to one of "civilisation". Civilised societies are open, peaceful and sociable, and their citizens
are as a result much happier. It is therefore not fair to characterise him, as ****** Stephen
did, as favouring "that stagnation which is the natural ideal of a skeptic