David Hume

born David Home (7 May 1711 – 25 August 1776) Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, librarian, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism.

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.
I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, & are in a perpetual flux and movement.
Each adventurous genius will still leap at the arduous prize, and find himself stimulated, rather that discouraged, by the failures of his predecessors; while he hopes that the glory of achieving so hard an adventure is reserved for him alone.
Where the riches are engrossed by a few, these must contribute very largely to the supplying of the public necessities.
When any opinion leads us into absurdities, 'tis certainly false; but 'tis not certain an opinion is false, because 'tis of dangerous consequence.
When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Though experience be our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact; it must be acknowledged, that this guide is not altogether infallible, but in some cases is apt to lead us into errors.
I have long entertained a suspicion, with regard to the decisions of philosophers upon all subjects, and found in myself a greater inclination to dispute, than assent to their conclusions.
There is no such thing as freedom of choice unless there is freedom to refuse.
In our reasonings concerning fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance. A wise man therefore proportions his belief to the evidence.
The most perfect happiness, surely, must arise from the contemplation of the most perfect object.
They all make up new species of crime and bring unhappiness in their train. When I hear a man is religious , I conclude he is a rascal , though I know some instances of very good men being religious.
Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.
At present they philosophers seem to be in a very lamentable condition, and such as the poets have given us but a faint notion of in their descriptions of the punishment of Sisyphus and Tantalus. For what can be imagin'd more tormenting, than to seek with eagerness, what for ever flies us; and seek for it in a place, where 'tis impossible it can ever exist?
Our senses inform us of the colour, weight, and consistence of bread; but neither sense nor reason can ever inform us of those qualities which fit it for the nourishment and support of a human body.
What is easy and obvious is never valued; and even what is in itself difficult, if we come to the knowledge of it without difficulty, and without any stretch of thought or judgment, is but little regarded.
Explanation is where the mind rests.
The passion for philosophy, like that for religion, involves a certain danger. Although it aims to correct our behaviour and wipe out our vices, it may—through not being handled properly—end up merely encouraging us to carry on in directions that we’re already naturally inclined to follow.
It is an observation suggested by all history, and by none more than by that of James I and his successor, Charles I, that the religious spirit, when it mingles with faction, contains in it something supernatural and unaccountable; and that, in its operations upon society, effects correspond less to their known causes than is found in any other circumstance of government.
If Shakespeare be considered as a MAN born in a rude age and educated in the lowest manner, without any instruction either from the world or from books, he may be regarded as a prodigy; if represented as a POET capable of furnishing a proper entertainment to a refined or intelligent audience, we must abate much of this eulogy. In his compositions, we regret that many irregularities, and even absurdities, should so frequently disfigure the animated and passionated scenes intermixed with them; and, at the same time, we perhaps admire the more those beauties on account of their being surrounded by such deformities. A striking peculiarity of sentiment, adapted to a single character, he frequently hits, as it were, by inspiration; but a reasonable propriety of thought he cannot for any time uphold. Nervous and picturesque expressions as well as descriptions abound in him; but it is in vain we look either for purity or simplicity of diction. His total ignorance of all theatrical art and conduct, however material a defect, yet, as it affects the spectator rather than the reader, we can more easily excuse than that want of taste which often prevails in his productions, and which gives way only by intervals to the irradiations of genius. [....] And there may even remain a suspicion that we overrate, if possible, the greatness of his genius; in the same manner as bodies often appear more gigantic on account of their being disproportioned and misshapen.
The worst speculative Sceptic ever I knew, was a much better Man than the best superstitious Devotee & Bigot." "I must inform you, too, that this was the way of thinking of the Antients on this Subject. If a Man made Proffession of Philosophy, whatever his Sect was, they alaways expected to find more Regulaity in his Life and Manners, than in those of ignorant & illiterate.
Nothing is more admirable, than the readiness, with which the imagination suggests its ideas, and presents them at the very instant, in which they become necessary or useful.
The Divinity is a boundless Ocean of Bliss and Glory: Human minds are smaller streams, which, arising at first from the ocean, seek still, amid all wanderings, to return to it, and to lose themselves in that immensity of perfection. When checked in this natural course, by vice or folly, they become furious and enraged, and, swelling to a torrent, do then spread horror and devastation on the neighboring plains.
Thomas Hobbes's politics are fitted only to promote tyranny, and his ethics to encourage licentiousness.
If subjects must never resist, it follows that every prince, without any effort, policy, or violence, is at once rendered absolute and uncontrollable.
When principles are so absurd and so destructive of human society, it may safely be averred, that the more sincere and the more disinterested they are, they only become the more ridiculous and the more odious.
Nay, if we should suppose, what seldom happens, that a popular religion were found, in which it was expressly declared that nothing but morality could gain the divine favor; if an order of priests were instituted to inculcate this opinion in daily sermons and with all the arts of persuasion; yet so inveterate are the people's prejudices, that, for want of some other superstition, they would make the very attendance on these sermons the essentials of religion, rather than place them in virtue and good morals.
Be a philosopher; but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.
Rousseau is the person whom I most revere both for the Force of his Genius and the Greatness of his mind [...]
The admirers and followers of the Al Koran insist on the excellent moral precepts interspersed throughout that wild and absurd performance...Would we know, whether the pretended prophet had really attained a just sentiment of morality, let us attend to his narration, and we shall soon find, that he bestows praise upon such instances of treachery, inhumanity, cruelty, revenge, bigotry, as are utterly incompatible with civilised society. No steady rule of right conduct seems there to be attended to: and every action is blamed or praised, so far only as it is beneficial or harmful to the true believers.