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Criticism And Science In Hume

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Chapter Summary

The "science of man" which Hume presents in his introduction to the Treatise of Human Nature pertains to the rhetoric of the renewal of philosophy, which is typical of modernity from René Descartes Méditations métaphysiques to Locke's Essay and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Hume's project is much more ambitious: in the Treatise, not only does he establish a theory of knowledge, but he also attempts to construct this "science of man", which is a new name for moral philosophy. Each in their own way, René Descartes and Kant treated philosophy and science as separate things, even though they linked them together, as "criticism" and "science". The only thing that accounts for Hume's departure as well as for the relationship he was the first to establish between criticism and science is his skepticism.

Keywords: Hume; positive science; René Descartes; skeptical criticism; Treatise of Human Nature

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