Familiarity with the doctrines presented in Richard Allestree’s devotional work The Whole Duty of Man (1658), which Hume reported having read as a boy, can illuminate the strategy of argument Hume employs in Treatise 2.1.6–2.1.8 to undermine views he attributes to “the vulgar systems of ethicks.” Hume’s explicit critique of the view that pride is a sin and humility a virtue in Treatise 2.1.7 relies on assumptions that are already present in Allestree’s account of pride and humility and are described using similar language. Sections 6–8 of Treatise 2.1 also provide an implicit critique of Allestree’s attempts to induce a general stance of humility based on mortifying considerations about human nature and to inspire episodes of penitential humility for the sins of the day. I argue that the “limitations to this account” gathered together in 2.1.6 are placed there to set up this critique. Together, the limitations imply that defects in our personal character are sufficiently close to us, peculiar to us, discernible to others, of appropriate duration, and supported by general rules to generate the passion of humility when we reflect on them, while reflection on human nature in general and particular episodes of sin are not.


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pp. 143-167
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