David Hume was a historian, economist, and philosopher. He belonged to Scotland and became famous for his skepticism philosophy. He is rated and remembered as the most important and influential figures of ancient and modern philosophy. During his lifetime, Hume became popular as a historian and essayist while his philosophical work remained unnoticed.
You don’t need to acquaint yourself with philosophy to gain familiarity with this historian. Several historians and biographers have written a lot about Hume’s life and work and among these, the notable work includes The Life of David Hume by Ernest C. Mossner, Studies in the Philosophy of David Hume by Charles W. Hendel and Hume, Precursor of Modern Empiricism by Farhang Zabeeh.
In this article, we compiled some exciting facts about this Scottish philosopher for our readers.
David Hume: 8 exciting and interesting facts about this Scottish historian
1. Hume studied at Edinburgh University but did not graduate
David Hume was born on May 7, 1711. His father, Joseph Home, was a solicitor while his mother, Katherine Falconer, was a housewife. He was raised in a vibrant and prosperous family.
Hume took admission at the University of Edinburgh when he was 12 years old. According to some historians, he was 10 years old at that time while the minimum age for admission was typically 14 years. His family wanted him to study law, but Hume wished to study philosophy. At university, Hume did not respect his teachers and professors because he was of the view that a teacher or a professor didn’t teach anything, and everything can be found in books. Historians believe that he did not complete graduation, an interesting fact about David Hume.
2. He suffered a nervous breakdown
Hume used to study a lot, and after four years of extensive study, he suffered a nervous breakdown. The doctors diagnosed him with a disease called Disease of the Learned. It all started after Hume was struck with cold, after which he began to experience a change in his temper. It lasted for around 9 months. His doctor treated him with anti-hysteric medicine. His health improved overtime, but in 1731, he went down with heart palpitation.
He ate well for some time and gained good health once again. Among his friends, he was known as a food lover. He was fond of eating cheese. It is known that he spent around 10 years of his life while reading and writing. When he suffered from a nervous breakdown, he resumed reading and writing soon after he recovered and was in good health.
3. He left Scotland and went to France
When he was 25 years old, he left for France because he didn’t have a steady source of income and lacked professional skills. In France, he became a librarian at the University of Edinburgh. During his stay there, he wrote his widely acclaimed philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature, an interesting David Hume fact. He was 26 years old at that time.
4. He wrote his autobiography which was less than 5 pages
David Hume wrote his autobiography entitled My Own Life, and it was less than 5 pages. He summed up his whole life in only 5 pages. Historians claimed that Hume wrote it in the last year of his life and quoted interesting observations about philosophy and life.
5. Hume was agnostic about religion
According to historians, David Hume wrote a lot about religion, and he held agnostic views about it. Historians and modern writers have criticized him for being a Pyrrhonian skeptic. Some historians consider him as un-Christian and atheist because evidence regarding this can be judged from his writings. The Scottish Church, at one point, supposed to charge Hume with infidelity.
His writing named Such of Superstition and Enthusiasm depicts that he might be critical about the Catholic Church. According to a modern philosopher, Paul Russell, Hume was skeptical about religion but not to the extent that he should be termed as an atheist.
6. Hume served as Secretary to the Embassy
In the year 1763, Hume served as Secretary to the Embassy and spent time in Paris. He visited Paris to attend Lord Hertford. He also met Isaac de Pinto. He later accompanied Jean-Jacques Rousseau to England. Hume quarreled with Rousseau, and they two separated with one another. Later, he became worried about his reputation, which was damaged as a result of the clash. He mentioned this quarrel in his writing: A concise and genuine account of the dispute between Mr. Hume and Mr. Rousseau.
7. He served as British Charge d’affaires
He was appointed British Charge d’affaires in Paris in the year 1765. Besides serving on this position, he continued to write his essays and other writings. During this time, he completed his essay entitled Despatches to the British Secretary of State.
He returned to Edinburgh in 1769 and stayed there at the St. Andrew’s Square in New Town until his death in the year 1776, an interesting fact about David Hume. In modern Edinburgh, that Square is now named as 21 Saint David Street. Some historical evidence suggests that the street has been renamed to honour this writer.
8. He died after suffering from abdominal cancer
James Boswell, a biographer, and lawyer met David Hume on his deathbed. The two of them discussed the life hereafter. According to Boswell, Hume said to him that he had a strong belief about being reborn, once he is dead. British Broadcasting Corporation televised the meeting between the two into a TV serial by Michael Ignatie named Dialogue in the Dark.
An interesting fact about David Hume is that in his will, he asked that his tomb should resemble an ordinary Roman tomb, and his name, date of birth, and death should be inscribed on it. His tomb is situated at the Calton Hill in Old Calton Cemetery.
So, these were a few facts about this great Scottish philosopher. Hume worked as an assistant to a merchant in Bristol before departing for France. This writer faced too much criticism throughout his life for being an atheist. On one occasion, he applied to Chair Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He was rejected for being an atheist, and someone else was appointed on this position.
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