1711 — David Hume is born

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, David Hume was one of the greatest of British philosophers. Best known for his empiricism and skepticism, his most famous claim is that – in direct opposition to Rene Descartes – reason is not the greatest driver of humanity, but rather, than desire is. (Obviously, economists were too busy misunderstanding Adam Smith to catch up with this idea for several centuries.) His attitudes to religion were notably ambiguous, although he was critical of the argument from design.

Broadly a member of the utilitarian school of philosophy, Hume was a very influential figure in the history of philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, William James, Joseph Butler and Adam Smith were all influenced by his ideas – Kant and Smith in particular credited him with inspiring their own works. Hume was also a pioneer of the essay as a literary form.

Referenced in:

Bruces’ Philosophers Song — Monty Python