Essays Moral, Political & Literary – David Hume (1903)

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Essays Moral, Political & Literary – David Hume (1903)

S$61.00

Title: Essays Moral, Political and Literary
Author: David Hume
Publisher: Grant Richards, 1903
Condition: Hardcover, pocket size. Decorative spine. Foxing to edges. Minor fraying to top of spine. Inscription on fly leaf. Foxing to fly leaves and title pages. Minor foxing elsewhere, text mostly unaffected.

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SKU: hume-1903 Categories: ,

About David Hume (from Wikipedia):

David Hume (1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

Hume advocated a compatibilist theory of free will that proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles. Hume also examined the normative is–ought problem. He held notoriously ambiguous views of Christianity, but famously challenged the argument from design in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1777).

Immanuel Kant credited Hume with waking him up from his “dogmatic slumbers” and Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, and other movements and thinkers. The philosopher Jerry Fodor proclaimed Hume’s Treatise “the founding document of cognitive science”. Also famous as a prose stylist, Hume pioneered the essay as a literary genre and engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume’s influence on his economics and political philosophy), James Boswell, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid.

Excerpt

I. — OF THE DELICACY OF TASTE AND PASSION.

SOME people are subject to a certain delicacy of passion, which makes
them extremely sensible to all the accidents of life, and gives them a
lively joy upon every prosperous event, as well as a piercing grief, when
they meet with misfortunes and adversity. Favours and good offices
easily engage their friendship; while the smallest injury provokes their
resentment. Any honour or mark of distinction elevates them above
measure; but they are as sensibly touched with contempt. People of
this character have, no doubt, more lively enjoyments, as well as more
pungent sorrows, than men of cool and sedate tempers: but, I believe,
when everything is balanced, there is no one, who would not rather be
of the latter character, were he entirely master of his own disposition.
Good or ill fortune is very little at our disposal: and when a person,
that has this sensibility of temper, meets with any misfortune, his
sorrow or resentment takes entire possession of him, and deprives
him of all relish in the common occurrences of life; the right enjoy-
ment of which forms the chief part of our happiness. Great pleasures
are much less frequent than great pains; so that a sensible temper
must meet with fewer trials in the former way than in the latter. Not
to mention, that men of such lively passions are apt to be transported
beyond all bounds of prudence and discretion, and to take false steps
in the conduct of life, which are often irretrievable.

There is a delicacy of taste observable in some men, which very
much resembles this delicacy of passion, and produces the same sensi-
bility to beauty and deformity of every kind, as that does to prosperity
and adversity, obligations and injuries. When you present a poem or
a picture to a man possessed of this talent, the delicacy of his feelings
makes him be sensibly touched with every part of it; nor are the
masterly strokes perceived with more exquisite relish and satisfaction,
than the negligences or absurdities with disgust and uneasiness. A
polite and judicious conversation affords him the highest entertain-
ment; rudeness or impertinence is as great a punishment to him. In
short, delicacy of taste has the same effect as delicacy of passion: it
enlarges the sphere both of our happiness and misery, and makes us
sensible to the pains as well as to the pleasures, which escape the
rest of mankind.