Hume's Therapeutic Natural History of Philosophy Compared with Kant's Philosophical Therapy
This chapter deals with what is termed Hume's ‘natural history of philosophy’, as contained in the two brief sections on the ancient and the modern philosophies. It also contains a comparison of the therapeutic function of philosophical critique, which Hume assumes in these sections, with Kant's account of the therapeutic function of a critique of pure reason in the Transcendental Dialectic of the first Critique. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first discusses Hume's account of the ancient philosophy, which he presents in proto-psychoanalytic terms. The second discusses the modern philosophy and its pretension to be the ‘true philosophy’. It is argued that underlying both is a futile quest for explanatory completeness or closure, which is described as a ‘philosophical neurosis’. The third section spells out the comparison with Kant, for whom an analogous unattainable quest for closure (the ‘unconditioned’) is seen to underlie traditional metaphysics.
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