Hume's Theory of the Passions and of Morals: A Study of Books II and III of the "Treatise"

Hume's Theory of the Passions and of Morals: A Study of Books II and III of the "Treatise"

Hume's Theory of the Passions and of Morals: A Study of Books II and III of the "Treatise"

Hume's Theory of the Passions and of Morals: A Study of Books II and III of the "Treatise"

Excerpt

If the philosophy of Hume is lacking in fundamental consistency and clarity of theoretic aim, it has surely met with the fate which it deserves; for not even the theories of Kant or Hegel, both supposedly much more obscure writers, have received a wider range of interpretation and evaluation. This variety of interpretation extends from the older version of T. H. Green, in whose portrayal Hume's philosophy is an "anachronistic" and self-destructively skeptical development of principles inherited from Locke and Berkeley, to more recent readings in which the same philosophy appears as "not fundamentally sceptical" but "positive, naturalistic, . . . and humanistic in tendency." To seek to contribute further to the interpretative analysis of Hume's philosophy may, in the face of such extremes of scholarly opinion, seem an inefficient method of narrowing a choice already grown, to all appearances, maximally wide. But it is also possible that the range is not as wide as it may appear. T. H. Green's extensive analysis of the Treatise of Human Nature, so far from realizing its declared aim of turning the thoughts of young Englishmen away from anachronistic systems typified by Hume's, has no doubt served as a major stimulus for much of the serious consideration of Hume's position by which it has been succeeded and superseded. And the superficiality of the usual historical treatment in which Hume appears as the last of a trilogy the other members of which are Locke and Berkeley has been amply demonstrated by the detailed analyses . . .

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