Superphysics Superphysics
Section 3


by David Hume Icon
4 minutes  • 850 words

We have observed a difference between the object of the passions and their cause. ◦ We distinguish in the cause the quality, which operates on the passions, from the subject, in which it inheres. • We now examine what: ◦ determines each of them to be what it is ◦ assigns such a particular object, quality, and subject to these affections. • Through this, we shall fully understand the origin of pride and humility. • These passions are derermined to have the self for their object through a natural and original property. ◦ No one can doubt but this property is natural from the constancy and steadiness of its operations. • The self is always the object of pride and humility. ◦ The passions look beyond, still with a view to ourselves. ◦ Otherwise, any person or object cannot have any influence on us. • This proceeds from an original quality or primary impulse, if we consider that it is the distinguishing characteristic of these passions. ◦ Unless nature had given some original qualities to the mind, it could never have any secondary qualities. ◦ In that case, it: ▪ would have no foundation for action, nor ▪ could ever begin to exert itself. • These original qualities: ◦ are most inseparable from the soul ◦ can be resolved into no other. • This quality determines the object of pride and humility. • Are the causes that produce the passion as natural as the object it is directed to? • Does that vast variety proceed from caprice or from the mind’s constitution? ◦ We shall remove this doubt if we: ▪ cast our eye on human nature ▪ consider that in all nations and ages, the same objects still give rise to pride and humility. • Upon the view even of a stranger, we can know what will increase or reduce his passions. ◦ If there is any variation in this, it only proceeds from a difference in the men’s tempers and complexions. ▪ It is besides very inconsiderable. • Can we imagine it possible for: ◦ men to ever become entirely indifferent to their power, riches, beauty or personal merit ◦ men’s pride and vanity to be unaffected by these advantages? • The causes of pride and humility are plainly natural, but they are not original. ◦ It is impossible for each of them be adapted to these passions by a: ▪ particular provision ▪ primary constitution of nature.

Beside their prodigious number, many of them: ◦ are the effects of art ◦ arise partly from the industry ▪ Industry produces houses, furniture, clothes. ◦ arise partly from the caprice ▪ Caprice determines their kinds and qualities. ◦ arise partly from the good fortune of men ▪ Good fortune frequently contributes to all this ▪ It discovers the effects that result from the different mixtures and combinations of bodies. • Each of these was not foreseen nor provided for by nature. • Every new production of art, which causes pride or humility, is itself not the object of an original principle. ◦ This principle did not lay concealed in the soul. ◦ It was not brought to light only by accident. • Instead, it adapts itself to pride or humility by sharing some general quality that naturally operates on the mind. • It is ridiculous to think that: ◦ a fine scritoire, created by an inventor, produced pride in the inventor ◦ this principle is then different from those which made him proud of handsome chairs and tables. • We must conclude that each cause of pride and humility is not adapted to the passions by a distinct original quality. ◦ Instead, there are some circumstances common to all of them, which their efficacy depends on. • We find in nature that though the effects be many, the principles, from which they arise, are commonly few and simple. • It is the sign of an unskillful naturalist to have recourse to a different quality to explain every different operation. • How much more must this be true with regard to the human mind? ◦ Such a confined a subject may justly be thought incapable of containing such a monstrous heap of principles. ◦ These principles would be necessary to excite pride and humility. ◦ Each distinct cause would then need to be adapted to pride and humility by a distinct set of principles. • Moral philosophy is in the same condition as natural philosophy, with regard to astronomy before Copernicus’ time. • The ancients knew of the maxim that nature does nothing in vain. ◦ They contrived intricate systems of the heavens which seemed inconsistent with true philosophy. ◦ They gave way to something more simple and natural in the end. • The following proves that: ◦ none of those systems is the just one ◦ we want to cover our ignorance of the truth by: ▪ a number of falsehoods ▪ the invention of a new principle to every new phenomenon, instead of adapting it to the old ◦ overloading our hypotheses with a variety of this kind.

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