Superphysics Superphysics
Section 8


by David Hume Icon
8 minutes  • 1558 words

The body is connected with us to form one of the double relations which causes pride and humility. whether we consider the body as:

  • a part of ourselves, or
  • something external.

Wherever we can find the other relation of impressions to join to the relation of ideas, we can be assured of pride or humility, depending on the pleasantness or uneasiness of the impression.

All kinds of beauty give us a peculiar delight and satisfaction, as deformity produces pain, whatever it may be placed on, whether on an animate or inanimate object. ◦ If the beauty or deformity were placed on our own bodies, this pleasure or uneasiness must be converted into pride or humility. ◦ In this case, it has all the circumstances needed to produce a perfect transition of impressions and ideas.

These opposite sensations are related to the opposite passions. • The beauty or deformity is closely related to self. ◦ No wonder our own beauty becomes an object of pride, and deformity of humility. • The passions in this case do not arise without all the circumstances I required. • This effect of personal and bodily qualities: ◦ is a proof of the present system ◦ may be employed as a stronger and more convincing argument.

Beauty is an order and construction of parts that is fitted to give a pleasure and satisfaction to the soul, through:

  • the primary constitution of our nature
  • custom, or
  • caprice.

This is the distinguishing character of beauty. ◦ It forms all the difference between beauty and deformity. ◦ Deformity’s natural tendency is to produce uneasiness. • All hypotheses formed by philosophy or common reason to explain the difference between beauty and deformity resolve into this. • Pleasure and pain: ◦ are necessary attendants of beauty and deformity ◦ constitute their very essence. • A great part of the beauty we admire in animals or objects is derived from the idea of convenience and utility. ◦ The shape which produces strength, is beautiful in one animal. ▪ That shape which is a sign of agility is beautiful in another. ◦ A palace’s order and convenience are essential to its beauty as its mere figure and appearance. ◦ The rules of architecture require that the top of a pillar be more slender than its base. ▪ Such a figure conveys to us the idea of security, which is pleasant. ▪ The contrary form gives us the apprehension of danger, which is uneasy. • Beauty, like wit, cannot be defined. ◦ It is discerned only by a taste or sensation. • From these considerations and innumerable instances of this kind, we conclude, that: ◦ beauty is nothing but a form which produces pleasure. ◦ deformity is a structure of parts which conveys pain. • The power of producing pain and pleasure form the essence of beauty and deformity. ◦ All the effects of beauty and deformity must be derived from the sensation. ▪ Pride and humility are the most common and remarkable of these effects. • This argument is just and decisive. ◦ But let us suppose it false for a moment, and see what will follow. • If the power of producing pleasure and pain does not form the essence of beauty and deformity, the sensations are at least inseparable from the qualities. ◦ It is even difficult to consider them apart. • Only this power of producing pleasure is common to natural and moral beauty. ◦ Both of these are the causes of pride. ◦ A common effect always supposes a common cause. ◦ The pleasure must in both cases be the real and influencing cause of the passion. • The only original difference between the beauty of our bodies and the beauty of external and foreign objects is that the former has a near relation to ourselves, which is lacking in the other. ◦ Therefore, this original difference must be the cause of: ▪ all their other differences ▪ their different influence on the pride excited by our beauty. • This kind of personal pride is not affected by the beauty of foreign and external objects. • These two conclusions together compose the preceding system, that pleasure, as a related or resembling impression, when placed on a related object by a natural transition, produces pride and its contrary, produces humility. ◦ This system seems already confirmed by experience. ◦ But we have not yet exhausted all our arguments. • The body’s beauty, strength, and force produce pride. ◦ Strength is a kind of power; and therefore the desire to excel in strength is to be considered as an inferior species of ambition. • For this reason, the present phenomenon will be sufficiently accounted for in explaining that passion. • Our bodily features which are useful, beautiful, or surprising, are objects of pride. ◦ Those that are contrary are objects of humility. • Everything useful, beautiful or surprising, agrees: ◦ in producing a separate pleasure ◦ in nothing else. • Therefore, the pleasure with the relation to the self must be the cause of the passion. • It may be questioned whether beauty is: ◦ not soxmething real ◦ different from the power of producing pleasure. • Surprise is merely a pleasure arising from novelty. ◦ Beauty is not a quality in any object. ◦ It is merely a passion or impression in the soul. • Therefore, pride arises from a natural transition from beauty. ◦ It arises so naturally. ◦ Nothing in us or belonging to us produces surprise, that does not excite that other passion at the same time. • Thus we are vain of the surprising adventures we have met with, the escapes we have made, and dangers we have been exposed to. • Hence the origin of vulgar lying. ◦ Men without any interest, and merely out of vanity, heap up a number of extraordinary events which: ▪ are the fictions of their brain, or ▪ if true, are unconnected with themselves. • Their fruitful invention supplies them with a variety of adventures. • Where that talent is lacking, they appropriate such as belong to others to satisfy their vanity. • Two curious experiments are contained in this phenomenon. • We judge of cause and effect in anatomy, natural philosophy, and other sciences by known rules. • If we compare these two experiments according to known rules, this will be an undeniable argument for that influence of the double relations mentioned above. ◦ By one of these experiments we find, that an object produces pride merely by the interposition of pleasure because the quality, by which it produces pride, is in reality nothing but the power of producing pleasure. ◦ By the other experiment we find, that the pleasure produces the pride by a transition along related ideas; because when we cut off that relation the passion is immediately destroyed.. • A surprising adventure, which we have been in, is related to us. ◦ It produces pride because of the relation. • But the adventures of others which may cause pleasure, never excites pride because of the lack of this relation of ideas. • What farther proof can be desired for the present system? • There is only one objection to this system with regard to our body. ◦ Nothing is more agreeable than health and more painful than sickness. ◦ Yet men commonly are neither proud of the one, nor mortified with the other. • This will easily be accounted for if we consider the second and fourth limitations, proposed to our general system. ◦ No object ever produces pride or humility, if it does not have something peculiar to ourself. ◦ Every cause of pride or humility must be constant and must hold some proportion to the duration of our self, which is its object. • Health and sickness vary incessantly to all. ◦ No one is solely or certainly fixed in health of sickness. ◦ These accidental blessings and calamities are: ▪ separated from us ▪ never considered as connected with our being and existence. • A terminal illness becomes an object of humility. ◦ Nothing mortifies old men more than the consideration of their age and infirmities. • They endeavour, as long as possible, to conceal their blindness and deafness, rheums and gouts. ◦ They confess them with reluctance and uneasiness. • Young men are not ashamed of every headache or cold. ◦ Our susceptibility to such infirmities properly: ▪ mortifies human pride ▪ makes us entertain a mean opinion of our nature. • This proves that bodily pain and sickness are in themselves proper causes of humility. ◦ The custom of estimating everything by comparison more than by its intrinsic value, makes us overlook these calamities. ◦ These calamities: ▪ are incident to everyone ▪ causes us to form an idea of our merit and character independent of them.

We are ashamed of maladies that affect others and are dangerous or disagreeable to them.

We are ashamed of: ◦ epilepsy, because it gives a horror to everyone present ◦ the itch, because it is infectious ◦ tuberculosis in children, because it commonly goes to posterity. • Men always consider the sentiments of others in their judgment of themselves. ◦ This has appeared in some of the foregoing reasonings. ◦ It will appear more, and will be more fully explained afterwards.

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