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Family Trees: Sympathy, Comparison and the Proliferation of the Passions in Hume and his Predecessors

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Hume dubbed his Treatise account of the passions “new and extraordinary” — an assessment echoed by many contemporary scholars, who find his analysis of the social operation of the emotions particularly innovative. But Hume's explanation of how passions and sentiments are transferred, shared, reflected, and reverberate among persons through the mechanisms of sympathy, has several important precursors, including both Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. Even more strikingly, Malebranche describes mechanisms for the communication of passions remarkably similar to Hume's “sympathy” and “comparison”. Many of the roles that Hume assigns our socially generated and transmitted passions in generating social cohesion and shared standards of rationality may also be anticipated by Hobbes (and Spinoza). What remains most distinctive of Hume's account is his view that both social cohesion and epistemic authority can be founded on, and forwarded by, a genuine division of affective labor.

  • Date created
    2012
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Chapter
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3N29PN0N
  • License
    © 2012 A. M. Schmitter. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press (https://global.oup.com/academic/rights/).
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Schmitter, A.M. (2012). Family Trees: Sympathy, Comparison and the Proliferation of the Passions in Hume and his Predecessors. In L. Shapiro & M. Pickavé (Eds.), Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy (pp. 255-278). Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579914.003.0014
  • Link to related item
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579914.003.0014