Thursday, 18 January 2018

David Hume on 'the English'


"If there is a central, guiding theme of the work ['History of England'] as a whole it is the blessings of civilisation. As in his 'Political Discourses,' Hume takes a stand firmly in favour of the superiority of the modern world and against the idea of a fall from ancient glory.    "For Hume, most of English history—indeed, most of human history—had been a story of disorder, oppression, poverty, and dependence. He thus finds the tendency to romanticise the days of yore and 'exalt past times above the present' to be utterly preposterous.    “'My Notion is,' he writes, 'that the uncultivated Nations are not only inferior to civiliz’d in Government, civil, military, and ecclesiastical; but also in Morals; and that their whole manner of Life is disagreeable and uneligible to the last Degree.'    "He insists that 'the English, till near the beginning of the last Century, are very much to be regarded as an uncultivated Nation.'”~ from Dennis Rasmussen's book The Infidel & the Professor
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