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An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue

Francis Hutcheson

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xviii

The political dimension of liberty is at least twofold: civil liberties and independence. The former is a matter of the political order of a country; the latter, of freedom from foreign domination. Liberty and happiness can be related to each other as they were in the third section of the...

References and Further Reading

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pp. xix-xxi

Note on the Text

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pp. xxiii-xxix

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

First of all I would like to thank Elisabeth Schreiber and Andreas Kamp, who—together with Christine Unrau, Fotios Amanatides, Johannes Clessienne, Hermann Halbeisen, Felix Krafft, Dirk Neumann, and Alexander Scheufens—revised the text and contributed to the task...

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An Inquiry Into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue

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pp. 1-5

Your Excellency’s favourable Reception of them, soon put me out of all Fears about their Success with the wiser and better Part of the World; and since this has given me Assurance to own them, I humbly presume to inscribe them in this second Edition to your Excellency, that I may...

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The Preface

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pp. 7-13

There is no part of Philosophy of more importance, than a just Knowledge of Human Nature, and its various Powers and Dispositions. Our late Inquirys have been very much employ’d about our Understanding, and the several Methods of obtaining Truth. We generally acknowledge...

The Contents

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pp. 15-16

Treatise I: An Inquiry Concerning Beauty, Order, &c

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Section I. Concerning some Powers of Perception distinct from what is generally understood by Sensation

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pp. 19-27

To make the following Observations understood, it may be necessary to premise some Definitions, and Observations, either universally acknowledg’d, or sufficiently prov’d by many Writers both ancient and modern, concerning our Perceptions called Sensations, and the Actions of...

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Section II. Of Original or Absolute Beauty

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pp. 28-35

Since it is certain that we have Ideas of Beauty and Harmony, let us examine what Quality in Objects excites these Ideas, or is the occasion of them. And let it be here observ’d, that our Inquiry is only about the Qualitys which are beautiful to Men; or about the...

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Section III. Of the Beauty of Theorems

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pp. 36-41

The Beauty of Theorems, or universal Truths demonstrated, deserves a distinct Consideration, being of a Nature pretty different from the former kinds of Beauty; and yet there is none in which we shall see such an amazing Variety with Uniformity: and hence arises a very...

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Section IV. Of Comparative or Relative Beauty

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pp. 42-45

If the preceding Thoughts concerning the Foundation of absolute Beauty be just, we may easily understand wherein relative Beauty consists. All Beauty is relative to the Sense of some Mind perceiving it; but what we call relative is that which is apprehended in any...

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Section V. Concerning our Reasonings about Design and Wisdom in the Cause, from the Beauty or Regularity of Effects

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pp. 46-60

There seems to be no necessary Connection of our pleasing Ideas of Beauty with the Uniformity or Regularity of the Objects, from the Nature of things, antecedent to some Constitution of the Author of our Nature, which has made such Forms pleasant to us. Other Minds...

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Section VI. Concerning the Universality of our Sense of Beauty

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pp. 61-69

We before insinuated, “That all Beauty has a relation to some perceiving Power;” and consequently since we know not how great a Variety of Senses there may be among Animals, there is no Form in Nature concerning which we can pronounce, “That it has...

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Section VII. Concerning the Power of Custom, Education and Example, as to our internal Senses

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pp. 70-75

Custom, Education, and Example are so often alledg’d in this Affair, as the occasion of our Relish for beautiful Objects, and for our Approbation of, or Delight in a certain Conduct in Life, in a moral Sense, that it is necessary to examine these three particularly, to make...

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Section VIII. Of the Importance of the internal Senses in Life, and the final Causes of them

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pp. 76-82

The busy part of Mankind may look upon these things as airy Dreams of an inflam’d Imagination, which a wise Man should despise, who rationally pursues more solid Possessions independent on Fancy: but a little Reflection will convince us, “That the Gratifications of...

Treatise II: An Inquiry Concerning the Original of Our Ideas of Virtue or Moral Good

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pp. 85-88

The Word Moral Goodness, in this Treatise, denotes our Idea of some Quality apprehended in Actions, which procures Approbation, and Love toward the Actor, from those who receive no Advantage by the Action. Moral Evil, denotes our Idea of a contrary Quality, which...

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Section I. Of the moral Sense by which we perceive Virtue and Vice, and approve, or disapprove them in others

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pp. 89-100

That the Perceptions of moral Good and Evil, are perfectly different from those of natural Good, or Advantage, every one must convince himself, by reflecting upon the different Manner in which he finds himself affected when these Objects occur to him. Had we no Sense of Good...

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Section II. Concerning the immediate Motive to virtuous Actions

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pp. 101-115

The Motives of human Actions, or their immediate Causes, would be best understood after considering the Passions and Affections; but here we shall only consider the Springs of the Actions which we call virtuous, as far as it is necessary to settle the general Foundation of the Moral...

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Section III. The Sense of Virtue, and the various Opinions about it, reducible to one general Foundation. The Manner of computing the Morality of Actions

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pp. 116-135

If we examine all the Actions which are counted amiable any where, and enquire into the Grounds upon which they are approv’d, we shall find, that in the Opinion of the Person who approves them, they always appear as Benevolent, or flowing from...

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Section IV. All Mankind agree in this general Foundation of their Approbation of moral Actions. The Grounds of the different Opinions about Morals

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pp. 136-147

To shew how far Mankind agree in that which we have made the universal Foundation of this moral Sense, viz. Benevolence, we have observ’d already, that when we are ask’d the Reason of our Approbation of any Action, we perpetually alledge its Usefulness...

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Section V. A further Confirmation that we have practical Dispositions to Virtue implanted in our nature; with a further Explication of our Instinct to Benevolence in its various Degrees; with the additional Motives of Interest, viz. Honour, Shame and Pity

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pp. 148-162

We have already endeavour’d to prove, “That there is a universal Determination to Benevolence in Mankind, even toward the most distant parts of the Species:” But we are not to imagine that this Benevolence is equal, or in the same degree toward all...

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Section VI. Concerning the Importance of this moral Sense to the present Happiness of Mankind, and its Influence on human Affairs

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pp. 163-176

It may now probably appear, that notwithstanding the Corruption of Manners so justly complain’d of every where, this moral Sense has a greater Influence on Mankind than is generally imagin’d, altho it is often directed by very partial imperfect Views of publick Good, and...

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Section VII. A Deduction of some Complex moral Ideas, viz. of Obligation, and Right, Perfect, Imperfect, and External, Alienable, and Unalienable, from this moral Sense

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pp. 177-198

To conclude this Subject, we may, from what has been said, see the true Original of moral Ideas, viz. This moral Sense of Excellence in every Appearance, or Evidence of Benevolence. It remains to be explain’d, how we acquire more particular Ideas of Virtue and...

Textual Notes

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pp. 199-259


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pp. 261-271

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614878124
E-ISBN-10: 1614878129
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865977747

Page Count: 275
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Revised

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Subject Headings

  • Ethics, Modern -- 18th century.
  • Aesthetics -- Early works to 1800.
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