BLTC Press Titles


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My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


A treatise of human nature

by David Hume

Excerpt:

EDITORS PREFACE.

The length of the Index demands apology or at least justification. An index may serve several purposes. It enables a reader or student to find some definite passage, or to see whether a certain point is discussed or not in the work. For this purpose a long is evidently better than a short index, an index which quotes than one which consists of the compiler's abbreviations, and its alphabetical arrangement gives it an advantage over a table of contents which is hardly secured by placing the table at the end instead of the beginning. But besides this, in the case of a well known and much criticised author, an index may very well serve the purpose of a critical introduction. If well devised it should point, not loudly but unmistakeably, to any contradictions or inconsequences, and, if the work be systematic, to any omissions which are of importance. This is the aim of the index now offered: it undoubtedly is not what it should be, but Hume's Treatise seems to offer an excellent field for an attempt. Hume loses nothing by close and critical reading, and, though his language is often perversely loose, yet it is not always the expression of loose thinking: this index aims at helping the student to see the difference and to fix his attention on the real merits and real deficiencies of the system : it does not aim at saving him the trouble of studying it for himself.

TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE.

INTRODUCTION.

Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to discover any thing new to the world in philosophy and the sciences, than to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all those, which have been advanced before them. And indeed were they content with lamenting that ignorance, which we still lie under in the most important questions, that can come before the tribunal of human reason, there are few, who have an acquaintance -with the sciences, that would not readily agree with them. 'Tis easy for one of judgment and learning, to perceive the weak foundation even of those systems, which have obtained the greatest credit, and have carried their pretensions highest to accurate and profound reasoning. Principles taken upon trust, consequences lamely deduced from them, want of coherence in the parts, and of evidence in the whole, these are every where to be met with in the systems of the most eminent philosophers, and seem to have drawn disgrace upon philosophy itself.

Nor is there requir'd such profound knowledge to discover the present imperfect condition of the sciences, but even the

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rabble without doors may judge from the noise and clamour, which they hear, that all goes not well within. There is nothing which is not the subject of debate, and in which men of learning are not of contrary opinions. The most trivial question escapes not our controversy, and in the most momentous we are not able to give any certain decision. Disputes are multiplied, as if every thing was uncertain; and these disputes are managed with the greatest warmth, as if every thing was certain. Amidst all this bustle 'tis not reason, which carries the prize, but eloquence; and no man needs ever despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant hypothesis, who has art enough to represent it in any favourable colours. 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.

From hence in my opinion arises that common prejudice against metaphysical reasonings of all kinds, even amongst those, who profess themselves scholars, and have a just value for every other part of literature. By metaphysical reasonings, they do not understand those on any particular branch of science, but every kind of argument, which is any way abstruse, and requires some attention to be comprehended. We have so often lost our labour in such researches, that we commonly reject them without hesitation, and resolve, if we must for ever be a prey to errors and delusions, that they shall at least be natural and entertaining. And indeed nothing but the most determined scepticism, along with a great degree of indolence, can justify this aversion to metaphysics. For if truth be at all within the reach of human capacity, 'tis certain it must lie very deep and abstruse ; and to hope we shall arrive at it without pains, while the greatest geniuses have failed with the utmost pains, must certainly be esteemed sufficiently vain and presumptuous. I pretend to no such advantage in the philosophy I am going to unfold, and would esteem it a strong presumption against it, were it so very easy and obvious.


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