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Hume's Moral Sentiments and the Structure of the Treatise LOUIS E. LOEB ACCORDING TO NORMAN KEMP SMITH and Thomas Hearn, Hume classified moral sentiments as direct passions.' According to Pb.II A,rdal, Hume classified the basic moral sentiments of approval and disapproval of persons as indirect passions. if either of these interpretations is correct, there is an intimate connection between Books II and 111 of Hume's Treatise. This is because the direct and indirect passions (together with the will) are the subject of Book 11 and moral sentiments are discussed in Book 111. So if moral sentiments are special cases of either direct or indirect passions, the treatment of passions in Book Ii is central to the understanding of Book 111. 1 contend, on the contrary, that Hume's moral sentiments are neither direct nor indirect passions. Consequently, the connection between Books 11 and 111 of the Treatise is much less intimate than A,rdal and Hearn have recently suggested.' i. Hume's Classification of the Impressions of Reflection In the four paragraphs of II, i, I Hume provides an exhaustive "Division of the Subject"--the "subject" being "all the perceptions of the mind. ''4 Nowhere else in the Treatise is a complete "division" to be found. As A,rdal points out, such introductory chapters "are likely to be written after the bulk of the book has been completed, or at least to be carefully revised in the light of the main arguments in the book. ''~ For these reasons, there is a strong presumption that the "division" in !I, i, 1should be taken as canonical. Hume's "division" is straightforward. In the first paragraph, perceptions are divided into ideas and impressions; in the first and second paragraphs, impressions are divided into those of sensation and those of reflection; in the third paragraph, impressions of reflection are divided into the calm and the violent; in the fourth (as I am indebted to Wdham Frankena, Ronald Glossop, and Peter Jones for their most helpful comments. ' Norman Kemp Smith, The Philosophy of David Hume (New York: St. Martm'~ Press, 1966), pp. 167-168; and Thomas K. Hearn, Jr., "Ardal on the Moral Sentiments in Hume's rreattse," Phtlosophy 48 (1973):290. z Passton and Value m Hume's "Treatise" (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966), pp. I 1, 109-133. For a discussion heavily influenced by Ardal, see Stewart R. Sutherland, "Hume on Morality and the Emotions," Phllosophwal Quarterly 26 (1976) : 14-19 especially. ' See Ardal, pp. I-5, 109-133; and Hearn, pp. 288, 292. 9 A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888), p. 275; hereafter cited as T followed by page number. 9 Ardal, p. 94. 13951 396 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY indicated by the last sentence of the third), the violent impressions of reflection are divided into the direct and the indirect. The structure is of a genus-species sort, and none of the distinctions cut across each other: J calm i sense of beauty and deformity (T, 276), moral sentiments impressions of reflection = emotions (secondary impressions) violent = passions direct indirect desire, aversion, grief, joy, pride, humility, love, hope, fear (T, 277, 439) hatred (T, 276-277) This classification is based upon the only natural reading of paragraph three and the first sentence of paragraph four of II, i, I. I quote this material, adding my own emphasis and deleting Hume's: The reflective impressions may be divided into two kinds, viz. the calm and the violent. Of the first kind is the sense of beauty and deformity in action, composition, and external objects. Of the second are the passions of love and hatred, grief and joy, pride and humility. This division is far from being exact. The raptures of poetry and music frequently rise to the greatest height; while those other impressions, properly called passions, may decay into so soft an emotion, as to become, in a manner, imperceptible. But as in general the passions are more violent than the emotions arising from beauty and deformity, these impressions have been commonly distinguish'd from each other. The subject of the human mind being so copious and various, I shall here take...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 395-403
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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