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Amazon groups all reviews together for different editions of the "same" book. What is missed is that different editions are really different books. This edition is a wonderful piece of scholarship, with illuminating commentary and notes. I found this edition to be especially helpful for my students.

There is a long introductory essay, comments throughout the text, notes and a glossary. Even if you have the Selby-Bigge edition, every Hume scholar and serious student should add this to their library. Other than the Selby-Bigge and Oxford editions, avoid all other print editions. By Oxford editions, I refer to this version and the version also edited by the Nortons under the Clarendon Series label.

Amazon is lucky I love Hume and that I'm too lazy too return most things. Check the scale size picture that tells you how big the book is before buying because like many other customers I received what is essentially a PDF printout of wrapped in a charming portrait of the great thinker, which is to serve as a makeshift cover, and a font size that really strains your eyes to try and read.

Not to mention only pages of no value added, foreward, notes by any scholars.. I mean forgive me for being a spoiled reader but at least make the book a standard size with readable text. David Hume is commonly referred to as one of the most influential philosophers and this book is one of his most significant works. I was eager to read it based on these common assumptions. I was disappointed, not only in the content, but also in the general clarity. Hume argues very circuitously and often admits he is not clear on certain subjects, which is reflected in the writings.

His style is that of thinking aloud. Much worse than the style though is the content. He consistently attacks reason and the idea that any firm knowledge is possible. This of course contradicts itself, as he makes these points by the use of reason and on the presupposition that knowledge is possible, in order to arrive at the conclusions he does. The most interesting part of the book is the first section, which deals with his ideas of impressions and concepts and sensations. He lumps all of these together and ends up with a confused mess and the conclusion that nothing is knowable.

There are several explicit statements about the futility of reason. The discussions of emotions is relateable to all readers and is somewhat interesting but suffers from a lack of clarity and constant second guessing. It is a shame that such an important subject has Hume for one of its most famous advocates. People like him are the reason philosophy is considered esoteric and completely unrelated to practical life, which is one of the most unfortunates situation in human history, as humans are creatures driven by ideas and philosophy is at the base of this.

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Overall, the book is somehat long and some parts are dry but it is worth the read based on Hume's influence. I would suggest reading this but counterbalancing it with multiple other works and not assuming that this is what all philosophy is like. The book did not sell more than a few copies in the life of its great author. The reason is obvious: Of course, this book became very highly prized two centuries later, and remains one of the best books in all philosophy. Indeed, the only philosophy book that might be considered slightly better is the book that Hume himself wrote some years later to expound and explain the ideas of the "Treatise on Human Nature" in a more readable style!

One person found this helpful. I don't know if i can review the book in any detail here, the way Hume examines things is wonderful. He systematically works his way to a truth that he and me as the reader can accept to be true. Get a copy that is by another publisher. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Instead of quenching my thirst for knowledge Humes has expanded it. As with most philosophers he does get a little long winded but that's expected. The book is a tour de force on how knowledge can be attained through proper deduction and induction.

I would even recommend this book to my enemies, especially the third part of the book which covers morality quite thoroughly. Getting clear about the content of the ideas and the meanings of the terms we are investigating requires something else. He believes he has found a way to accurately determine their content—his account of definition. Hume's account of definition uses a simple series of tests to determine cognitive content. Begin with a term.

Ask what idea is annexed to it. If there is no such idea, then the term has no cognitive content, however prominently it figures in philosophy or theology. If there is an idea annexed to the term, and it is complex, break it down into the simple ideas that compose it, and trace them back to their original impressions. If the process fails at any point, the idea in question lacks cognitive content. Hume uses his account of definition in his critical phase to show that many of the central concepts of traditional metaphysics lack intelligible content. He also uses it in his constructive phase to determine the exact meaning of our terms and ideas.

Although we are capable of separating and combining our simple ideas as we please, there is, nevertheless, a regular order to our thoughts. Hume identifies three principles of association: When someone shows you a picture of your best friend, you naturally think of her because the picture resembles her.

When you're reminded of something that happened in the s—miniskirts, for example—you may think of the Vietnam War, because they are temporally contiguous. Thinking of Sausalito may lead you to think of the Golden Gate Bridge, which may also lead you to think of San Francisco, since they are spatially contiguous.

Causality works both from cause to effect and effect to cause: Taking aspirin in the past has relieved my headaches, so I expect that the aspirin I just took will soon relieve my present headache. Like gravitational attraction, the associative principles are original , and so can't be explained further. Hume doesn't try to explain why we associate ideas as we do. He is interested only in establishing that, as a matter of fact, we do associate ideas in these ways. Given that his claim that the associative principles explain the important operations of the mind is an empirical one, he must admit, as he does in the first Enquiry , that he cannot prove conclusively that his list of associative principles is complete.

Perhaps he has overlooked some additional principle. We are free to examine our own thoughts to determine whether resemblance, contiguity, and causation successfully explain them. The more instances the associative principles explain, the more assurance we have that Hume has identified the basic principles by which our minds work. The medieval synthesis Thomas Aquinas —74 forged between Christian theology and Aristotle's science and metaphysics set the terms for the early modern causation debate.

Aristotle — BCE drew an absolute categorical distinction between scientific knowledge scientia and belief opinio. Scientific knowledge was knowledge of causes and scientific explanation consisted in demonstration —proving the necessary connection between a cause and its effect from intuitively obvious premises independently of experience. Modern philosophers thought of themselves as scientific revolutionaries because they rejected Aristotle's account of causation.

Even so, they accepted his distinction between knowledge and belief, and regarded causal inference as an exercise of reason, which aimed at demonstrating the necessary connection between cause and effect. Malebranche — , and others following Descartes — , were optimistic about the possibility of demonstrative scientific knowledge, while those in the British experimental tradition were more pessimistic. Locke was sufficiently sceptical about what knowledge we can attain that he constructed one of the first accounts of probable inference to show that belief can meet standards of rationality that make experimental natural philosophy intellectually respectable.

Propositions concerning relations of ideas are intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the interior angles of a Euclidean triangle sum to degrees is true whether or not there are any Euclidean triangles to be found in nature. In sharp contrast, the truth of propositions concerning matters of fact depends on the way the world is. Their contraries are always possible, their denials never imply contradictions, and they can't be established by demonstration. Asserting that Miami is north of Boston is false, but not contradictory.

We can understand what someone who asserts this is saying, even if we are puzzled about how he could have the facts so wrong. To defuse this objection, however, it is important to bear in mind that Hume's categories are his translations of a traditional absolute categorical classificatory distinction between knowledge and belief that all of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors accepted. Hume's method dictates his strategy in the causation debate. In the critical phase , he argues that his predecessors were wrong: In the constructive phase , he supplies an alternative: Hume's contributions to the critical phase of the causation debate are contained in Treatise 1.

Causal inferences are the only way we can go beyond the evidence of our senses and memories. In making them, we suppose there is some connection between present facts and what we infer from them. But what is this connection? How is it established? If the connection is established by an operation of reason or the understanding, it must concern either relations of ideas or matters of fact.

Hume argues that the connection can't involve relations of ideas. Effects are different events from their causes, so there is no contradiction in conceiving of a cause occurring, and its usual effect not occurring. Ordinary causal judgments are so familiar that we tend to overlook this; they seem immediate and intuitive. But suppose you were suddenly brought into the world as an adult, armed with the intellectual firepower of an Einstein.

Could you, simply by examining an aspirin tablet, determine that it will relieve your headache? When we reason a priori , we consider the idea of the object we regard as a cause independently of any observations we have made of it. It can't include the idea of any other distinct object, including the object we take to be its usual effect.

Hume concludes that a priori reasoning can't be the source of the connection between our ideas of a cause and its effect. Contrary to what the majority of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors thought, causal inferences do not concern relations of ideas. Hume now moves to the only remaining possibility. If causal inferences don't involve a priori reasoning about relations of ideas, they must concern matters of fact and experience.

When we've had many experiences of one kind of event constantly conjoined with another, we begin to think of them as cause and effect and infer the one from the other. But even after we've had many experiences of a cause conjoined with its effect, our inferences aren't determined by reason or any other operation of the understanding. In the past, taking aspirin has relieved my headaches, so I believe that taking aspirin will relieve the headache I'm having now. But my inference is based on the aspirin's superficial sensible qualities, which have nothing to do with headache relief.

Since we neither intuit nor infer a priori that similar objects have similar secret powers, our presumption must be based in some way on our experience. But our past experience only gives us information about objects as they were when we experienced them, and our present experience only tells us about objects we are experiencing now. Causal inferences, however, do not just record our past and present experiences.

They extend or project what we have gathered from experience to other objects in the future. Since it is not necessarily true that an object with the same sensible qualities will have the same secret powers that past objects with those sensible qualities had, how do we project those experiences into the future, to other objects that may only appear similar to those we've previously experienced? Hume thinks we can get a handle on this question by considering two clearly different propositions:.

The chain of reasoning I need must show me how my past experience is relevant to my future experience. I need some further proposition or propositions that will establish an appropriate link or connection between past and future, and take me from 1 to 2 using either demonstrative reasoning , concerning relations of ideas, or probable reasoning , concerning matters of fact. Hume thinks it is evident that demonstrative reasoning can't bridge the gap between 1 and 2.

However unlikely it may be, we can always intelligibly conceive of a change in the course of nature. Even though aspirin relieved my previous headaches, there's no contradiction in supposing that it won't relieve the one I'm having now, so the supposition of a change in the course of nature can't be proven false by any reasoning concerning relations of ideas. That leaves probable reasoning.

Hume argues that there is no probable reasoning that can provide a just inference from past to future. Any attempt to infer 2 from 1 by a probable inference will be viciously circular—it will involve supposing what we are trying to prove. Hume spells out the circularity this way. Any reasoning that takes us from 1 to 2 must employ some connecting principle that connects the past with the future. Since one thing that keeps us from moving directly from past to future is the possibility that the course of nature might change, it seems plausible to think that the connecting principle we need will assure us that nature is uniform —that the course of nature won't change—something like the uniformity principle:.

Adopting [UP] will indeed allow us to go from 1 to 2. But before we can use it to establish that our causal inferences are determined by reason, we need to determine our basis for adopting it. But to attempt to establish [UP] this way would be to try to establish probable arguments using probable arguments, which will eventually include [UP] itself.

Hume has exhausted the ways reason might establish a connection between cause and effect to show that our causal inferences are based on reason. Having cleared the way for his constructive account, Hume is ready to do just that. Hume maintains that this principle is custom or habit:. But even though we have located the principle, it is important to see that this isn't a new principle by which our minds operate.

Custom and habit are general names for the principles of association. Hume describes their operation as a causal process: Causation is the operative associative principle here, since it is the only one of those principles that can take us beyond our senses and memories. Custom thus turns out to be the source of the Uniformity Principle —the belief that the future will be like the past.

Causal inference leads us not only to conceive of the effect, but also to expect it. When I expect that the aspirin will relieve my headache, I'm not just abstractly considering the idea of headache relief, I believe that the aspirin will relieve it. What more is involved in believing that aspirin will relieve my headache than in merely conceiving that it will? It can't be that beliefs have some additional idea—the idea of belief, perhaps—that conceptions lack. If there were some such idea, given our ability to freely combine ideas, we could, by simply willing, add that idea to any conception whatsoever, and believe anything we like.

Hume concludes that belief must be some sentiment or feeling aroused in us independently of our wills, which accompanies those ideas that constitute them. It is a particular way or manner of conceiving an idea that is generated by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If constant conjunctions were all that is involved, my thoughts about aspirin and headaches would only be hypothetical. For belief, one of the conjoined objects must be present to my senses or memories; I must be taking, or just have taken, the aspirin.

In these circumstances, believing that my headache will soon be relieved is as unavoidable as feeling affection for a close friend, or anger when someone harms us. While Hume thinks that defining this sentiment may be impossible, we can describe belief, if only by analogy, although he was never completely satisfied with his attempts to do so. Belief is a livelier, firmer, more vivid, steady, and intense conception of an object. Hume intends these characterizations to go beyond merely recording intensity of feeling to capture how belief. Hume's explanation is that as I become accustomed to aspirin's relieving my headaches, I develop a propensity—a tendency—to expect headache relief to follow taking aspirin.

The propensity is due to the associative bond that my repeated experiences of taking aspirin and headache relief have formed. Custom, Hume maintains, in language that anticipates and influenced Darwin,. In keeping with his project of providing a naturalistic account of how our minds work, Hume has given empirical explanations of our propensity to make causal inferences, and the way those inferences lead to belief. To get clear about the idea of power or necessary connection, we need to determine the impressions that are its source.

Hume identifies three possible sources in the work of his predecessors: Locke thought we get our idea of power secondarily from external impressions of the interactions of physical objects, and primarily from internal impressions of our ability to move our bodies and to consider ideas. Malebranche argued that what we take to be causes of the motion of bodies or mental activity aren't causes at all. They are only occasions for God, the sole source of necessary connection, to act in the world.

Hume rejects all three possibilities. He argues that external impressions of the interactions of bodies can't give rise to our idea of power. When we see that the motion of one billiard ball follows another, we're only observing their conjunction , never their connection. Attending to internal impressions of the operations of our minds doesn't help.

Although voluntary bodily movements follow our willing that those movements occur, this is a matter of fact I learn through experience, not from some internal impression of my will's power. When I decide to type, my fingers move over the keyboard. When I decide to stop, they stop, but I have no idea how this happens.

Were I aware of the power of my will to move my fingers, I'd know both how it worked and its limits. Our ability to control our thoughts doesn't give us an impression of power, either. We don't have a clue about how we call up our ideas. Our command over them is limited and varies from time to time.

We learn about these limitations and variations only through experience, but the mechanisms by which they operate are unknown and incomprehensible to us. If I decide to think about Istanbul, my idea of that city comes to mind, but I experience only the succession of my decision followed by the idea's appearance, never the power itself.

Malebranche and other occasionalists do the same, except they apply it across the boards. True causes aren't powers in the physical world or in human minds. The only true cause is God's willing that certain objects should always be conjoined with certain others. It also capitalizes on how little we know about the interactions of bodies, but since our idea of God is based on extrapolations from our faculties, our ignorance should also apply to him. Since we've canvassed the leading contenders for the source of our idea of necessary connection and found them wanting, it might seem as if we have no such idea, but that would be too hasty.

In our discussion of causal inference, we saw that when we find that one kind of event is constantly conjoined with another, we begin to expect the one to occur when the other does. We suppose there's some connection between them, and don't hesitate to call the first, the cause , and the second, the effect. We also saw that there's nothing different in the repetition of constantly conjoined cases from the exactly similar single case, except that after we've experienced their constant conjunction, habit determines us to expect the effect when the cause occurs.

Hume concludes that it is just this felt determination of the mind—our awareness of this customary transition from one associated object to another—that is the source of our idea of necessary connection. When we say that one object is necessarily connected to another, we really mean that they have acquired an associative connection in our thought that gives rise to this inference.

Having located the missing ingredient, Hume is ready to offer a definition of cause. In fact, he gives us two. A cause is an object, followed by another, where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second,. A cause is an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to the other,. Only together do they capture all the relevant impressions involved. Hume locates the source of the idea of necessary connection in us , not in the objects themselves or even in our ideas of those objects we regard as causes and effects.

In doing so, he completely changes the course of the causation debate, reversing what everyone else thought about the idea of necessary connection. Subsequent discussions of causation must confront the challenges Hume poses for traditional, more metaphysical, ways of looking at our idea of causation. Hume's treatment of our idea of causation is his flagship illustration of how his method works and the revolutionary results it can achieve.

He goes on to apply both his method, and its concrete results, to other prominent debates in the modern period, including probable inference, testimony for miracles, free will, and intelligent design. Hume's explanation of morality is an important part of his efforts to reform philosophy. He takes his primary task to be an investigation into the origin of the basic moral ideas, which he assumes are the ideas of moral goodness and badness.

Determining their causes will determine what their content is—what we mean by them. His secondary concern is to establish what character traits and motives are morally good and bad. Hume follows his sentimentalist predecessor, Francis Hutcheson — , in building his moral theory around the idea of a spectator who approves or disapproves of people's character traits and motives. The sentiments of approval and disapproval are the source of our moral ideas of goodness and badness. To evaluate a character trait as morally good is to evaluate it as virtuous; to evaluate it as morally bad is to evaluate it as vicious.

As he did in the causation debate, Hume steps into an ongoing debate about ethics, often called the British Moralists debate, which began in the mid-seventeenth century and continued until the end of the eighteenth. He uses the same method here as he did in that debate: Hume has two sets of opponents: He became the most famous proponent of sentimentalism. Thomas Hobbes' — brilliant but shocking attempt to derive moral and political obligation from motives of self-interest initiated the British Moralists debate. Hobbes, as his contemporaries understood him, characterizes us as naturally self-centered and power-hungry, concerned above all with our own preservation.

In the state of nature, a pre-moral and pre-legal condition, we seek to preserve ourselves by trying to dominate others. The way out is to make a compact with one another. We agree to hand over our power and freedom to a sovereign, who makes the laws necessary for us to live together peacefully and has the power to enforce them. While acting morally requires that we comply with the laws the sovereign establishes, the basis of morality is self-interest.

Bernard Mandeville's — The Fable of the Bees served to reinforce this reading of Hobbes during the early 18 th century. According to Mandeville, human beings are naturally selfish, headstrong, and unruly. Some clever politicians, recognizing that we would be better off living together in a civilized society, took up the task of domesticating us.

Realizing that we are proud creatures, highly susceptible to flattery, they were able to dupe many of us to live up to the ideal of virtue—conquering our selfish passions and helping others—by dispensing praise and blame. Moral concepts are just tools clever politicians used to tame us.

Two kinds of moral theories developed in reaction first to Hobbes and then to Mandeville—rationalism and sentimentalism. The rationalists oppose Hobbes' claim that there is no right or wrong in the state of nature, that rightness or wrongness is determined by the sovereign's will, and that morality requires sanctions to motivate us.

By the mid—eighteenth century, rationalists and sentimentalists were arguing not only against Hobbes and Mandeville, but also with each other. Hume opposes both selfish and rationalist accounts of morality, but he criticizes them in different works. In the Treatise , Hume assumes that Hobbes' theory is no longer a viable option, so that there are only two possibilities to consider.

Either moral concepts spring from reason, in which case rationalism is correct, or from sentiment, in which case sentimentalism is correct. If one falls, the other stands. In the second Enquiry, Hume continues to oppose moral rationalism , but his arguments against them appear in an appendix. More importantly, he drops the assumption he made in the Treatise and takes the selfish theories of Hobbes and Mandeville as his primary target. Once again, he thinks there are only two possibilities.

Either our approval is based in self-interest or it has a disinterested basis. The refutation of one is proof of the other. The views of the moral rationalists—Samuel Clarke — , Locke and William Wollaston — —are prominent among them. Clarke's theory and those of the other rationalists epitomize this tendency. Clarke, Hume's central rationalist opponent, appeals to reason to explain almost every aspect of morality.

He believes that there are demonstrable moral relations of fitness and unfitness that we discover a priori by means of reason alone. Gratitude, for example, is a fitting or suitable response to kindness, while ingratitude is an unfitting or unsuitable response. He believes that the rational intuition that an action is fitting has the power both to obligate us and to move us. To act morally is to act rationally. Hume's most famous and important objection to moral rationalism is two-pronged.

They say we ought to be governed by reason rather than passion, and if our passions are not in line with reason's commands, we ought to restrain them or bring them into conformity with reason. His first argument rests on his empiricist conception of reason. As we saw in his account of causation, demonstrative reasoning consists in comparing ideas to find relations among them, while probable reasoning concerns matters of fact.

He considers mathematical reasoning from the relation of ideas category and causal reasoning from the category of matters of fact.

A Treatise of Human Nature: David Hume: ejisytoqys.tk: Books

He asks us to look at instances of actions where these two types of reasoning are relevant and says that when we do, we will see that reason alone couldn't have moved us. No one thinks that mathematical reasoning by itself is capable of moving us. Suppose you want to stay out of debt. This may move you to calculate how much money comes in and how much goes out, but mathematical reasoning by itself does not move us to do anything.

Mathematical reasoning, when it bears on action, is always used in connection with achieving some purpose and thus in connection with causal reasoning. Hume, however, argues that when causal reasoning figures in the production of action, it always presupposes an existing desire or want. On his view, reasoning is a process that moves you from one idea to another.

If reasoning is to have motivational force, one of the ideas must be tied to some desire or affection. It can never in the least concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others effects, if both the causes and effects are indifferent to us.

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Noticing a causal connection between exercise and losing weight will not move you to exercise, unless you want to lose weight. It immediately follows that reason alone cannot oppose a passion in the direction of the will. To oppose a passion, reason must be able to give rise to a motive by itself, since only a motive can oppose another motive, but he has just shown that reason by itself is unable to do this. The second prong of Hume's objection, the argument from motivation, is directed primarily against Clarke and concerns the source of our moral concepts: Since there are only two types of perception—ideas and impressions—the question between rationalism and sentimentalism is.

Whether 'tis by means of our ideas or impressions we distinguish betwixt vice and virtue, and pronounce an action blameable or praise-worthy? The argument from motivation has only two premises. The first is that moral ideas have pervasive practical effects. Experience shows that we are often motivated to perform an action because we think it is obligatory or to refrain because we think it is unjust.

We try to cultivate the virtues in ourselves and are proud when we succeed and ashamed when we fail. If morality did not have these effects on our passions and actions, moral rules and precepts would be pointless, as would our efforts to be virtuous. The second premise is that by itself reason is incapable of exciting passions or producing and preventing actions, which Hume supports with the arguments we just looked at about the influencing motives of the will.

The argument from motivation, then, is that if moral concepts are capable of exciting passions and producing or preventing actions, but reason alone is incapable of doing these things, then moral concepts can't spring from reason alone. Reason for Hume is essentially passive and inert: Although he thinks the argument from motivation is decisive, in T 3. Hume takes the defeat of rationalism to entail that moral concepts spring from sentiment. Of course, he was not the first to claim that moral ideas arise from sentiment.

Hutcheson claimed that we possess, in addition to our external senses, a special moral sense that disposes us to respond to benevolence with the distinctive feelings of approbation. He first argues that there are many different types of virtue, not all of which are types of benevolence—respecting people's property rights, keeping promises, courageousness, and industriousness—as Hutcheson maintained.

But he complains that this is not only highly implausible, but also contrary to the. Instead of multiplying senses, we should look for a few general principles to explain our approval of the different virtues. The real problem, however, is that Hutcheson just claims—hypothesizes—that we possess a unique, original moral sense. If asked why we have a moral sense, his reply is that God implanted it in us.

An Introduction to David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding- A Macat Philosophy Analysis

Although in his critical phase Hume freely borrows many of Hutcheson's arguments to criticize moral rationalism, his rejection of a God-given moral sense puts him on a radically different path from Hutcheson in his constructive phase. One way of understanding Hume's project is to see it as an attempt to naturalize Hutcheson's moral sense theory. He aims to provide a wholly naturalistic and economical explanation of how we come to experience the moral sentiments that also explains why we approve of the different virtues. In the course of explaining the moral sentiments, Hutcheson's idea of an original moral sense disappears from Hume's account of morality.

He refers to them as feelings of approval or disapproval, praise or blame, esteem or contempt. Approval is a kind of pleasant or agreeable feeling; disapproval a kind of painful or disagreeable feeling. In several key passages, he describes the moral sentiments as calm forms of love and hatred. When we evaluate our own character traits, pride and humility replace love and hatred. He traces the moral sentiments to sympathy. Sympathy is a psychological mechanism that explains how we come to feel what others are feeling.

It is not itself a feeling or sentiment and so should not be confused with feelings of compassion or pity. Hume appeals to sympathy to explain a wide range of phenomena: It is central to his explanations of our passions, our sense of beauty, and our sense of what is morally good and bad. Sympathy is a process that moves me from my idea of what someone is feeling to actually experiencing the feeling. There are four steps to this process. I first arrive at the idea of what someone is feeling in any of the usual ways.

David Hume

I next become aware of the resemblances between us, so we are linked by that principle of association. While we resemble every human being to some extent, we also resemble some individuals more than others—for instance, those who share our language or culture or are the same age and sex as we are. The associative principles of contiguity and causality also relate individuals who are located closely to us in time or space or who are family members or teachers.

According to Hume, we are able to sympathize more easily and strongly with individuals with whom we have strong associative ties. The stronger the associative relations, the stronger our sympathetic responses. Hume then claims—controversially— that we always have a vivid awareness of ourselves. Finally, he reminds us that the principles of association not only relate two perceptions, but they also transmit force and vivacity from one perception to another. Suppose my friend recently suffered a devastating loss and I realize she is feeling sad.

The associative principles transmit force and vivacity from my vivid awareness of myself to my idea of my friend's sadness. Since for Hume the difference between impressions and ideas is that impressions are more lively and vivacious than ideas, if an idea of a passion is sufficiently enlivened, it becomes the very passion itself. I now feel sad too, but not quite as strongly as my friend. The way Hume uses the idea that the associative principles transmit force and vivacity in his explanation of sympathy is parallel to the way he uses it in his explanation of causal inference.

In the case of causal inference, if we have an impression of an effect smoke , the associative principles give rise not only to the idea of its cause fire , but they also transmit some of the impression's force and vivacity to the idea of its cause, so that we come to believe that fire is the cause of the smoke. A belief is an idea that is so lively that it is like an impression, and influences us in the way impressions do.

Similarly, my lively awareness of myself enlivens by association my idea of my friend's sadness. But the result in the case of sympathy is even stronger: One advantage Hume's explanation of the moral sentiments in terms of sympathy has over Hutcheson's claim that we possess a God-given moral sense is that it enables him to provide a unified theory of the mind. He explains the moral sentiments by appealing to sympathy, which, in turn, he explains in terms of the same associative principles he invoked to explain causal beliefs.

Without sympathy, and the associative principles that explain it, we would be unimaginatively different than we are—creatures without causal or moral ideas. Hume develops his account of moral evaluation further in response to two objections to his claim that the moral sentiments arise from sympathy. Sympathy enables us to enter into the feelings of anyone, even strangers, because we resemble everyone to some extent. But it is an essential feature of his account of the natural and spontaneous operation of sympathy that our ability to respond sympathetically to others varies with variations in the associative relations.

I am able to sympathize more easily and strongly with someone who resembles me or is related to me by contiguity or causation. The objection is that the moral sentiments can't be based in sympathy because the loves and hatreds that result from the natural and spontaneous workings of sympathy vary, but our moral approval doesn't vary.

Sympathy works by looking at the actual effects of a person's character traits, but sometimes misfortune or lack of opportunity may prevent an individual from exercising her good character traits, yet we still admire them. There are two regulatory features to the general point of view.

The first is that we survey a person's character from the perspective of the person and his usual associates—friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. We sympathize with the person and the people with whom that person regularly interacts and judge character traits in terms of whether they are good or bad for these people. Second, we regulate sympathy further by relying on general rules that specify the general effects and tendencies of character traits rather than sympathizing with their actual effects.

By putting together these two regulatory features, we arrive at Hume's idea of the general point of view, which defines a perspective from which we may survey a person's character traits that we share with everyone. When we occupy the general point of view, we sympathize with the person herself and her usual associates, and come to admire the person for traits that are normally good for everyone.

The general point of view is, for Hume, the moral perspective.

We do not experience the moral sentiments unless we have already taken up the general point of view. The moral sentiments and the concepts to which they give rise are products of taking up that standpoint. Hume offers the claim that we admire four sorts of character traits—those that are useful or immediately agreeable to the agent or to others—as an empirical hypothesis. While he provides support for it in his discussion of the individual virtues, he also uses his fourfold classification to undermine Christian conceptions of morality.

He makes pride a virtue and humility a vice. Their goal is to reform us—or at least our outward behavior—making us better, when understood in Christian terms. They accordingly restrict the domain of the moral to actions that proceed from character traits because they believe only they can be modified, shaped, and controlled by sanctions, while talents can't. Hume, however, rejects the distinction along with the dubious function these reformers assign to morality.

Hume identifies both what has value and what makes things valuable with features of our psychology. Our first-order sentiments, passions and affections, as well as actions expressive of them, are what have moral value. Our second-order reflective sentiments about our own or other people's sentiments, passions and affections are what give them value.

On his view, morality is entirely a product of human nature. This is a precise parallel of his two definitions of cause in the first Enquiry.


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Both sets of definitions pick out features of events, and both record a spectator's response to those events. He follows Hutcheson in thinking that they assign two distinct roles to self-interest in their accounts of morality: Although many people during this period understood Hobbes' theory through Mandeville's lens, Hume believes it is important to distinguish them. As he sees it, Mandeville's theory is superficial and easily dismissed. Hobbes is his main opponent. Like Hutcheson, he mistakenly supposes that Hobbes was offering a rival theory of approval and disapproval.

We approve of people's character traits when they benefit us and disapprove of them when they harm us. Hume looks at each of the four types of virtue and argues that in each case, our approval does not spring from a concern for our own happiness, but rather from sympathy. In Section II, Hume argues that one reason we approve of benevolence, humanity and public spiritedness is that they are useful to others and to society. In Sections III and IV, he argues that the sole ground for approving of justice and political allegiance is that they are useful to society.

In Section V, he asks: But useful for whom? A social order provides security, peace and mutual protection, conditions that allow us to promote our own interests better than if we lived alone. Our own good is thus bound up with the maintenance of society. Although Hume agrees with Hobbes up to this point, he rejects his explanation that we approve of justice, benevolence and humanity because they promote our own happiness. We would never admire the good deeds of our enemies or rivals, since they are hurtful to us. We would also never approve or disapprove of characters portrayed in novels or movies, since they are not real people and cannot possibly help or harm us.

We approve of character traits and actions that are useful not because they benefit us, but because we sympathize with the benefits they bestow on others or society. Hume next examines the remaining three types of character traits—those that are useful to the agent industriousness, good judgment , agreeable to the agent cheerfulness or agreeable to others politeness, decency. For example, why do we approve of industriousness and good judgment, character traits that are primarily advantageous to the possessor?

In most cases they are of absolutely no benefit to us and, in cases of rivalry, they counteract our own interest.


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We approve of these character traits not because they are beneficial to us, but because we sympathize with the benefits they confer on others. Hume takes this as further evidence against Hobbes' explanation in terms of self-interest and in support of his sympathy-based account. If our approval and disapproval were based on thoughts about our own benefits and harms, the moral sentiments would vary from person to person and for the same person over time.

We wouldn't have moral feelings about most people, since most people don't affect us. The moral sentiments spring from our capacity to respond sympathetically to others. Hume is equally adamant that any explanation of the motives that prompt us to virtuous actions in terms of self-interest is mistaken. He follows Hutcheson in thinking that the issue is whether the various benevolent affections are genuine or arise from self-interest.

Once again he distinguishes Mandeville's from Hobbes' explanations of benevolence and takes Hobbes to be his main opponent. On Hume's reading of Hobbes, while we approve of kindness, friendship, and other benevolent affections, any desire to benefit others really derives from self-interest, although we may not always be conscious of its influence on those desires. Hume offers two arguments against this selfish view. He first asks us to consider cases in which people are motivated by a genuine concern for others, even when such concern could not possibly benefit them and might even harm them.

We grieve when a friend dies, even if the friend needed our help and patronage. How could our grief be based in self-interest? Parents regularly sacrifice their own interests for the sake of their children. Non-human animals care about members of their own species and us. Hume supplements this argument from experience with a highly compressed sketch of an argument he borrows from Butler. Happiness consists in the pleasures that arise from the satisfaction of our particular appetites and desires.

It is because we want food, fame and other things that we take pleasure in getting them. If we did not have any particular appetites or desires, we would not want anything and there would be nothing from which we would get pleasure. To get the pleasures that self-love aims at, we must want something other than happiness itself. Hume rightly showcases his pioneering account of justice. In the Treatise , he emphasizes the distinction between the natural and artificial virtues. The natural virtues—being humane, kind and charitable—are character traits and patterns of behavior that human beings would exhibit in their natural condition, even if there were no social order.

The artificial virtues— respecting people's property rights, fidelity in keeping promises and contracts, and allegiance to government— are dispositions based on social practices and institutions that arise from conventions. Hume believes that nature has supplied us with many motives—parental love, benevolence, and generosity—that make it possible for us to live together peacefully in small societies based on kinship relations. One of his important insights is that nature has not provided us with all the motives we need to live together peacefully in large societies.

After arguing in Treatise 3. What motivates human beings to establish the rules of justice that give rise to property rights, and why do we approve of people who obey these rules of justice? The first question concerns justice as a practice as constituted by its rules. The second concerns justice as a virtue, a person's disposition to obey the rules of justice. Hume argues that we enter into a series of conventions to bring about practices, each of which is a solution to a problem. Each convention gives rise to new problems that in turn pressure us to enter into further conventions.

The convention to bring about property rights is only the first of several into which we enter. After property rights are established, we enter into conventions to transfer property and to make promises and contracts. According to him, we are by nature cooperators, although at first we cooperate only with members of our own family. But it is also advantageous for us to cooperate with strangers, since it allows us to produce more goods and to exchange them. All three conventions are prior to the formation of government. On Hume's view, it is possible for a peaceful society of property owners who transfer and exchange material possessions to exist before there is government.

Hume argues that the practice of justice is a solution to a problem that we naturally face. The problem is that since we care most about our family and close friends, but material goods are scarce and portable, we are tempted to take goods from strangers to give to our family and friends.

Disputes over these goods are inevitable, but if we quarrel we will forfeit the benefits that result from living together in society—increased power, ability and security. The solution to the problem is to establish property rights. We make rules that specify who has a right to what, and agree to follow the rules and to keep our hands off other's people property.

Hume was one of the first to see that what is useful is the practice of justice, rather than individual acts of justice. Like Hobbes, he believes that it is in our interest to have the practice of justice in place. As we just saw, Hume parts company with Hobbes when he answers the second question about why we approve of people who obey the rules of justice. If Hobbes' answer in terms of self-interest is excluded, he thinks only one possibility remains. We approve of just people not because they benefit us but because we sympathize with the benefits they bestow on others and society as a whole.

Hume thus explains our approval of justice by appealing to the same principle he invoked to explain our approval of the natural virtues. While it is in our interest to have the practice of justice in place, it may not always be in our interest to obey its rules in every case. This is the free rider problem.

The free rider, whom Hume calls the sensible knave, wants to get the benefits that result from having a practice in place without having to always follow its rules. He knows that the only way to obtain the advantages of social cooperation is for the practice of justice to be in place, but he also realizes that a single act of justice will not significantly damage the practice.

Most people will obey the rules of justice, so if he commits one act of injustice, the institution will not be in any danger of collapsing.