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Interpretation: The case of David Hume

Dow S (2002) Interpretation: The case of David Hume, History of Political Economy, 34 (2), pp. 399-420.

First paragraph: This essay offers an account of the different interpretations of David Hume, dating from the interpretations of his contemporaries in Scotland, in order to illustrate the importance of considering the context of interpretation as well as that of the text. The context of interpretation is taken to include the different conceptual and intentional contexts of contemporary interpreters as well as the different contexts of time and space. This account thus involves a focus on the rational reconstruction of Hume's thought within particular intellectual contexts and the transfer of such interpretations from one context to another. As a result, we can see how Hume should have been regarded as a rational skeptic, the inspiration for logical positivism, and a realist. On the face of it, it is not clear that these are compatible positions: a rationalist requires all statements to be established by reason, but a skeptical rationalist sees little scope for reason and thus knowledge (for example, because existence cannot be proved by reason); a logical positivist requires the application of reason to observed facts for statements to be meaningful; a realist sees the object of science to be real entities, but does not necessarily see reason and/or observation as capable of yielding true knowledge of the real.

AuthorsDow Sheila
Publication date06/2002
PublisherDuke University Press
ISSN 0018-2702

History of Political Economy: Volume 34, Issue 2 (2002)

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