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Hume's Last Lessons: The Civic Education of My Own Life

Abstract

Hume's concern to promote public virtue is a central element of his philosophical project which deserves more attention than it has received. This article examines one of his most focused efforts at public moralism: his largely forgotten autobiography, My Own Life. By attending to its account of how Hume employed his vanity and ambition in his pursuit of fame and fortune—and discovered such virtues as temperance, industry, moderation, and independence in the process—it is argued that My Own Life was intended to serve as a “mirror-for-citizen.” for citizens of modern commercial republics, offering a model of civic virtue and worldly success for them to emulate. To show this Hume's didactic autobiography is compared to that of his friend Benjamin Franklin, which may have served as a model for Hume's.

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The Review of Politics
  • ISSN: 0034-6705
  • EISSN: 1748-6858
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-politics
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