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Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment$
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Ryu Susato

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699803

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699803.001.0001

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‘The Prince of Sceptics’ and ‘The Prince of Historians’: Hume’s Influence and Image in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain

‘The Prince of Sceptics’ and ‘The Prince of Historians’: Hume’s Influence and Image in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain

Chapter:
(p.242) 8 ‘The Prince of Sceptics’ and ‘The Prince of Historians’: Hume’s Influence and Image in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain
Source:
Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment
Author(s):

Ryu Susato

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699803.003.0008

This chapter deals with the reception of Hume in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century. The subject of the contemporary and early nineteenth century receptions of Hume’s writings has already been addressed by James Fieser’s series of Early Responses to Hume. The problematic issue of the relationship between Hume as a philosopher and historian, however, is insufficiently addressed. The lack of a sustained analysis of the relationship between Hume’s philosophy and politics might be the result of the continued influence exerted by John Stuart Mill’s evaluation that Hume’s philosophical scepticism leads him to political conservatism. Through detailed analysis of British pamphlets and periodicals (such as The Edinburgh Review, The Quarterly Review, and The Annual Register) published at the turn of the eighteenth century, this chapter argues that Mill’s evaluation was not widely accepted among the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers and reviewers. Some radicals (Mary Wollstonecraft, Jeremy Bentham, the young James Mackintosh) left positive comments regarding Hume’s supposed liberal and anti-religious attitude in his History. Interestingly, some Romantics such as Coleridge suspected that Hume, as ‘infidel’ writer, was responsible for the French Revolution along with the philosophes.

Keywords:   Mill, Wollstonecraft, Bentham, Mackintosh, Romantics, Radicals, Coleridge, Edinburgh Review, Quarterly Review, Annual Register

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