The 45 Most Famous and Influential David Hume Quotes

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David Hume was a Scottish historian, essayist, and philosopher who lived in the 18th century. He was popular for being the pioneer of numerous path-breaking ideas in the field of philosophy including empiricism and skepticism. Hume studied at the University of Edinburgh but later quit as he did not feel that his processors could or had anything new to teach him. He, therefore, devoted his time to study philosophy

One of his famous and early works known as A Treatise of Human Nature drove individuals to learn more about nature thus making him a well-known and leading philosopher of all time. Other notable works by David Hume include Political and Literacy Essays, ‘My Own Life’, ‘Four Dissertations’, and many more. David Hume is regarded as among the most influential figures in the creation of Western Thought.

Below is a collection of David Hume quotes obtained from his papers, writings, and thoughts. They focus on facts, pride, assurance, proportion, beholder, beauty politics, sentiment, and other aspects of life.

There is something here for every serious philosophy student!

David Hume Quotes

1. “Epicurus’s old questions are still unanswered: Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? then whence evil?”– David Hume

2. “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”– David Hume

3. “Does a man of sense run after every silly tale of hobgoblins or fairies, and canvass particularly the evidence? I never knew anyone, that examined and deliberated about nonsense who did not believe it before the end of his enquiries.”– David Hume

4. “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”– David Hume

5. “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.”– David Hume

6. “Eloquence, at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection, but addresses itself entirely to the desires and affections, captivating the willing hearers, and subduing their understanding.”– David Hume

7. “Nothing appears more surprising to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.”– David Hume

8. “Any pride or haughtiness, is displeasing to us, merely because it shocks our own pride, and leads us by sympathy into comparison, which causes the disagreeable passion of humility.”– David Hume

9. “Where ambition can cover its enterprises, even to the person himself, under the appearance of principle, it is the most incurable and inflexible of passions.”– David Hume

10. “He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper, but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to his circumstance.”– David Hume

11. “When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.”– David Hume

12 “. .no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.”– David Hume

13. “Disbelief in futurity loosens in a great measure the ties of morality, and may be for that reason pernicious to the peace of civil society.”– David Hume

14. “Be a philosopher, but amid all your philosophy, be still a man.”– David Hume

15. “That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmation, that it will rise.”– David Hume

16. “A man acquainted with history may, in some respect, be said to have lived from the beginning of the world, and to have been making continual additions to his stock of knowledge in every century.”– David Hume

17. ” .. that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery: it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species.”– David Hume

18. “The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science and learning; and whoever can either remove any obstructions in this way, or open up any new prospect, ought so far to be esteemed a benefactor to mankind.”– David Hume

19. “The feelings of our heart, the agitation of our passions, the vehemence of our affections, dissipate all its conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to a mere plebeian.”– David Hume

20. “the fact that different cultures have different practices no more refutes [moral] objectivism than the fact that water flows in different directions in different places refutes the law of gravity.”– David Hume

21. “No conclusion can be more agreable to scepticism than such as make discoveries concerning the weakness and narrow limites of human reason and capacity.”– David Hume

22. “Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.”– David Hume

23. “He is happy whom circumstances suit his temper; but he Is more excellent who suits his temper to any circumstance.”– David Hume

24. “Belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain.”– David Hume

25. “Any person seasoned with a just sense of the imperfections of natural reason, will fly to revealed truth with the greatest avidity.”– David Hume

26. “To be a philosophical Sceptic is the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian.”– David Hume

27. “The identity that we ascribe to things is only a fictitious one, established by the mind, not a peculiar nature belonging to what we’re talking about.”– David Hume

28. “In public affairs men are often better pleased that the truth, though known to everybody, should be wrapped up under a decent cover than if it were exposed in open daylight to the eyes of all the world.”– David Hume

29. “Men’s views of things are the result of their understanding alone. Their conduct is regulated by their understanding, their temper, and their passions.”– David Hume

30. “[I]f subjects must never resist, it follows that every prince, without any effort, policy, or violence, is at once rendered absolute and uncontrollable.”– David Hume

31. “Here then we are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts, which every nation gives of its origin.”– David Hume

32. “I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.”– David Hume

33. “We choose our favourite author as we do our friend, from a conformity of humour and disposition. Mirth or passion, sentiment or reflection; whichever of these most predominates in our temper, it gives us a peculiar sympathy with the writer who resembles us.”– David Hume

34. “When principles are so absurd and so destructive of human society, it may safely be averred, that the more sincere and the more disinterested they are, they only become the more ridiculous and the more odious.”– David Hume

35. “Accuracy is, in every case, advantageous to beauty, and just reasoning to delicate sentiment. In vain would we exalt the one by depreciating the other.”– David Hume

36. “Every wise, just, and mild government, by rendering the condition of its subjects easy and secure, will always abound most in people, as well as in commodities and riches.”– David Hume

37. “All sentiment is right; because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself, and is always real, wherever a man is conscious of it. But all determinations of the understanding are not right; because they have a reference to something beyond themselves, to wit, real matter of fact; and are not always conformable to that standard.”– David Hume

38. “It is harder to avoid censure than to gain applause; for this may be done by one great or wise action in an age. But to escape censure a man must pass his whole life without saying or doing one ill or foolish thing.”– David Hume

39. “When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; though such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others.”– David Hume

40. “An infinite number of real parts of time, passing in succession, and exhausted one after another, appears so evident a contradiction, that no man, one should think, whose judgement is not corrupted, instead of being improved, by the sciences, would ever be able to admit of it.”– David Hume

41. “It is not reason which is the guide of life, but custom.”– David Hume

42. “What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call ‘thought.”– David Hume

43. “The victory is not gained by the men at arms, who manage the pike and the sword; but by the trumpeters, drummers, and musicians of the army.”– David Hume

44. “Beyond the constant conjunction of similar objects, and the consequent inference from one to the other, we have no notion of any necessity, or connexion.”– David Hume

45. “Of all sciences there is none, where first appearances are more deceitful than in politics.”– David Hume

See also: John Locke Quotes

David Hume Video – Philosophy

David Hume is one of the world’s great philosophical voices because he hit upon a key fact about human nature: that we are more influenced by our feelings than by reason. Hume thought that accepting the concept of emotion impacting our logic would ultimately help us better understand our decision making.

And many psychologists have explore this theme in greater detail and now we have a much better understanding of how unconscious and emotional processes influence our logical or illogical processes and how they impact our actual behavior.

 

Summary

In conclusion, David Hume was one of the most influential people of his time. Being a philosopher, he spoke many words concerning the ways of life and how to deal with everyday problems.

His quotes and wise sayings covered a broad area of life scenarios and how to tackle them. Reading the above quotes about David Hume will enlighten you and allow you to see life in another dimension that is advantageous to you and your friends and kins.

Image Credit: Allan Ramsay, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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