Description

    One of the Most Important Texts in Western Philosophy

    David Hume. A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. Vol. I. Of the Understanding [- Vol. II. Of the Passions]. London: Printed for John Noon, 1739. First edition. Approximately 8 x 5 inches. Two octavo volumes [viii], 475, [1, ad]; [iv], 318, [8, ads] pages. With the four pages of ads at the rear of the second volume, which is quite rare. Contemporary speckled calf, double-ruled in gilt, spines tooled in gilt in compartments, five raised bands, green and brown morocco gilt lettering labels. Both volumes professionally rebacked preserving the original spines. Some wear to bindings. Front hinge of Volume I just starting. A few light ink notations in Volume I. Contemporary ownership signatures affixed to front pastedowns. Overall, an excellent copy, exceptionally clean and in a contemporary binding.

    First edition of Hume's first and greatest work, which was '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 the full importance of his conclusions was hardly appreciated until Bentham realized Hume's utilitarianism and Mill his logic' (PMM). Not only is it perhaps the greatest work of British eighteenth-century philosophy, it also is written in superb prose. Hume had written most of these first two volumes at La Fleche, the town in France where Descartes was educated. This two-volume set was published anonymously in an edition of 1000 copies and Hume retired to Ninewells in Berwickshire to write a third volume and await the critical reaction to his work. Although one review mentioned Hume's 'soaring genius', much of the critical reaction to the book was a little hostile. He was so infuriated by the reaction that he challenged one publisher to a swordfight. 'Wishing to have some check upon his bookseller', Hume sold the third volume, Of the Morals, to an entirely different publisher, Thomas Longman, who published it separately in 1740. The third volume was to some extent to be read as a separate work to the preceding volumes, and it is exceedingly rare to find complete sets of all three volumes in early bindings. Almost all uniform sets comprise only the first two volumes. From the James and Deborah Boyd Collection.

    Jessop p.13. Printing and the Mind of Man 194. Rothschild 1174.


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    April, 2012
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