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“Treatise of Human Nature ... is in every respect the most complete exposition of Hume’s philosophical conception” – Britannica

HUME, DAVID. (English) A Treatise of Human Nature

London: John Noon, 1739 (vols. 1-2), Thomas Longman, 1740 (vol. 3)., 1739-40

Three volumes. Contemporary speckled calf, burgundy morocco labels. Gilt stamping of vol. 1 slightly disparate. Discreet ownership signature on title of first volume. Minor wear to head of spine of vol. 3, minor separation of joints at extremities of vols. 2-3, but a very sound set. Exceptionally clean and crisp. A near fine set in original, untouched condition.

First edition of David Hume’s greatest work. Only one thousand copies of the first two volumes were published by John Noon in 1739, and there was almost no public notice. Hume wrote, “It fell dead born from the press, without reaching such distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots.” As a result of poor sales, Hume changed publishers, and volume III was issued a year later by Thomas Longman in a reduced printing run. As a result, complete sets of all three volumes are rare.

Hume’s masterpiece has influenced the course of philosophy for more than 250 years. The Treatise contains Hume’s theories of cognition and causation, his treatment of inductive inference, and his analysis of moral judgments, all of which were published here for the first time. His philosophical work delineates a distinct epoch in the evolution of modern philosophical thought, and the “Treatise of Human Nature … is in every respect the most complete exposition of Hume’s philosophical conception” (Ency. Brit. 11th).

Kant is said to have exclaimed that Hume was responsible for “waking me out of my dogmatic slumber.”  Adam Smith wrote of Hume, “Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.”

Hume’s discussion of the theory of self-interest helped to shape Smith’s economic philosophy. Bob McTeer, when President of The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, observed, “David Hume is primarily known as a philosopher …studying his economic work enables us to see how he reshaped John Locke’s quantity of money theory and how he influenced the great Adam Smith, Hume’s close friend and fellow Scottish Enlightenment philosopher. Hume is one of the pillars of the classical school of economics, primarily founded by Smith” (FRBD, Economic Insights, Vol. 8 No. 1).

Rare in prime collector’s condition.

Printing and the Mind of Man 194. Rothschild 1171.