Sympathy in the Scottish Enlightenment

Dissertation, Loyola University of Chicago (1999)
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Abstract

This dissertation traces out the development of the concept of sympathy in eighteenth-century Scottish moral philosophy, with particular emphasis on the moral philosophies of David Hume and Adam Smith. ;Chapter One identifies some of the historical and philosophical factors which became instrumental to the development of the theory of sympathy. ;Chapter Two focusses on the mechanism of sympathy as it appears in Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature. This chapter reveals the interdependence of sympathy on other instrumental mechanisms in Hume's Treatise. Some common criticisms of Hume's concept of sympathy are addressed and dismissed while other difficulties are uncovered. ;Chapter Three focusses on Hume's use of sympathy in An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. This chapter investigates and dismisses the allegation that Hume replaced the mechanism of sympathy with a "sentiment of humanity" as the primary explanation for moral judgments. ;Chapter Four investigates the theory of sympathy as it is inherited and modified by Hume's junior contemporary, Adam Smith. Smith's version of sympathy is argued to be superior to Hume's, both in plausibility and scope. ;Finally, Chapter Five discusses the overall importance of sympathy in the formation of moral judgments and the sense in which all traditions of moral philosophy tacitly assume the ability to sympathize

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