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Hume wrote A Treatise of Human Nature in France at the age of twenty-six. Although many scholars today consider the Treatise to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in the history of philosophy, the public in Britain did not at first agree. Hume himself described the (lack of) public reaction to the publication of the Treatise by writing that the book "fell dead-born from the press."[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Hume intended to see whether the Treatise met with success, and if so to complete it with books devoted to Politics and Criticism.[How to reference and link to summary or text] (It did not meet with success, and so was not completed.)
After deciding that the Treatise had problems of style rather than of content, he reworked some of the material for more popular consumption in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. It did not prove extremely successful either, but more so than the Treatise.
The full title was 'A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'. It contained the following sections:
- Book 1: "Of the Understanding" His treatment of everything from the origin of our ideas to how they are to be divided. Important statements of Scepticism.
- Book 2: "Of the Passions" Treatment of emotions.
- Book 3: "Of Morals" Moral ideas, justice, obligations, benevolence.
A Treatise of Human Nature is now in the public domain.
- A Treatise of Human Nature, available freely at Project Gutenberg
- A Treatise of Human Nature, web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide
- fr:Traité de la nature humaine
- lb:Treatise of Human Nature
- fi:A Treatise of Human Nature
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