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The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought


The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (8 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
10 ore
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Pubblicato:
May 22, 2018
ISBN:
9781977383600
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

The story of the greatest of all philosophical friendships—and how it influenced modern thought

David Hume is widely regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English, but during his lifetime he was attacked as "the Great Infidel" for his skeptical religious views and deemed unfit to teach the young. In contrast, Adam Smith was a revered professor of moral philosophy, and is now often hailed as the founding father of capitalism. Remarkably, the two were best friends for most of their adult lives, sharing what Dennis Rasmussen calls the greatest of all philosophical friendships. The Infidel and the Professor is the first book to tell the fascinating story of the friendship of these towering Enlightenment thinkers—and how it influenced their world-changing ideas.

The book follows Hume and Smith's relationship from their first meeting in 1749 until Hume's death in 1776. It describes how they commented on each other's writings, supported each other's careers and literary ambitions, and advised each other on personal matters, most notably after Hume's quarrel with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Members of a vibrant intellectual scene in Enlightenment Scotland, Hume and Smith made many of the same friends (and enemies), joined the same clubs, and were interested in many of the same subjects well beyond philosophy and economics—from psychology and history to politics and Britain's conflict with the American colonies. The book reveals that Smith's private religious views were considerably closer to Hume's public ones than is usually believed. It also shows that Hume contributed more to economics—and Smith contributed more to philosophy—than is generally recognized.

Vividly written, The Infidel and the Professor is a compelling account of a great friendship that had great consequences for modern thought.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
May 22, 2018
ISBN:
9781977383600
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Disponibile anche come libroLibro

Informazioni sull'autore

Dennis C. Rasmussen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston.


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    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    I had been curious about David Hume’s life for a long time but had not yet found a biography that appealed to me. I did not know of his relationship with Adam Smith, I had thought of Adam Smith as an intellect who dealt strictly with economic philosophy. This book brought these two great men of intellect in my mind’s eye. It very effectively told the story of two opposites, a gregarious extravert, David Hume with an introvert that wasn’t as engaging on a social front.The book was laid out chronologically, tracing both men’s lives as it evolved from when they first met until Hume’s passing and beyond, detailing every important aspect of their intertwined lives as loyal friends, effective critics, and sounding boards for each other’s philosophical ideas. The story traces the roots of their friendship as diligently as possible since Smith was an infrequent letter writer. The author, Rasmussen, had to piece together the historical narrative with bits of documentation other people’s surviving writing along with writing from their friends and peers, sometimes squeezing out details through tangential correspondences. Hume contributed mightily as he was a prolific letter writer, so his letters to others helped Rasmussen in this regard. It must have taken a tremendous amount of mental gymnastics and conjecturing for Rasmussen to write a compelling of a narrative as he did here. It was especially fascinating to follow the author along as he tried to reconstruct their debates and friendly thrust and parry on their significant works. The depth of the philosophical arguments and the nuances brought forth by the author was impressive. Even as I was trying to read this with a skeptical eye, the author never overreached his narrative and his conjectures as to the original meaning of the authors were well supported and logical in his conclusions. It is fascinating to essentially reconstruct the debates that these men had over their most intimate thoughts and works. The book was not strictly a restatement of their thoughts however, the author did a remarkable job discussing the event of the day and of their lives and how the current events of the day affected their thoughts and their lives. There was a good amount of discussion regarding each of the men’s employment, as tutors to the wealthy and secretaries to politically well-connected diplomats and other government officials. They both eventually settled down to bucolic lives working as professors in their universities, Hume in Edinburgh and Smith in Glasgow. While the discussion of Hume’s famously anti-religious arguments, The Infidel in the book title referred to Hume, versus Smith’s perceived acquiescence to the religious orthodoxy was very revealing in this recounting: the author states that even though Smith was less overt with his questions regarding the religious orthodoxy of the time – it would be difficult to be as overt as Hume in his opposition to the church – he apparently had more points of agreements with Hume than differences, even though he took pains to ameliorated it to avoid being reviled by those other men of letters at the time. Hume had no such compunctions, indeed, he seemed to delight in tweaking the religious in his irreligiosity It cost him dearly as he was denied employment as professor early on. What is fascinating is the description of how they two friends helped each other in sharpening and developing their arguments represented by their written works. The author patiently and painstakingly traced the discussions between the two friends as they composed their philosophical works over their lifetimes. It is a fascinating intellectual history recounted for our sake. The arguments were recreated through citations and expert interpretations, it presented the points of agreements and disagreements closely and in an unadorned fashion. Even though the explanations were sometimes complex, as all philosophical explanations can be, it was never boring. The discussion of Hume’s work wound its way from his less than enthusiastically received A Treatise of Human Nature to the two enquiries: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals through his Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, and to his most famous work, although it was a work of history rather than philosophy: The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688.The narrative of their friendship continued until Hume passed and proceeded beyond that as Smith acted as more or less Hume’s philosophical and literary executor, as he defended his friends’ beliefs after his passing. He did not allow the gossip of the day to distort or misrepresent Hume’s staunch irreligiosity. He made sure that Hume’s brief, but final autobiography, David Hume: My Life, be published posthumously as Hume had wanted. That was a testament to a true friendship, representing a friend as he wanted to be represented. The story presented in this book also did not shortchange Smith. The author took pains to present the entirety of Smith’s works and did not try to sequester his thoughts to his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations, as many others have previously tried to do. The author did well in tracing the thread of Smith’s thought and described how The Theory of Moral Sentiment made The Wealth of Nation possible.Indeed, this book was a revelation to someone like me, a dilettante in philosophy and history, it served as an excellent introduction to the genre and it made my intellectual life so much better.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile