Superphysics Superphysics
Section 10


by David Hume Icon
7 minutes  • 1287 words

To understand all the passions which have any mixture of love or hatred, only respect, contempt, and the amorous affection remain to be explained.

• When we consider the qualities and circumstances of others, we may:
    ◦ regard them as they really are in themselves
    ◦ compare them and our own qualities and circumstances, or
    ◦ join these two methods.
• From the first point of view, the good qualities of others produce love.
    ◦ From the second point of view, humility
    ◦ From the third, respect.
        ▪ Respect is a mixture of these two passions.
• The bad qualities of others cause hatred, pride, or contempt, according to how we view them.

• There is an evident mixture of:
    ◦ pride in contempt
    ◦ humility in respect.
• This mixture arises from a tacit comparison of the person contemned or respected with ourselves.
    ◦ The same man may cause respect, love, or contempt by his condition and talents, according to how equal or superior he is to the person who considers him.
• In changing the point of view, the object may remain the same.
    ◦ Its proportion to ourselves entirely alters.
    ◦ This is the cause of an alteration in the passions.
• Therefore, these passions arise from our observing the proportion; that is, from a comparison.

• The mind has a much stronger propensity to pride than to humility.
• I have endeavoured to assign a cause for this phenomenon, from the principles of human nature.
    ◦ This phenomenon:
        ▪ is undisputed
        ▪ appears in many instances
        ▪ is why:
            • there is a much greater mixture of pride in contempt, than of humility in respect.
            • we are more elevated with the view of one below us, than mortified by one above us.
• Contempt or scorn has so strong a tincture of pride, that there is no other passion discernable.
    ◦ Whereas in esteem or respect, love makes a more considerable ingredient than humility.
• Vanity is so prompt, that it rouses at the least call.
    ◦ Humility requires a stronger impulse to make it exert itself.

• Why does this mixture happen only in some cases?
• All those objects which cause love when placed on another person, are the causes of:
    ◦ pride when transferred to ourselves
    ◦ humility and love consequently, while they:
        ▪ belong to others
        ▪ are only compared to those which we have ourselves.
• In a like manner, every quality which produces hatred directly, should always cause pride by comparison.
    ◦ By a mixture of hatred and pride, those qualities should excite contempt or scorn.
• Why:
    ◦ do objects ever cause pure love or hatred
    ◦ don’t objects always produce the mixed passions of respect and contempt?

• Love and pride, humility and hatred are similar in their sensations.
    ◦ Love and pride are always agreeable.
    ◦ Humility and hatred are always painful.
• This be universally true.
    ◦ But they have some differences, and even contrarieties, which distinguish them.
• Pride and vanity most invigorates and exalts the mind.
    ◦ Love or tenderness weakens and enfeebles it.
• The same difference is observable between the uneasy passions.
    ◦ Anger and hatred bestow a new force on all our thoughts and actions.
    ◦ Humility and shame deject and discourage us.
• We need to form a distinct idea of these qualities of the passions.
    ◦ Let us remember that:
        ▪ pride and hatred invigorate the soul
        ▪ love and humility enfeeble it.

• It follows that the conformity between love and hatred in the agreeableness of their sensation always makes them excited by the same objects.
    ◦ Yet this other contrariety is why they are excited in very different degrees.
• Genius and learning are pleasant and magnificent objects.
    ◦ They are adapted to pride and vanity.
    ◦ But they have a relation to love by their pleasure only.
• Ignorance and simplicity are disagreeable and mean.
    ◦ This gives them:
        ▪ a double connection with humility
        ▪ a single connection with hatred.
• Therefore, the same object always produces love and pride, humility and hatred, according to its different situations.
    ◦ But it seldom produces either of them in the same proportion.

• We must seek a solution as to why any object:
    ◦ ever excites pure love or hatred
    ◦ does not always produce respect or contempt, by a mixture of humility or pride.
• No quality in another gives rise to humility by comparison, unless it produced pride by being placed in ourselves.
    ◦ Vice versa, no object excites pride by comparison, unless it produced humility by the direct survey.
• Objects always produce a sensation directly contrary to their original one, by comparison.
    ◦ Suppose an object, which produces love but imperfectly excites pride, is presented.
    ◦ This object directly causes a great degree of love since it belongs to another
        ▪ It causes a small degree of humility by comparison.
        ▪ Consequently, humility is scarce felt.
        ▪ It is unable to convert the love into respect.
• This is the case with good nature, good humour, facility, generosity, beauty, and many other qualities in other people.
    ◦ These can produce love in others.
        ▪ But they do not excite so much pride in ourselves.
• This is why they produce pure love with a small mix of humility and respect, when belonging to another person.
    ◦ The same reasoning can be easily extended to the opposite passions.

• Before we leave this subject, it may not be amiss to account for a pretty curious phenomenon, viz, why we commonly keep the people we contemn at a distance and do not allow our inferiors to approach too near in place and situation.
• Almost every kind of idea is attended with some emotion and fix our attention.
    ◦ For example:
        ▪ the ideas of number and extension
        ▪ important objects in life.
• We cannot survey a rich or a poor man with total indifference.
    ◦ We must feel some faint touches of:
        ▪ respect in the rich man
        ▪ contempt in the poor man.
    ◦ These two passions are contrary to each other.
    ◦ To make this contrariety felt, the objects must be related in some way.
    ◦ Otherwise, the affections:
        ▪ are totally separate and distinct
        ▪ never encounter.
• The relation takes place wherever the persons become contiguous.
    ◦ This is a general reason why we are uneasy at seeing such disproportioned objects, as a rich man and a poor one, a nobleman and a porter, in that situation.

• This uneasiness is common to every spectator.
    ◦ It must be more sensible to the superior, because the inferior’s near approach:
        ▪ is regarded as a piece of ill-breeding
        ▪ shows that he is not:
            • sensible of the disproportion
            • affected by it.
• A sense of superiority in another:
    ◦ breeds an inclination in all men to keep themselves at a distance from him
    ◦ determines them to redouble the marks of respect and reverence, when they are obliged to approach him.
• and where they do not observe that conduct, it is a proof they are not sensible of his superiority.
• From here too it proceeds, that any great difference in the degrees of any quality is called a distance by a common metaphor.
    ◦ It is, however, founded on natural principles of the imagination.
• A great difference inclines us to produce a distance.
    ◦ Therefore, the ideas of distance and difference are connected together.
• Connected ideas are readily taken for each other; and this is in general the source of the metaphor, as we shall have occasion to observe afterwards.

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