Sympathy and Benevolence in Hume's Moral Psychology

Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (3):261-275 (2004)
In this paper, I argue that Hume’s account of sympathy is substantially unchanged from the Treatise to the second Enquiry. I show that Hume uses the term ‘sympathy’ to refer to three different mental phenomena (a psychological mechanism or principle, a sentiment, and a conversion process) and that he consistently refers to sympathy as a cause of benevolent motivation. I attempt to resolve an apparent difficulty regarding sympathy and humanity by explaining how each is an ‘original principle’ in Hume’s sense. I conclude by suggesting how my interpretation might make a contemporary evaluation of Hume’s account of benevolent motivation possible.
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2004.0059
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