How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis

Alison Gopnik, The Atlantic, Sept 19, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Hume was one of my early important influences and remains today among my favourite philosophers. Hume is known mostly as a sceptic but the many hours I have spent in his work rewarded me with a philosophy of mind and associationist logic that accords well with what we actually see of humans (and infants, and animals) thinking and reasoning. This article focuses mostly on Hume's thoughts about the self and explores the Buddhist roots in this thinking. It is not unreasonable to suspect such an influence - by the late 1700s the British were well established; the East India Company - for which Hume would later work - had been in place since 1612. And I like the description of the link between Hume's motivations and the author's motivations; they echo my own experience, and for that matter, the experience of most philosophers who really matter.

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