MM 3-36 David Hume’s Big Toe

One day last Spring when we were wandering along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile I took this shot of the David Hume statue in front of the High Court building. This will be my entry for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge.


David Hume and his big toe on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

The bronze statue was created by Sandy Stoddart in 1995 and placed on the Royal Mile near St Giles Cathedral in 1997. The sculptor made Hume’s right foot extend a few inches beyond the plinth and it didn’t take long for University of Edinburgh students to rub Hume’s big toe for good luck as they walked past the statue on their way to an examination. Nowadays you will see tourists following the students’ example.

David Hume was born in Edinburgh in 1711 and died there in 1776. He lived during the Age of Enlightenment and is considered one of the world’s greatest philosophers. Hume was heavily influenced by the rationalism of Rene Descartes and the empiricism of John Locke. He in turn heavily influenced Immanuel Kant, Charles Darwin and Edmund Husserl. During his lifetime Hume was most famous for his six-volume History of England but today he is most revered for his Treatise of Human Nature which he began when he was only 23. He also wrote Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and Enquiries concerning the Principles of Morals. Hume considered himself a skeptic — not quite an atheist — while many of his peers belonged to the Church of Scotland and called him The Great Infidel. He was persuaded by his close friend Adam Smith and others not to have his most controversial work, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, published until after his death.

Hume did not believe in luck and probably would not have approved of his toe being rubbed. He probably also thought it would be silly to dress in Greek robes! But he was one of the greatest figures of the Enlightenment and it’s about time that Edinburgh honored him with this monument.

Here’s the original color version of the photo:


Statue of David Hume by Sandy Stoddart.

oops — I automatically went to my file of Scotland photos for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge and forgot that Leanne Cole suggested a Christmas theme for this week. Go to Leanne’s website to see the Christmas photos other photographers came up with.

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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6 Responses to MM 3-36 David Hume’s Big Toe

  1. disperser says:

    As it happens, I’m revisiting some of his works in preparation for a post I’m planning. Yeah, I don’t think he would have liked his toe rubbed or being forced to wear a toga.

  2. StillWalks says:

    The colour of bronze is one of its most attractive features in sculpture but the extra contrast in your monochrome version works well. I see you allowed his toe to retaine some colour! 😄

  3. Pieter Navis says:

    i see i also forgot that there is a special theme this week

    and i must have missed this statue 3 years ago when i was in Edinburgh.. somthing for the next time to check out 🙂

  4. blessings of the season Crow!

  5. Peter Klopp says:

    Great shot of the statue of David Hume! I remember his name from the philosophy course I once took at the University of Calgary. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  6. Pingback: Monochrome Madness and Adam Smith | Crow Canyon Journal

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