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Simon Blackburn's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Simon Blackburn recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Simon Blackburn's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Philosophy of David Hume

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Recommended by Simon Blackburn, and 1 others.

Simon BlackburnIt’s not, and in some respects, Kemp-Smith has been superseded. But he gets an awful lot right, and he effected a sea-change in people’s understanding of Hume. I think it’s fair to say that the dominant idea before Kemp-Smith is that Hume was a sceptic, he didn’t allow that we know anything. (Source)

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A landmark of Enlightenment thought, Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is accompanied here by two shorter works that shed light on it: A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh, Hume's response to those accusing him of atheism, of advocating extreme skepticism, and of undermining the foundations of morality; and his Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature, which anticipates discussions developed in the Enquiry. less
Recommended by Paul Krugman, Simon Blackburn, and 2 others.

Simon BlackburnHume thought that overconfidence and dogmatism led to intolerance, to faction, to a lot of the crimes of human history. (Source)

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The Life of David Hume

Mossner's Life of David Hume remains the standard biography of this great thinker and writer. First published in 1954, and updated in 1980, this excellent life story is now reissued in paperback, in response to an overwhelming interest in Hume's brilliant ideas. Containing more than a simple biography, this exemplary work is also a study of intellectual reaction in the eighteenth century. In this new edition are a detailed bibliography, index, and textual supplements, making it the perfect text for scholars and advanced students of Hume, epistemology, and the history of philosophy. It is also... more
Recommended by Simon Blackburn, and 1 others.

Simon BlackburnThis is the standard life of Hume. There are others, but Mossner seems to hold the field. It was the book that introduced me to Hume’s life and biography, so it was formative in that respect. It bears out what I just said, that Hume was a very loveable, admirable, man. He had this great generosity and benevolence and was very much adored by everyone who knew him. (Source)

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David Hume is the greatest and also one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in the English language. No philosopher is more important for his careful, critical, and deeply perceptive examination of the grounds for belief in divine powers and for his sceptical accounts of the causes and consequences of religious belief, expressed most powerfully in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion. The Dialogues ask if belief in God can be inferred from the nature of the universe or whether it is even consistent with what we know about the universe.... more

Anthony GottliebHis friends urged him not only to give up the idea of having it published in his lifetime, but even of having it published after his death, because they thought that it would condemn all this other works to the dustbin of history. (Source)

Julian BagginiHume is the main man. (Source)

Mary WarnockHume thought it didn’t actually make much difference whether you believed that God did design the universe or whether you didn’t, because if you could say nothing about this God then it wasn’t a very interesting belief to hold. (Source)

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Critique of Pure Reason

'The purpose of this critique of pure speculative reason consists in the attempt to change the old procedure of metaphysics and to bring about a complete revolution'

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is the central text of modern philosophy. It presents a profound and challenging investigation into the nature of human reason, its knowledge and its illusions. Reason, Kant argues, is the seat of certain concepts that precede experience and make it possible, but we are not therefore entitled to draw conclusions about the natural world from these concepts....

Simon BlackburnAn illuminating way to think of the Critique is as a kind of prolonged wrestling match with Hume. (Source)

Adrian MooreThis is the greatest philosophical book of all time. This is Kant’s masterpiece. (Source)

Luciano FloridiI find reading Kant a bit like understanding cricket as a foreigner: hard to get at first, but once you get it, it’s very enjoyable. (Source)

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