[HUME, DAVID. 1711-1776.]
A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. Vol I [-II]. London: John Noon, 1739.
2 volumes. 8vo (198 x 118 mm). , 475, [1 ad]; , 318 pp. Without ads at rear of vol 2 mentioned by Jessop. Modern half morocco. Occasional faint marginal foxing in vol 1, toning and faint old dampstaining to outer margins of first and last several leaves of vol 2; still a clean, fresh copy.
Provenance: Hume scholar Dr. A.W. Colver; by descent to present owner.
FIRST EDITION OF A SEMINAL TEXT OF ENLIGHTENMENT PHILOSOPHY. Published anonymously and at first garnering little critical attentioninducing in the author an apologetic and somewhat ambivalent stance towards the work throughout his lifetimeHume's treatise was not much later recognized as a work of major significance. It remains a cornerstone of Western thought. Proceeding from the positions of Locke and Berkeley, Hume develops a theory of knowledge and experience which rejects the distinction of right and wrong as a matter of reason, at the same time asserting the supremacy of a strong moral sense. "In the Treatise ... we have the first attempt to apply Locke's empirical psychology to build a theory of knowledge, and from it to provide a critique of metaphysical ideas ... Hume decisively sums up a century of speculation on knowledge and of theological discussion. Though universally hailed at the time, the full importance of his conclusions was hardly appreciated until Bentham realized Hume's utilitarianism and Mill his logic" (PMM).
A third volume was issued in 1740 by a different publisher, which Humeconscious of the relative quiet surrounding the first two volumesurged his readers to consider separately. It is not uncommon to find the first two volumes without the third, as here.
The present set comes from the collection of Dr. A.W. Colver, editor of an edition of Hume's Natural History of Religion published by Oxford in 1976. Fieser p 5-6; Jessop pp 12-14; PMM 194.