Biography[ edit ] Early life and education[ edit ] Hume was the second of two sons born to Joseph Home of Ninewellsan advocate, and his wife The Hon. Hume's father died when Hume was a child, just after his second birthday, and he was raised by his mother, who never remarried. Throughout his life Hume, who never married, spent time occasionally at his family home at Ninewells in Berwickshirewhich had belonged to his family since the sixteenth century.
Born in Edinburgh the son of a Scottish lord, Hume studied on the Continent, where he published his epochal philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature —at the age of There is no figure more important in the unfortunate discrediting of the classical philosophical tradition of natural-law realism, a tradition that had lasted from Plato and Aristotle at least through Aquinas and the late Scholastics.
Barred from academia for his skepticism and alleged irreligion, Hume joined the diplomatic corps and served as secretary to Lord Hertford, the British ambassador to France. Finally, inHume retired to Edinburgh. The essays are distinguished for their lucid and even sparkling style, a style that shone in comparison to his learned but plodding contemporaries.
Hume pointed up this important truth by postulating what would happen if every individual, overnight, should find the stock of money in his possession to have doubled miraculously: For suppose that, by miracle, every man in Great Britain should have five pounds slipped into his pocket in one night; this would much more than double the whole money that is at present in the kingdom; yet there would not next day, nor for some time, be any more lenders, nor any variation in the interest.
The price-specie-flow mechanism is the quantity theory extrapolated into the case of many countries. The rise in the supply of money in country A will cause its prices to rise; but then the goods of country A are no longer as competitive compared to other countries.
Exports will therefore decline, and imports from other countries with cheaper goods will rise.
The balance of trade in country A will therefore become unfavorable, and specie will flow out of A in order to pay for the deficit. But this outflow of specie will eventually cause a sharp contraction of the supply of money in country A, a proportional fall in prices, and an end to, indeed a reversal of, the unfavorable balance.
As prices in A fall back to previous levels, specie will flow back in until the balance of trade is in balance, and until the price levels in terms of specie are equal in each country.
Thus, on the free market, there is a rapidly self-correcting force at work that equilibrates balances of payments and price levels and prevents an inflation from going very far in any given country. First, Cantillon did not believe in aggregate proportionality of money and price-level changes, instead engaging in a sophisticated microprocess analysis of money going from one person to the next.
As a result, money and prices will not rise proportionately even in the eventual new equilibrium state. Second, Cantillon included the "income effect" of more money in a country, whereas Hume confined himself to the aggregate-price effect. In short, if the money supply in country A increases, it will equilibrate not only by prices rising in A, but also by the fact that monetary assets and incomes are higher in A, and therefore more money will be spent on imports.
This income, or more precisely the cash balance, effect will generally work faster than the price effect. For while Hume conceded that it does not matter for production or prosperity what the level of the money supply may be, he did lay great importance on changes in that supply. Now it is true that changes do have important consequences, some of which Cantillon had already analyzed.
But the crucial point is that all such changes are disruptive and distort market activity and the allocation of resources. But David Hume, on the contrary, in a pre-Keynesian fashion, hailed the allegedly vivifying effects of increases in the quantity of money upon prosperity, and called upon the government to make sure that the supply of money is always at least moderately increasing.
The two contradictory prescriptions of Hume for the supply of money are actually presented in two successive sentences: From the whole of this reasoning we may conclude, that it is of no manner of consequence, with regard to the domestic happiness of a state, whether money be in a greater or less quantity.
The good policy of the magistrate consists only in keeping it, if possible, still increasing; because, by that means he keeps alive a spirit of industry in the nation. Hume goes on, in proto-Keynesian fashion, to claim that the invigorating effect of increasing the supply of money occurs because employment of labor and other resources increases long before prices begin to rise.
But Hume stops as Keynes did just as the problem becomes interesting:Other articles where Political Discourses is discussed: David Hume: As an economist: as an economist in the Political Discourses, which were incorporated in Essays and Treatises as Part II of Essays, Moral and Political.
How far he influenced Adam Smith remains uncertain: they had broadly similar principles, and both had the excellent habit . DAVID HUME’S greatness was recognized in his own time, as it is today, but the writings that made Hume famous are not, by and large, the same ones that support his reputation now.
Leaving aside his Enquiries, which were widely read then as now, Hume is known today chiefly through his Treatise of Human Nature [ ].
Katherine Falconer Hume realized that David was uncommonly precocious, so when his older brother went up to Edinburgh University, Hume went with him, although he was only 10 or (MOL 10).
More essays, the Political Discourses, appeared in New Letters of David Hume, edited by Raymond Klibansky and Ernest C. Mossner, Oxford. In his writings, David Hume set out to bridge the gap between the learned world of the academy and the marketplace of polite society.
This collection, drawing largely on his Essays Mortal, Political, and Literary ( edition), comprehensively shows how far he succeeded. As seen in these selections, Hume embraces a staggering range of social, cultural, political, demographic, and historical. EDITIONS AND TRANSLATIONS OF DAVID HUME’S POLITICAL DISCOURSES () GIULIA BIANCHI UNIVERSITY OF PISA PISA / ITALY [email protected] ABSTRACT The paper contains an historical analysis of the editions and translations of David Hume’s.
Political Discourses, a work so successful that a second edition was published before the year was out, He acted in the belief that commerce between men of letters and men of the world worked to the benefit of both.
Hume thought that philosophy itself was a great loser when it remained shut up in colleges and cells and secluded from the.