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" The Patron Of Infidelity": Reading Hume And The Common Sense Philosophers

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines responses to Hume amongst an earlier generation of readers, asking whether Cockburn was right to imply their intolerance of Hume's perceived political partiality and religious deviance impeded the impact of Enlightenment in provincial Scotland. Most modern commentators now agree that Hume's History was a systematic attempt to deconstruct the great myths of British political history such as Magna Carta, the rise of Parliament and the Glorious Revolution. The context of partisan historiography in which Hume's History of England appeared therefore blinkered many readers to its merits; but Hume faced a far greater obstacle in his relationship with a wider readership, his reputation for irreligion and atheism. One particularly sophisticated response came from the clergyman William Cameron. Cameron's responses to Hume's Essays were probably conditioned, however subconsciously, by critical assessments widely disseminated in the public domain.

Keywords: Hume; Scotland; William Cameron



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