This essay treats the final version of Hume's Essays, Volume 1, as an artfully shaped whole. Framed by essays on taste that address the interaction of personal and social dynamics, the volume is organized into loose clusters of political and moral essays that share a common pattern of offering multiple approaches to the issues they examine and pursuing a given idea until it reaches a point of excess that generates a salutary correction. This activity circumscribes an inexact range of balance, which is left for the reader to resolve or, better, to continue. In this, Hume's Essays invite readers to participate in the interaction between self-formation and cultural forms that is motor of Hume's post-skeptical philosophy and the genre of the essay alike.


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pp. 3-23
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