Source: p 231 Bottom, Introducing Philosophy for Canadians: A Text with Integrated Readings (2011 1 ed).

How did Hume remain 'jovial', 'merry' and 'unperturbed', despite the difficult perennial problems of philosophy? Would his brain not have hurt? I wish to learn from him to stay mentally healthful too.

The following excerpt does not convince, because Hume's asserted abandonment of these philosophical problems is false (or else he would not written this book!), and Hume's reference to his pastimes does not explain his motivation to return to the problems (because even after his amusement, still true was the sentence that I coloured grey below.)

  In other words. there is no 'solution to these skeptical doubts'. but, at most. what Hume calls 'a skeptical solution'. It means an end, not only to philosophy, but to all rational inquiry and all claims that we can know anything (even that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that you are reading this text.) You might think that such conclusions would have driven Hume mad or caused him such confusion that he would have been incapable of coping with the most everyday chores Yet we know that he was a most jovial and practical sort of fellow. As a philosopher, he has been driven right up against the wall of Plato's cave. But he remains unperturbed In a famous passage at the end of the Treatise, he simply remarks:

Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds. nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras I dine, I play a game of backgammon. I converse. and am merry with my friends; and when alter three or four hours' amusement, I wou'd return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any further.9 [on p 553 Top:]

9. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L.A. Selby-Bigge (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1888).

  • 1
    Some people are glass-half-full types, that's all there is to it. So what if you can't know for sure that the sun will rise? You can still play backgammon with your friends. It seems Hume himself answered your question in the passage you quoted. – user4894 Jun 27 '16 at 19:24
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    Some of this does seem a bit like an answer -- maybe consider narrowing to just the primary question and then adding the remainder as an answer below? Or at least unpack a little further maybe what specifically is unpersuasive to you about the passage? – Joseph Weissman Jun 27 '16 at 21:19
  • Just off-the-cuff, I'd imagine Hume "remain[ed] 'jovial', 'merry' and 'unperturbed'" by reading Candide, and following Pangloss' (by way of Voltaire) philosophical teachings. Need more info? Try watching learner.org/courses/worldlit/candide/watch I can pretty much guarantee you'll come away 'jovial' and 'merry', if perhaps a little 'perturbed':) – John Forkosh Jun 28 '16 at 8:23
  • You answer the question yourself: through 'avocations', 'conversations' and 'amusement'; it seems Hume was quite the sociable man, he even welcomed Rousseau who did end up 'perturbing' him. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 8 '16 at 0:57

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