David Hume (26 April 1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, economist, historian and a key figure in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.
During Hume's lifetime, he was more famous as a historian; his six-volume History of England was a bestseller well into the nineteenth century and the standard work on English history for many years.
Hume was one of the first philosophers of the modern era to produce a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy; according to Hume, his work could do for philosophy what Isaac Newton's had done for science. Hume rejected the standard form of Enlightenment positivism, which believed in the power of Reason to determine all truths, moral, scientific, and other. Partly for this, and partly for his attacks on fundamental concepts like "causation", he has often been considered a skeptic. Instead of Reason, he believed that human nature, individual experience, emotions, inclinations, and passions (an important concept at his time for feelings and attitudes with a more physical or bodily basis than other thoughts) — as well as, crucially, habit and custom (what we often refer to now as "culture") — determine our ideas, beliefs, and actions.
Hume was heavily influenced by empiricists John Locke and George Berkeley, along with various French-speaking writers such as Pierre Bayle, and various figures on the English-speaking intellectual landscape such as Isaac Newton, Samuel Clarke, Francis Hutcheson (his teacher), and Joseph Butler (to whom he sent his first work for feedback).
In the twentieth century, Hume has increasingly become a source of inspiration for those in political philosophy and economics as an early and subtle thinker in the liberal tradition, as well as an early innovator in the genre of the essay in his Essays Moral, Political, and Literary.