Four Dissertations

David HUME

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HUME, David. Four Dissertations. I. The Natural History of Religion. II. Of the Passions. III. Of Tragedy. IV. Of the Standard of Taste. London: A. Millar, 1757. 12mo, contemporary full brown speckled calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, burgundy morocco spine label, marbled endpapers and edges. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box.

First edition, including the first appearance of Hume’s Natural History of Religion, with scarce dedication pages present.

This classic volume includes the first appearance in print of Hume’s important The Natural History of Religion and his only works in the field of aesthetics, Of Tragedy and Of the Standard of Taste. “In The Natural History of Religion, Hume maintained that there is no evidence of any specific instinct for religious belief. Some races have no religion. In all known cases the earliest religions were polytheistic and idolatrous, with no notion whatever of an intelligent cause of the whole frame of nature. They were as truly atheistic as would be the beliefs of a contemporary person who acknowledged the existence of elves and fairies but denied the existence of God” (Encyclopedia of Philosophy), an argument which got Hume himself accused of atheism. “After publication Hume withdrew the dedication ‘To the Reverend Mr. Hume, Author of Douglas, a Tragedy,’ but cancelled the withdrawal four days later, 800 copies having been sold without it. He never reprinted it… The fourth ‘Dissertation’ originally proposed by Hume was to have been Some Considerations previous to Geometry and Natural Philosophy; this he withdrew and substituted two, Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul. These two reached the proof stage before being withdrawn and replaced by Of the Standard of Taste” (Rothschild 1176). First edition, early state, with cancel leaf C12, and corrected readings of “lative” as the first word (9) and “lancing” as the first word (131). Without half title; with scarce dedication pages. Jessop, 33-5. Rothschild 1176.

Text generally fresh and clean, slight edge-wear, small abrasions to contemporary boards, joints starting but sound. A near-fine copy of this important philosophical work.

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