Friday, July 22, 2005

32nd International Hume Conference: Day Four

* The first paper I attended today was Georges Dicker's "Three Questions about Treatise 1.4.2," which was quite good. I disagree rather completely with the section on coherence (I'll perhaps post my views on the subject at some point), but it was thought-provoking.

* Then I attended Kevin Meeker's "Hume's Hyper-Cartesianism," which (I confess) I didn't entirely follow, partly because I was nodding off, not having had much sleep last night (not due, it must be said, to the paper itself). The question period was very good, though.

* It is possible that George Campbell's 1726 A Treatise of Fluxions was actually written by David Hume (i.e., he took the notes for the lectures). The manuscript bears the title, "A Treatise of Fluxions, By Mr. George Campbell: Professor of Mathematicks in Edinburgh, Written by David Home, 1726." 'Home' is the Scottish spelling of Hume's family name; Hume deliberately changed the 'o' to a 'u' in an effort to make sure the English pronounced it correctly. Hume would have been the right age, and would have intersected with Campbell at the right time. Yukihiko Kawashima, of Tokyo International University, made a transcription of the work, and I got a copy. (One of the nice things about the Hume Conference is being able to interact with a number of talented Japanese Hume scholars. There are quite a few of them -- more than you might think; much of the best work on Hume's economic, historical, and social thought being done at the present time is done in Japan.)

* I then attended Cathy Kemp's "Hume-Rousseau Reconsidered," which was excellent. Hume's description of Rousseau before the Break, in April 1766: "often the most amiable man in the world"; after the Break, just two months later in June: "the blackest and most atrocious Villain, beyond comparison, that now exists in the World." I didn't like the question period, but then I'm a heretic: I don't think Hume's reaction after the break was ideal, I don't think Rousseau was (as Hume thought) vicious, and, indeed, although Rousseau was extreme here in the way he was with everything, I don't think he was entirely unreasonable.

* There are a few more sessions today, but I have movers coming tomorrow, so I'm off to take a quick nap and then finish packing.

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