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HUME, DAVID. - [FIRST TRANSLATION OF "A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE"]

Über die menschliche Natur aus dem Englischen nebst kritischen Versuchen zur Beurtheilung dieses Werks von Ludwig Heinrich Jakob. 3 Bde. Erster Band: Uber den menschlichen Verstand. Zweiter Band: Ueber die Leidenschaften. Dritter Band: Ueber die Moral.

lyn52458

Halle, 1790-92. 8vo. Bound in two very nice near contemporary brown half calf bindings with elegant gilding to spines. Bindings slightly worn and with small old paper library labels to lower spines. Brownspotted (due to the paper quality). Library stamps to title-pages (not to part three). Old owner's name to front free end-papers (F. Schiødke). (8), 843, (1); (4), 314; (16), 302 pp. ¶ Extremely rare first edition (fully complete, all three volumes) of the first translation into any language, namely the first German edition, of one of the most important books in the history of philosophy, Hume's seminal "A Treatise of Human Nature". This epochal translation, by L.H. Jakob, not only constitutes the very first translation of the work and the most important edition after the original, it also constitutes the only other edition of the work to appear in the 18th century and the edition that is responsible for the spreading of Hume's ideas beyond the boundaries of the UK. It is, for instance, in this very version that Kant (and most other continental philosophers of the time) read Hume's magnum opus.

A second English edition did not appear until 1817, the first French translation did not appear until 1878, and Spanish and Italian translations only appeared in the 20th century.

David Hume is one of the most influential philosophers of all time, and his groundbreaking main work "A Treatise of Human Nature" profoundly influenced both philosophical and scientific thought throughout the following centuries.

"Although Hume's more conservative contemporaries denounced his writings as works of scepticism and atheism, his influence is evident in the moral philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith. Kant reported that Hume's work woke him from his "dogmatic slumbers" and Jeremy Bentham remarked that reading Hume "caused the scales to fall" from his eyes. Charles Darwin regarded his work as a central influence on the theory of evolution. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading him reflect both the richness of their sources and the wide range of his empiricism. Today, philosophers recognize Hume as a thoroughgoing exponent of philosophical naturalism, as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, and as the inspiration for several of the most significant types of ethical theory developed in contemporary moral philosophy."

Arguably, no philosopher or thinker after Hume can say not to have either directly or indirectly be influenced by him. In the 18th century, his ideas were spread beyond the UK through the translations of his works, primarily those into German, which were those that were read by philosophers on the Continent.

Kant, for instance, had been aware of the thoughts of David Hume, but as his fellow continental thinkers, he had not read his main work, until it appeared in German in 1790-192. "Kant says that "it was the remembrance of David Hume which, many years ago, first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a completely different direction." It is natural to wonder, in particular, about the precise years to which Kant is referring and the specific events in his intellectual development he has in mind. Here, however, we now enter controversial terrain, where there are basically two competing alternatives-both of which reflect the circumstance that Kant could read Hume only in German translation." (SEP).

This first German translation, the first translation into any language, and the only edition of the work to appear within the 18th century (apart from the original, of course), is of the utmost importance to the reception of Hume's main work and to the spreading of its ideas.

(See PMM:194 - first edition).

95 831 SEK

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