David Hume’s aim in writing An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748) was to introduce his philosophy to a European culture in which many educated people read original works of philosophy. He gives an elegant and accessible presentation of strikingly original and challenging views about the limited powers of human understanding, the attractions of scepticism, the compatibility of free will and determinism, and weaknesses in the foundations of religion. Hume’s philosophy was highly controversial in the eighteenth century and remains so today.
The text printed in this edition is that of the Clarendon critical edition of Hume’s works. A substantial introduction by the editor explains the intellectual background to the work and surveys its main themes. The volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings.