Hume and Wittgenstein

  • Oswald Hanfling
Part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures book series (RIPL)


It is well known that Wittgenstein’s reading of the philosophical classics was patchy. He left unread a large part of the literature which most philosophers would regard as essential to a knowledge of their subject. Wittgenstein gave an interesting reason for his non-reading of Hume. He said that he could not sit down and read Hume, because he knew far too much about the subject of Hume’s writings to find this anything but a torture.1 In a recent commentary, Peter Hacker has taken this to show that ‘Wittgenstein seems to have despised Hume’. Hume, he adds, ‘made almost every epistemological and metaphysical mistake Wittgenstein could think of’.2


Basic Belief Sceptical Argument Constant Conjunction Causal Nexus Occult Entity 
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  1. 2.
    For a recent comparison of Hume’s and Wittgenstein’s ideas about ultimate certainties, see G. E. M. Anscombe, ‘Hume and Julius Caesar’, Analysis (1973).Google Scholar

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© Royal Institute of Philosophy 1976

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  • Oswald Hanfling

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