London: Printed for A. Millar, in the Strand, 1757. First edition. Hardcover. Duodecimo. 4 unnumbered, vii, 240pp. Contemporary calf with raised bands and double ruling and gilt lettering on red label of spine. Decorative top and bottom borders on half title with advertisements on the verso and all four (half) title pages of respective essays. Publisher's device on title page.
Four essays by the influential Scottish philosopher and historian. The publishing of this volume came about in a rather tumultuous fashion including little know episodes in the life of Hume (see Ernest Campbell Mossner in "Hume's Four Dissertations: An Essay in Biography and Bibliography"). Hume withdrew one of the original four essays, then adding two of which he withdrew one later, he canceled the dedication, 800 copies were printed without it, and never gave permission for a reprint in this arrangement again.
First publishing of "The Natural History of Religion" with half title and dedication pages. Page 9 with the correction to "lative" instead of "ativ" and a typographical error is corrected to "lancing" on page 131. Includes Cancels C12 and DI but without K5-K8.
"The Natural History of Religion" argues that "polytheism or idolatry was, and necessarily must have been, the first and most antient religion of mankind (B2)." Monotheism Hume further argues that monotheism arises due to competition between religions and, as a consequence, the monotheist strives to dominate other religions, bury the emotional core of religion behind a veil of theology. Hume concludes that as a result this yields intolerance, dishonesty and morbid morals.
In "Of the Passions" Hume attempts to exclude religion from our reasoning faculty of right and wrong while attributing our decision making process to overriding passions of any given moment, this way creating hope and fear which in turn gives rise to religion as a guiding vehicle.
In the short essay "Of Tragedy" Hume elaborates on his concern regarding spectators pleasure in the sorrow and anxiety portrayed in a tragedy and comes to the simple conclusion that the viewer's astute awareness of the fictional character of the witnessed spectacle contributes to the pleasure experienced.
"Of the Standard of Taste" is considered a seminal contribution on aesthetics, the relativity of taste specifically, focusing on the "subject" rather than the "object" which is typical for the British sentiment as opposed to the French approach in trying to find an objective definition of beauty.
Binding rubbed with some scuffing to joints of spine. Paper plate with Samuel Johnson quote "Tradition is but a meteor,, which, if it once falls...." glued to inside front cover. Inside back cover reinforced with binder's tape at gutter. Half title, title page and title of first essay with few small worm holes. Starting at title page with title page loose, page 50 with pp. 51-70 partially loose (pencil mark in margin of page 71), at page 74 with pp. 75-94 loose, an at page 238 with page 239 partially loose. Overall in fair to good+ condition. fair to g+. Item #42052