Superphysics Superphysics
Section 9


by David Hume Icon
14 minutes  • 2839 words

Pity and malice arise from the imagination, according to how it places its object.

When our fancy directly considers the sentiments of others and enters deep into them, it makes us sensible of all the passions it surveys, but in a particular manner of grief or sorrow.

On the contrary, when we compare the sentiments of others to our own, we feel a sensation directly opposite to the original one.

We feel:

  • a joy from the grief of others
  • a grief from their joy.

But these are only the first foundations of pity and malice. • Other passions are afterwards confounded with them. ◦ There is always a mixture of: ▪ love or tenderness with pity ▪ hatred or anger with malice. ◦ But this mixture seems initially contradictory to my system. • Pity is an uneasiness and malice is a joy arising from the misery of others. ◦ Pity should naturally produce hatred. ◦ Malice should naturally produce love. • I reconcile this contradiction in the following way.

• To cause a transition of passions, a double relation of impressions and ideas is required.
    ◦ One relation is insufficient to produce this effect.
• The present sensation alone or momentary pain or pleasure does not determine the character of any passion.
    ◦ Instead, the sensation’s whole bent or tendency from the beginning to the end determines it.
• One impression may be related to another when:
    ◦ their sensations are resembling
    ◦ their impulses or directions are similar and correspondent.
• This cannot take place in pride and humility.
    ◦ Because these are only pure sensations, without any direction or tendency to action.
• We should look for instances of this peculiar relation of impressions only in affections that are attended with a certain desire, such as those of love and hatred.

• Benevolence or the appetite which attends love, is:
    ◦ a desire of the happiness of the person beloved
    ◦ an aversion to his misery.
• Anger or the appetite which attends hatred, is:
    ◦ a desire of the misery of the person hated
    ◦ an aversion to his happiness.
• Therefore, a desire of the happiness of another and aversion to his misery, are similar to benevolence.
    ◦ A desire of his misery and aversion to his happiness are correspondent to anger.
• Pity is a desire of another’s happiness and aversion to his misery, as malice is the contrary appetite.
    ◦ Pity, then, is related to benevolence and malice is related to anger.
• Benevolence has been already found to be connected with love by a natural and original quality.
    ◦ Anger is connected with hatred.
• By this chain, pity and malice are connected with love and hatred.

• This hypothesis is founded on sufficient experience.
• A man, who has resolved to do an action from whatever motive, naturally runs into every other motive which may:
    ◦ fortify that resolution
    ◦ give it authority and influence on the mind.
• To confirm us in any design, we search for motives drawn from interest, from honour, from duty.
• What wonder, then, that pity and benevolence, malice, and anger, being the same desires arising from different principles, should so totally mix together as to be undistinguishable?
• As to the connection between benevolence and love, anger and hatred, being original and primary, it admits of no difficulty.

• We may add to this another experiment, viz, that benevolence and anger, and consequently love and hatred, arise when our happiness or misery have any dependance on the happiness or misery of another person, without any farther relation.
• I doubt not but this experiment will appear so singular as to excuse us for stopping a moment to consider it.

• Suppose that two persons of the same trade seek employment in a town that is unable to maintain both.
• The success of one is perfectly incompatible with the success of the other
    ◦ Whatever is for the interest of either is contrary to that of his rival, and so vice versa.
• Suppose that two merchants living in different parts of the world enter into partnership.
    ◦ The advantage or loss of one becomes immediately the advantage or loss of his partner.
    ◦ The same fortune necessarily attends both.
• In the first case, hatred always follows on the contrariety of interests.
    ◦ In the second, love arises from their union.
    ◦ Let us consider to what principle we can ascribe these passions.

• If we regard only the present sensation, love and hatred do not arise from the double relations of impressions and ideas.
• In the case of rivalry, the pleasure and advantage of my antagonist causes my pain and loss.
    ◦ To counter-balance this, his pain and loss causes my pleasure and advantage.
    ◦ I receive from him a superior degree of satisfaction if he is unsuccessful.
• In the same way, the success of a partner rejoices me.
    ◦ His misfortunes afflict me in an equal proportion.
    ◦ In many cases, the latter sentiment may preponderate.
• I always:
    ◦ hate my rival
    ◦ love my partner, whatever be their fortune.

• This love of a partner cannot proceed from the relation or connection between us, in the same way as I love a brother or countryman.
    ◦ A rival has almost as close a relation to me as a partner.
• My partner’s pleasure is my pleasure.
    ◦ His pain is my pain.
• My rival’s pleasure causes my pain.
    ◦ His pain causes my pleasure.
• The connection of cause and effect is the same in both cases.
    ◦ If in the one case, the cause and effect have a farther relation of resemblance, they have that of contrariety in the other;
    ◦ which, being also a species of resemblance, leaves the matter pretty equal.

• The only explanation we can give of this phenomenon is derived from that principle of a parallel direction above-mentioned.
• Our concern for our own interest gives us:
    ◦ a pleasure in our partner’s pleasure
    ◦ a pain in our partner’s pain
• This is in the same way when we feel a sensation correspondent to the sensations which appear in anyone with us, through sympathy.
• On the other hand, the same concern for our interest makes us feel:
    ◦ a pain in our rival’s pleasure
    ◦ a pleasure in our rival’s pain
• This is the same contrariety of sentiments that arises from comparison and malice.
• A parallel direction of the affections, proceeding from interest, can cause benevolence or anger.
    ◦ No wonder the same parallel direction, from sympathy and comparison, has the same effect.

• It is impossible to:
    ◦ do good to others, from whatever motive, without feeling some kindness and goodwill towards them.
    ◦ injure another person, without causing hatred in that person and even in ourselves.
• These phenomena may partly be accounted for from other principles.

Hume’s Sympathy • But here there occurs a considerable objection, which it will be necessary to examine before we proceed any farther. • Power and riches, or poverty and meanness: ◦ cause love or hatred without producing any original pleasure or uneasiness. ◦ operate on us through a secondary sensation derived from a sympathy with that pain or satisfaction they produce in the person who has them. • Love arises from a sympathy with his pleasure. • Hatred arises from a sympathy with his uneasiness. • But I have just established a maxim which is absolutely necessary to explain the phenomena of pity and malice: ◦ The present sensation or momentary pain or pleasure does not determine the character of any passion. ◦ Instead, it is the sensation’s general bent or tendency from the beginning to the end. • This is why pity, or a sympathy with pain, produces love. • Sympathy: ◦ interests us in the good or bad fortunes of others ◦ gives us a secondary sensation correspondent to the primary sensation; in which it has the same influence with love and benevolence. • This rule holds good in one case. ◦ Why does it not prevail throughout? Why does sympathy in uneasiness ever produce any passion beside goodwill and kindness? • Does a philosopher: ◦ alter his method of reasoning ◦ run from one principle to its contrary, according to the particular phenomenon he explains?

• I have mentioned two different causes from which a transition of passion may arise:
    ◦ a double relation of ideas and impressions
    ◦ a conformity in the tendency and direction of any two desires arising from different principles.
• When a sympathy with uneasiness is:
    ◦ weak, it produces hatred or contempt by a double relation
    ◦ strong, it produces love or tenderness by a conformity of two desires.
• This is the solution of the foregoing urgent difficulty.
    ◦ This principle is founded on evident arguments.
    ◦ We should have established it even though it was unnecessary to the explanation of any phenomenon.

• Sympathy is not always limited to the present moment.
• We often feel the pains and pleasures of others by communication, which:
    ◦ are not in being
    ◦ we only anticipate by the imagination’s force.
• If I saw a person, perfectly unknown to me, sleeping in the fields in danger of being trod under foot by horses, I would immediately run to his assistance.
    ◦ I am actuated by the same principle of sympathy.
    ◦ This makes me concerned for the stranger’s present sorrows.
    ◦ The bare mention of this is sufficient.
• Sympathy is nothing but a lively idea converted into an impression.
    ◦ In considering the possible or probable future condition of anyone, we may:
        ▪ enter into it with so vivid a conception as to make it our own concern.
        ▪ consequently be sensible of pains and pleasures which do not:
            • belong to ourselves
            • exist at present.

• The extension of our sympathy depends largely on our sense of his present condition.
    ◦ A great effort is needed to imagine such lively ideas of the present sentiments of others, as to feel them.
    ◦ But we could never extend this sympathy to the future, without being aided by some circumstance which strikes on us in a lively manner in the present.
• When another’s present misery has any strong influence on me, the conception’s vivacity is not confined merely to its immediate object
    ◦ It diffuses its influence over all the related ideas.
    ◦ It gives me a lively notion of all the circumstances of that person, whether:
        ▪ past, present, or future;
        ▪ possible, probable or certain.
• Through this lively notion, I :
    ◦ am interested in them
    ◦ take part with them
    ◦ feel a sympathetic motion in my breast, conformable to whatever I imagine in his breast.
• If I reduce the first conception’s vivacity, I reduce the vivacity of the related ideas, as pipes can convey no more water than what arises at the fountain.
    ◦ By this reduction, I destroy the future prospect necessary to interest me perfectly in the another’s fortune.
• I may feel the present impression, but I:
    ◦ carry my sympathy no further
    ◦ never transfuse the first conception’s force into my ideas of the related objects.
• If it is another’s misery presented in this feeble manner, I:
    ◦ receive it by communication
    ◦ am affected with all the passions related to it.
• But I am not so much concerned in his good or bad fortune, I never feel:
    ◦ the extensive sympathy, nor
    ◦ the passions related to it.

• To know what passions are related to these different kinds of sympathy, we must consider that benevolence is an original pleasure arising from:
    ◦ the pleasure of the person beloved
    ◦ the pain proceeding from his pain.
• From this correspondence of impressions, arises a subsequent:
    ◦ desire of his pleasure
    ◦ aversion to his pain.
• To make a passion run parallel with benevolence, we need to feel these double impressions, correspondent to the impressions of the person, whom we consider.
    ◦ Any one of them alone is insufficient for that purpose.
• When we sympathize only with a painful impression, this sympathy is related to anger and hatred because of the uneasiness it conveys to us.
    ◦ But the extensive or limited sympathy depends on the force of the first sympathy.
    ◦ It follows that love or hatred depends on the same principle.
• When a strong impression is communicated, it gives a double tendency of the passions.
    ◦ This double tendency is related to benevolence and love by a similarity of direction, no matter how painful the first impression might have been.
    ◦ A painful weak impression is related to anger and hatred by the resemblance of sensations.
• Therefore, benevolence arises from any degree of misery which we strongly sympathize with.
    ◦ Hatred or contempt arises from any degree of misery we weakly sympathize with.
• This is the principle I intended to explain.

• We have both our reason and experience to trust this principle to.
• A certain degree of poverty produces contempt.
    ◦ But a degree beyond that, causes compassion and goodwill.
• We may undervalue a peasant or servant.
• But when a beggar’s misery appears very great or is painted in very lively colours, we:
    ◦ sympathize with him in his afflictions
    ◦ feel touches of pity and benevolence in our heart.
• The same object causes contrary passions according to its different degrees.
• Therefore, the passions must depend on principles that operate in such certain degrees, according to my hypothesis.
    ◦ The increase of the sympathy has the same effect as the increase of the misery.

• A barren or desolate country:
    ◦ always seems ugly and disagreeable
    ◦ commonly inspires us with contempt for its inhabitants.
• However, this deformity proceeds largely from a sympathy with the inhabitants.
    ◦ But it:
        ▪ is only a weak one
        ▪ reaches no farther than the immediate disagreeable sensation.
• The view of a city in ashes conveys benevolent sentiments.
    ◦ Because there, we enter so deeply into the interests of the miserable inhabitants, as to:
        ▪ wish for their prosperity
        ▪ feel their adversity.

• The impression’s force generally produces pity and benevolence.
    ◦ By being carried too far, it ceases to have that effect.
    ◦ Perhaps, this may be worth our notice.
• When the uneasiness is either small in itself or remote from us, it:
    ◦ does not engage the imagination
    ◦ is unable to convey an equal concern for the future and contingent good, as for the present and real evil.
• Upon its acquiring greater force, we become so interested in the person’s concerns, as to be sensible of his good and bad fortune.
    ◦ From that complete sympathy, pity and benevolence arises.
• When the present evil strikes with more than ordinary force, it may:
    ◦ entirely engage our attention
    ◦ prevent that above-mentioned double sympathy.
• Everyone, especially women, are apt to:
    ◦ have a kindness for criminals who go to the scaffold
    ◦ readily imagine them to be uncommonly handsome and well-shaped.
• Yet the criminal at the rack feels no such tender emotions.
    ◦ Instead, he:
        ▪ is overcome with horror
        ▪ has no leisure to temper this uneasy sensation by any opposite sympathy.

• But the instance, which makes the most clearly for my hypothesis, is that when by a change of the objects we separate the double sympathy even from a middling degree of the passion;
• in which case we find, that pity, instead of producing love and tenderness as usual, always gives rise to the contrary affection.
• When we observe a person in misfortunes, we are affected with pity and love.
    ◦ The author of that misfortune:
        ▪ becomes the object of our strongest hatred.
        ▪ is the more detested in proportion to the degree of our compassion.
• Why does pity produce love to the sufferer and hatred to the person causing it?
    ◦ Is it because our consideration for the author bears a relation only to the misfortune, whereas in considering the sufferer we:
        ▪ carry our view on every side
        ▪ wish for his prosperity
        ▪ are sensible of his affliction?

• This phenomenon of the double sympathy and its tendency to cause love, may contribute to producing the kindness we naturally have for our relations and acquaintances.
• Custom and relation make us enter deeply into the sentiments of others.
    ◦ Whatever fortune we suppose to attend them:
        ▪ is rendered present to us by the imagination
        ▪ operates as if originally our own.
    ◦ We rejoice in their pleasures and grieve for their sorrows, merely from the force of sympathy.
    ◦ Nothing that concerns them is indifferent to us.
    ◦ This correspondence of sentiments is the natural attendant of love.
        ▪ It readily produces that affection.

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