restricted access Hume's Sentiments, Their Ciceronian and French Context (review)
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482 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 22:4 OCT x984 adjustments. The author appears to believe that his study mounts a challenge to the received view of Cartesian physics. This reviewer cannot agree. Marshall scarcely makes contact with history of science. His Descartes did not make mistakes, but instead created a personal metaphysics of nature. Moreover, he did it in vacuo, without reference to the Stevin-Beeckman mechanics upon which the young Descartes cut his teeth. The author's study is speculative in the exact sense of that word. Read as such, its ingenuity is a delight. But it is not history of science. HIRAM CATON Griffith University Peter Jones. Hume's Sentiments, Their Ciceronian and French Context. Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh Press, 1982. 23~ pp. L. A. Selby-Bigge's light remark in the "Introduction" to his edition of Hume's Enquiries that it is possible in reading Hume to find every philosophy and no philosophy , cannot be said of any other major modern philosopher. Hume, more than any other modern philosopher, has appeared as the construct of interpretations imposed upon his work. One has needed a "Hume" of some sort to complete this or that story of the history of modern philosophy. We are still much in need of recalling the historical Hume. To this end, Jones's book is a major step. The first step in demythologizing Hume was taken by Kemp Smith who presented Hume as developing the naturalism of Hutcheson. While not denying the influence of Hutcheson on Hume, Jones calls our attention to the all pervasive influence of Cicero in shaping Hume's philosophy and of the impact of French writers on language, rhetoric, logic, and the merits of the ancients and the moderns as well as of French philosophers such as Malebranche and DuBos. Discussion of these influences may seem eccentric, but only because of the entrenched and provincial image of Hume as an epistemology-only British empiricist. The French connection is to be expected, Hume after all was a Scotsman whose nation had century-long family, political, and intellectual ties with France. The Treatise was written in France where Hume returned in later life and where he came close to settling permanently. Nor should the Ciceronian connection be surprising. Cicero's literary, rhetorical, and philosophical work constituted a framework in which many 18th century thinkers moved and had their being. Hume presupposed this framework in the minds of his readers and-worked within it. The book itself is in this Ciceronian tradition and not in the contemporary analytic tradition which has informed and often distorted so much of our reading of Hume. Jones is not primarily concerned to examine Hume's "arguments"; rather, he seeks to establish a picture of the philosophical-rhetorical background without which Hume's arguments cannot be understood. In several places, the book is described as a "prelude" to Hume studies. Jones's method is the classical rhetorical one of juxtaposing quotes which require little commentary. In this way he is able to cover an astonishing range of figures most of whom are now obscure but who constituted the BOOK REVIEWS 483 intellectual world in which Hume's philosophical consciousness was nourished and grew and to which his own works were addressed. The result is a mosaic-like interpretation of great scope and power. Hume emerges firmly rooted in his historical context and purged of the many unreal interpretations that have been placed upon his work: the nihilistic skeptic, the phcnomenalist, the positivist, the precursor of logical empiricism, the one who awoke Kant from his dogmatic slumbers, etc. These interpretations vanish not by argument so much as by the sheer revelation of Hume's intellectual world. Stripped of these interpretations, Hume appears neither as radical nor as original as many have thought. Rather, he stands out, refreshingly, as an up to date 18th century Ciceronian humanist. The first chapter is entitled "Hume's Beginnings," the last chapter "Hume's Ends." It turns out that Hume's beginnings were in his ends and his ends in his beginnings. The governing end of Hume's career as a writer was to construct a comprehensive secular philosophy of man...


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