Commentary Text of David Hume’s of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature

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Commentary text of David Hume’s Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature

David Hume’s essay Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature written in 1791, takes part in a set of several major essays from its author who is regarded as one of the most important figures in history of Western (European) philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.

This essay raises the question of Human Dignity at a time when important changes occurred in Human way of thinking, in knowledge when the life condition of human beings is questioned. This time was the time of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world. Enlightenment thought culminates historically in the political upheaval of the French Revolution, in which the traditional hierarchical political and social orders (the French monarchy, the privileges of the French nobility, the political power and authority of the Catholic Church) were violently destroyed and replaced by a political and social order informed by the Enlightenment ideals of freedom and equality for all, founded, ostensibly, upon principles of human reason.

In the 17th and 18th century, the Great British Empire ruled the world and developing very fast in the domains of economy, knowledge, trade and war. But considering the way this Empire is developing, thinkers and philosophers, like Scottish David Hume, are lead to question how fair is managed this great civilisation and how far the way its development will affect human kind integrity. However, in the period of the Enlightenment, thoughts and opinions diverging, many groups appeared conditioning the way of thinking of their adepts.

Hume was part of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers who,...