Anthony Gottlieb is the author of The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance and a former Executive Editor of The Economist. His new book, The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy, will be published in August. (May 2016)
In his own day, and into the nineteenth century, Hume’s philosophical writings were generally seen as perverse and destructive. Their goal was “to produce in the reader a complete distrust in his own faculties,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1815–1817. The best that could be said for Hume as a philosopher was that he provoked wiser thinkers to refute him in interesting ways.