Hi...I'd like to begin reading Hume. Should I begin with the Treatise or the Enquiry?

Well, there are two Enquiries, corresponding to the first and the third books of the Treatise. And I'm sure everyone will have her own strategy for reading Hume. My own opinion is that you can't really appreciate the Enquiries until you see how much is behind them; they're too smooth and polished. So I would recommend starting with the Treatise, but not reading it straight through from beginning to end, and not getting too bogged down in the minutiae. Very roughly, I would recommend reading Book 1 of the Treatise relatively quickly to get an overview of the argument, without attempting to be too precise about it. Then I would skip to Book 3 and do the same, though this one is a bit harder to grasp without attending to the details. It is fashionable these days to claim that the long-neglected Book 2 is just as important etc. as Books 1 and 3, but as a way in to Hume I think you'll find Books 1 and/or 3 more accessible. Also, depending on which you are more interested in (Book 1 if you're more into metaphysics and epistemology, Book 3 if you're more into social and political philosophy), there are the corresponding Enquiries to give you a nice overview from a somewhat different viewpoint, just as the Prolegomena gives you a nice overview of Kant's 1st Critique from a somewhat unexpected point of view.

Also there is some secondary literature that can really help to inform your reading. Among the things I have found helpful are Mossner's old biography, which still has merits even though James Harris's recent intellectual biography has in some respects superseded it (and is also very much worth reading). And depending on whether you're more into the epistemological and metaphilosophical aspects or the social and political aspects, you should look at things like Graciela de Pierris on the former and Russell Hardin on the latter. Also, if you're really focused and committed, you might consider looking at Duncan Forbes on Hume's philosophical politics (a challenging book even then). And there are plenty of new things that consider particular aspects. Look in the journals for new articles about Hume, for instance, and just start reading whatever sounds interesting to you from the title.

Only after that should you then go back and start reading the Treatise from the beginning, line by line, carefully. Again, depending on your interests, focus on Book 1 or Book 3 (or, by then, if you insist, on Book 2). Best of luck, it's worth sticking with, as you'll soon figure out once you get over the initial hurdles!

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