The Life of David Hume
Born in Edinburgh in 1711, David Hume's father died when he was two. His mother, who came from a family of lawyers, dedicated herself to her children's education. He was steered toward the law and admitted to Edinburgh University at the age of twelve. There he discovered he had “an insurmountable aversion to everything but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning.”
Hume left the university without taking a degree but carried on a life of study at home. When he was just twenty-eight, he published his first — and as it turned out his greatest — philosophical work, the
Today, A Treatise of Human Nature is considered one of the most important works in the history of philosophy. But the British public in 1739 didn't share that view. It hardly sold. In Hume's words, it “fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the zealots.”
He lived the last years of his life in his hometown of Edinburgh, where he was quite prominent in intellectual and literary circles. Two years of constant illness preceded his death in 1776. It is nearly impossible to capture the importance of Hume's contribution to philosophy and the extent of his influence over the two centuries since his death.