Edinburgh Philosophy – Voices on Hume

Edinburgh Philosophy – Voices on Hume

As philosophers, our responses to the renaming of the David Hume Tower vary widely, as do the responses of the wider academic community. Out of respect for this diversity of opinion, all Philosophy staff have been invited to contribute to a blog to share their individual thoughts on the recent announcement.

According to the clichés, Hume is a towering figure in our philosophical tradition, an intellectual giant. It is therefore apt that a reckoning over the racism within Hume’s thought should be prompted by the proposed renaming of an actual tower – a building in whose shadow we might cower, or to whose heights we might […]

I arrived in Edinburgh this summer, and soon after heard reports that there was an effort underway to remove David Hume’s name from the tower at 40 George Square. I imagined that this would be a long and contentious effort, and feared that it would be divisive. I also felt extremely conflicted, unsure of where […]

Hume’s Anti-Black Racism In 1997, Emmanuel Eze published Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader to show how the primary texts of modern philosophers such as Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and G.W.F. Hegel proposed formative configurations of race and anti-Blackness.[1] In 2001, I became a student of Eze’s at DePaul University, the […]

The question of whether or not to rename the Hume Tower is not the same as the question of whether or not to remove monuments to confederate war heroes. Confederate monuments honour allegiance to a racist cause; confederate generals are valorised because they fought on the side of slavery. The Hume Tower honours Hume’s non-racist […]

I am deeply saddened by the renaming of Hume tower. I joined the University of Edinburgh just a few months ago, and I felt proud to be part of a university that has buildings named after philosophers, including Hume and Dugald Stewart. I was used to a culture where the names of university buildings are […]

I have long admired David Hume’s philosophy. His sceptical views about the limits of theoretical and practical reason, his account of our idea of causation, his sentiment-based moral theory, and his critiques of religion, are brilliantly original, fearlessly iconoclastic, beautifully argued, and—it seems to me—basically correct. Many philosophers more gifted than I am would disagree. […]

David Hume was a brilliant philosopher, and his work is unquestionably important for both the history of Western philosophy and for debates in contemporary philosophy. He also held overtly racist beliefs and thought them fit to be published; moreover, he stood by those comments even after his contemporaries pointed out that they were factually and […]

In the areas where I conduct research (moral and political philosophy), Hume’s influence has been and continues to be immense. No education in moral and political philosophy that entirely neglected Hume could be said to be complete. Yet Hume himself has proven a morally and politically vexed figure. The removal of David Hume’s name from […]

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