New Editions of Hume’s Philosophical Works from Oxford University Press

Three new Oxford University Press editions of Hume’s philosophical works are presently available and others are scheduled for imminent publication. Three major works—A Treatise of Human Nature, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (EHU), and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (EPM)—are appearing both in student editions (in the Oxford Philosophical Texts series) and as part of the new, eight-volume Clarendon Edition of the Works of Hume, of which the Treatise, the EHU and the EPM, with accompanying historical and bibliographical materials, make up the first four volumes.

The Oxford Philosophical Texts series aims to provide authoritative teaching editions of the major texts in western philosophy. Individual volumes include interpretive introductions and explanatory notes.

Tom L. Beauchamp is the editor of the student editions of both the EPM (Jan 98) and the EHU (Jan 99). In addition to a discussion of the Treatise and Abstract, the introductory material in these editions includes 'How to use this book', an interpretive essay, and suggestions for further reading. In each case, Hume's text (the critical text prepared for the Clarendon editions) is followed by extensive explanatory annotations, a glossary, a list of references and a comprehensive index. Like the Clarendon editions, the Oxford Philosophical Text editions number the paragraphs of self-contained parts or sections of Hume's texts, providing the basis for standardization of references to these texts.

The student edition of the Treatise and the Abstract, edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton, is currently in press. Although the Clarendon Edition of these works will run to two volumes, the student edition is fitted into a single volume of about 650 pages. Introductory material includes suggestions on how to use the book and for further reading. The Editors' Annotations offer, along with textual summaries and explications of difficult passages, greatly amplified cross-references, identifications of the many unnamed earlier authors to whom Hume alludes, and information about the philosophical context of the Treatise.

The first of the new Clarendon editions of Hume's texts to appear was An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, edited by Beauchamp. This volume provides scholars with a definitive critical text based on the 1772 edition (the last version to be seen through the press by Hume himself) and a complete, computer-assisted collation of the ten editions of the work prepared for the press by Hume. Prof. Beauchamp's Introduction includes a history of the work, a bibliographical schema of the editions, word-by-word comparisons, with their originals, of passages surviving from the Treatise, and an account of the reception of EPM during Hume's lifetime. Volumes 1 and 2 of the Clarendon edition of Hume's works are made up of the Treatise, Abstract, and A Letter from a Gentleman (the last edited by M. A. Stewart); these volumes are expected to be available in the second half of 2001. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, making up Volume 3 of the Clarendon edition, is expected to appear in mid-2000. These volumes include historical and bibliographical materials of the sort found in the Clarendon EPM.

Oxford Philosophical Texts:
An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp 0-19-875184-2 / paperback / 6.99; 0-19-875185-0 / cloth / 19.99
An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp 0-19-875248-2 / paperback / 6.99; 0-19-875249-0 / cloth / 19.99
A Treatise of Human Nature and the Abstract, ed. David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton 0-19-875172-9 / paperback / 9.99; 0-19-875173-7 / cloth / 30.00

The Clarendon Edition of Hume's Works:
An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp Vol. 4 of The Clarendon Edition of the Works of David Hume 0-19-823500-3 / cloth only / 45.00

[Archived from Bulletin 30.11.99]

 

 

A Cultivated Reason: An Essay on Hume and Humeanism
by Christopher Williams


This is a study that draws on Hume's ideas to show the inadequacy of an overly intellectualistic view of the person, and to suggest that persons are embodied reasoners whose resemblances to works of art are striking and important.

As Plato's tripartite division of the soul, Descartes's criterion of clear and distinct ideas, and Kant's notion of the categorical imperative attest, philosophy has traditionally been wedded to rationalism and its "intellectualist" view of persons. In this book Christopher Williams seeks to wean his fellow philosophers away from an overly rationalistic self-understanding by using resources that are available within the philosophical tradition itself, including some that anticipate strands of Nietzsche's thought.

The book begins by developing Hume's critique of rationalism, with reference especially to the section of the Treatise that deals with the continuing existence of bodies (an argument that subverts intellectualist criteria by attempting to satisfy them) and to his neglected essay "The Sceptic" where Hume reveals the importance of our embodiment through a comic portrayal of philosophers' efforts to "correct our sentiments." Then it moves on to ward off charges of irrationalism by showing that, although our powers of self-correction are more limited than the rationalist thinks they are, a Humean position is able both to sustain a commitment to reflection and to sensitize us to a version of irrationalism, manifest in monotheistic theologies, that is otherwise difficult to detect. The book concludes, more speculatively, with a comparison of persons to artworks in order to show how our aesthetic dimension is the source of some of the normative work previously assigned to rationalist reason.

192 pp.; published January, 1999 by Penn State University Press; ISBN 0-271-01820-8 cloth: $35.00; ISBN 0-271-01821-6 paper: $17.95.

[18.07.99]