Author: David Hume

eNotator: Francisco Fernflores

eNotated An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding from eNotatedClassics on Vimeo.

The eNotated An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Based on the 1777 posthumous edition of Hume’s "An Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding," this volume includes Hume's autobiography, Adam Smith's account of Hume's last days, the 1902 Selby-Bigge edition footnotes and Analytical Index (linked to the main text), and ten color illustrations.

Francisco Fernflores, CalPoly Philosophy professor, has added an introductory essay, a background essay explaining the significance of the work to Western Philosophy, a chronology of Hume's life and work, and a bibliography.

In addition, Fernflores' 171 detailed eNotations explain Hume's sometimes subtle arguments and his "Enquiry" section summaries clarify the overall structure of Hume's philosophy.

The biographical, historical, and interpretative information provided by Fernflores puts David Hume’s enormously influential classic in its conceptual context, making the work more accessible and the reading experience deeper and more enjoyable.

Fernflores describes Hume's work as "one of the most beautifully crafted philosophical texts written in English. It is indispensable reading for anyone interested in a careful philosophical investigation of how the mind's potential to know is limited and, as Hume believed, how learning about these limits can help us become wiser both as individuals and as a society."

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About David Hume

In his short autobiography David Hume says of himself:

I was born the twenty-sixth of April, 1711, old style, at Edinburgh. I was of a good family, both by father and mother: my father's family is a branch of the earl of Home's, or Hume's; and my ancestors had been proprietors of the estate which my brother possesses, for several generations. My mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer, president of the college of justice; the title of Lord Halkerton came by succession to her brother....

My father, who passed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me, with an elder brother and a sister, under the care of our mother, a woman of singular merit, who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. I passed through the ordinary course of education with success, and was seized very early with a passion for literature, which has been the ruling passion of my life, and the great source of my enjoyments. My studious disposition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profession for me; but I found an insurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly devouring....

When only 27 he published his first philosophic work but, he says:

Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. But being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I very soon recovered the blow, and prosecuted with great ardor my studies in the country. In 1742, I printed at Edinburgh the first part of my Essays. The work was favorably received, and soon made me entirely forget my former disappointment.

Hume went on to publish An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and then An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, both of which have had enormous influence on Western Philospohy. In his lifetime he was criticzed as an atheist and skeptic but Adam Smith, his Edinburgh contemporary, Immanuel Kant in Germany (who reporting that reading Hume "awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers", and Charles Darwin, among many others, owe a debt to Hume's clear and eloquent writing. 


About eNotator Francisco Fernflores

Francisco Fernflores is Professor of Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA. He has a keen interest in the history of philosophy and the history of science and is the author of several scholarly articles in the philosophy of physics. He has been teaching Philosophical Classics and Hume’s "Enquiry" since 2000.

Francisco Fernflores was born in Mexico City, Mexico and educated in Canada. He received a B.Sc. in physics and philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1993 and his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 1998, where he specialized in philosophy of physics. Throughout his studies, he has had a keen interest in the history of philosophy and the history of science.

Professor Fernflores is the author of several scholarly articles in the philosophy of physics (http://works.bepress.com/ffernflo/) and is currently expanding his research to investigate broader philosophical issues in the history of philosophy and science. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, where he has been teaching Philosophical Classics, and Hume's Enquiry, since 2000.