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David Hume goes to War, or: What is Intellectual Biography?
If you have a question about this talk, please contact T.S. Thompson.
This paper is concerned with the reassessment of a neglected period in David Hume’s life and intellectual career. It charts his involvement in a dramatic episode of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), an abortive expedition by British land and sea forces directed against the French port of l’Orient in 1746. Hume’s immediate response to this military fiasco will be reconstructed from a variety of sources and it will be argued that his participation in this expedition had a profound and transformative impact on his personal, philosophical and political outlook. Our examination of this period in Hume’s life will provide us with a test case for assessing the theoretical and methodological problems involved in any attempt to write an account of Hume’s life that incorporates his intellectual development and seeks to explain his remarkable transition from philosopher to historian. The paper will thus raise a number of general questions concerning the nature and purpose of ‘intellectual biography’.
This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities Group series.
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