Essays, Moral and Political (1741-42, 1777) - David Hume

Russ Roberts: I think some of it is--it's personality. I think, from your portraits, Hume was a much more social animal. And Smith was a much more--absent-minded; he's famous for being absent-minded. Tyler Cowen I think has hinted that he might have been autistic. I think he did that on EconTalk a long time ago. So, it could be he was a little uncomfortable with that level of social--he didn't want to go out for dinner every night with his friend. Maybe he wanted to be alone more. I don't know. Maybe he had loyalty to his mom. Who knows? But it's just striking that Hume is always the aggressor and Smith--he's not easily caught. The other thought I had is, you can be friends with someone intellectually like that because through their ideas, right? Someone can influence you in a way, way beyond the dinnertime and conversational experience, through the conversation you have through their books. I always--I use this motif in my book on Adam Smith--the motif: Adam Smith is really kind of friend. Certainly George Stigler, who was a big Smith fan, saw Smith as in some dimension as his friend, in some sense. I say that because I know that--I'm going to tell a--this is a strange anecdote; I think I've never told it. But, Stigler would say that he once had a contest at the U. of Chicago, and one of the questions was: Who was Adam Smith's best friend? And, of course, the answer is David Hume. And yet he would tell with delight that when he asked his, I think his grandchild, granddaughter, who was Smith's best friend, she said, 'You are.' Which is very sweet. But, what I was going to suggest is that in this modern time we're living in where politics are getting not so attractive, and I sometimes find myself wanting to retreat to the 18th century and hang out with Mr. Smith, and I wondered if you have any thoughts, having written a book--you've written a lot on Smith and Hume and Rousseau and others--do you have that feeling? What are your thoughts on that?

david hume essays moral and political ..

Essays: Moral, Political and Literary by David Hume

Moral and Political Philosophy of David Hume ..

Hicks reminds us that “Hume first cut his teeth as a political thinker observing the titanic struggle between Bolingbroke and Walpole,” and in his political essays and then in the History of England, Hume distilled the British civil wars down to a battle between Charles I and “the spirit of liberty.” Reading Hume’s History as a unified whole in the light cast by his Essays, Hicks shows Hume to be a master of historical summary.

Essays Moral and Political by Hume, David - AbeBooks

"The current book contains a compilation of essays from David Hume. Topics in this book include moral, political, and aesthetic issues." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).

David Hume: Moral and Political Philosophy - …
Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1758) is a two-volume compilation of essays by David Hume

David essays moral political and hume

[As Hume uses the term in the reasoning compares ideas in abstraction from experienced relationships. Whereas some of his predecessors, such as Hobbes, had attempted to base moral or political philosophy on reasoning, Hume sets out to establish moral science on the “experimental method of reasoning,” which was introduced by Francis Bacon and utilized by Isaac Newton. Nevertheless, Hume sometimes claims in the that political principles can be derived i.e., by general reasoning on our ideas or concepts of the things in question and without reference to particular examples.]

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David hume essays moral political ..

Early in the 1750s, Hume drew together his various essays, along with other of his writings, in a collection entitled Volume 1 (1753) of this collection contains the and Volume 4 (1753–54) contains the The two are reprinted in Volumes 2 and 3. Hume retained the title for subsequent editions of his collected works, but he varied the format and contents somewhat. A new, one-volume edition appeared under this title in 1758, and other four-volume editions in 1760 and 1770. Two-volume editions appeared in 1764, 1767, 1768, 1772, and 1777. The 1758 edition, for the first time, grouped the essays under the heading “Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary” and divided them into Parts I and II. Several new essays, as well as other writings, were added to this collection along the way.

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Dennis Rasmussen: Sure. So, let me just start by saying--I've been sort of making a case here that Hume's writings on political economy have been unduly neglected in favor of Smith's. He's seen as a kind of minor predecessor of Smith when it comes to economic thinking, if he's taken notice of at all. I'm trying to make a case for his importance there. I make the reverse case when it comes to moral philosophy. So, among philosophers, Smith's moral theory has long been see as almost a series of footnotes to Hume's, and not all that important. It's to come around; philosophers are starting to pay attention to Smith. And I think they really should, because I think Smith's advances on Hume's moral theory are substantial and important; and I think, frankly, persuasive. So, the point that you asked me to discuss: Both of their moral theories rely on what they call 'sympathy.' But they have a very different view of what the nature of sympathy is. The way Hume describes sympathy, it's basically just a mechanism that transports emotions from one person to another. So, the idea is: I see you're really happy; you've just gotten a long-awaited promotion; you're really happy; and I see that, and it makes me happy. Or, you've just lost a loved one; you are very sad; I see that and it makes me sad. And, as you note, he sometimes calls this even an emotional contagion: it just transmits--sympathy just transmits feelings from one person to another. And, the whole first chapter of is arguing that that's not quite right. That, sympathy can't work in that straightforward fashion. So, Smith gives the example of anger. You don't become angry when you see an angry person. Maybe if you learn what made that person angry, maybe you would become angry. Maybe not. It depends on if their anger is warranted. And he says this is true even of the kinds of examples that Hume used of joy and sorrow: that you really don't feel much joy or much sorrow on somebody else's behalf until you've placed yourself imaginatively in their shoes. So, you can imagine two individuals who are exhibiting just identical signs of anguish. And then you learn that the first person, that all the anguish is provoked by a paper cut. And the second person, it is provoked by the death of a spouse or loved one. Right? You are obviously much more likely to sympathize with the second person than the first. But, on the Humean view, they are both exhibiting identical signs. Presumably we should be catching--you know, in this contagion-like way--catching their feelings in the same way. And Smith wants to say, 'No. It's by imaginatively projecting yourself into their situation that you really get a sense of, or you can really come to share--or maybe --their sentiments.' This is one of the other things Smith says, is: Because sympathy takes place in this more complicated way, we don't just catch people's feelings, whatever they happen to be. There's space for us to say whether their emotion is warranted. Right? The person with the paper cut, the great grief that they're feeling wasn't warranted in that case. And so there's more room for judgment of people's emotions in the Smithian understanding of sympathy.