Hume attended the University of Edinburgh at the unusually early age of twelve at a time when fourteen was normal. At first he considered a career in law, but came to have, in his words, “an insurmountable aversion to everything but the pursuits of Philosophy and general Learning; and while fancyed I was poring over Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the Authors which I was secretly devouring.” He had little respect for the professors of his time, telling a friend in 1735，“there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor, which is not to be met with in Books.”
As Hume’s options lay between a traveling tutorship and a stool in a merchant’s office, he chose the latter. In 1734, after a few months occupied with commerce in Bristol, he went to La Fleche in Anjou, France. There he had frequent discourse with the Jesuits of the College of La Fleche. As he had spent most of his savings during his four years there while writing A Treatise of Human Nature, he resolved “to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible except the improvements of my talents in literature” . He completed the Treatise at the age of 26.
当休谟面对是成为家庭教师还是成为商人的职员这两个选择时，他最终选择了后者。 1734年，在布里斯托经商数个月之后，休谟前往法国安茹的拉弗莱舍（La FUche)旅游，在那里休谟经常与来自拉弗莱舍学院的耶稣会学生进行哲学讨论。在写《人性论》的四年中，他花掉了大部分储蓄，因此休谟决心要“过极其简朴的生活以应付我那有限的财产，以此确保我的独立自主 性，并且不用考虑任何除了增进我的文学天分以外的事物。”当《人性论》完稿时，他年仅26岁。
Although many scholars today consider the Treatise to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in Western philosophy, the critics in Great Britain at the time did not agree, describing it as “abstract and unintelligible” . Despite the disappointment, Hume later wrote, “Being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I soon recovered from the blow and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country.” There, he wrote the Abstract without revealing his authorship, he aimed to make his larger work more intelligible. However, only in about 1770, with the praise by Immanuel Kant, did scholars begin to notice its value.