Celebrating David Hume

As part of IASH's 50th anniversary celebrations, we are delighted to present two events on the leading member of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume.

On Wednesday 27 November at 5:30pm, we invite Fellows and colleagues join us to mark the release of Honorary Fellow Prof. David Purdie's new book, written with IASH alumnus Prof. Peter S. Fosl, titled David Hume on God (Luath Press 2019). David and Peter will present their work at IASH, and a drinks reception will follow. Please email iash@ed.ac.uk to attend the launch of David Hume on God.

A central problem for the non-specialist reader over the works of Hume today is that his mellifluous 18th century prose appears strange to our eyes and ears... What follows, therefore, is what the present editors did about it. The central purpose is to open to Hume’s original target audience his writings on religious affairs; a subject which was of central importance to him – and which remains of perennial interest to humankind. 

David Hume’s writings on history, politics and philosophy have shaped thought to this day. His bold scepticism ranged from common notions of the ‘self’ to criticism of standard theistic proofs. He insisted on grounding understandings of popular religious beliefs in human psychology rather than divine revelation, and he aimed to disentangle philosophy from religion in order to allow the former to pursue its own ends. 

In this book, Professors David W. Purdie and Peter S. Fosl decipher some of Hume’s most challenging texts for the modern reader, while preserving the sharp intellect and undaunted nerve for which Hume is famous. Hume’s spirit is brought alive for contemporary times and his writing is made accessible for its intended audience: the general public. 

On Thursday 28 November at 6pm, we cordially invite you to a guest lecture in celebration of Peter Fosl's newly published book with Edinburgh University Press, Hume’s Scepticism: Pyrrhonian and Academic. The lecture, titled Interpreting Hume through the Pyrrhonian and Academic Sceptical Traditions: A Thanksgiving Reading, will take place in the Usha Kasera Lecture Theatre (formerly the Adam Lecture Theatre), Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL.

While David Hume’s early readers received his work as that of a sceptical atheist and nihilist, twentieth-century scholars discerned instead in his texts various forms of epistemological, metaphysical, and doxastic realism. More recently, tentative and qualified readings of Hume as a sceptic have re-emerged. None, however, have argued for a scepticism as thoroughgoing and as radical as what Peter S. Fosl articulates in his newly released book, Hume’s Scepticism: Pyrrhonian and Academic (Edinburgh University Press). Fosl makes his case by first situating Hume's thought historically in the sceptical traditions, ancient and modern, and then by going on to interpret the logical and conceptual apparatus of Hume's work comprehensively.

Peter S. Fosl is Professor of Philosophy at Transylvania University. He is co-author of The Philosopher’s Toolkit, third edition (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming), The Ethics Toolkit (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) and The Critical Thinking Toolkit (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017). He is co-editor of Commonplace Commitments: Thinking through the Legacy of Joseph P. Fell (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Classic Readings in Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), British Philosophers, 1800-2000 (Gale Research, 2002) and British Philosophers, 1500-1799 (Gale Research, 2002). He is editor of The Big Lebowski and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Fosl received a David Hume Fellowship award from IASH, 2013-14, where the work on Hume's Scepticism began.

To book free tickets for this lecture, please visit https://foslhume.eventbrite.com.

The book can be ordered from https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-hume-039-s-scepticism.html and copies will be available for purchase at the lecture.