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  • David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, diplomat and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy. He is the philosopher "widely regarded as the greatest who has ever written in the English language." While Hume failed in his attempts to start a university career, he took part in various diplomatic and military missions of the time. His The History of England became a best-seller, and grew to become the standard history of England in its day. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist. Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably René Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behaviour. He also argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience.

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  • His theories laid the groundwork for the Secular Humanist movement and influenced generations of philosophers, reformers, social scientists and moralists. His arguments regarding the ways in which we experience the world around us were a cornerstone of the Enlightenment and Rational thought. His insistence on empirical, or experience-based research, and his scepticism regarding both miracles and scientific "proofs" are reflected in contemporary discussions of social interactions, morality and ethics.
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