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David Hume

Geburtstag: 26. April 1711
Todesdatum: 25. August 1776

David Hume [hju:m] war ein schottischer Philosoph, Ökonom und Historiker. Er war einer der bedeutendsten Vertreter der schottischen Aufklärung und wird der philosophischen Strömung des Empirismus bzw. des Sensualismus zugerechnet. Sein skeptisches und metaphysikfreies Philosophieren regte Immanuel Kant zu dessen Kritik der reinen Vernunft an. Mittelbar wirkte dieser Vordenker der Aufklärung auf die modernen Richtungen des Positivismus und der analytischen Philosophie. In Bezug auf seine wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Bedeutung kann er zur vorklassischen Ökonomie gezählt werden. Hume war ein enger Freund von Adam Smith und stand mit ihm in regem intellektuellem Austausch.

Zitate David Hume

„Himmel und Hölle setzen zwei verschiedene Arten von Menschen voraus: gute und böse; aber der größte Teil der Menschen schwankt zwischen Laster und Tugend.“

—  David Hume

Über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele (postum veröffentlicht 1777), ins Deutsche übersetzt von Friedrich Paulsen, Leipzig <sup>3</sup>: Meiner, 1905. S. 161
Original engl.: "Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue." -
Über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele (1757)

„Die Vernunft ist nur ein Sklave der Affekte und soll es sein; sie darf niemals eine andere Funktion beanspruchen, als die, denselben zu dienen und zu gehorchen.“

—  David Hume

Ein Traktat über die menschliche Natur. Buch II, Teil III, Dritter Abschnitt. Hamburg 1978. S. 153
"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." - unc.edu http://www.unc.edu/~jjeffrey/Hume%20Files--start%20with%20B3/B2.3.3.html
Traktat über die menschliche Natur (1739)

„Sie sehen also, [Jean-Jacques Rousseau] ist eine Komposition aus Launen, Affektiertheit, Boshaftigkeit, Selbstgefälligkeit und Unruhe mit einer winzigen, wenn überhaupt vorhandenen Beimischung von Wahnsinn. […] Die oben genannten, vorherrschenden Qualitäten zusammen mit Undankbarkeit, Grausamkeit und Lügerei, und der von mir nicht extra zuerwähnenden Redegewandtheit und Erfindungsgabe, formen die gesamte geistige Verfassung.“

—  David Hume

Brief an Adam Smith vom 8. Oktober 1767, in: The Correspondence of Adam Smith, Oxford University Press 1987 [Reprint 2001]. S. 135 Übers.: Wikiquote
"Thus you see, he is a Composition of Whim, Affectation, Wickedness, Vanity, and Inquietude, with a very small, if any, Ingredient of Madness. [...] The ruling Qualities abovementioned, together with Ingratitude, Ferocity, and Lying, I need not mention, Eloquence and Invention — form the whole of the Composition."
Briefe

„Gewohnheit ist der große Führer im Menschenleben.“

—  David Hume

Eine Untersuchung in Betreff des menschlichen Verstandes
Briefe

„Stärker als alle Grundsätze ist die Natur.“

—  David Hume

Eine Untersuchung in Betreff des menschlichen Verstandes, 12, 2, 7. Absatz
"Nature is always too strong for principle"
Eine Untersuchung in Betreff des menschlichen Verstandes (1748)

„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.“

—  David Hume, buch Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary

Part I, Essay 4: Of The First Principles of Government
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-2; 1748)
Kontext: 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 we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.

„How is the deity disfigured in our representations of him! What caprice, absurdity, and immorality are attributed to him! How much is he degraded even below the character, which we should naturally, in common life, ascribe to a man of sense and virtue!“

—  David Hume, The Natural History of Religion

Part XV - General corollary
The Natural History of Religion (1757)
Kontext: The universal propensity to believe in invisible, intelligent power, if not an original instinct, being at least a general attendant of human nature, may be considered as a kind of mark or stamp, which the divine workman has set upon his work; and nothing surely can more dignify mankind, than to be thus selected from all other parts of the creation, and to bear the image or impression of the universal Creator. But consult this image, as it appears in the popular religions of the world. How is the deity disfigured in our representations of him! What caprice, absurdity, and immorality are attributed to him! How much is he degraded even below the character, which we should naturally, in common life, ascribe to a man of sense and virtue!

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„The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!“

—  David Hume, buch Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Philo to Cleanthes, Part XI
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)
Kontext: Look round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organised, 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, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!

„If nature has been frugal in her gifts and endowments, there is the more need of art to supply her defects.“

—  David Hume, buch Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary

Part I, Essay 16: The Stoic
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-2; 1748)
Kontext: If nature has been frugal in her gifts and endowments, there is the more need of art to supply her defects. If she has been generous and liberal, know that she still expects industry and application on our part, and revenges herself in proportion to our negligent ingratitude. The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds; and instead of vines and olives for the pleasure and use of man, produces, to its slothful owner, the most abundant crop of poisons.

„A wise man's kingdom is his own breast: or, if he ever looks farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free from prejudices, and capable of examining his work.“

—  David Hume

Playfully ironic letter to Adam Smith regarding the positive reception of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments"
Kontext: A wise man's kingdom is his own breast: or, if he ever looks farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free from prejudices, and capable of examining his work. Nothing indeed can be a stronger presumption of falsehood than the approbation of the multitude; and Phocion, you know, always suspected himself of some blunder when he was attended with the applauses of the populace.

„A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.“

—  David Hume, buch An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Section X: Of Miracles; Part I. 87
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748)
Kontext: In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.

„Fain wou'd I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have expos'd myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer?“

—  David Hume, buch A Treatise of Human Nature

Part 4, Section 7
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), Book 1: Of the understanding
Kontext: I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am plac'd in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expell'd all human commerce, and left utterly abandon'd and disconsolate. Fain wou'd I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have expos'd myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declar'd my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surpriz'd, if they shou'd express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; tho' such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in my reasoning.
For with what confidence can I venture upon such bold enterprises, when beside those numberless infirmities peculiar to myself, I find so many which are common to human nature? Can I be sure, that in leaving all established opinions I am following truth; and by what criterion shall I distinguish her, even if fortune shou'd at last guide me on her foot-steps? After the most accurate and exact of my reasonings, I can give no reason why I shou'd assent to it; and feel nothing but a strong propensity to consider objects strongly in that view, under which they appear to me. Experience is a principle, which instructs me in the several conjunctions of objects for the past. Habit is another principle, which determines me to expect the same for the future; and both of them conspiring to operate upon the imagination, make me form certain ideas in a more intense and lively manner, than others, which are not attended with the same advantages. Without this quality, by which the mind enlivens some ideas beyond others (which seemingly is so trivial, and so little founded on reason) we cou'd never assent to any argument, nor carry our view beyond those few objects, which are present to our senses. Nay, even to these objects we cou'd never attribute any existence, but what was dependent on the senses; and must comprehend them entirely in that succession of perceptions, which constitutes our self or person. Nay farther, even with relation to that succession, we cou'd only admit of those perceptions, which are immediately present to our consciousness, nor cou'd those lively images, with which the memory presents us, be ever receiv'd as true pictures of past perceptions. The memory, senses, and understanding are, therefore, all of them founded on the imagination, or the vivacity of our ideas.

„What peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call thought, that we must thus make it the model of the whole universe?“

—  David Hume, buch Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Philo to Cleanthes, Part II
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)
Kontext: What peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call thought, that we must thus make it the model of the whole universe? Our partiality in our own favour does indeed present it on all occasions; but sound philosophy ought carefully to guard against so natural an illusion.

„Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad; but the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.“

—  David Hume

Essay on the Immortality of the Soul
Kontext: Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad; but the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue. -- Were one to go round the world with an intention of giving a good supper to the righteous, and a sound drubbing to the wicked, he would frequently be embarrassed in his choice, and would find that the merits and the demerits of most men and women scarcely amount to the value of either.

„It is, therefore, a just political maxim, that every man must be supposed a knave: Though at the same time, it appears somewhat strange, that a maxim should be true in politics, which is false in fact.“

—  David Hume, buch Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary

Part I, Essay 6: Of The Independency of Parliament; first line often paraphrased as "It is a just political maxim, that every man must be supposed a knave."
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-2; 1748)
Kontext: It is, therefore, a just political maxim, that every man must be supposed a knave: Though at the same time, it appears somewhat strange, that a maxim should be true in politics, which is false in fact. But to satisfy us on this head, we may consider, that men are generally more honest in their private than in their public capacity, and will go greater lengths to serve a party, than when their own private interest is alone concerned. Honour is a great check upon mankind: But where a considerable body of men act together, this check is, in a great measure, removed; since a man is sure to be approved of by his own party, for what promotes the common interest; and he soon learns to despise the clamours of adversaries.

„In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies to liberty; and it is certain, that this steady conduct of theirs must have been founded on fixed reasons of interest and ambition.“

—  David Hume, buch Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary

Part I, Essay 9: Of The Parties of Great Britain
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-2; 1748)
Kontext: In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies to liberty; and it is certain, that this steady conduct of theirs must have been founded on fixed reasons of interest and ambition. 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; and, by an infallible connexion, which prevails among all kinds of liberty, this privilege can never be enjoyed, at least has never yet been enjoyed, but in a free government.

„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.“

—  David Hume, buch Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary

Part I, Essay 15: The Epicurean
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-2; 1748)
Kontext: 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

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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