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An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

David Hume

Book Overview: 

David Hume, an eminent Scottish philosopher, historian, and essayist, explores the nature and foundation of Morals in this book, which was written as a popular summary of Book III in A Treatise of Human Nature.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .In these cases, the magistrate is supposed only to withdraw his power of enforcing the right, not to have altered the right. Where his intention extends to the right, and is conformable to the interests of society; it never fails to alter the right; a clear proof of the origin of justice and of property, as assigned above.]

WHAT IS A MAN'S PROPERTY? Anything which it is lawful for him, and for him alone, to use. BUT WHAT RULE HAVE WE, BY WHICH WE CAN DISTINGUISH THESE OBJECTS? Here we must have recourse to statutes, customs, precedents, analogies, and a hundred other circumstances; some of which are constant and inflexible, some variable and arbitrary. But the ultimate point, in which they all professedly terminate, is the interest and happiness of human society. Where this enters not into consideration, nothing can appear more whimsical, unnatural, and even superstitious, than all or most of the laws of justice and of property.

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Community Reviews

Well, this was disappointing.

I say this because Hume’s first Enquiry was brilliant, unforgettably so. There, we see Hume as one of the most subtle, most penetrating, and most profound thinkers in Western history. Here we see him don the hat of a common moralist:

“Instance, briefly; come, instance” (A

This is one giant of a book, not for its length nor heaviness of subject, but the themes it touches and its argument. If Hume's first enquiry about human understanding (the book) is about the limit and nature of factual knowledge, this second enquiry is about the origin of morality.

Encountering its

I run hot and cold when it comes to David Hume...

An eighteenth century philosopher who antedated postmodern deconstructionism by several centuries, with this one massive blow of his critical axe he shook the ethical foundation of inherited tradition in the first tremors of its ruin.

Ethics would neve

Hume is the moral philosopher who is most recognizable as a fellow modern human being. In his short autobiographical "My Own Life", he says that the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is "incomparably the best" of all his writings (though he admits that he isn't the one to judge that).


Though this was the shortest of the books I've owned of Hume, it took me longest to read it. Though the argument is debated in typical Hume's fashion, its hard to ignore Plato's dialogues echoing every few pages. Its interesting to say the least but Hume's attention is more on acts of morality than

A contemporary reader might think his conclusions to be truisms, but the philosophical climate in Hume's lifetime ensured that his work would be consistently controversial and original.

It would be one thing if all Hume did was ask the question, instead, he gives some quite pathetic answers that professors still cram down student's throats.

در ابتدای کار هیوم سوالی رو مطرح میکنه که خواننده حس میکنه فقط متا اثیک در این کتاب دنبال میشه و خب مسلما مباحث خشکی پیش رو داره.اما زبان ساده و بی پیراییه ی هیوم چنین مباحثی رو هم آسان میکنند.
حقیقتا آنچنان با نظریات اخلاقی هیوم بر سر مهر نیستم.حتی اون حجم قابل ملاحظه ای که هیوم در رد خودگرایی روانش

It had been some time since I had last visited 221B Baker Street, and when I entered I found my friend engrossed in the study of a slim volume. "Watson!" he said, without lifting his eyes from the text. "Pray tell me, are you by any chance familiar with Mr. Hume's Enquiry into the Principles of Mora

کتاب خیلی خوب بود، اما امان از مرتضی مردیها. نه این‌که ترجمه‌اش بد باشد، اما بدون اغراق یک سومِ کتاب توضیحات اضافی‌ای است که درون قلاب و وسط متن اصلی آورده است. خیلی زیاد و سطحی هستند. حسابی روی اعصاب‌اند

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