Be still a Man

Written by Michael Fenty

The scenes in this rehearsed reading are from a work in progress about David Hume an eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, who spent his earlier years at Ninewells near Chirnside, Berwickshire, and was considered to be ‘the greatest philosopher to write in the English language.

The title is from one of his famous quotes: ‘

‘Be a philosopher, but amid all your philosophy, be still a man.’

 

The cast are preparing the play, rehearsing the scenes under the eye of a director. Hume is seen as tutor, soldier, diplomat, government official, cook and philosopher. Hume watches the cast and director from the wings as he writes his autobiography.

 

Programme Notes

David Hume was influenced by his great friend Adam Smith the economist but also Kant, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Rousseau and his ideas percolated down to later thinkers in different fields such as Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein and, as can be heard in his conversation with a so-called lunatic, Annandale, quantum theory!

He was more than a philosopher. He was an economist, an historian, a writer, a diplomat, a government administrator and colonial governor. At one time he had been a soldier and later in life, strangely, given his station and background, he became a cook. He was a lover of the good things in life...good company...good wine... and good food. He loved the ladies and they loved him. He was no matinee idol. He was described as “broad and fat, his mouth wide, and without any other expression than that of imbecility…the corpulence of his whole person was far better fitted to communicate the idea of a turtle-eating alderman than of a refined philosopher.”

 

Hume never lost his Borders accent.

The ladies loved him as he paid them the compliment, in a male dominated society, of taking their views and opinions seriously.