SubjectsSubjects(version: 861)
Course, academic year 2019/2020
Reading Hume’s “Treatise of Human Nature” - OEBXO1702Z
Title: Reading Hume’s “Treatise of Human Nature”
Guaranteed by: Katedra občanské výchovy a filosofie (41-KOVF)
Faculty: Faculty of Education
Actual: from 2019
Semester: both
E-Credits: 3
Hours per week, examination: 2/0 Ex [hours/week]
Capacity: winter:unknown / unknown (10)
summer:unknown / unknown (10)
Min. number of students: unlimited
State of the course: not taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: enabled for web enrollment
you can enroll for the course in winter and in summer semester
Guarantor: Mgr. David Rybák, Ph.D.
Last update: Kateřina Esserová, DiS. (12.08.2019)
A native of Edinburgh, Scottish philosopher David Hume represents a fundamental event in the history of European thought that has transformed the existing philosophy as well as science. The most famous is his critique of category of causality. Using the deepened philosophical asking for identification of basic issues in European metaphysics and science will provide the frame for our interpretation of Hume’s fundamental (although in his life underestimated) ingenious text “A Treatise of Human Nature”. In order to secure, what is left from the University, we take a philosophical approach going beyond the narrow frame of specialization in particular sciences and ask about the general frame of modern science as such. We are convinced that expert knowledge is not enough. Besides, it leads to “fachidiotism”. Students need to understand general conditions and presuppositions of modern science. And for this purpose, Hume’s provocative way of asking is a good opportunity.
Aim of the course
Last update: Kateřina Esserová, DiS. (12.08.2019)


After completion of the seminar student is supposed to be able to understand the fundamental frame of modern metaphysics of subjectivity as a latent basis for every special science. And, as modern science creates our modern world, such an understanding should also provide better understanding of our present situation.

Last update: Kateřina Esserová, DiS. (12.08.2019)

Required texts:

HUME, David. A treatise of human nature. 8. vyd. London: Penguin Books, 1985. ISBN 0-14-043244-2. (or any other critical edition)

Online version:


Recommended texts:

ALLISON, Henry E. Custom and reason in Hume: a Kantian reading of the first book of the Treatise. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2008. 412 p. ISBN 978-0-19-953288-9.

HUME, David a Beauchamp, Tom L., ed. An enquiry concerning human understanding: a critical edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006, 2000. cvii, 344 p. ISBN 0-19-926634-4.

McCracken, Charles James. Malebranche and British Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983. 349 p. ISBN 0198246641.

MURPHY, Richard T. Hume and Husserl: towards radical subjectivism. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1980. ISBN 90-247-2172-5.

OWEN, David. Hume's reason. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004. 234 p. ISBN 0-19-925260-2.

Radcliffe, E. S. (ed.). A companion to Hume. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Pub., 2008.

Last update: Kateřina Esserová, DiS. (12.08.2019)

Our reading will be focused on:

A treatise of human nature, Book I, Part 1, § 1-7 (seminar 1-7)

How is David Hume located in the history of philosophy?

What does it mean for Hume, “A Science of Man”? What is the humanity of man, according to Hume?

Wherein lies the importance of Hume’s distinction between common life and scientific reasoning?

How Hume’s questioning regarding the fundamental categories of thinking (identity, substance, ego, predicate, causality etc.) has transformed the shape of modern science?

On the other hand, how is Hume’s philosophy burdened with previous thinking, especially with Cartesian metaphysics of consciousness? How so that his own thinking is enclosed within the frame of this metaphysics? What could it mean to re-open up this enclosing?


A treatise of human nature, Book I, Part 4, § 6 (seminar 8-10)

What is the “ego”? What makes up an identity of ego? And is there such an entity like the “I”, or is it a pure fiction? How Hume’s solution contrasts with other solutions (Descartes’ ego-substance, Kant’s transcendental apperception, Husserl’s pure or transcendental ego-pole).


A treatise of human nature, Book III, Part 1, § 1-2 (seminar 11-12)

Hume’s work makes also a great contribution for Ethics:

What constitutes our ability to distinguish between “good” and “evil”? How to understand Hume’s thesis that reason is impotent in our pursuit within the frame of ethics? What set of presuppositions is in action in Hume’s reasoning regarding this issue?

Course completion requirements
Last update: Kateřina Esserová, DiS. (12.08.2019)

The course will be examined through active participation in seminars and the interpretation of selected text and colloquial examination concerning its issues.

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