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Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium

Hume’s Pathology of Philosophy

The Scottish philosopher David Hume is commonly understood as the original proponent of the "end of philosophy." In this powerful new study, Donald Livingston completely revises our understanding of Hume’s thought through his investigation of Hume’s distinction between "true" and "false" philosophy. For Hume, false philosophy leads either to melancholy over the groundlessness of common opinion or delirium over transcending it, while true philosophy leads to wisdom. Livingston traces this distinction through all of Hume’s writings, providing a systematic pathology of the corrupt philosophical consciousness in history, politics, philosophy, and literature that characterized Hume’s own time as well as ours.

By demonstrating how a philosophical method can be used to expose the political motivations behind intellectual positions, historical events, and their subsequent interpretations, Livingston revitalizes Hume’s thought and reveals its relevance for contemporary dicussions of politics, nationalism, and ideology for the first time.

454 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1998

History: History of Ideas

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Pt. 1: Humean Reflections
1: Is Hume an Empiricist?
2: The Dialectic of True and False Philosophy
3: The Origin of the Philosophical Act in Human Nature
4: The Ancient Philosophy
5: Philosophy and Christendom
6: The Modern Philosophy
7: True Philosophy and the Skeptical Tradition
8: True Philosophy and Civilization
9: False Philosophy and Barbarism
10: English Barbarism: "Wilkes and Liberty!"
11: English Barbarism: "The Poor Infatuated Americans"
Pt. 2: Humean Intimations
12: Hume and America
13: The Right of Resistance: A Humean Free State versus a Modern Consolidated Leviathan
14: The Right of Resistance: Secession and the Modern State
15: Preserving One’s Humanity in the First Philosophic Age

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