Negative Impact of God on the Minds of David Hume, Christopher Smart, and William Cowper
David Hume was one of the most influential writers and philosophers of his time. Hume was the second son of Joseph Hume, laird of Ninewells, a small estate in Berwickshire. He was born and raised in Edinburgh, and studied law at Edinburgh University. He left the University without taking a degree with him, however. He spent the next three years living at his fathers, occupying his time primarily with reading and pondering ideas, later to be used in his works. In 1773 Hume traveled to France, making his way to La Fleche on the Loire. He attended Jesuit college while abroad, and was greatly stimulated by history. While in La Fleche, he began his renown A Treatise of Human Understanding. The first two volumes were published in 1739, and the concluding volume in 1740. His work was published anonymously, and subsequently attracted little attention.
While in France, Hume became good friends with a number of well known men. Voltaire, Diderot, and d’Alembert were friends of his that had great influence on his writings and ideas. Several of his works include, The History of Great Britain, and Four Dissertations which contained The Natural History of Religion, Of the Passions, Of Tragedy, and Of the Standard of Taste (Stapleton 1757). Two Essays (1777) contained Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul.
David Hume explores the issue of what exactly comprises the “self”. Hume states in his Treatise of Human Nature that
...when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. (Rossi 2645)
Hume believes that existing is a state of mind, not necessarily a state of being. It is not until he is conscious of his perceptions that he believes he truly exists.
Hume also wrote on the subject of miracles. Hume’s simple definition of a miracle is “a violation of the laws of nature.” Hume proposes in his essay “Of Miracles”, that in order to prove or disprove a so called miracle, one must carefully consider the person telling of the miracle, and if that person is a deceiver or was deceived himself. Hume then puts aside that which he feels is the greater miracle of the two. “ If the falsehood of the testimony would be more miraculous than the event which he relates, then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion” (2648).
According to Hume’s reasoning, he seems to take a fairly scientific approach to believing in miracles. It is the opinion of critics, however, that Hume does not believe in miracles of any sort. As Kemp Smith...