In her book Experience Embodied, Anik Waldow challenges and reimagines the traditional interpretative approach to the concept of experience in the early modern period. Traditionally, commentators have emphasized early moderns' views on the first-person perspective and eschewed the relevance of our embodiment to their epistemological outlooks. My focus here is on Waldow's chapter on Hume, wherein she analyzes Hume's account of our capacity for reflective moral judgment, arguing that he understands it as natural despite the countless ways in which our (...) embodied social experiences impinge on it. After detailing Waldow's contributions, I clarify, corroborate, and criticize them. Since I contend that Waldow is broadly successful in her interpretative efforts, I suggest that she undermines the traditional interpretative approach to experience in the early modern period, but not in the sense that she moves us away from the epistemological towards other lenses. Rather, Waldow should be understood as showing that, at least in the case of Hume's metaethics, the epistemological is embodied, is social, and is both cognitive and sentimental. (shrink)
Hume describes skeptical philosophy as having a variety of desirable effects. It can counteract dogmatism, produce just reasoning, and promote social cohesion. When discussing how skepticism may achieve these effects, Hume typically appeals to its effects on pride. I explain how, for Hume, skeptical philosophy acts on pride and how acting on pride produces the desirable effects. Understanding these mechanisms, I argue, sheds light on how, why, when, and for whom skeptical philosophy can be useful. It also illuminates the value (...) of skeptical philosophy for a humanistic education, giving us a reason to include Hume in curricula. (shrink)
Many scholars have claimed that the psychology of the indirect passions in the Treatise is meant to capture how we come to regard persons as morally responsible agents. My question is exactly how the indirect passions relate to responsibility. In elucidating Hume’s account of responsibility, scholars have often focused not on the passionate responses themselves, but on their structural features. In this paper, I argue that locating responsibility in the structural features is insufficient to make sense of Hume’s account of (...) responsibility. I argue this on the grounds that without reference to the passions, Hume does not have the resources to distinguish between responsible and non-responsible entities. Instead, I attribute to Hume a distinctive, sympathy-based response-dependent conception of responsibility. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The article aims at contributing to the unification of history and psychology by studying the expressions of anger and enthusiasm in several historical contexts. These mainly include France and America in the eighteenth century, but also more recent episodes of transitional justice. In addition it aims at drawing the attention of psychologist to the understudied emotion of enthusiasm. To this end, it also considers how Hume and Kant treated this emotion.
Anger is arguably one of the most important emotions in a human being’s life. An array of contemporary studies show that, far from being detrimental, anger can foster one’s self-esteem, improve their social interactions, and even benefit physical and mental health. In his Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume explicitly recognized the importance of anger. And yet, few topics have been so neglected in the Hume scholarship as his account of this passion. The following chapter aims to fill the gap (...) in the literature by showing that Hume’s analysis of anger is worth studying and strictly connected to some of the most intriguing problems in his philosophy. (shrink)
This paper provides a reception history of Book Two of the Treatise-Of the passions-as well as an attempt to reconcile Hume's ambitions to systematicity in Book Two with the distracted and distracting nature of the text. We currently have, I think, a good sense of the philosophical importance of Book Two within Hume's science of human nature. Yet we have not made much progress on understanding Book Two on its own terms, and especially why Book Two so often seems on (...) the verge of falling into an explanatory heap. I aim to rectify this situation by giving a reading of Book Two that makes sense of the philosophical importance of Hume's system of the passions, yet also explains why he encounters so many difficulties in setting out his system; such that he is often forced to stretch his explanations to the very edge of the credible. I contend that Hume's system of the passions is best viewed as an unstable explanatory compound, one that progressively dissolves as Hume's explanatory intentions become increasingly ambitious. (shrink)
This article is about David Hume's account of mixed emotions. Hume on mixed emotions is connected with Sir Isaac Newton's optical experiments and subsequent invention of the colour wheel, as well as more recently to Robert Plutchik's colour wheel of emotions.
Hume is an experimental philosopher who attempts to understand why we think, feel, and act as we do. But how should we evaluate the adequacy of his proposals? This chapter examines Hume’s account from the perspective of interdisciplinary work in cognitive science.
El objetivo de este trabajo es estudiar la teoría humeana de las pasiones indirectas. Pretende señalar el vínculo entre un campo intersubjetivo que oficia de marco para el desarrollo afectivo del sujeto y el carácter irreductiblemente encarnado del mismo. Para ello: a. se reconstruye esquemáticamente la clasificación humeana de las pasiones; b. se discute la idea de que las pasiones indirectas son impresiones simples y se sostiene que esto no impide a Hume poder pensar las condiciones circundantes como causalmente necesarias (...) para la aparición de estas impresiones dentro del haz de percepciones que conforman la mente; c. se defiende la tesis de que estas condiciones causales son de carácter cognitivo: a medida que se incorporan diversas mediaciones cognitivas, nuestras pasiones adquieren progresivos grados de sofisticación que permiten pensar el refinamiento y desarrollo gradual de la estructura afectiva del individuo. (shrink)
Although ambivalence in a strict sense, according to which a person holds opposed attitudes, and holds them as opposed, is an ordinary and widespread phenomenon, it appears impossible on the common presupposition that persons are either unitary or plural. These two conceptions of personhood call for dispensing with ambivalence by employing tactics of harmonizing, splitting, or annulling the unitary subject. However, such tactics are useless if ambivalence is sometimes strictly conscious. This paper sharpens the notion of conscious ambivalence, such that (...) the above tactics cannot be applied to ordinary moments of explicit and clear ambivalent consciousness. It is shown that such moments reveal ambivalence as an attitude that is part of human life. The argument employs three features of consciousness that together capture its outgoing character. In the last section some of the implications of conscious ambivalence for consciousness and the mind are clarified as the analysis of conscious ambivalence in this paper is compared with Hume’s and John Barth’s phenomenalist conceptions. -/- An additional note: See Razinsky, Ambivalence: A Philosohical Exploration (Rowman & Littlefield Int., 2016), Ch. 5 for a version of this paper that also includes a long section on the unity of consciousness (but does not include the section named 'Phenomenalist Ambivalence?'). (shrink)
Over the past years the relevance of compassion for society and specific practices such as in healthcare is becoming a focus of attention. Philosophers and scientists discuss theoretical descriptions and defining characteristics of the phenomenon and its benefits and pitfalls. However, there are hardly any empirical studies which substantiate these writings in specific societal areas. Besides, compassion may be in the eye of attention today but has always been of interest for many contemporary philosophers as well as philosophers in the (...) past, David Hume amongst them. Three themes related to Hume’s hypotheses on compassion are discussed and compared to outcomes of an empirical study amongst nurses and patients with a chronic disease. This comparison gives insights into the perception of those for whom compassion is of specific importance in their daily lives and into the usefulness of Hume’s notions on compassion. (shrink)
Hume concludes Book II of his Treatise of Human Nature with a section on the passion of curiosity, ‘that love of truth, which was the first source of all our enquiries’. At first sight, this characterisation of curiosity – as the motivating factor in that specifically human activity that is the pursuit of knowledge – may seem unoriginal. However, when Hume speaks of the ‘source of all our enquiries’, he is referring both to the universal human pursuit of knowledge and (...) to his own philosophical project. Seen in this light, his discussion of curiosity takes on a new significance, as it weaves together elements of his systematic account of human nature – notably, his theory of cognition and motivation – with observations about the pursuit of philosophy as well as the progress of the arts and sciences. In the present paper, I offer a reconstruction of Hume’s view on curiosity and its role in cognition and inquiry. (shrink)
Hume's account of the passions is largely neglected because the author's purposes tend to be missed. The passions were accepted by early modern philosophers, of whatever persuasion, as the mental effects of bodily processes. The dualist and the materialist differed over whether reason is a higher power able to judge and control them: thus Descartes affirms, whereas Hobbes denies, this possibility.Hume's account lines up firmly behind Hobbes. Although he shies away from Hobbes's dogmatic physiological claims, he affirms all the key (...) elements of the psychology Hobbes based on them: the nature of the will, the compatibility of freedom and necessity, the subservience of reason to passion, and the motivating power of pleasure and pain. Hume's account is thus best regarded as implicitly materialist. It is not, however, merely disinterested analysis: it aims at criticism of orthodox religious values. The passions are not threats to morality, but virtuous or vicious according to their pleasurable or painful nature. Thus the status of pride and humility is reversed. Hume's account of the passions underpins a rejection of orthodox religious morals, and endorses the values of antiquity — of pagan virtue. (shrink)
The Physiological Library’s catalogue shows that Hume had access to Malebranche’s sixth edition of De la recherche de la vérité while a student in Edinburgh.1 The Recherche is also included in the David Hume’s Library.2 While Hume did not agree with Malebranche on all things, a number of commentators have argued that Hume borrowed many points from Malebranche, not only concerning causality and the famous example of the billiard balls3 but also on other subjects. Charles McCracken’s Malebranche and British Philosophy (...) compares Hume and Malebranche on causation, self-knowledge, kinds of truth, the relation between imagination and belief, and ethics.4 Peter Kail has more recently devoted three articles to the .. (shrink)
This paper aims to clarify the program of Deleuze’s work on Hume’s philosophy. Also, I plan to make clear the operational meaning of Deleuze’s own hallmark regarding his approaches to philosophy. I start to follow Deleuze’s plot by engendering three functions of his interpretation of Hume’s Treatise that will be the area of three thematic chapters. The first tries to sort the polemical function of empiricism that is launched through Deleuze’s Hume; the second attempts to figure the domain of subjectivity (...) as the inventive function of the book; the third searches the creative function by describing the role of the institutional theory. (shrink)
Hume views the passions as having both intentionality and qualitative character, which, in light of his Separability Principle, seemingly contradicts their simplicity. I reject the dominant solution to this puzzle of claiming that intentionality is an extrinsic property of the passions, arguing that a number of Hume’s claims regarding the intentionality of the passions (pride and humility in particular) provide reasons for thinking an intrinsic account of the intentionality of the passions to be required. Instead, I propose to resolve this (...) tension by appealing to Hume’s treatment of the ‘distinctions of reason’, as explained by Garrett (1997). (shrink)
We must rethink the status of Hume’s science of emotions. Contemporary philosophers typically dismiss Hume’s account on the grounds that he mistakenly identifies emotions with feelings. But the traditional objections to Hume’s feeling theory are not as strong as commonly thought. Hume makes several important contributions, moreover, to our understanding of the operations of the emotions. His claims about the causal antecedents of the indirect passions receive support from studies in appraisal theory, for example, and his suggestions concerning the social (...) dimensions of self-conscious emotions can help guide future research in this field. His dual-component hypothesis concerning the processing of emotions, furthermore, suggests a compromise solution to a recalcitrant debate in cognitive science. Finally, Hume’s proposals concerning the motivational influences of pride, and the conventional nature of emotional display rules, are vindicated by recent work in social psychology. (shrink)
1. Introduction: 1.1 Difficulties of Approach; 1.2 Philosophical Background. 2. The Context of Early Modern Theories of the Passions: 2.1 Changing Vocabulary; 2.2 Taxonomies; 2.3 Philosophical Issues in Theories of the Emotions. SUPPLEMENTARY DOCUMENTS: Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Theories of the Emotions; Descartes; Hobbes; Malebranche; Spinoza; Shaftsbury; Hutcheson; Hume.
A compelling exploration of the convergence of Jane Austen’s literary themes and characters with David Hume’s views on morality and human nature. Argues that the normative perspectives endorsed in Jane Austen's novels are best characterized in terms of a Humean approach, and that the merits of Hume's account of ethical, aesthetic and epistemic virtue are vividly illustrated by Austen's writing. Illustrates how Hume and Austen complement one another, each providing a lens that allows us to expand and elaborate on the (...) ideas of the other Proposes that literature may serve as a thought experiment, articulating hypothetical cases which allow the reader to test her moral intuitions Contributes to ongoing debates on the philosophy of literature, ethics, and emotion. (shrink)
This includes a methodological meditation (in blank verse) on the history of philosophy as a contribution to philosophy (rather than as a contribution to history) plus a conspectus of the issues surrounding Hume, the Motivation Argument and the Slavery of Reason Thesis. However I am posting it here mainly because it contains a novel restatement of the Argument from Queerness. Big Thesis: the Slavery of Reason Thesis (via the Motivation Argument) provides no support for non-cognitivism or emotivism, but there is (...) a plausible version of the Slavery of Reason Thesis that provides some support for the Error Theory. As in other papers I stress the importance of DTADs, dispositions to acquire desires as well as desires conceived as propositional attitudes. (shrink)
Although various points of Hume's canonical works hint at a critique of religious affect, his most explicit attack on such sentiments occurs in a letter of June 30th 1743 to his friend William Mure. In this letter Hume sets out an objection to all affective attitudes that are putatively directed toward God, and maintains that the Deity is not in fact the ‘natural object’ of any human passion. I examine this claim and canvass three possible interpretations of Hume's challenge to (...) religious affect, according to which Hume is, alternatively, (i) asserting the impropriety of all religious affect, (ii) denying that our affective states can secure reference to the divine, or (iii) rejecting the psychological possibility of affective states that take God as their object. Hume's argument may be best understood, I suggest, as a combination of all three criticisms. I close with an examination of Hume's diagnosis of the self-deceit involved in putative cases of religious feeling, and connect the argument of his letter to the similar analyses in Essays, Moral and Political and the Natural History of Religion. (shrink)
Tom Beauchamp presents the definitive scholarly edition of two famous works by David Hume, both originally published in 1757. In A Dissertation on the Passions Hume sets out his original view of the nature and central role of passion and emotion. The Natural History of Religion is a landmark work in the study of religion as a natural phenomenon. Authoritative critical texts are accompanied by a full array of editorial matter.
This chapter contains section titled: Introductory Remarks The Cartesian Background Impressions and Ideas Passions as Reflective Impressions Direct and Indirect Passions Association and the Individuation of Passions Perception and Perceiving Passions and Moral Sentiments Notes References Further reading.
References to strength of mind, a character trait implying “the prevalence of the calm passions above the violent”, occur in a number of important discussions of motivation in the Treatise and the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. Nevertheless, Hume says surprisingly little about what strength of mind is, or how it is achieved. This paper argues that Hume’s theory of the passions can provide an interesting and defensible account of strength of mind. The paper concludes with a brief comparison (...) of Humean strength of mind with autonomy. (shrink)
This chapter contains section titled: Introduction Background Central Philosophical Issues in Works on the Passions The Weakness of Reason “Reason Directs and the Affections Execute”19 Hume's Connection to the Earlier Literature Central Philosophical Issues regarding the Passions: Hume's Alternative Analyses Conclusion Notes References and further reading.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Hume Studies Volume 29, Number 2, November 2003, pp. 205-221 The Origin of the Indirect Passions in the Treatise: An Analogy between Books 1 and 2 HARUKOINOUE 1. The Analogy Between Book 1 and Book 2 If the central design of the Treatise is to demonstrate that "the subjects of the Understanding and Passions make a complete chain of reasoning by themselves" (T 2; SBN xii), as Hume advertises, (...) it seems unquestionable that his intention lies in the illustration of the human mind as an integrated system dependent upon the cooperation of the understanding and the passions, which are discussed separately in Book 1 and Book 2, respectively.1 What is yet to be determined is whether any internal or systematic connection between these two books was originally intended by the author. Is it too fanciful to agree with John Passmore, and to suggest that some dynamic system of the human mind would emerge when we open the door which stands between the first two books?2 The key for this door seems to be found in Hume's account of personal identity. We may well remember how he distinguished two aspects of our identity, one regarding the understanding and another regarding the passions, and claimed that the latter "serves to corroborate" the former "by the making our distant perceptions influence each other, and by giving us a present concern for our past or future pains or pleasures" (T 126.96.36.199; SBN Haruko Inoue is Professor of Philosophy, Sapporo University 3-7-3-1 Toyohira-ku, Sapporo 062-8520, Japan. e-mail: [email protected] 206 Haruko Inoue 261). It seems reasonable to agree with Jane Mclntyre, who suggests that "Hume recognized questions about personal identity not addressed in Book 1, and that Book 2 makes an important contribution to our understanding of Hume's account of the self and its identity."3 And once we get a good understanding of this integrated mechanism of the human mind operating with both wheels, as it were, of the imagination and the passions, all we have to do is to accept his invitation and enjoy the efficiency of this two-wheeled car, driving through the fields of "Morals, Politics, and Criticism." For, if we take his words in his Advertisement seriously,4 it seems quite likely that the Treatise was published first as a set of Book 1 and Book 2, as Passmore suggests,5 and that Book 3 was written as the demonstration of the consistency of his system through the application of the hypothesis established in the first two books. This paper is a modest attempt to illustrate the intimate connection between Book 1 and Book 2: the latter, planned as a proof and reinforcement of the system Hume had established in Book 1, depends on the former. His basic strategy in the Treatise is to explain both systems of the mind by means of the easy transition of the imagination, which connects different perceptions with each other according to two kinds of principles or "properties of human nature " (T 188.8.131.52; SBN 283), viz. "the association both of impressions and ideas, and the mutual assistance they lend each other" (T 184.108.40.206; SBN 284). In Book 1 Hume establishes the system of the understanding in terms of the first association, viz. the association of ideas, and in Book 2 he proceeds to illustrate the system of passions by involving not only the second association but also the concurrence of both kinds of association which he calls "a double relation of impressions and ideas." His basic strategy is thus to apply the same method of reasoning to the illustration of both systems, assuming that "there is an attraction or association among impressions, as well as among ideas" (T 220.127.116.11; SBN 283). The intimate connection between the two systems of the understanding and the passions is illustrated through the demonstration of the "influence of the imagination upon the passions" (T 18.104.22.168; SBN 424), or in terms of the dependence of the latter on the former. It is owing to the dependence of the association of... (shrink)
I defend Hume's account of tragic pleasure against various objections. I examine his account of the emotions in order to clarify his "conversion theory". I also argue that Hume does not give us a theory of tragedy as an aesthetic genre, but rather elucidates the felt experience of a particular work of tragedy. I offer a partial reading of King Lear by way of illustration. Finally, I suggest that the experiences of aesthetic pleasure, and aesthetic sadness, share certain qualities. "Tragic (...) pleasure" is possible, in part, because the pity of tragedy is realised through the pleasure of the aesthetic. (shrink)
This dissertation distinguishes Hume's anti-rationalist position from irrationalism. Hume's skepticism is a form of anti-rationalism, basically a defense of common life and tradition against the conceit of the rationalists' concept of reason. Modern rationalism is based on two fundamental dogmas. The first is the "principle of autonomy," which leads to the systematic elimination of the other as the irrational. In modern epistemology this means the disappearance of intentionality and, at the summit of modern moral philosophy, all forms of heteronomy are (...) held to coincide with immorality. Hume attacks as absurd the notion that the self is the center of all morality and rationality because there is no such a thing as the absolute self . He reduces the idea of the absolute self to a speculative chimera. To be sure, to say that there is no absolute self does not mean that there is no self: the alternative of either autonomy or heteronomy is false. There is only a relative self and a relative other, and this analysis is the core of the book Of the Passions in the Treatise. ;The second fundamental dogma of modern rationalism is the reification of the category of quantity. This is also expressed by the distinction between primary and secondary qualities and by the notion that the real is merely a primary quality . Hume overturns this dogma: secondary qualities are actually primary. This is the most fundamental meaning of the cardinal principle of the Treatise, "the primacy of impression over ideas", i.e., the primacy of experience over reason. Hume concentrates his analysis on the passions, but he uses this term in a special sense. Passions are not obstacles to knowledge but conditions of its possibility. Passions such as contempt, fear, love, hatred, hope, envy, pride, and humility, are perceptions and interpretations of the world. ;The passion of sympathy occupies a special place. Sympathy is simply the anatomy of friendship, adequately understood. Hume's ethics of sympathy is based on the elimination of the fictional absolute and isolated self. In common with the ancients, Hume locates friendship at the center of moral philosophy. (shrink)
The treatment of personal identity in Hume's Treatise displays a shift that is both interesting as an object lesson in the weakness of a particular sort of empirical project, and important for what it teaches about investigating moral life. By examining Hume's change in method and project, I show that theoretical epistemology and practical moral philosophy come together in Hume's account of the passions, and that out of this convergence arises an account of the way interpersonal relations structure our very (...) sense and idea of self. This account of self provides an explanation of moral motivation and the social elements of moral judgment that is naturalistic without being reductive. ;In his turn from the understanding in Book I to the passions in Book II, Hume moves from examining the isolated individual elements of his own mind to investigating the way our mind works as we interact with other persons. Instead of considering the components of thought atomistically, as if each constituent of thought has a nature independent of and unaffected by its relation to other constituents of thought, he considers the network of thought and passion that makes up mental life, developing a picture of the self that is dependent upon the whole of experience, rather than just individual impressions and ideas, considered separately. ;Hume's recovery of the self in the account of the passions shows how the personal identity problem is not just a metaphysical problem concerning the possibility of a substantial self beneath our perceptions, but is a moral problem: it concerns how we assess ourselves and others as moral agents, in interaction with each other. More than just an adjustment to fit the topic of the passions, Hume's change in method indicates an evolution in the kinds of questions he is pursuing. As he turns away from a piecemeal examination of individual elements of his thought to an examination of how persons function in passional life, his inquiry into the source of our idea of self evolves into an investigation of self-awareness and its development through the passions and social experience. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Hume Studies Volume XXIII, Number 2, November 1997, pp. 195-212 The Moral Self and the Indirect Passions SUSAN M. PURVIANCE David Hume1 and Immanuel Kant are celebrated for their clear-headed rejection of dogmatic metaphysics, Hume for rejecting traditional metaphysical positions on cause and effect, substance, and personal identity, Kant for rejecting all judgments of experience regarding the ultimate ground of objects and their relations, not just judgments of cause (...) and substantiality. Nevertheless, each argues that practical activity is not compromised by the rejection of metaphysical claims that others had taken to be crucial. Kant and Hume thought that political and moral life did not depend upon theoretical knowlege of the nature of the self, free will, or knowledge of the true motives of actions or the character of the agent. Because the grounds of morality and politics were too important to leave to the mercies of speculative metaphysics, each moved their foundations to higher ground, insulating the grounds of practical activity from the threat of metaphysical turmoil and skepticism. Contemporary philosophers have generally followed Hume and Kant in this regard, but often select very different strategies. Some think that the best way to avoid the problems associated with contemporary scientific ontologies is to separate ethics from the factual domain entirely. Some give moral and political language a noncognitivist interpretation, and others have interpreted values as a projection of the passions and affections of the subject or as the constructions of suitably situated practical reasoners.2 At the same time there has been a resurgence of interest in moral realism. Moral realists think that the objectivity of moral discourse, and hence the Susan M. Purviance is at the Department of Philosophy, The University of Toledo, Toledo OH 43606-3390 USA. 196 Susan M. Purviance possibility of moral truth, depend upon the existence of moral facts.3 Moral realists have tended to concentrate on the role of facts in establishing the truth of general moral principles, or the Tightness or moral value of particular individual actions. For moral realists, moral facts are the states of affairs that make general moral principles or particular moral judgments true. Whether these facts are of a naturalistic sort or not, whether they are literally on a par with natural facts, or whether they simply play the same role in practical knowledge that natural facts play in theoretical knowledge, is an open question. Moral realists often are naturalists, like David O. Brink and Jonathan Dancy, but they may be nonnaturalists, like G. E. Moore.4 Ethical naturalism accounts for moral motivation and the cultivation of good character in terms of moral qualities, and many hope to ground it in (or at least show that it is compatible with) the scientific understanding of objects and their relations and qualities. Naturalism is only one option, but realism has received support because it is not clear that antirealists have developed a convincing alternative to the grounding of concepts of moral agency and moral judgment in some sort of moral facts. Questions abound about what it means to ascribe responsibility to a moral self and how we can defend a notion of enduring character. Although moral realists have paid less attention to the ontological status of virtues and character traits than to moral principles, their status is equally important. Here the concern is with the sort of metaphysics of the self thought to be necessary to account for moral agency, responsibility, praise, and blame. I shall argue that there is a class of moral facts that justify or perhaps merely vindicate the ascription of moral powers to agents, and that these are the sorts of facts another sort of theorist is interested in, whereas the states of affairs that make moral judgments true are the sorts of facts that moral realists have been interested in. In order to distinguish this use of moral facts I shall call this sort of theory a Fact of Agency Theory, and it is a version of this theory that can be found in Hume's discussion of the problem of the self and the indirect passions. A realist metaphysics of morals needs to address two questions, the question of the reality of the... (shrink)
Book II of A Treatise of Human Nature is David Hume's only sustained expression of a theory of human emotion and motivation. Hume's theory has been much maligned and even dismissed as incoherent and philosophically uninteresting. This work shows that Hume's account of passion is indeed coherent and possessed of philosophical merit. In addition, this work shows that even though Hume's theory is an example of antiquated empirical psychology it is also and more importantly an instance of interesting conceptual analysis (...) of passion and volition. To see this is to see that Hume's theory has genuine relevance to present day philosophical analyses of passion and volition. (shrink)
Ira Brevis furor, said the Latins: anger is a brief bout of madness. There is a long tradition that views all emotions as threats to rationality. The crime passionnel belongs to that tradition: in law it is a kind of “brief-insanity defence.” We still say that “passion blinds us;” and in common parlance to be philosophical about life's trials is to be decently unemotional about them. Indeed many philosophers have espoused this view, demanding that Reason conquer Passion. Others — from (...) Hume to the Emotivists — have appeared to reverse this hierarchy.” But those philosophers who refuse to join in the general denigration of emotion as irrational usually share the presupposition that the role of rationality is limited to the calculation of means. In so far as emotions are concerned with the determination of ends, they remain, on this view, beyond the pale of rationality. Modern decision theorists have worked out schemes to assess the rationality of desires, as well as actions, against the background of beliefs and other desires.1 But these schemes leave no room at all for emotions, except, by implication, as disrupters of the rational process. (shrink)