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Publisher's Summary

David Hume reduced philosophy to ruins: he denied the existence of everything, except our actual perceptions themselves. I alone exist, he argued, and the world is nothing more than part of my consciousness. Yet we know that the world remains, and we go on as before. What Hume expressed was the status of our knowledge about the world, a world in which neither religion nor science is certain.

In Hume in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Hume's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Hume's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Hume within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1999 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A godsend in this era of the short attention span." (New York Times)
"Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise." (Wall Street Journal)

What listeners say about Hume in 90 Minutes

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A cynical history of philosophy

Strathern is a cynical historian of philosophy, and this production gives him a chance to be his most sardonic. Even the narrator sounds sarcastic. I loved it.

It didn’t take him long to dispose of Hume’s philosophy, so he could spend the rest of the time on interesting trivia about Hume and the 18th Century Continental society he lived in. A strange society, to be sure – and one perfectly suited to Strathern’s rapier wit.

Hume suffered from mental instability all his life, and he had at least one episode where he saw saints and demons and tried to kill himself. This immediately brings up the question “What was the nature of these illusions?” since Hume believed sensory input was all we could be sure of – since everything else (the continuity of objects, the sensing self, causality) were all conjecture. His reasoning was impeccable, and could not be refuted – and so, for all practical purposes he was ignored.

The German philosophers who came after him, including Kant and Hegel, proceeded to erect elaborate philosophical systems – in the case of Hegel, so elaborate some have wondered if Hegel understood his own philosophy. Only Nietzsche had the nerve to call their bluff – and promptly went insane himself – but before that happened, he had made Hume respectable again. And ever since he has been more-or-less respectable.

20th Century Science has made him completely respectable, because relativity and quantum mechanics have shown that our common-sense perceptions of the world, those expressed by Newtonian physics, are wildly inaccurate.

9 people found this helpful

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In 90 Minutes Series overview

If you could sum up Hume in 90 Minutes in three words, what would they be?
aka Cliff Notes

Would you recommend Nietzsche in 90 Minutes to your friends? Why or why not?
Yes - I've listened to each book in the series about a major philosopher that is available on Audible. Strathern's books don't have the analytical depth found in Will Durant's "The Story of Philosophy" books, but he does a good job summarizing each philosopher's biography, major philosophical points, and criticisms. Additionally, Strathern's breadth is broader than Durant's in that he covers a greater number of philosophers. I believe that the time spent listening to these books has been well-spent.

My reviews for each book in the series about a philosopher are identical.

What about Robert Whitfield’s performance did you like?
Voice is clear, well-modulated, and easily understood, even at 1 1/2 speed.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

funny and well read- light on philosophy

I got this looking for a primer on Hume's philosophy. instead it turned out to be largely biographical and historical. Not bad, but not what I was looking for.

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more biographical fact than thought

I thought this would be a summary of Hume's works and ideas but it ended up being more of a biography about his history with short passing mention of his ideas.

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Delightful

Quick and to the point. Very enjoyable for even someone with a passing interest in intellectual philosophy.

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  • BC
  • 10-01-21

Concise

A great way to touch the surface on Hume. Definitely worth the time and provided me a little insight into some of his works.

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Key to the poverty of the series

Strathern reveals himself throughout this series as narrow and bigoted. Here we learn explicitly what is always being hinted at. “Hume is the only philosopher whose ideas remain credible to us today.”

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David Hume distilled

perhaps it is fitting that such a narcissist should have his work completely captured in a 90 minute audiobook.

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Lacks Hume's Philosophy

This is a biography of Hume, far more than a 90 minute summary of his ideas. Disappointing.

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Glad I found this one

I was completely unfamiliar with Hume before this book and have subsequently downloaded another. Like the other Paul Strathern 90 min. books, it’s smart, concise and humorous. I am planning to enjoy all of the books in this series.