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David Hume
1711 - 1776

Moral philosopher, author of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and A Treatise on Human Nature (1739)


It is ... on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the free and the most popular.

1739 - from A Treatise on Human Nature
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.

[On doctrinaire religions] Men dare not avow, even to their own hearts, the doubts which they entertain on such subjects. They make a merit of implicit faith; and disguise to themselves their real infidelity, by the strongest asseverations and the most positive bigotry.

1996 - as quoted by Carl Sagan in The Demon-Haunted World, Ballantine Books
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.

1739 - from A Treatise of Human Nature
Nothing is more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign over their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers.

[Ideas of perfect equality] are really, at bottom, impracticable; and, were they not so, would be extremely pernicious to human society. Render possessions ever so equal, men's different degrees of art, care and industry will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community.

1745 - from Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding