David Hume (1711–1776) is perhaps best known for his ideas about cause and effect and his criticisms of religion, but he is rarely thought of as a philosopher with practical wisdom to offer. Yet Hume’s philosophy is grounded in an honest assessment of nature—human nature in particular. The Great Guide is an engaging and eye-opening account of how Hume’s thought should serve as the basis for a complete approach to life.
In this enthralling book, Julian Baggini masterfully interweaves biography with intellectual history and philosophy to give us a complete vision of Hume’s guide to life. He follows Hume on his life’s journey, literally walking in the great philosopher’s footsteps as Baggini takes readers to the places that inspired Hume the most, from his family estate near the Scottish border to Paris, where, as an older man, he was warmly embraced by French society. Baggini shows how Hume put his philosophy into practice in a life that blended reason and passion, study and leisure, and relaxation and enjoyment.
The Great Guide includes 145 Humean maxims for living well, on topics ranging from the meaning of success and the value of travel to friendship, facing death, identity, and the importance of leisure. This book shows how life is far richer with Hume as your guide.
"A bright, engaging, reliable introduction to Hume’s life and work."—Kieran Setiya, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Baggini’s intertwining of philosophy with biography is masterly."—Jane O’Grady, Literary Review
"Baggini knows his subject thoroughly, explains his work in clear prose and adds biographical detail which is as illuminating as it is interesting."—Alan Dent, The Penniless Press
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Julian Baggini’s The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us about Being Human and Living Well."—Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist
"Entertaining and informative. . . .an imaginative glimpse of Hume living his life and doing his work."—Janna Thompson, Inside Story
"As we travel around with Hume, Baggini provides his readers with a steady commentary and description of his subject’s various friendships and controversies, along with brief sketches of Hume’s core ideas and contributions. All this is lively and engaging.
"—Paul Russell, Times Literary Supplement
"In this book the author skilfully weaves together biography with intellectual history and philosophy to provide a highly readable account of Hume’s guide to life"—David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
"The Great Guide is an excellent introduction to Hume. The biographical travelogue lends reality to Hume as a person. The discussions of Hume’s major views are clear and careful. Hopefully the book will increase interest in Hume both inside and outside the academy."—Daniel E. Flage, European Legacy
"Baggini traces Hume’s movements while exploring the evolution of his ideas. Hume had a profound impact on the history of philosophy. . . .But Hume’s more technical ideas about cause and effect isn’t the big takeaway from Baggini’s book, at least not for people who believe philosophy really is about virtue. Hume’s often contrarian ideas, his commitment to question everything, serves as an inspiration for living well. . . .What more could you want from a philosopher?"—Steven Gambardella, Sophist
“With his characteristic clarity, Julian Baggini has given us a much-needed and extremely readable account of the work of David Hume. It is hard to imagine a better introduction to Hume’s world and the relevance of his thought to the questions of our time.”—Alexander McCall Smith, author of The Sunday Philosophy Club
“Marvelous. This enlightening account of Hume’s life and thought shows how philosophy’s true worth is measured not on the strength of the argument but on the strength of the life that it inspires. Hume once said, ‘A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.’ In the case of The Great Guide, the evidence is clear: Julian Baggini is one of the most delightful writers of philosophy today.”—John Kaag, author of Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life
"A fascinating mix of biography, travelogue, and ideas. This book will enhance Baggini's reputation as one of the most elegant writers in the world of philosophy."—David Edmonds, author of The Murder of Professor Schlick: The Rise and Fall of the Vienna Circle
"This unique book is filled with useful maxims for everyday life, illuminating Hume's world while also adding a contemporary touch. Baggini's intermingling of life and philosophy, both past and present, makes for an engaging read."—Angela M. Coventry, author of Hume: A Guide for the Perplexed
"In this well-written and accessible book, Baggini shows how Hume’s life illustrates and accords with his philosophical standpoints, deftly navigating a good many of the central themes of Hume's work."—Simon Blackburn, author of What Do We Really Know? The Big Questions of Philosophy