David Hume, in “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,” was known to question many conventional wisdoms and assumptions of his time. This quote, “The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster,” is a reflection of his skeptical philosophy.
In a broader sense, this quote suggests that, from the perspective of the universe, human life is not inherently more valuable or significant than any other form of life, even something as seemingly insignificant as an oyster. It underscores Hume’s belief in a sort of universal equality of existence, and is a reminder of the vastness and indifference of the universe.
This quote also reflects Hume’s rejection of anthropocentrism—the belief that human beings are the most important entity in the universe. Hume often argued against the idea that everything in the world is designed with human beings in mind, which was a common belief in his time.
However, it’s important to remember that Hume’s philosophy is complex and nuanced, and a single quote can’t fully capture his views. For a complete understanding of his ideas, it’s best to read his works in their entirety.