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David Hume – Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, 1779

Second edition of Hume’s classic treatment of religion, published in the same year as the first very small Edinburgh edition, now virtually unobtainable. ‘Hume began writing the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion around 1751, receiving comments on the manuscript from friends. The main revisions of the work occurred during the initial writing in 1751 and around 1757. A small amount of further revision can be traced to around 1761 and one significant paragraph to a brief period two or three weeks before Hume’s death. During the last few months of his life he planned for its eventual publication. He first left the task to Adam Smith, but, when Smith expressed reluctance, he made arrangements with his long-time printer William Strahan. As his illness progressed, he added an addendum to his Will stipulating that his nephew, later Baron David Hume, should see to the publication of the Dialogues if Strahan failed. After Hume’s death, Strahan decided against publishing it, and suggested that it would be done with more propriety by Hume’s nephew. The nephew thus made the appropriate arrangements, and the work finally appeared in the middle of 1779′ (James Fieser, A Bibliography of Hume’s Writings and Early Responses, Thoemmes Press, 2003, p. 49).

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