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The Natural History of Religion by David Hume

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The Natural History of Religion by David Hume
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This is an original edition of the philosopher, David Hume's work 'The Natural History of Religion'. It contains two essays 'Of Suicide' and 'Of the immortality of the soul', which were printed but then suppressed by Hume before publication due to their controversial subject matter. Probably composed in 1749, after Hume's return from Turin, the final published work contained only four dissertations on the natural history of religion, the passions, tragedy and the standard of taste.

A handwritten note by 'AR' explains the unique nature of the book and about the removal of the essay, 'Of Suicide' in the published version. It was removed because it defended a person's moral right to commit suicide. The note explains that Mr Hume had been 'advised by a friend' to remove the dissertation. It further explains that the book had been the property of a 'Mr Muirhead...a man of letters who had made a very valuable collection of books' and that 'there is, I believe, but another copy existing'. On Muirhead's death, Hume asked AR to retrieve the copy from his estate. The note states Hume gave AR permission to keep the book.

David Hume (1711-76), the eminent philosopher, was posthumously described by Adam Smith as '[nearing] the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will admit'. He was a gregarious man, and had many notable friends in the philosophical, political and literary scenes throughout the British Isles, as well as in France, his home for many years. Many of his papers are now held by the National Library of Scotland. Hume is considered one of the most influential philosophers today but during his lifetime, his works were not always well received. Unable to get an academic posts, he spent three years in France as secretary to the British Ambassador.

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