Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Hume on philosophy

I've started reading An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, by Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume. I'd like to share a passage that particularly appealed to me.
It seems, then, that nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to the human race, and secretly admonished them to allow none of these biases to draw too much, so as to incapacitate them for other occupations and entertainments. Indulge your passion for science, says she, but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.
(Remembering, of course, that in Hume's time all of science was still - appropriately - considered a part of philosophy.)

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