Friday, April 20, 2012

David Hume on legal research & writing

Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated.
—Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, § 1. (Nature is speaking.)

(H/t DeLong.)


  1. uhhh.... A lot of the things with which I occupy my mind, at work or play, could come under this rubric.

  2. I will say that I have experienced, after deeply reading about this or that, surfacing to share it with someone around me and discovering "the cold reception which [my] pretended discovered [were] met with, when communicated."

    While I like that phrase, I'm thinking Hume could have done better than "pretended discoveries shall meet with..."

    "the cold reception that your pretended discoveries shall meet, when communicated." There. That's better.

  3. The no-endings-with-prepositions rule hadn't been invented yet.

    It's the lawyer's paradox: no one, NO ONE, is interested in your stupid case except the opposing counsel -- and you can't talk to HIM about it.

  4. There are lawyers who WILL talk to opposing counsel, without respite, and I have two [internal] reactions, pretty much: "Ok, keep talking, fool, while I absorb your disclosures of what you are up to" OR "look, guy, are you thinking you are going to persuade me of the error of my ways? Save it for the judge." The ones who provoke the later reaction often seem almost angry I'm not admitting whatever point they are making. Sometimes I will express the second reaction aloud.

    Most annoying are prosecutors who feel some sort of compulsion to try to get me to acknowledge that my client is repulsive. I resist the impulse to talk to them about dishonest cops.

  5. Thanks for sharing this quote from Mr. Hume. This will be very helpful with the information he provided. Have a great rest of your weekend and an enjoyable 2020 for you all.
    Greg Prosmushkin

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