Philosophie en langue anglaise 2


Composante :UFR Humanités

En bref

Période : Semestre 2

Code matière : LEA2U3


David Hume's Skepticism and Its Legacy in Britain and the United States

Historian, essayist, and a central, controversial figure in the Enlightenment, David Hume (1711-1776) is one of the greatest philosophers in the British tradition and the most influential skeptic of the modern era.  The primary focus of the course will be on the nature of David Hume's skepticism and its legacy in Britain and the United States, from Scottish "Common Sense" philosophy  to New England Transcendentalism. 

We will begin with an overview of Hume's experimental method and his conception of human nature and the limited power of reason within it, in contrast to the power of feeling, the imagination, and natural belief-formation.  In this overview of his philosophy and its reception at home and abroad (with glances at Germany and France), emphasis will be placed on what his readers and critics saw (and continue to see) as "the two Humes"—"Hume the skeptic" and "Hume the naturalist": on the one hand, the skeptic for whom neither reason nor the senses can justify our belief in the existence of an ongoing external world or in a stable personal identity or unified self; on the other, the philosopher who considers that "nature is always too strong for principle" and that the skeptical conclusions of philosophy turn out to be, in view of the power of the imagination and the mechanisms of natural belief-formation, of little or no practical consequence in the conduct of everyday life.

We shall also examine the implications of his skepticism for moral philosophy and religious belief.  Finally—and since this course is part of a philosophy-English curriculum—we shall not omit careful consideration of one of Hume's greatest strengths as a philosopher: his consummate style. We shall see how the many examples of humor and irony further the skeptical aims of one of the finest philosophical writers in the English language. 

Volume horaire CM : 18
Volume horaire TD : 18
Crédits ECTS : 4


  • To familiarize students with Hume's doctrine and his place in the history of philosophy, through his writings and their impact on his contemporaries and on philosophers and religious thinkers who came after him.
  • To use Hume as a case-study to give students a clear sense of the historical, cultural, and religious stakes involved in the reception of a controversial philosophical doctrine
  • To acquire a method of close reading of philosophical prose in English
  • To develop discussion and writing skills in English on philosophical themes, combining both technical and everyday terms.
Diplômes intégrant cette UE :