15 July 2015
HUME, David (1711-1776). A Treatise of Human Nature: being an Attempt to introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. Of the Understanding [volume I]; Of the Passions [volume II]; Of Morals [volume III]. London: John Noon and [volume III] Thomas Longman, 1739-1740.
3 volumes, 8° (197-206 x 126mm). Four pages of publisher's advertisements at end of volume II. (Without the final blank in vol. III, occasional scattered marginal spotting.) Contemporary near uniform calf, spines with raised bands, numbered directly in gilt, compartments with gilt double rules, sides with gilt double-rule border, volumes 1 and 2 also with an inner blind roll-tooled border with crowns and sprays, edges sprinkled red (vol. I rebacked preserving the original spine, vols. II-III with spine ends repaired and joints split, corners repaired, extremities rubbed); modern blue cloth slipcase with Kennet arms in gilt. Provenance: Lord Kennet of the Dene (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF 18TH-CENTURY ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY, and a work which Hume intended to ‘produce an almost total alteration in philosophy’ (letter to Henry Home, 13 February 1739). It 'sums up a century of speculation on knowledge and of theological discussion', and represents ‘the first attempt to apply Locke's empirical psychology to build a theory of knowledge, and from it to provide a critique of metaphysical ideas' (PMM). The clarity of Hume’s writing also makes his Treatise one of the finest examples of 18th-century prose. Brunet III, 376; Jessop p.13; Lowndes III, 1140; PMM 194; Rothschild 1171.
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