Hume on Education

DAN O’BRIEN

PACIFIC PHILOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY

Abstract: Hume claims that education is ‘disclaimed by philosophy, as a fallacious ground of assent to any opinion’ (T 1.3.10.1) and that it is ‘never . . . recogniz’d by philosophers’ (T 1.3.9.19). He is usually taken to be referring here to indoctrination. I argue, however, that his main concern is with association and those philosophers who emphasize the epistemic dangers of the imagination. These include Locke, Hutcheson and Descartes, but not Hume himself. Hume praises education, highlighting its role in the formation of general rules, and in fostering social conditions that encourage the growth of knowledge and moral virtue.