Study Guide

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals Tough-o-Meter

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(7) Snow Line

As we often find with philosophy, this isn't the easiest text in the world. But don't fret just yet Shmoopers—as far as this stuff goes, it's not too difficult (just check out these bad boys). In fact, Hume felt that some of his earlier writings hadn't been accessible enough to the general public and he set out to fix that here. Gee, thanks for looking out for us, Dave.

You might think that since this text was written in the 1700s, it won't be easy to read or relate to today. Like, did they even have bicycles then? (Answer: No, not until the 1800s.) Either way, the big surprise here is that the book really isn't that tough. Hume is all about relating his ideas to the real world and he includes loads of examples from various historical periods and cultures, including his own. It doesn't matter if you don't recognize some of the references—this isn't a history lesson. Hume doesn't get bogged down in details but, instead, gives us some simple, useful examples.

Hume often recaps or expands on the points that he's made, and you might sometimes feel as though this is Groundhog Day. It's helpful though, as it makes sure that we've really gotten a grip on Hume's thinking (the four appendices are super-useful in summing it all up).

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