May 7 was the 300th birthday of the philosopher David Hume. As Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell noted, his influence on philosophy, of course; but his influence on social sciences? Rather less so, Henry says – although I am not sure I would agree. But enough of that – before Hume’s birthday slips away, I want to note his influence, fleeting to be sure, on [drum roll] … French literature.
We have this brief sentence from Book II, Chapter 23, of (naturally) The Red and Black:
L’Angleterre n’a pas une guinée à notre service; l’économie et Hume y sont à la mode.
My French is not good enough to say whether the use of “l’economie” here is “economics” as in the discipline of that day; “economy” as in “economizing”; or a rather clever play for both. If someone wants to tell me in the comments, I’d be curious.