1. Under what conditions did Hume compose "My Own Life"? What are your general opinions about its style and tone?
2. What was Hume's social background? What events shaped his childhood? What seems to have been his family's economic status?
3. What themes or topics recur in Hume's account of himself? What do you think motivated these claims?
4. What seems Hume's attitude toward his writing? Toward his critics?
5. What is Hume's self-estimate of his own character?
6. What pleasures did he enjoy?
7. What state of mind does he claim in the face of death? Is this one suitable for a philosopher?
8. What relation can you see between Hume's character, as he presents it in this essay, and the content and tone of the "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion"?
9. In what ways do Hume's traits seem to resemble those of other figures of the Enlightenment (Smith, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Paine, Bentham, etc.)?
"Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion"
1. What might be some reasons Hume failed to publish these dialogues in his lifetime?
2. What positions are taken by Cleanthes, Philo and Demea? Can you tell which one is most often presented as the author of a persuasive point of view?
3. Which speakers present skeptical positions, and toward what views are they skeptical? (380)
4. What are interesting features of the essay?
5. In dialogue 3, what argument does Demea give against Cleanthes's defense of religion on the basis of the "argument from design"?
6. What are some responses to the reading of Hume's "Dialogues" which his contemporary audience might have had?
Adam Smith, selections from The Wealth of Nations
1. What seems Smith's approach to economic issues?
2. What are his views on the benefits of colonies? Is it important that this book was published in 1775? According to the views here expressed, what would have been Smith's attitude toward the American revolution?
3. What does he see as wrong with Britain's imperialist aspirations? On what basis had colonial possessions been justified?
4. What are Smith's views about general education? About the mindset and understandings of working people?
5. What seems to be the relationship of economics and history in Smith's text?
6. In what ways may Smith be viewed as an Enlightenment figure?
George Campbell, "The Philosophy of Rhetoric"
1. What does Campbell consider to be the four ends of oratory? Are these related?
2. What powers does he attribute to an orator? What emotions are most likely to stir an audience?
3. What is the relation of "truth" to rhetoric? (692)
4. What is the relation of "grammar" to good speech?