Superphysics Superphysics
Section 12


by David Hume Icon
6 minutes  • 1098 words

The causes of pride and humility correspond exactly to our hypothesis.

Nothing can excite pride or humility unless it:

  • is related to ourselves
  • produces a pleasure or pain independent of the passion.

We have proven that:

  • a tendency to produce pleasure or pain is common to all the causes of pride or humility ▪ This tendency is the only thing which is common to them. ▪ Consequently, it is the quality by which they operate. ◦ the most considerable causes of pride and humility are really the power of producing agreeable or uneasy sensations. • Therefore, all the effects of pride and humility are derived solely from that origin. ◦ Such simple and natural principles are founded on such solid proofs. ◦ They must be received by philosophers, unless there are objections that have escaped me. • Anatomists usually join their observations and experiments on human bodies to those on animals. ◦ From the agreement of these experiments, they derive an additional argument for any particular hypothesis. • Where the structure and operation of parts in brutes is the same as in men the causes of that operation cannot be different. ◦ Whatever we discover to be true of the one species, may be true of the other. • The mixture of humours and composition of minute parts may justly be presumed different in men from what it is in mere animals. ◦ Any experiment we make on the one on the effects of medicines will not always apply to the other. ◦ Yet the structure of the veins, muscles, heart, lungs, stomach, liver and other parts, are nearly the same in all animals. ▪ The same hypothesis which explains muscular motion, blood circulation, and digestion in one species must be applicable to every species. ▪ As it agrees or disagrees with the experiments we make in any species, we may draw a proof of its truth or falsehood on the whole. • Let us: ◦ apply this method of inquiry to the mind’s anatomy ◦ see what discoveries we can make by it. ▪ This inquiry is just and useful in reasonings on the body. • To do this, we must: ◦ first show the correspondence of passions in men and animals ◦ afterwards compare the causes which produce these passions. • Almost in every species of creatures, especially of the nobler kind, there are many evident marks of pride and humility. ◦ The very port and gait of a swan, turkey, or peacock show: ▪ his high idea of himself ▪ his contempt of all others. ◦ In turkeys and peacocks, it is more remarkable that the pride: ▪ always attends the beauty ▪ is discovered only in the male. • The following characteristics have been commonly remarked: ◦ the vanity and emulation of nightingales in singing ◦ the swiftness of horses ◦ the sagacity and smell of hounds ◦ the strength of the bull and cock ◦ the particular excellency of every other animal. • Every species of creatures which approach so often to man, as to familiarize themselves with him: ◦ show an evident pride in his approbation ◦ are pleased with his praises and caresses, independent of every other consideration. • They do not get this vanity from the caresses of everyone without distinction. ◦ They get it principally from the persons they know and love, in the same way as vanity is excited in mankind. • All these are evident proofs that pride and humility are not merely human passions, but extend over the whole animal creation. • The causes of these passions are likewise much the same in beasts as in us, making a just allowance for our superior knowledge and understanding. • Thus, animals: ◦ have little or no sense of virtue or vice ◦ quickly lose sight of blood relations ◦ are incapable of that of right and property. • For which reason the causes of their pride and humility: ◦ must lie solely in the body ◦ can never be placed in the mind or external objects. • With regards the body, the same qualities cause pride in animals as in humans. ◦ Pride is always founded on beauty, strength, swiftness or some other useful or agreeable quality. • Throughout creation, pride and humility: ◦ are the same ◦ arise from the same causes • Do their causes also operate in the same manner? ◦ According to all rules of analogy, this is justly to be expected. • If we find on trial, that our explanation of these phenomena in one species will not apply to other species, we may presume that that explanation has no foundation. • To answer this question, let us consider that there is the same relation of ideas from the same causes, in the minds of animals and men. • A dog that has hidden a bone, often forgets the place. ◦ But when brought to it, his thought passes easily to what he formerly concealed through the contiguity which produces a relation among his ideas. ◦ Similarly, when he has been beaten in any place, he will tremble on his approach to it, even though he discovers no signs of any present danger. • The effects of resemblance are not so remarkable. ◦ But that relation makes a considerable ingredient in causation which all animals show an obvious judgment. ◦ We may conclude that the three relations of resemblance, contiguity and causation operate in the same way on beasts as on humans. • There are also instances of the relation of impressions which are sufficient to convince us that: ◦ there is a union of certain affections with each other in the inferior and superior species of creatures ◦ their minds are frequently conveyed through a series of connected emotions. • A dog elevated with joy, runs naturally into love and kindness whether of his master or of the sex. ◦ When full of pain and sorrow, he becomes quarrelsome and ill-natured. ◦ His initial grief is converted into anger by the smallest occasion. • Thus, all the internal principles necessary in us to produce pride or humility, are common to all creatures. ◦ Since the causes which excite these passions are likewise the same, we may conclude that these causes operate in the same way through the whole animal creation. • My hypothesis is so simple. ◦ It supposes so little reflection and judgment. ◦ It is applicable to every sensible creature. ▪ This: • is a convincing proof of its veracity • will be an objection to every other system.

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