I.Q. of Famous People

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David Hume

Born: 1711
Died: 1776
Nationality: Scotland
Description: Philosopher & politician
IQ: 180
Scottish philosopher. David Hume lost his father at the age of three and was raised by his mother, under the rigid control of his uncle, a pastor.

In 1734, he left for France where he wrote his Treatise of human nature, which will have little success. Secretary of a diplomat on a mission on the continent from 1746 to 1750, he acquired a certain notoriety thanks to the Survey of Human Understanding. His candidacy to the chair of philosophy of Edinburgh and Glasgow being refused, he became librarian of the Bar of Edinburgh. From 1763 to 1766, he resided again in France, where, secretary of the ambassador of England, he is celebrated by the Parisian salons and Encyclopédistes. He was appointed Deputy Secretary of State in London in 1767, before returning in 1769, in his hometown, where he died in 1776.

In the footsteps of Newton, Hume intends to establish a science where human experience both confirms, corrects and limit the investigation. According to the Scottish philosopher, these are not things that we know, but only knowledge related to things: everything escapes from knowledge, with the exception of human understanding that are entirely subject to the experience. This empiricism, which has clear links with the naturalism and scepticism, is marked by a violent anti-metaphysic orientation.

the work of Hume appears, particularly in the Dialogues on Natural Religion, as a criticism of the principle of reason: while admitting that there is an order of things, the philosopher says that it is futile to look forward to explain it basing ourseleves on comprehension. Examination of all religious systems - ie all cosmogonies - shows that it is not necessary to assume that the cause of the world is an intelligent intention. Anything can be a cause of the order ( "Why an ordered system could be woven belly as well as the brain?"), and where the reason wants to report it, it gets lost in arbitrariness.

The reason itself, says Hume, is a fact of the world, therefore "we known it as little as the instinct or vegetation." We can at most know its mechanism, not its foundation, and set the practice in its natural limits. However, this vigilant regulation is necessary because the order of the spirit comes from the disorder and tends to return to it. The reason is nothing but the imagination made uniform.

The mind naturally wanders from an idea to another, but randomly: no idea has by itself nor exclusive or constant affinity with another. The ideas are met in accordance with the principles of association, which impose their rule to the imagination.

A struggle opposes delirium and the principles that make of the imagination a organized faculty.

1740 Treatise of human nature
1741-1783 Essays, moral, political, Literary
1748 Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
1751 Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
1762 The History of England
1779 Dialogues on natural religion
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