Tag: David Hume

David Hume in Defense of Judith Butler’s Writing Style

David Hume—a man who, when he wanted, had little difficulty making himself understood—also had no problem with the notion that public writing should sometimes be difficult, even a tad inaccessible. From his essay “On Commerce“: THE greater part of mankind may be divided into two classes; that of shallow thinkers, who fall short of the truth; and that of abstruse thinkers, who go beyond it. The latter class are by far the most rare: and I may add, by far the most useful and valuable. They suggest hints, at least, and start difficulties, which they want, perhaps, skill to pursue; but which may produce fine discoveries, when handled by men who have a more just way of thinking. At worst, what […]

David Hume on the Inauguration of Donald Trump

This morning I’m reading Hume, who has a thought for us on Trump’s inauguration. If you think your constitution is so excellent—and many of our political commentators do—”then a change of ministry can be no such dreadful event; since it is essential to such a constitution, in every ministry, both to preserve itself from violation and to prevent all enormities in the administration.” If you don’t think your constitution is so excellent, or not so excellent as to relieve you from worry upon a change in the ministry, then you’ve got a much bigger problem: “Public affairs, in such a constitution, must necessarily go to confusion, by whatever hands they are conducted.” In such a situation, Hume goes onto say, […]

Easy To Be Hard: Conservatism and Violence

This is the second post in my (very) occasional series of excerpts from The Reactionary Mind. (You can read my first, on Justice Scalia, here.) This excerpt is from chapter eleven, “Easy to Be Hard,” in which I examine the relationship between conservatism and violence. I’ve removed all the footnotes; if you want to follow them up, buy the book! (Fun fact: an earlier version of this chapter appeared two years ago in The Chronicle Review.  It drove Jonah Goldberg crazy: “This piece at the Chronicle of Higher Education may be one of the uniformly dumbest piece [sic] of intellectual claptrap I’ve read in a good long while.”)   I enjoy wars. Any adventure’s better than sitting in an office. […]