Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (4):609-639 (2017)

Jason Fisette
University of Nevada, Reno
I argue that Hume’s characterization of the passions as “original existences” is shaped by his preoccupation with Stoicism, and is not (as most commentators suppose) a ridiculous or trifling remark. My argument has three parts. First, I show that Hume’s description of the passions as “original existences” is properly understood as part of his argument against the possibility of passions caused by reason alone (rational passions). Second, I establish that Hume was responding to the Stoics, who claimed that a rational passion is caused by a special type of impression that accurately represents its cause—the divine reason administrating the cosmos—in virtue of resembling it. Third, I argue that Hume rejects the Stoics’ claim by appeal to the following feature of his general account of impressions and ideas: for Hume, ideas are exact “copies” or representations of the impressions that caused them, but simple impressions are “originals” that do not represent in virtue of resembling their external or physiological causes. On my reading of Hume, the ‘original existence’ passage therefore signals his rebuke of a key claim in the Stoics’ theory of rational passions.
Keywords Stoics  Hume  original existences  passions
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1353/hph.2017.0068
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,425
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Hume and the Passions as Original Existences.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe - 2012 - In Lorenzo Greco & Alessio Vaccari (ed.), Hume Readings. Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura.
David Hume on Reason, Passions and Morals.A. T. Nuyen - 1984 - Hume Studies 10 (1):26-45.
Hume and the Mechanics of Mind : Impressions, Ideas, and Association.David Owen - 2009 - In David Fate Norton & Jacqueline Anne Taylor (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Hume. Cambridge University Press.
Hume on the Passions.Stephen Buckle - 2012 - Philosophy 87 (2):189-213.
A Dissertation on the Passions.David Hume - 2007 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #594,875 of 2,420,820 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #543,487 of 2,420,820 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes