Reconciling the Stoic and the Sceptic: Hume on Philosophy as a Way of Life and the Plurality of Happy Lives

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (5):879 - 901 (2013)
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Abstract

On the one hand, Hume accepts the view -- which he attributes primarily to Stoicism -- that there exists a determinate best and happiest life for human beings, a way of life led by a figure whom Hume calls "the true philosopher." On the other hand, Hume accepts that view -- which he attributes to Scepticism -- that there exists a vast plurality of good and happy lives, each potentially equally choiceworthy. In this paper, I reconcile Hume's apparently conflicting commitments: I argue that Hume's "Sceptical" pluralism about the character of the happiest life need not conflict with his "Stoic" advocacy of the supreme happiness of the true philosopher, given Hume's flexible understanding of how one might live as a true philosopher

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Matthew D. Walker
Yale-NUS College

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