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Hume Studies

Volume 35, Issue 1/2, April/November 2009

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  • Issue: 1/2

Displaying: 1-10 of 17 documents

1. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Alison Gopnik Could David Hume Have Known about Buddhism?: Charles François Dolu, the Royal College of La Flèche, and the Global Jesuit Intellectual Network
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Philosophers and Buddhist scholars have noted the affinities between David Hume’s empiricism and the Buddhist philosophical tradition. I show that it was possible for Hume to have had contact with Buddhist philosophical views. The link to Buddhism comes through the Jesuit scholars at the Royal College of La Flèche. Charles François Dolu was a Jesuit missionary who lived at the Royal College from 1723–1740, overlapping with Hume’s stay. He had extensive knowledge both of other religions and cultures and of scientific ideas. Dolu had had first-hand experience with Theravada Buddhism as part of the second French embassy to Siam in 1687–1688. In 1727, Dolu also had talked with Ippolito Desideri, a Jesuit missionary who visited Tibet and made an extensive study of Tibetan Buddhism from 1716–1721. It is at least possible that Hume heard about Buddhist ideas through Dolu.
2. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Nancy Schauber Complexities of Character: Hume on Love and Responsibility
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Hume claims that moral assessments refer to character; it is character of which we morally approve and disapprove. This essay explores what Hume means by “character.” Is it true that moral assessments refer to character, and should Hume think this given his other commitments in moral philosophy and moral psychology? I discuss two prominent themes—namely, Hume’s views on moral responsibility; and Hume’s comparison of moral feelings with feelings of love—to see what light these themes can shed on Hume’s broader views about moral assessment. I argue that at least according to a traditional understanding of the term, character could not plausibly have a role to play in Hume’s account of moral assessment, but that Hume’s moral theory could require a conception of character different from this traditional one: a conception according to which character need not be the standard one that holds character to be consistent, stable, and well-integrated. In morally assessing others, we do not do so on the basis of their characters (at least in any robust sense of character), but on the basis of their motivational states. My account of Hume’s theory of the responsibility, passions and the moral sentiments leaves intact the central Humean insights about the conditions for action and the arousal of the moral sentiment, suggesting what Hume could have said, both more plausibly and without undermining the key features of his moral psychology. And it also shows that Hume’s moral theory has no need for a robust conception of character.
3. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
David Sherry Reason, Habit, and Applied Mathematics
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Hume is aware that reason is useful for drawing conclusions about matters of fact: “Mathematics, indeed, are useful in all mechanical operations, and arithmetic in almost every art and profession” (T; SBN 413–14). But he offers no account of how relations of ideas direct our judgment concerning matters of fact. This is a pity, because the application of mathematics offers an excellent opportunity to observe the interplay between reason and experience, and thus it provides an interesting perspective on Hume’s philosophy. This article aims to turn a handful of Hume’s remarks into a Humean account of applied mathematics (§§1–3). The account is interesting on its own, but it reveals also an odd consequence for Hume’s philosophy, viz., the existence of a species of probability, in which reason lends force and vivacity to inferences involving matters of fact (§4).
4. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
John J. Tilley Physical Objects and Moral Wrongness: Hume on the “Fallacy” in Wollaston’s Moral Theory
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In a well-known footnote in Book 3 of his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume calls William Wollaston’s moral theory a “whimsical system” and purports to destroy it with a few brief objections. The first of those objections, although fatally flawed, has hitherto gone unrefuted. To my knowledge, its chief error has escaped attention. In this paper I expose that error; I also show that it has relevance beyond the present subject. It can occur with regard to any moral theory which, like Wollaston’s, locates the wrongness of an act in a property that can reside in non-actions no less than in actions.
5. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Stephen M. Campbell The Surprise Twist in Hume’s Treatise
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A Treatise of Human Nature opens with ambitious hopes for the science of man, but Hume eventually launches into a series of skeptical arguments that culminates in a report of radical skeptical despair. This essay is a preliminary exploration of how to interpret this surprising development. I first distinguish two kinds of surprise twist: those that are incompatible with some preceding portion of the work, and those that are not. This suggests two corresponding pictures of Hume. On one picture, he believed the skeptical development to be at odds with something in early Treatise; on the other, he took these two portions of Book 1 to be perfectly compatible. After defending the claim that Hume endorsed both of these portions, I sketch two promising interpretations—a “perspectivist,” incompatibilist interpretation and a “post-skeptical,” compatibilist interpretation—and offer some reasons to favor the latter view.
6. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Henrik Bohlin Sympathy, Understanding, and Hermeneutics in Hume’s Treatise
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With his theory of sympathy in the Treatise of Human Nature, Hume has been interpreted as anticipating later hermeneutic theories of understanding. It is argued in the present article that Hume has good reasons to consider a hermeneutic theory of empathetic understanding, that such a theory avoids a serious difficulty in Hume’s “official,” positivist theory of sympathy, that it is compatible with the complex and subtle form of positivism, or naturalism, developed in Book 1 of the Treatise, and that his analysis of sympathy provides valuable methodological rules for empathetic interpreters. Against the interpretation of James Farr in “Hume, Hermeneutics, and History,” it is maintained that Hume’s theory does not support a hermeneutics of nonempathetic Verstehen.
7. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Åsa Carlson There Is Just One Idea of Self in Hume’s Treatise
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Hume’s mysterious words, “we must distinguish betwixt personal identity, as it regards our thought or imagination, and as it regards our passions or the concern we take in ourselves” have been the focus of a variety of different interpretations, some more creative than others. But the solution to this interpretative problem is indeed very simple, too simple to occur to most readers. What Hume has in mind is actually nothing but the different ways association works with regard to, on the one hand, imagination, and, on the other hand, passion. Hence, one may easily read the entire Treatise as containing just one idea of self, that is, the bundle of perceptions discussed in “On personal identity.” Contrary to what many scholars have recently suggested, this idea may very well be “the idea, or rather impression” of self at play in the mechanism of sympathy, as well as the object of pride and humility. This faithful but dull reading makes Hume coherent, probably more coherent than any two-ideas interpretation does.
8. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Amyas Merivale Hume’s Mature Account of the Indirect Passions
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Hume’s Dissertation on the Passions stands to Book 2 of his Treatise as the first and second Enquiries stand to Books 1 and 3 respectively. However, while the two Enquiries are evidently substantial reworkings of their Treatise ancestors, containing much that is different and new, the Dissertation appears to consist merely of superficially adapted excerpts from Treatise Book 2. I argue that this first impression is mistaken, by showing how Hume’s view of the indirect passions is modified in the later work. In the Treatise, he views them as simple impressions; in the Dissertation, they are complex perceptions, part impression and part idea. I argue, furthermore, that Hume’s account of the origin of the indirect passions only works on this later view, and suggest that this is why he changed his mind. The Dissertation, I conclude, is an improvement on its Treatise forerunner, and not merely a précis of it.
9. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Rico Vitz Doxastic Virtues in Hume’s Epistemology
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In this paper, I elucidate Hume’s account of doxastic virtues and offer three reasons that contemporary epistemologists ought to consider it as an alternative to one of the broadly Aristotelian models currently offered. Specifically, I suggest that Hume’s account of doxastic virtues obviates (1) the much-debated question about whether such virtues are intellectual, “moral,” or some combination thereof, (2) the much-debated question about whether people have voluntary control of their belief formation, and (3) the need to make the kind of thick metaphysical commitments about essentialism and final causation that Aristotelian accounts of such virtues require.
book reviews
10. Hume Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Annette C. Baier Hume’s Skeptical Crisis: A Textual Study
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