David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, scepticism, and naturalism. Profoundly inspirational David Hume quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.
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Famous David Hume Quotes
The ages of greatest public spirit are not always eminent for private virtue.
Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profitable for us both, that I should labor with you today, and that you should aid me tomorrow.
The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.
To philosopher and historian the madness and imbecile wickedness of mankind ought to appear ordinary events.
The most pernicious of all taxes are the arbitrary.
While we are reasoning concerning life, life is gone.
I may venture to affirm the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.
Great pleasures are much less frequent than great pains.
Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature.
When men are most sure and arrogant, they are commonly most mistaken.
It is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of manner and of dress is more engaging than that glare of paint and airs and apparel which may dazzle the eye but reaches not the affections.
Does a man of sense run after every silly tale of hobgoblins or fairies, and canvass particularly the evidence? I never knew anyone, that examined and deliberated about nonsense who did not believe it before the end of his enquiries.
If God is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good, whence evil? If God wills to prevent evil but cannot, then He is not omnipotent. If He can prevent evil but does not, then he is not good. In either case he is not God.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.
The feelings of our heart, the agitation of our passions, the vehemence of our affections, dissipate all its conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to a mere plebeian
A man acquainted with history may, in some respect, be said to have lived from the beginning of the world, and to have been making continual additions to his stock of knowledge in every century.
Human Nature is the only science of man; and yet has been hitherto the most neglected.
Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.
Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.
No human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle, and make it a just foundation for any such system of religion
No man ever threw away life while it was worth keeping.
Tho’ there be no such Thing as Chance in the World; our Ignorance of the real Ccause of any Event has the same Influence on the Understanding and begets a like Species of Belief or Opinion.
Custom is the great guide to human life.
Amazing David Hume Quotes
How can we satisfy ourselves without going on in infinitum? And, after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression? Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. It was never more applicable than to the present subject. If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world.
The consequence of a very free commerce between the sexes, and of their living much together, will often terminate in intrigues and gallantry.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.
I do not have enough faith to believe there is no god.
Praise never gives us much pleasure unless it concurs with our own opinion, and extol us for those qualities in which we chiefly excel.
Look round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, inpregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children.
Time is a perishable commodity.
Superstition is an enemy to civil liberty.
Anticipation of pleasure is, in itself, a very considerable pleasure.
Of all sciences there is none where first appearances are more deceitful than in politics.
The best taxes are such as are levied upon consumptions, especially those of luxury; because such taxes are least felt by the people. They seem, in some measure, voluntary; since a man may choose how far he will use the commodity: They naturally produce sobriety and frugality, if judiciously imposed: And being confounded with the natural price of the commodity, they are scarcely perceived by the consumers. Their only disadvantage is that they are expensive in the levying.
the senses alone are not implicitly to be depended on. We must correct their evidence by reason, and by considerations, derived from the nature of the medium, the distance of the object, and the disposition of the organ, in order to render them, within their sphere, the proper criteria of truth and falsehood.
Learning has been as great a Loser by being shut up in Colleges and Cells and secluded from the World and good Company. By that Means, everything of what we call Belles Letters became totally barbarous, being cultivated by Men without any Taste of Life or Manners, and without that Liberty and Facility of Thought and Expression, which can only be acquir’d by Conversation.
When suicide is out of fashion, we conclude that none but madmen destroy themselves; and all the efforts of courage appear chimerical to dastardly minds … Nevertheless, how many instances are there, well attested, of men, in every other respect perfectly discreet, who, without remorse, rage, or despair, have quitted life for no other reason than because it was a burden to them, and have died with more composure than they lived?
Nothing appears more surprising to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.
When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; though such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others.
Human happiness seems to consist in three ingredients; action, pleasure and indolence. And though these ingredients ought to be mixed in different proportions, according to the disposition of the person, yet no one ingredient can be entirely wanting without destroying in some measure the relish of the whole composition.
Truth is disputable; not taste: what exists in the nature of things is the standard of our judgement; what each man feels within himself is the standard of sentiment. Propositions in geometry may be proved, systems in physics may be controverted; but the harmony of verse, the tenderness of passion, the brilliancy of wit, must give immediate pleasure. No man reasons concerning another’s beauty; but frequently concerning the justice or injustice of his actions.
Let us become thoroughly sensible of the weakness, blindness, and narrow limits of human reason: Let us duly consider its uncertainty and endless contrarieties, even in subjects of common life and practice…. When these topics are displayed in their full light, as they are by some philosophers and almost all divines; who can retain such confidence in this frail faculty of reason as to pay any regard to its determinations in points so sublime, so abstruse, so remote from common life and experience?
Top David Hume Quotes
When we reflect on our past sentiments and affections, our thought is a faithful mirror, and copies its objects truly; but the colours which it employs are faint and dull, in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed.
Liberty of thinking, and of expressing our thoughts, is always fatal to priestly power, and to those pious frauds on which it is commonly founded.
I cannot but bless the memory of Julius Caesar, for the great esteem he expressed for fat men and his aversion to lean ones.
Reasoning from the common course of nature, and without supposing any new interposition of the Supreme Cause, which ought always to be excluded from philosophy; what is incorruptible must also be in generable. The soul, therefore, if immortal, existed before our birth: And if the former existence no ways concerned us, neither will the latter.
An established government has an infinite advantage, by that very circumstance of its being established–the bulk of mankind being governed by authority, not reason, and never attributing authority to anything that has not the recommendation of antiquity.
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.
There is no such thing as freedom of choice unless there is freedom to refuse.
Barbarity, caprice; these qualities, however nominally disguised, we may universally observe from the ruling character of the deity in all regular religions.
The whole is a riddle, an enigma, an inexplicable mystery. Doubt, uncertainty, suspense of judgment appear the only result of our most accurate scrutiny, concerning this subject. But such is the frailty of human reason, and such the irresistible contagion of opinion, that even this deliberate doubt could scarcely be upheld; did we not enlarge our view, and opposing one species of superstition to another, set them a quarrelling; while we ourselves, during their fury and contention, happily make our escape into the calm, though obscure, regions of philosophy.
Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.
Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.
It is a great mortification to the vanity of man, that his utmost art and industry can never equal the meanest of nature’s productions, either for beauty or value. Art is only the under-workman, and is employed to give a few strokes of embellishment to those pieces, which come from the hand of the master.
The end of all moral speculations is to teach us our duty; and, by proper representations of the deformity of vice and beauty of virtue, beget correspondent habits, and engage us to avoid the one, and embrace the other.
The most perfect philosophy of the natural kind only staves off our ignorance a little longer: as perhaps the most perfect philosophy of the moral or metaphysical kind serves only to discover larger portions of it. Thus the observation of human blindness and weakness is the result of all philosophy, and meets us at every turn, in spite of our endeavors to elude or avoid it.
When I think of God, when I think of him as existent, and when I believe him to be existent, my idea of him neither increases nordiminishes. But as it is certain there is a great difference betwixt the simple conception of the existence of an object, and the belief of it, and as this difference lies not in the parts or composition of the idea which we conceive; it follows, that it must lie in the manner in which we conceive it.
A man who has cured himself of all ridiculous prepossessions, and is fully, sincerely, and steadily convinced, from experience as well as philosophy, that the difference of fortune makes less difference in happiness than is vulgarly imagined; such a one does not measure out degrees of esteem according to the rent-rolls of his acquaintance. … his internal sentiments are more regulated by the personal characters of men, than by the accidental and capricious favors of fortune.
The simplest and most obvious cause which can there be assigned for any phenomena, is probably the true one.
It is not reason which is the guide of life, but custom.
He is happy whom circumstances suit his temper; but he Is more excellent who suits his temper to any circumstance.
Eloquence, when in its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection.
The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.
Weakness, fear, melancholy, together with ignorance, are the true sources of superstition. Hope, pride, presumption, a warm indignation, together with ignorance, are the true sources of enthusiasm.
Reading and sauntering and lounging and dosing, which I call thinking, is my supreme Happiness.
The identity that we ascribe to things is only a fictitious one, established by the mind, not a peculiar nature belonging to what we’re talking about.
I say then, that belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain. This variety of terms, which may seem so unphilosophical, is intended only to express that act of the mind, which renders realities, or what is taken for such, more present to us than fictions, causes them to weigh more in the thought, and gives them a superior influence on the passions and imagination.
Where is the reward of virtue? and what recompense has nature provided for such important sacrifices as those of life and fortune, which we must often make to it? O sons of earth! Are ye ignorant of the value of this celestial mistress? And do ye meanly inquire for her portion, when ye observe her genuine beauty?
No truth appears to me more evident than that beasts are endowed with thought and reason as well as men.
Truth springs from argument amongst friends.