On David Hume read by Charlton Heston (1990)

Book coverAll right, all right, all right–it’s actually been a couple of weeks since I finished listening to this short, two-cassette overview of David Hume’s life and thought. This is from the Giants of Philosophy series as were Socrates, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and Baruch Spinoza. Needless to say I am enjoying the series.

Helpfully, the vocal talent voicing Hume (Heston narrates, but vocal talents do the voices of original sources, including Hume and his critics) is doing a high Scottish accent, so it’s not distracting, and it’s not pompous. The, what, book? Lecture? Whatever the antecedent of the following pronoun, it balances Hume’s biography with his thought and offers a basic overview of his works over time.

And what do I think about Hume’s thinking? Well, I agree that our understanding of the world comes from our sensory experience, but Hume dismisses the role of reason and the human mind in being able to project future events from past experience. He also denigrates the self/soul as a coherent thing but rather a memory of sensations (but no predictions, of course–you cannot prove their worth or even a person’s ability to do them logically). So, dare I say it, it goes a little Buddhist for my taste.

I mean, you cannot reason a lot of things out of nothing but reason, but you can apply some thinking to your perceptions and get value out of it, ainna? So I’m a fan of his beginnings and some of his premises, but not his conclusions.

He’s part and parcel of what has become philopsyche: Instead of man’s place in the world, philosophy has turned a bit to the world’s place in man, and it ends up just as speculative and untethered from the concrete reality as purely reasoned speculation. Were I more than a layman dabbling in philosophy, I suppose I could seek out the primary sources–I have one or more on my shelves–and write a well composed refutation of them, but I have a list of things to do today, and Refute Hume ain’t on it. Of course, one of the things is to complete the filing in my office and maybe clear my desk, but where would I go for Five Things On My Desk posts? But, Brian J., you haven’t done one of those in two years! That’s because the same things are on my desk, gentle reader. I really need to clean it.

You want well-reasoned refutations of Enlightment’s failures, go to Blogodidact.

All I have to say is that the deeper I get into the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophy, the more I think Ayn Rand was on the right track with a lot of her thinking.

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