Of all original philosophical texts written in English, David Hume’s three-volume A Treatise of Human Nature (1739—40) must rate as one of the very greatest and far-reachingly influential with its attempt to create a new science of human nature. In it Hume attempts to apply Locke’s empirical psychology to build a theory of knowledge, and from it to provide a critique of metaphysical ideas. Precociously conceived by the age of twenty-one and largely written by the age of twenty-five Hume was despondent when the first two volumes ‘fell dead-born from the press’ and attracted but little and unfavourable reviewing. Hume’s reaction is slightly exaggerated, though the full importance of his conclusions was scarcely appreciated until Bentham and Mill realized his utilitarianism and logic.
That the scope of Hume’s ideas have withstood the vicissitudes of time is plain to see, and this makes it all the more remarkable that this magnum opus has never been reprinted as a genuine facsimile until now. Famously rare and costing tens of thousands of pounds to buy, this work in its original format has been inaccessible to all but the most privileged scholars. This true and unedited first edition, with text reproduced actual size, will allow scholars worldwide to read the exact same text as its earliest readers who included Alexander Pope, Bishop Butler, Adam Smith and Francis Hutcheson.
Hume scholar David Raynor has written a new introduction which sets the Treatise in its intellectual and historical context and details its early reception. It stands out from the crowd of editions of this work as being the only one that Hume saw printed in his lifetime, and its scarcity in the original will make this an invaluable and prestigious resource for all college and research libraries.
—arguably the most important work of systematic philosophy in the English language —first ever true facsimile of the first edition, with text reproduced at actual size —new introduction by Hume scholar David Raynor