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Hume Studies Volume 33, Number 2, November 2007, pp. 297-304 The Clarendon Edition of Hume's Treatise: Book 1 JOHN BRICKE Those who have used David and Mary Norton's Oxford Philosophical Texts (hereafter abbreviated "OPT") edition of Hume's Treatise will have benefited substantially—whether in teaching and research, or in their novice or more advanced student encounters with Hume—from what the Nortons there did towards establishing a critical text of the Treatise, and towards the exposition and interpretation of that difficult work. Anyone, philosopher or other, with a serious research interest in the history of early modern philosophy, and in Hume's philosophy in particular, now stands indebted to this redoubtable team of scholars for the publication (Clarendon Press, 2007) of their finished critical edition of the Treatise, the Abstract, and the Letter From a Gentleman, and for the remarkable scholarly contributions revealed or constituted by the 740 pages of materials supporting the critical texts themselves. (For brevity's sake I will focus on the Treatise in what follows.) The supporting materials in this Clarendon edition comprise (amongst other things) : a brilliantly informed, engaging, and humanizing historical account of the Treatise "from its beginnings to the time of Hume's death" (2:433-588); an exhaustive rendering of the Nortons' derivation of critical text from copy text, together with an exhaustive register of both minor and major emendations to the copy text; nearly 300 pages of editors' annotations to the text; a four-part bibliography; and two indexes, the first focused on the historical account and the editing of the text, and the second directed to the text itself and to the editors' John Bricke is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA. E-mail: jbricke@ku.edu. 298 John Bricke annotations. The whole constitutes a masterly scholarly achievement, one which must have a profound effect on continuing efforts to grasp and assess the contents of Hume's demanding masterpiece. Ignoring more broadly historical, textual, and bibliographical matters, and dividing the more philosophical labor with my co-symposiasts, I shall focus on Book 1 of the Treatise. I shall attend in particular to the editors' annotations to Book 1 and to the second index, Index 2. My concern is to characterize and comment on the contributions the editors make therein, and—in a critical vein—to indicate a few important lacunae. The annotations of the Clarendon edition, the editors say, "provide materials intended to illuminate, but not interpret, Hume's texts" (2:685). For exposition or interpretative suggestions the reader is directed to the OPT edition. (There, of course, one finds David Norton's 90-page "Editor's Introduction," 150 pages of "Editors' Annotations" that include textual summaries "intended to be descriptive rather than interpretative" (421), and a "Glossary.") In just what ways are exposition and interpretation, on the one hand, and illumination, on the other, supposed to differ? If different, how are they related? The editors remark, with a suggestive caution, that the distinction between interpretation and illumination is one that, "however difficult to maintain in practice, provides a useful ideal" (2:685). The materials they offer in illumination, though abundant and generous, have, as we shall see, a striking and principled austerity. While presumably intended to contribute to the projects of exposition and interpretation of the Treatise (projects that are not, in the Clarendon edition, the editors' own projects) the annotations and accompanying index do not, themselves, constitute instances of exposition or interpretation. How precisely do they serve to illuminate the Treatise? How might they forward exposition and interpretation? To approach an answer to these questions let us turn to the annotations and to Index 2 themselves. I shall begin by registering the several purposes the Nortons explicitly intend the Clarendon annotations (complemented by the entries in Index 2) to serve. I shall also, as needed, look to linked annotations, annotations of an expository (and perhaps interpretative) sort, in the Nortons' OPT edition of the Treatise. Several sorts of Clarendon annotations serve one or other quite basic purpose: to explain some archaic, obsolete, or otherwise puzzling word or phrase; to provide translations of Hume's Latin...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 297-304
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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