Notes on: Hume, D. (1975) [1777] Enquiries concerning human understanding and  concerning the principles of morals . 3rd edn., Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Dave Harris

(1) Concerning human understanding

[Section one is an argument in favour of philosophy of an analytical and rigorous kind to clarify the confused ideas that a lot of other people have, even if it looks at first as if it is too abstract and irrelevant. Philosophy has to break with common sense, even at the risk of ridicule. What’s wrong with being a specialist?]

Section two: There are two kinds of mental perceptions, which differ in terms of their ‘degrees of force and vivacity’ (18).  There are thoughts or ideas, and there are impressions.  The latter are far more lively and energetic.

All thoughts depend on impressions, even those that appear to represent fantastic things like monsters or different worlds: these are really compounds of ordinary impressions.  Ideas no matter how complex can be simplified and shown to be based on feeling or sentiment: even the goodness or power of god is really based on ‘the operations of our own mind’ and their qualities of goodness and power. 

No idea can be produced which is not derived from an impression.  People lacking certain impressions, like the blind, can form no idea of visual phenomena.  We can solve a lot of terminal logical or philosophical disputes by treating ideas as abstract ‘faint and obscure’ (21), and abandoning those that are not connected to any impressions. Impressions are ‘strong and vivid’ (22) and have easily established connections.

Section three: thoughts and ideas are connected in the memory or imagination.  We have whole series of ideas expressed in discourses or reveries.  There may even be universal connections at the level of simple ideas among people speaking different languages.

There are three basic principles of association of ideas: ‘resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause and effect’ (24) [the examples given are how a picture makes us think of the original; the description of one apartment in a building leads to thoughts or speech about the others; how examining a wound will make us think of the pain that follows it].  We can try and think of others, or test out those with lots of examples.

Section 4: Reasoning concerns either relations of ideas [as in grammatical truths of algebra etc] or matters of fact. Facts are simple [have no inner contradictions but do have contraries – ie can be shown to be right or wrong] and are easily ascertained by our minds [!]. But how do we know about facts?  Cause and effect are the keys – the only way to go beyond simple experience, as a form of inference [we see things we take as effects and infer causes].

But there’s a problem because we cannot know this a priori, only by experience. But ‘custom’ also plays a part – affecting relations that we know we there before any experience on our part, the ‘laws of nature’. Custom regulates the massive possibilities that we could infer, as when one billiard ball encounters another – finding a philosophical reason is not so easy. This arises from the separation of cause and effect – ‘every effect is a distinct event from its cause’ (30), so causal connections must be arbitrary.

There can be no rational account of ultimate cause – all we can do is simplify causes and effects, suggest a few general causes, operating from ‘analogy, experience and observation’ .  We cannot arrive rationally at ‘ultimate springs and principles’ like gravity or energy—or the ultimate connection linking cause and effect.  Philosophy only ends with a recognition of ‘human blindness and weakness’ (31).  Operations like geometry only help us see how the general rules are applied.

So: we have to think in terms of cause and effect to unravel matters of fact.  Experience can be the only foundation for this form of reasoning.  But what makes experience well-founded?  We had best be modest here and admit that we do not know.  There can be no reasoning or rational understanding for grounding the results of experience.  Senses cannot penetrate to them, because senses operates only with surface appearances while natural powers are concealed: we can only infer that they are there.  But what’s the basis for this inference?  In particular, why should experience extend to future events and objects?  In practice, we infer that because a particular event has led to a particular effect, so will a similar event—but this is not an operation of reason alone.  It requires some ‘medium, which may enable the mind to draw such an inference’ (34).

None of the main varieties of reason (relations of ideas and matters of fact) can solve the problem of possible changes in the future.  We must only trust past experience: there’s no way to demonstrate that the future must be ‘conformable to the past’ (35).

It’s interesting that human beings do assume that experience will be a guide to the future, simply because objects resemble each other: ‘from causes which appear similar we expect similar effects’ (36), yet we know that things that look similar on the outside may be quite dissimilar.  Only lengthy experience involving experiment will stand the test.  Of course we infer from the past, but there is no basis for inference.  Inference cannot get to the underlying connections between objects or events.  Inference can neither be demonstrated rationally nor directly or intuitively felt: it is ‘a step or progress of the mind’ (37).  Even if nature’s been stable in the past, there is no guarantee that it will be so in the future.  We know that radical change is possible in some objects, so why not all?

Experience serves us as a guide to practice, but philosophers are entitled to remind sceptical.  To dismiss such scepticism is arrogance.  There may be some answers eventually, of course, but meanwhile, the issue of the rational basis of inference remains as a serious problem.

Section five: there are no strong independent reasons for inferring as we do, but making such inferences is an obvious part of everyday life.  Therefore it must be based on something else, other than reason, something with suitable ‘weight and authority’ (41).  No one can work out relations of cause and effect just on their own individual experience—they have to learn how to do it.  In other words, ‘custom or habit’ (43) is at work.  But we then left to argue what causes custom to work like this [below].  Custom alone allows us to pursue induction from many examples, while ‘reason is incapable of any such variation’.

However, we do need some initial facts, and arguments in history show an example, where we work back through various accounts until we get to ‘the eyewitnesses and spectators of these distant events’ (46): there must be some initial fact in order to ground beliefs.  Custom guides our mind to expect that new events conform to our beliefs: it is a matter of ‘natural instincts’, outside of reason.

Human imagination is endlessly creative, and so we could have a problem distinguishing fiction and belief: the mind could simply believe whatever it pleased. But beliefs attract a particular  ‘sentiment or feeling’ (48) which cannot be affected by our will or imagination.  We must also be capable of conceiving of the contrary, and experience some feeling or sentiment which guides us towards the right option. 

It is hard to define this belief, just as it is to define passion, but we are all conscious of its certainty: it is a particular ‘vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception’ (49).  It has more weight.  We cannot explain it perfectly, but belief has this important role, to separate ‘the ideas of the judgement from the fictions of the imagination’. 

We can then proceed to extend our beliefs through the principles of connection discussed above—resemblance, contiguity and causation.  Operations that rely on relations of cause and effect seem to be particularly authoritative, especially if resemblance and contiguity reinforce them [the example of resemblance is about roman catholic ritual, where these vivid and present ‘sensible objects’ are used to connect to god in preference to more intellectual views.  The example of the effects of contiguity turns on the ability to gain more vivid ideas from things that are near to us].

There is also involved some belief in a ‘correlative object’ (53) that links to our ideas and validates our reasoning.  Our mind establishes strong links between actual objects present and these correlative objects [which might be future consequences].  This implies some ‘pre established harmony between the course of nature and the succession of our ideas’ (54), even though we can never understand the forces at work in nature.  Custom arises as a result and is therefore ‘necessary to the subsistence of our species’ (55). Because it is so important for human survival, it is manifested as ‘some instinct or mechanical tendency’, independent of ‘laboured deductions’, an equivalent to learning how to move and protect our bodies.

[So this is where functionalism comes in – and this is in a relatively ‘mechanical’ society. not fully exposed to moral relativism Even so, Hume is dismissing certain customs and beliefs even though they seem to be functional enough – Roman Catholicism specifically – ‘superstition’ – and beliefs in final causes generally Perhaps he was anticipating their redundancy in the coming industrial/capitalist age? As usual, these qualifications are not made when philosophy becomes ‘universal’,abstract etc – like Deleuze does]. 

Section six: practical reasoning differs from rational calculations of probability. The latter predicts a random occurrence of ,say, numbers on a dice, but experience, especially the frequency of particular chance events  can affect our beliefs that particular numbers will occur (according tohow frequently they occur). It is the same with causes – frequent occurrence leads to belief in them as cause, and occasional exceptions are ad hoced away. If the same cause has different effects, we weight the probabilities according to experience. In each case, we ‘transfer the past to the future’ (58). Frequency bolsters our belief over rational calculation

Section seven: Part one -- the natural sciences work with precise terms but involve rather long chains of reasoning.  The moral sciences offer the reverse, for example in trying to establish causes.  Obscurity is the main difficulty, and we do not have the capacity to experiment.  The problems already identified with cause also applied to 'power, force, energy, or necessary connection' (62): they particularly need clarity and precision.  Ideas are copies of impressions, but sometimes ambiguity and obscurity remain—perhaps we should return to original impressions.  With power, for example, we cannot discover it by experience alone, but only notice that one event follows another, as with the collision of billiard balls.  There is no inward impression.  We might be able to foresee effects, but we can never pin down power or cause, or any of the other terms.  Thus we can notice empirical connections, but never get to underlying forces.  What about using reflection?  We know for example that we can will some movements of some parts about bodies, although we still do not know the mechanism that links will and movement, no more than we can decide what's links the soul and the body.  Further, some parts of our body are not moved by will.  This points again to some underlying quality independent of experience.  Only experience tells us which bits move by will and which do not.  We know from anatomy that's there are intermediates like muscles and nerves, but a gain their precise role in connection is unknown: overall, the parallel with power will is not sufficient.  Nor is it any good to imagine that we are getting close to the issue by considering how we may reflect upon ideas and our conscious effects on them [Hume seems to be following the parallel with ideas on the grounds that they are also caused in some way?].  We don't know how thought or the soul works either, what limits the command of the will over ideas, including 'sentiments and passions' (68), and or why sometimes we fail to master our ideas.  Even the role of volition in this limited sense is by no means clear and obvious.  This is not to deny that we are not fully familiar with certain operations of nature such as falling bodies or the growth of plants, and we can even predict events, but when we encounter extraordinary phenomena [examples are earthquake or pestilence] we find  ourselves at a loss.

 A tendency is to imagine some 'invisible intelligent principle' (69) at work, but philosophers must insist that conjunction of objects is not the same as causal connection.  Some of them, however had the same version as ordinary people of invisible intelligent principles, and imagine this to be 'the immediate and sole cause of every event) (70), seeing the deity at work everywhere: however, we are equally ignorant of the precise mechanisms at work, and are forced to see god as everywhere, with nothing else but his will.  However, it would be more sensible for god to delegate, and to construct some self operating mechanism?  Also, there is a gap between the supreme being and actual men, and difficulties with analogies between divine and human reason.  Finally, the notion of the supreme being is also produced in the same problematic way from experience and consciousness, so that admitting ignorance of the basic causal mechanisms must lead us to admit ignorance of god.

Part two we can only discover that one event follows another without being able to understand the force or power underneath it, and the same goes when thinking about the operations of mind and body.  We do notice conjunction [I suspect this bit is going to appeal especially to Deleuze].  Does that mean we should dismiss altogether ideas of connection or power?  We cannot proceed by [induction], as before, because this would make the ridiculous assumption that we can judge  'the whole course of nature from one single experiment' (74).  However, repetition of conjunctions mean we can be confident in calling them causal.  Strictly speaking this is still a problem, because it assumes that every single instant is 'exactly similar' (75), so causality can only be an impression which produces an idea.  There is no other origin of the notion.  It is a feeling of being connected, an inference.

These issues are important because if you're questioning cause and effect you must also question just about everything 'connecting fact or existence'(76), the persistence of objects when they are removed from our senses, the utility of science.  We can only proceed by suggesting that a cause is defined as 'an object, followed by another, and where all the objects similar to the first of followed by objects similar to the second...  Where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed'.  In addition, the appearance of one object following another 'always conveys the thought to that other' (77).  We have no idea of the actual connection, and any assertion of connection really means the relation of conjunction.  We can only infer, and only after 'own longer course of uniform experience'(79) [what about cases where a theory predicts that one event will follow another?  Does that diminish their reliance on experience?]

Section eight: part one.  Much philosophical controversy has arisen because definitions of key terms are not agreed.  Lengthy controversies usually turn on ambiguity of this kind, although some philosophical problems are simply 'beyond the reach of human capacity' (81), such as questions about the origin of worlds or the activities of spirits.  Disputes about liberty and necessity could've been settled with adequate definitions, instead of 'a labyrinth of obscure sophistry'.  It seems that everyone agrees on the doctrine of both necessity and liberty, although the words used to describe them have been controversial.

Taking necessity first, there is no dispute that matter is actuated by necessary forces, and that causes could produce no other effects in the circumstances.  However, this idea of necessity has only arisen because of considerable natural continuity and uniformity.  If events did not resemble each other, we could never grasp the relation of cause and effect.  Similar objects are constantly conjoined, and this enables us to infer the relation between them.  The doctrine of necessity in this sense appears to have been universal, with disputes only arising from misunderstanding different stances.  We can go on to suggest that there is uniformity among human actions as well, suggesting a constant human nature where 'the same motives always produce the same actions' (83).  The causes of action are things like 'ambition, avarice, self and love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit', or mixtures of them.  It is therefore quite acceptable to apply knowledge of current actions to those of former societies.  We can see historical events such as wars as experiments enabling moral philosophers to uncover the basic shared principles.  Should anyone wish to describe some other society in entirely new ways, we should be confident that this is a falsehood, and the same goes for claims about the supernatural courage of heroes.  We use our experience to provide us with a knowledge of human conduct, to regulate our own, to see through appearances which can take the form of public declarations.  There may be individual exceptions, but there must be some shared understanding, and we can see this whenever we consider the effects of experience.

There is of course some variety and diversity, but this should provide still further knowledge, say of the important role of particular customs in different societies, or of the difference between the sexes, or the changes that go on as people age.  There may indeed be particularly ' irregular and extraordinary actions' (86), but this only shows us that there is diversity in the relation between cause and effect [and some resistance to predictability?].  'The vulgar' often misunderstand this as a matter of uncertain causality; philosophers argue instead for a 'a vast variety of springs and principles...contrary causes' (87) [the analogy is between the user of a watch and a mechanic able to service it].  Thus when human sickness shows itself resistant to treatment, we do not deny the basic principles of medicine, but acknowledge that human bodies are very complicated and that much remains unknown about them.  Irregularity therefore is not a way to prove the inadequacy of the laws of nature. The same arguments can apply to human action.  In general, we might be able to predict behaviour from what we know of 'character and situation' (88), but we also know that human character can be 'inconstant and irregular'.  Overall, the relation between motives and voluntary actions 'is as regular and uniform as that between the cause and effect in any part of nature'.  This is universally acknowledged. 

However, we can only infer this from past experience.  In most cases, human action precedes with reference to the actions of others, or in a definite social context, say a structured workplace.  Social contacts like this are possible only because of expectations of uniformity, a constant form of 'experimental inference and reasoning concerning the actions of others'(89).  This is the way in which we can argue that the doctrine of necessity is universally agreed.  Philosophers also agree, and incorporate such agreement into their own studies.  History would not be possible if the claims of the historians did not meet with our experience.  The same goes for claims that politics is a science, or on that morality has a universal basis.  Some notion of normality underpins all criticisms of literary characters as unnatural.  The usual happy coincidence of natural and moral argument also indicates that they derive from the same principles [the example is the prisoner who is contained by bars and walls, but equally by the 'obstinacy of the gaoler' (90)].  Here the ability to give these processes different names [including 'motives'] is irrelevant. 

Our action is often predicated on this constancy of both nature and human beings.  However, there can be no certainty of predictability in all cases.  People's bodies will burn in fire, and they will fall if not supported, but there are always unknowns which can only be suspected.  However 'above one half human reasonings' include judgments of [acceptable?] certainty.  It is puzzling, therefore, to find so many people not acknowledging the doctrine of necessity in human conduct.  [The reason can be found in the limits of human understanding].  All we can actually know is that particular objects are constantly conjoined together, and it is custom that turns observation into belief.  However, humans continually think that they can gain much more knowledge of the powers of nature and really penetrate to necessity.  However when they reflect upon the ways in which their own minds operate, they find no such tight connection between motives and actions.  This is what produces the feeling that human action is different from material force.  If we assume that we can never know nature to a complete extent, the difference disappears.  Philosophers who appear to dissent often do so only with words: this sense of necessity cannot be rejected: it is up to then to show why connections between motives and actions are different from those between cause and effect.

It is common to discuss the whole issue the wrong way around, starting with some apparently unique human characteristics such as the soul.  We should begin instead with operations of body and 'unintelligent matter', and try to find different kinds of cause and effect other than those discussed above.  We will shortly end with an agreement that necessity is an undivided whole.  We must resist the belief that we can grasp natural necessity more fully: it is often easier to see this with human action rather than with nature.  [A note argues that the notion that human beings are uniquely at liberty, sometimes because we are indifferent about what might have caused us to do something, which provides us with a 'certain looseness' at the time, while actually performing the action.  We often feel that actions are subject to our will, while 'the will itself is subject to nothing' (94), possibly because it seems quite easy to deny it.  We only gain a vague image of how it works.  The whole argument is driven by an apparent need to claim liberty.  Very often, this is simply indiscernible for outsiders].

Everyone wants to agree on the doctrine of liberty as well, but what is meant by liberty?  Surely it is not an argument that actions are unconnected to motives or will, and nor can we seriously deny a certain amount of uniformity in our action, enough at least to infer the existence of others.  Liberty can only mean that we have the power to act or not according to the determinations of the will.  This is seen to be possible for all free people.  However, such a doctrine has to be 'consistent with plain matter of fact', and 'consistent with itself' (95).  This seems to be universal agreement about causality governing action not chance.  Some causes are then said to be not necessary, but this is only the results of an impracticable definition.  Cause can never be defined except by reference to an necessary connection with an effect.  Causes are based on experience.  Any other terms must be unintelligible.  Finally, the notion of liberty is often simply the flawed notion of chance, 'which is universally allowed to have no existence'(96).

Part two: it is common, but flawed, to argue that disputes can be solved by references to the consequences for religion and morality.  We can reject argument that lead to absurdity, but that is not the same thing.  The whole point of invoking religion is to attack the antagonist.  The doctrines of liberty and necessity as outlined above are fully 'consistent with morality'(97).  Indeed they support morality.  Necessity is based either on observation of constant connections or on inferring the connection.  Despite some denials, this has always been central to ideas of human will.  We commonly draw inferences about human actions based on experience.  Whether this is termed necessity or not is irrelevant 'as long as the meaning is understood'.  There can be no moral or religious connotation to these widely accepted views.  Indeed, the main critical implications are for natural science [which is too ambitious].

If laws are based on the system of rewards and punishments, this must have an influence on motives which will in turn produce good action and minimize evil.  We are still talking of causes and necessity.  Some moral issues arise: first, it is commonly argued that we can only properly rebuke persons or creatures provided with thoughts and consciousness; only such persons or creatures can be blamed for their actions.  Actions are only temporary and if they do not arise from some cause in character or disposition, they are irrelevant to moral judgment—that is the actions themselves may be judged, but not the person who produce them since they arose from 'nothing in him that is durable and constant'(98).  However this would be absurd, and assume that even  the most appalling crime would not always lead to individual punishment.  There is no possibility of blaming anyone who perform actions 'ignorantly and causally' if these qualities are only momentary, as in hasty and unpremeditated action.  The real issue is whether actions are 'proofs of criminal principles in the mind' (99), so this whole debate presupposes the doctrine of necessity. Liberty, in the sense defined above, is also implicit in discussions of morality, since we could not praise or blame people if their actions preceded not from their internal character, but from some external violence.

There are still problems with these arguments.  If we are interested in the laws of necessity applied to voluntary action, we must be prepared to uncover the whole chain of causes, and to see human action as totally caused, with no contingency 'anywhere in the universe'.  It leaves room for god as 'the ultimate author  of all our volitions'.  But then either human beings can display nothing that is immoral, or god must be responsible for immorality.  When we are examining human action, we are quite prepared to go back to trace earlier causes or reasons, but it leads to problems if we trace everything back to the supreme being.  Imperfections in human beings might excuse them, but we can never find any in god.  These absurd or impious conclusions suggests that the original doctrine [first causes lead to God] is flawed.

Avoiding these implications can take different forms.  One possibility is to see the whole as always good and benevolent, so that even individual ills and mysteries have a role in goodness, and could not be tampered with anyway because this would risk even more ill.  This lies at the basis of stoicism.  However, this sort of argument soon appears as 'weak and ineffectual' in practice (101), providing no comfort to the individual sufferer, offering spiritual discourse instead of positive action on the 'affections' that produce suffering [affects].  We can better explain morality like this too, not in terms of speculative or remote argument, but by looking at more immediate inferences, where actions can produce 'the sentiment of the approbation or blame'(102).  These are essential to morality.  They also have social underpinnings, consequences for social order.  We can see this if we deploy a 'natural and immediate view' of events.  Human sentiments are not easily controlled or altered by philosophical theory or speculation.

Ultimately, it is not possible to explain all those characteristics assigned to the deity, at least not while using a 'natural and unassisted reason' (103).  Reconciling god's omnipotence with the 'indifference and contingency of human actions' has proved to be beyond philosophy.  Philosophy should focus instead on 'her true and proper province, the examination of common life' without speculating about doubts uncertainty and contradictions. 

Section nine.  All reasoning depends on analogy so that we can expect the same events from similar causes.  However, the strength of the analogy varies considerably, according to the degree of similarity involved.  Applied to the issue of whether animals can reason, it is clear that animals do learn from experience, and that they can be taught to do things using systems of reward and punishment.  But no form of inference beyond past experience is involved.  The inference from experience is not based on a 'argument or reasoning' (106).  After all it requires considerable philosophical effort to move beyond experience: animals refer to custom alone, akin to human belief.  [A lengthy footnotes on page 107 explains that humans vary themselves in their capacity to reason like this, depending on, for example the observational capacities of different humans, the extent to which they can manage more information and pursue consequences, the extent to which they can avoid confusion, their ability to sort out what is intrinsic and extrinsic, the tendency to stop leaping to force general maxims, the extent to which people have experience of analogy situations, the extent to which they can avoid 'prejudice, education, passion, party', and the extent to which they are able to broaden their experience with books and conversation].  Animals draw on experience, but also on instinct, 'the original hand of nature' (108).  Indeed,experimental reasoning [something which we share with animals, something like practical reasoning] can itself be seen as 'nothing but a species of instinct or mechanical power'.

Section 10.  It is hard to take seriously arguments for  'the real presence' [of god].  As even a cited theologian argues, much was based originally on the testimony of the apostles, but this is inevitably diminished as it is passed on.  Even if there were stronger evidence in the scriptures, the argument would still contradict sense, notwithstanding the claim in scriptures that we should consider the events as external evidence for the holy spirit.  We can extend the argument to consider all examples of claims involving miracles.

Experience can be fallible, not least because not all effects are certain, and are linked to courses in variable ways, providing 'all imaginable degrees of assurance' (110).  Wisdom follows from examining the evidence: if it is based on infallible experience it has a higher degree of assurance than if not.  If there is more uncertainty, we have to weigh up which argument is supported best by the experiments, and to work with probability, degrees of evidence.  We must always balance the opposite evidence.  Applying this argument, we can see that firsthand experience provides a more a short testimony, since we have grounds for relying on sense data ourselves, and what we have witnessed.  We might have less assurance if we doubt the truthfulness or the villainy of the witnesses.  We can still estimate probabilities.  The ultimate standard is still always experience and observation.  We can introduce doubts if there is contrary testimony, doubts about the character or number of the witnesses all the way they have delivered their testimony, whether they have an interest in what they affirm, whether they exhibit hesitation or its opposite 'too violent asservations'(113).

We might be especially doubtful about accounts which refer to something miraculous or extraordinary.  We are accustomed to expect to conformity between testimony and reality, but claimed experience of miracles contradicts ordinary experience, and this is sufficient to destroy belief and authority [examples follow, including Indian princes who could not accept experience about the effects of frost].  Even if testimony about miracles seems sound, we still have to reconcile a violation of the laws of nature, based upon all our prior experience, indeed the notion of a miracle implies otherwise uniform experience.  The extent of these experience can be seen as a proof against the existence of miracles themselves, unless there is a particular kind of testimony, where 'its falsehood would be [even] more miraculous' (116) [see below]  There should also be no possible ordinary account to weigh in the balance.

Part two: no historical examples fit the criteria above.  There's never been a large number of credible people willing to give witness.  We have reason to be suspicious about passions like 'surprise and wonder, arising from miracles' (117), and the enthusiasm or vanity with which the miraculous is disseminated.  [There's an argument that says that such enthusiasm and vanity, or great eloquence, especially that which touches upon 'gross and vulgar passions' should always be suspected].  Many claimed miracles have subsequently been explained or disproved.  Mostly, miracles are believed in 'ignorant and barbarous nations' (119), or are they arrive from ignorant and barbarous ancestors.  If we look at historical accounts, we see that natural causes are often intermingled with 'prodigies, omens, oracles, judgements', but this disappears with increasing enlightenment.  Is it not strange that miraculous events never happen in our days?  There are certainly enough examples of contemporary frailty, lies, a sense of the marvellous, evidence of forged miracles and prophecies.  This is why we have developed a natural scepticism, and a disdain for gossip, at least for the 'man of sense'(119). [The example is discussed of Alexander, a false prophet in roman times, and how he came to prominence as a result of the ignorance and stupidity of the people.  The wise and learned saw his prophecies are so absurd that they didn't even bother to attempt to refute them.  It would never have got off the ground in Athens, says Hume, and the whole edifice collapsed when seriously discussed by Lucian].

All the testimony about miracles are commonly opposed by lots of other witnesses.  These can include supporters of rival religions: strong claims for one involve overthrowing the others.  [Lovely example, where those who believe in the miracles of Mahomet are only 'a few barbarous Arabians' (122), easily compared with all the authorities who subscribe to other religions, including classic philosophers].  We have to weigh up the witnesses just as judges do.  [Claimed miracles of healing in ancient Rome is discussed: they look good at first based on reports of a good historian, apparently free from credulity, although he was forced to work with public facts which were much more dubious.  In another example, a more recent Cardinal was shown a man who had apparently regrown a leg following the administration of holy oil on the stump: all the canons of the church and everyone in the town believed in the miracle.  Arguing against the apparent miracle would simply be faced with  'the bigotry, ignorance, coming, and roguery of a great part of mankind' (124), and this this apparently increased the doubts of the cardinal to maximum {If the populace is for it,we must be against} .  Another example concerns miraculous healings taking place at the grave of a 'famous Jansenist' in France, all widely witnessed and attested by credible judges: here, we can only rely upon 'the absolute impossibility or miraculous nature of the events [which will] in the eyes of all reasonable regarded as a sufficient refutation'(125)].

It follows that not all human testimony has the same force or authority, especially where there is contradictory testimony.  It is not enough to judge the passion or sincerity of the reporter, since it is always tempting to appear as a missionary or prophet, or to self-justify.  The 'gazing populace'(126) is always ready to greet 'whatever sooths [sic] superstition, and promotes wonder'.  Lots of stories of miracles have now been abandoned.  Even though it is difficult to judge truth and falsehood, we should never rely just on current debate and rumour.  The wise have often overlooked such matters, or have left it too late.  Judging the testimony of the reporters is a task 'too fine to fall under the comprehension of the vulgar' (127), however.

So far, no testimony for miracles has even got as far as probability.  We can rely on our experience of mundane life to balance against miracles, but once we do this, there can be no room for compromise—what we are doing is annihilating the miraculous.  What this means is that religion cannot be based on claims of the miraculous.  There might be some need to investigate some claims, such as one which suggest that natural events have occurred, but the more obviously ridiculous ones should be explained away by the fallibility of human beings, probably without further examination.  The existence or not of miracles has nothing to do with the probability or otherwise of there being an almighty god, since we can never know its attributes or actions outside what is normal in nature.  Religious  cases for claiming miracles should be seen as diminishing their authority still further.  Lord Bacon has also said this [an argument from authority now].

It also follows that the principles of human reason cannot be used to defend the Christian religion.  It is based on faith not reason.  We are right to question the validity of the testimony in the bible [OT] and suspect that it shows the social origins of the people who wrote it.  Their account is entirely different from present understanding.  It can only be seen as falsehood, and denying that would require that an even greater sense of the miraculous were upheld [ie more of a miracle if it were true] . The same might be said about prophecies.  It follows that any remaining faith in the Christian religion must itself be seen as 'a continued miracle...which subverts all the principles of his understanding and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience' (131). 

Section 11.  [This, and the next section is the nub of it really, and the origin of the famous problem of induction which Popper and others had to resolve].

There are many paradoxes associated with scepticism.  Luckily, philosophy was allowed to explore these because it developed in both 'an age and country of freedom and toleration' (132) [ancient Greece].  Philosophy faces much more 'calumny and persecution'(133), these days.  However, bigotry might actually arise from philosophy, in challenging the tenets of religious and other kinds of tradition.  However, it is possible to combine philosophical interest with some of the more traditional views, for example where we see that religion has a social function, whatever its actual claims.  Nevertheless, it is still easier to act 'entirely from passion and prejudice' (134), and this is often more effective than the principles of philosophy [so Hume's imaginary discussant sets off to imagine a speech which would defend Epicurus against the mob of Athens]

The argument would go that the real problem with philosophy is that it appears to spend too much time in speculation, but it is possible to defend it as being in the public interest nevertheless.  Philosophy should not be challenging religion, nor should religion claim to be based on reason: such an argument is inevitably based on speculation.  There is no mileage in the argument for a divine hand in the order of nature, working back from effects to causes.  We can infer particular causes from an effect, but this tells us nothing about any general qualities of the cause except it was sufficient to produce the effect in question.  Any inferences about the general nature of the cause can only be arbitrary or conjectural.  Other starting points would be equally plausible.  'The cause must be proportional to the effect' (136), and we can never know for certain about any other 'design or performance'(137).  So if the gods are responsible for the natural order, 'nothing farther can ever be proved' and we have to rely on flattery or exaggeration, mere supposition.  We cannot work from particular effects back to general causes and then back again to other effects, since some knowledge of the cause and of the first effect 'must be exactly adjusted to each other'.  [This seems to raise quite serious difficulties for Deleuze's method of working back from actuals to virtuals and then back again to other actuals?  Deleuze admits that this can only be speculative?  I am also not clear what would happen for once scientific theory develops in a more general and autonomous  way: surely then possibilities might exist in theory which can serve as a prediction for the discovery of more effects?  Popper took this view, of course, but got around it by supposing that we could hypothesize about other possibilities and then attempt to falsify rather than prove them, and he took an initially risky prediction of Einstein's as exemplary].

What tends to happen is that the people claim to be able to detect a cause or author of a particular event, and then their imagination and interests take over, and it is then easy to forget that these additional qualities are not based in reason.  This is not to deny the weight of conviction or tradition, but to claim that reason will not underpin faith.  Imagination is always required to develop 'a more perfect production than the present world'(138).  It is wasteful to attempt to explain everything in terms of god's love [rendered in this safe form as an attribute of Jupiter].  We can only ever take these additional attributes as something described beforehand.  This will limit even conjectures that might arise.  'The religious hypothesis' (139) might be adequate in its own way, but we can never infer any single facts from it.  Of course, everyone should be allowed to offer 'conjecture and argument', but it is impossible to base conclusions about factual matters on reason alone without some supplement.

It follows that philosophy cannot be condemned as threatening religious morals.  The existence of a providence is not being challenged, merely laid open to enquiry.  Of course virtue is always better than vice, that friendship is a major value of human life and so on, but you religious persons are unable to go any further yourself: wherever they come from, the values of the important thing, and people ought to hold to them without expecting any extra reward.  To repeats, it is impossible to know anything about causes apart from what has been discovered, not inferred.  The notion that there is a life beyond this one is another construction of imagination, and cannot be strictly derived from the present.  Of course, there may well be a divinity endowed with possible attributes, but we cannot go beyond possibility and hypothesis toward solid inference.

Claims to have discovered some universal distributive justice in the world can be neither affirmed nor denied, and even if a compromise is offered, there's still a problem in explaining the specific extent to which it applies in the present.  We're left with only an appeal to experience, shared by philosophers with everybody else.  We cannot infer any intelligent causes or regulatory principles, and these must be both uncertain and useless.  [End of imagined argument].

Hume speaking for himself still finds problems.  Some kinds of inference are permitted, as when we see half finished buildings, or the print of the human foot on a sea shore. Why can we not extend this to seeing nature itself as an unfinished scheme? 

There is a difference between human action and divine [is the reply].  When we see human actions we can bring to the explanation or our experience of human action in the past: if we had only a single example of a building, we could not do this.  We are supplementing reasoning here with '100 other experiences and observations' and are dealing with what is 'usual' (144).  We only have one example of nature in our experience.  Every time we add to the existing works of nature, we add an attribute to God [in a self confirming way].  We are imagining that we are in the place of God, or that god act as in a human way, for example consistently as we would [a footnote points out other problems with inference, that assuming a cause carries on with general qualities beyond its specific action on an effect can only be an arbitrary proposition, since they can be no traces in the affects if causes are properly apportioned.  [But it is hard to see why sufficient cause in this tight sense is such an important foundational notion that can never be contradicted]. It's quite possible to see that nature is regulated by principles and maxims which are far from human, making the analogy between man and God almost impossible it:  follows that consistent human designer can never help us reason about God.  It is not even clear why god should be seen as superior to humans. No other philosophy nor religion can carry us far beyond experience or provide us with guides to action outside of it.

However, religious maxims do have an influence on human life and conduct, and it may be socially desirable that they do.  There is yet another argument for liberty of thought, however.  On the whole, philosophy does little political damage, partly because 'doctrines are not very alluring to the people'(147).  Philosophy might threaten sciences and politics there and have dangerous consequences.

Finally, there is a problem with the rigorous notion of sufficient cause above.  We would need constant conjoining of two different kinds of objects, but we might be able generalize to other objects in the same species.  Indeed we must do so to get to causes not coincidences, and for experience to be able to bear [sounds like Bergson] .  In other words, sceptical reasoning also depends on presuppositions.  Nevertheless, it is the deduction of new effects from causes that remains a problem.

Section 12.  Atheists are still able to doubt religious truth, even after centuries of religious philosophy.  Sceptics can look absurd if we think that they lack any opinions all principles at all.  Some sceptics, like Descartes, insists that we should engage in radical doubt before we could begin any study or philosophy ['antecedent scepticism'], and begin with some original principle which cannot be fallacious.  Hume thinks that even if there were such a principle, we would still rely on the normal faculties to pursue thinking beyond it.  The search for some undoubted principle could lead to complete scepticism. Moderate scepticism offers more possibilities, in urging us to remain impartial, avoid any prejudices, work as far as is possible with 'clear and self evident principles' (150), and keep reviewing our conclusions and pursue their consequences.

Another form of scepticism is consequent to science and enquiry, and extends to any conclusions which might be drawn.  Sense data themselves can be doubted.  We know that the senses can mislead us on occasion.  It would be wise that we do not depend solely upon them, but have a way 'to correct their evidence by reason'(151).  Sense data seem to be a natural instinctive source of information for us and animals, but sense data gives us access only to images not the external objects themselves directly.  We assume that these images are the same as external objects which exist independently of us, but we know that our perceptions are so variable that they must be perceptions of images [tables appear to be smaller as we walk away from them and so on].  However, moving away from instinct risks increased fallibility and the inability to reason convincingly.  For example, we would have to consider that the mind alone is constructing images: experience cannot guarantee an external world.  The same arguments will apply when discussing God: that the senses are fallible seems to either imply that god deceives us or that we cannot find reasons for his existence from sense data at all.

Another variant of scepticism suggests that we must accept that all the sensible qualities of objects are secondary, perceptions [qualities such as hard, soft, hot, cold].  The same should apply to even supposedly primary qualities like 'extension and solidity' (154).  The only way out of this is to accept that some qualities are abstract only, not tangible or visible.  But this is going beyond all that can be conceived.  It is impossible to imagine an abstract triangle, without thinking of concrete characteristics.  Attempting to strip away the intelligible qualities leaves us only with something unknown [Berkeley is cited in a footnote—Hume sees him as a sceptic despite his claims to criticize them, and says that his conclusions finally 'admit of no answer and produce no conviction'(155), but work only to confuse and amaze]

Part two.  Scepticism will destroy reason itself, paradoxically through the use of reason and argument.  Reason applied like this will shock common sense.  We can see the effect if we consider space and time, which are clear and intelligible in ordinary life, but are undermined by notions such as the 'infinite divisibility of extension' (156) [division into infinite quantities].  Yet these apparently absurd opinions can be supported by reason.  We can generalize away from the well-known properties of circles and triangles to reach such absurd conclusions, as when we consider the angle of contact between a circle and its tangent which decreases infinitely as the diameter of the circle increases.  Such demonstrations are sometimes enough to question reason itself.  The same goes with scientific reasoning about time, where we can consider 'an infinite number of real parts of time, passing in succession' (157), although again this contradicts common sense.  How can these absurd conclusions contrary to common sense clarity be justified by reason?  Scepticism itself can be addressed sceptically!
In practice, sceptical objections 'are either popular or philosophical'.  Popular objections arise from exploiting the contradictions of human understandings over the years, or the variations in human judgment.  These are just due to the 'natural weakness of human understanding' (158) [this sceptical approach is apparently is called 'Pyrrhonism']. However, action and ordinary life still takes place, showing that scepticism vanishes 'like smoke' as soon as it leaves the debating room: sceptics behave in just the same way as anyone else.  Philosophical objections seen better.  Here the argument is that there is only one way to investigate matters of fact, and that is by deploring cause and effect, themselves based on constant conjunction: everything else is custom or instinct.  This is a stronger argument, but it has no apparent good or benefit [and so we reject it for pragmatic reasons].  Sceptics have no positive definitions or questions, and so no support in practice for their principles.  Indeed, a normal human life would seem impossible according to those principles.  'Nature is always too strong for principle' (160), and the most trivial event in life will dispel scepticism.  Scepticism can only be a form of amusement or whimsy.

Part three
.  A more mitigated or 'academical' scepticism might be defensible and useful.  It will help us reject dogma, to which 'the greater part of mankind' (161) is liable.  They need more hesitation, checks on their passion.  They are used to escaping from uncertainty by violent affirmations and obstinacy.  Exposing the fallibility of human understanding would help.  If even the most literate and learned remain uncertain about determination, without resorting to passion all haughtiness, perhaps 'a small tincture of Pyrrhonism' might be helpful.

We might also come to realize that we should only study those subjects that are open to human understanding.  Imagination can roam freely without control, but judgement requires a different approach, based on common life and everyday experiences.  We are unable to use scepticism to realize our limits.  Philosophers will come to see their activities as either simply pleasurable, or as needing to be based on and 'nothing but the reflections of common life, methodized and corrected' (162).  If we cannot demonstrate why stones will continue to fall, we have no business speculating about the origin of worlds.
The only objects of science or mathematical demonstration are quantity and number: anything else is 'sophistry and illusion'(163).  There is enough to do to explore the relations of these objects, and this will be useful as well.  However, we could never do anything other than scrutinize and explain these relations.  Anything else is likely to be derived 'entirely from the undeterminate meaning of words, which is corrected by juster definitions' [progress towards more precise formulations of mathematical problems, for example].  Less precise questions about property or injustice themselves are often the results of imperfect definitions. 

All other inquiries turn on matters of facts and we cannot operate just with demonstration or definition here, since 'whatever is may not be' (164) in logic, but not in reality.  In the sciences or maths, there are either true propositions or confused and unintelligible ones [the example is the square root of 64 which can never be equal to half of 10].  However false propositions are equally conceivable in other fields such as speculative religion.  The differences that real existence requires arguments of cause and effect, and these 'are founded entirely on experience'.  A priori reason can make anything possible [the wish of a man control the planets is the example].

The same principles affect moral reasoning, which concerns either particular or general facts.  Most ordinary deliberations concern the former, as do specific academic disciplines like 'history, chronology, geography, and astronomy' [another dig at arguments for God as first cause is found in a footnote p. 164 -- we cannot know a priori whether the will of another being is responsible. 'or any other cause'].  The sciences deal with general facts [Hume includes politics] examining causes and effects for whole species.  Divinity or theology is composed of reasonings about particular and general facts.  It is based on both reason and faith.  The discussion of morals depends not so much on understanding as on taste and sentiment, this includes discussions of beauty: however, we can reason about tastes and whether or not they are general.

Overall though we should inquire of any volume we encounter whether it contains abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number, or whether it contains 'experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact and existence '.  If the answer is negative in both cases, 'it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion', and can be committed to the flames. 

(2) Concerning the Principles of Morals

Section one.  It's no good arguing with men who are obstinate in their principles, or who just play with argument to show their own wits.  Both combine 'passionate vehemence' with 'contempt of their antagonists'(169).  Some are disingenuous enough to argue that everyone's opinion is valuable regardless of their natural differences, even when enhanced by 'education, example, and habit' (170).  We all know there's a difference between right and wrong.  The best thing to do is leave these arguments alone so that their advocates will tire of them.

The foundation of morals may lie in Reason or Sentiment: we can derive this from argument or from feeling and internal sense.  Most philosophy tends to the second, until recently, and there is still much confusion even in the same philosophical position.  We find specious arguments in both, with local claims made of pure reason, often supported by examples, authorities appealed to, analogies employed, inferences drawn and so on.  For others, it is a matter of what we each feel, whether or not we find pleasure in matters such as harmony tenderness or brilliance.  We find rational disputes at the hearts of criminal trials, but others argue that reason can never draw moral conclusions and that we must rely on our affections.  Duty can never be upheld by understanding alone since truths can be indifferent and have no influence on behaviour, while notions of honour or fairness move us to act.  If we try and do without feelings in favour of virtue, morality will cease to be a practical study.

Both arguments are plausible and both reason and sentiment are found in most moral conclusions.  It is 'probable' (173) that our final judgments are based on some internal sense of feeling emanating from nature and thus universal.  However reasoning has a place in preceding such judgments, establishing facts, forming conclusions, drawing comparisons, explaining relations.  In many cases, argument is necessary first so we can go on to feel that correct sentiment.

A good way to proceed would be to address the notion of personal merit.  We can consider every attribute which lends esteem or hatred to a man, every habit or sentiment.  We will be using a 'quick sensibility', which seems to be universal.  Philosophers need only to consider  'whether or not he should desire to have this or that quality ascribed to him', by friends (174).  Language can also serve as an infallible guide since some words are taken to indicate the good and others the opposite in all societies.  We can then proceed to use our reason to find circumstances which are common to these qualities, and to isolate the 'particular in which the estimable qualities agree'. This will help us reach 'the foundation of ethics', as a matter of fact, as an experimental method.  We can compare similar instances and derive general maxims, building up to general principles rather than starting with them.  This is already acceptable in science and it should be so in systems of ethics as well.  We can start by considering Benevolence and Justice.

Section two.  It is obvious that benevolence always engages the approbation and goodwill of people.  Some 'epithets [like] sociable, good-natured, humane, merciful, grateful, friendly, generous, beneficent' are found everywhere (176).  If these qualities are associated with noble birth, power or ability, they seem to make their possessors rise above human nature, more so than matters such as capacity, courage or prosperity.  [examples of ancient Greek statesmen ensue].  True eminence always involves doing good.  These sentiments seem to call forth responses in everybody.

Part two.  We are not just are recommending these, but analyzing them.  The sentiments are accompanied with widespread 'happiness and satisfaction' (178) shown by family, friends, domestics and others: the extent depends on whether it is a private or public person.  So utility is at least a part of merit.  We use it commonly to bestow upon plants terms such as useful and beneficial.  We are pleased by good crops, or efficient machines.  We can extend this to professions.  Even the Greek gods were admired for their constructive capacities, and perhaps all religions began that way, based on the utility of particular objects like the sun.

The problem is to attempt to relate this to 'the true interests of mankind' (180): it is not always in their true interests to give money to beggars, for example.  Similarly, tyrranicide was once seen as useful, but now we see it often has highly disruptive consequences [after the English Civil War?] .  Liberal princes benefit the 'honest and industrious', but also benefit 'the idle and the prodigal' (181).  Luxury was once seen as entirely as a vice to be denounced, but it might also increase industry, civility, and the arts.  Moral and political sentiments are both involved.

Overall, utility is always a part at least of personal merit, and we can discuss how big a part in later sections.

Section three.  Justice can also be understood in terms of utility, but there are social variables.  If there was complete abundance, there would be no point in justice, in its 'jealous virtue' (184) [defending private property].  We can see this where we all enjoy benefits where there is unlimited abundance-- water, air, the freedom of the seas.  If there was a perfect regard for others, similarly, there would be no use for matters such as promises or contracts, because ordinary 'intimations and obligations' would result in everyone's interests being considered, as in a family, the nearest to which we come at the moment. So we should not consider mutual benevolence as an abstract principle, but rather as a form of social cement.  We see this with those wanting to extend the principle to the whole of society.

The same considerations would affect us if the opposite extremes prevailed, so that we were enabled to use whatever came to hand in order to preserve our life, where society is not being regulated so much as seriously threatened.  On an individual scale, people remote from the protection of law must resort to other expedients, personal defence and security, where an interest in self preservation outweighs any abstract commitment to justice.  We also know that people can be executed in the name of justice, the rights of justice withdrawn from them in order to benefit society.  The same goes for war: we have no obligation to extend justice to others, especially if they are 'barbarians' (187) with no rules even of war. Overall then, rules of equity and justice depend entirely on particular states and conditions in which we are placed, and are always guided by utility.  If justice is useless, it has no force of obligation on us.  Mostly, we live in a society which is 'a medium amidst all these extremes' (188).  We naturally follow our own interests, but we can also learn the advantage of 'a more equitable conduct'. 

We can justify private property because a good deal of 'art, labor, and industry' are required to deliver our enjoyments.  In mythical golden ages, there may have been no need for the private use of clothes or houses, and thus we would expect to find nothing of 'avarice, ambition, cruelty, selfishness' (189).  However, golden ages can only be mythical: but so is the fiction of the state of nature as a matter of mutual war and violence [Hobbes is particularly challenged in a footnote, but the Greeks also had this notion].  Even if something like this did exists, it was not exactly a state: most of us, for example are born into families where there are some rules already.

If social utility is the main origin of justice, implications follow for the way in which we deal with other creatures.  If they can do us no serious harm, they are entitled to 'gentle usage' but they cannot be brought within the system of justice, since humans form no equivalent of a reciprocal society with them, thus there is no social utility to be risked.  Clearly this relates to animals, and possibly other more barbarous nations, perhaps even women, although women are particularly good at being  'able to break the confederacy' and so to get their share of rights and privileges (191).  A completely solitary human being would be as incapable of justice as he would be of discourse, and his passions would never be checked by thinking of future consequences: he would be bound by no ties to any other being.

However, perhaps we would be able to find an example in family life as the basis of some kind of society.  This would 'enlarge' rules and extend notions of justice.

Part two.  Examining particular laws found in our justice system comes to the same conclusion that the good of mankind is what they aim at.  The interests of peace and social life means that 'mens' possessions should be separated', for example (192).  If we could think of an abstract system, we might conclude that the people with the greatest virtue should receive the largest share of possessions.  This might be what a theocracy would look like, but for human societies, the problem is that 'so great is the uncertainty of merit'(193) in principle and because each individual would vary in his 'self conceit'.  In this way, a general principle which seems so advantageous 'in speculation', can become destructive and pernicious in practice.  We see this with the example of 'religious fanatics' like those that arose during the English Civil War, or their political equivalent 'the levellers'.  Such a system would work [only] if nature were so liberal to human beings as to produce abundance.  However, in an unequal world, it is true that the poor suffer more than the rich benefit [in terms of marginal returns], and that gratifying the rich is outweighed by the cost to the poor.  However, some societies like Sparta were able to pursue equality, and so did some Roman reforms concerning agrarian reform.  Mostly, however perfect equality will be impracticable and therefore pernicious.  Human beings work with 'different degrees of arts, care, and industry' (194), and thus will soon make themselves unequal again.  If these forms of inequality are restricted, social life will be reduced, and 'want and beggary' widespread.  We would also have to police inequality rigorously, producing an eventual tyranny, or some kind of rule by a few.  Better to have some independent 'authority of magistracy'. 

Overall, if we are to legally regulate property [clearly the main aim], we have to take into account the social situation, reject appearances [and speculation] and develop rules which are 'on the whole, most useful and beneficial' (195).  It is obvious that we should encourage useful habits and accomplishments with reward, that inheritance can be defended as being useful, that property may be sold off,  by consent, in the interests of useful commerce and social intercourse, that contracts and promises should be adhered to to generate 'mutual trust and confidence' in the name of the general interest of human beings [classic functionalism—could be Davis and Moore].  Most writers on law agree.  Better to generate laws on this basis rather than imposing systems, especially since more abstract notions of equality are not found in nature.

Occasionally a particular case requires a particular role of justice to be applied, and the problem might be to decide which one.  Here we need 'analogies' to avoid dissension—notions like sole possession or first possession are examples.  This sort of reasoning is often found in law, and is easily produced by the imagination.  Is there a supreme law?  'The safety of the people' is supreme, and this will require a system of public safety and interest, and an 'equal and impartial...administration' (196).  However, sometimes calculations of utility and analogy can fail or produce uncertainty, such as deciding exactly how long we need to possess something to claim it as our property.  The civil law works here on the basis of claiming different utilities, assessed by a legislator and expressed in the form of 'bills of exchange and promissory notes'.  Again, 'the particular convenience of each community' is an important factor: the general issue of the reference of laws to constitution, manners, climate, religion and others has been much discussed [and he admires Montesquieu especially]

Nevertheless, the statutes or precedents can be either constant and inflexible, or 'variable and arbitrary' (197), but without reference to the 'interest and happiness of human society'(198), they can only appear to be unnatural or superstitious.  There are still examples in modern societies, such as the various customs concerning diet, postures or apparel [the examples include the strange ways in which particular foods are taboo in different societies, all the way in which muttering a few religious words turns a profound building into a sacred one].  These will be of diminishing importance.  However, some people think that all the principles of justice are arbitrary like this [among the examples are laws regulating apparel --Hume also seems to think they are daft].  We can still distinguish superstition and justice, however in terms of its connection to the 'well-being of mankind and existence of society'(199): without such a connection, everything will look superstitious, but by arguing for it, we can provide a sound foundation for our systems of justice.  [There's a long example turning on the way in which will or consent must be expressed in words in order to become binding, and so expressions are often central to promises rather than intentions.  However, there is a need to take into account the sincerity of the parties to the contract.  Nevertheless, some religious authorities, especially the Jesuits, and lawyers generally, have specialized in casuistry, and have met with substantial 'indignation' for it, because it threatens overall security.  This is another example of the inferiority of abstract doctrines compared to the ordinary conduct of life].

This seems to be a universal interest in justice, and this is either a simple instinct of nature, or based on a common desire to promote public utility.  No one has ever identified the former.  Indeed, we find that the support for property requires much development and argument, and has developed to a state of some intricacy.  There could never be equally intricate instincts, and nor could definitions of words like 'inheritance and contract' (202) be seen as instinctive as opposed to being developed from human reason.  The same arguments apply to discussions of the authority of kings or judges, and the way in which they have identified operations and boundaries for their action.  Animals act on instinct, but men act from reason and custom.

There are, nevertheless, common themes or 'chief outlines' found in systems of justice, because there are similar purposes.  There are also many elaborations and variations, so we are far from instinct again.  However, there is a problem turning on the 'influence of education and acquired habits'(203).  These are commonly underestimated, but is it just convenience that makes us habitually follow the principle of public utility?  [I think the argument here is this is such a widespread habit that it is closer to necessity rather than convenience, even though we do not always see it that way].  It is an example of the way in which the general social necessity of justice generates individual energy and sentiment.  It is this that produces so much of the benevolence and friendship shown by humanity, and their adherents show moral codes and estimable qualities.  These conclusions help to show the validity of the argument [Hume claims none other than the authority of Newton here, {the laws of motion} suggesting that his argument shows that if we find a principle having great force and energy in one case, we can conclude it must have 'a like energy in all similar circumstances'(204)]. 

Section four.  [same sort of argument here for custom and law, beginning with imagining a society which did not need them and then suggesting the functions that result].  If we could all bear in mind constantly that personal and general interests are connected, we would not need government, and natural justice would replace law.  So government must have some advantage to society.  Rules are useful, for example in international politics, and they evolved to deal with things like 'the sacredness of the person of ambassadors, abstaining from poisoned arms, quarter in war' (205).  It is common also for princes to pretend that other princes have equal rights, and it is true that alliance is based on this notion can have influence.  But, the interests of kingdoms are not the same as those of individuals; individuals without laws would descend into chaos, but states can continue to exist without intercourse with the others, or even during states of war.  Similarly, abandoning contracts or promises between individuals would have a disastrous effect but this is not always the same for the actions of states.  However, there are some states where the 'conditions of union' have assumed some sacred authority.

If we consider marriage, its utility is clear in order to raise children.  However the infidelity of women is particularly pernicious, so the laws of chastity apply to them more vigorously.  Those laws continue even when women are no longer able to bear children: this is an example of a general rule extending from initial principles.  It might even be possible that personal beauty is connected to ideas of utility, although it never totally.  We do associate ideas in our imagination, however.  Exceptions to laws are still rare: if women were ever to realize that chastity is less important for women past childbearing age, they might want to claim an exception to the 'whole of duty', but the chastity of women is still 'requisite to society' (208).

The same considerations affects the laws of incest.  Incest would weaken the whole system of sexual regulation and is seen as particularly dangerous as a result.  Where it was partially permitted, as in Athens, it was only possible because relations with women were already heavily constrained.  Less socially constrained societies (like Rome) opted for law. Again we see that 'public utility is the cause of all these variations' (208).

Similarly, the difference between private conversation and public affairs must be supported by law.  Indiscretion or even immorality would ensue otherwise, as when private stories are spread and this can produce 'animosities and quarrels' even when no adverse intent was meant.  The same goes for those laws of good manners, 'a kind of lesser morality, calculated for the ease of company or conversation' (209): the trick is to produce these to prevent an 'indecent familiarity'.  These are more relaxed in places of 'general, though casual concourse', because the consequences are likely to be less severe, because we can always revert to subsequent 'indifferent acquaintance' without worrying about civility.

Even societies which maximize immorality there are still certain rules and a sense of honor.  Robbers and pirates are an example with their own form of distributive justice among themselves.  In some cases, it is customary to forget indiscretion, for example of a drunken companion.  There was even a 'court or parliament of love' in France, which coexisted with 'immoral gallantry' (210).  There are many laws to regulate play and games, but because the purpose of social action here is frivolous, the laws can be 'capricious': they are not very good examples to explain social order more generally, although they do explain  'the necessity of rules wherever men have any intercourse with each other'.  Human beings invent rules in their everyday interactions, such as who gets right of way on the road.  These can be arbitrary and capricious too, but then, so are those of lawyers!  Even war and crime involves laws, and often a sense of honour as well.  Everything grows from 'common interest and utility'(211).

Section five.  [here, Hume has to move away from individual interest to consider altruism or social interests.  The arguments are more flimsy and appeal to the common sentiments of the educated middle class with their high aesthetic.  Most of the references, as usual, are to the ancient societies which are much safer. When it comes to his preferred positive theories, scepticism is disavowed, and  induction is permitted after all!]

The principle of utility is very common in moral argument and in general discourse about the virtues of various people.  The beauty of objects often depends upon the utility, but this means the extent to which they appeal to human beings as well as any intrinsic characteristics, such as regular form.  [A footnote explains that we can't say that objects are virtuous exactly, because to attribute virtue to somebody is to mix with utility notions of 'affection, esteem, approbation etc.' (213): 'can we ever be in love with [inanimate objects]?'Not only that, the characteristics of objects depend on context, so that the qualities of one sex if transferred to the other 'excites no amorous passion, when nature is not extremely perverted']. 

It would certainly be wrong to ignore utility in estimating social virtues, but we would be wrong to conclude, with the sceptics, that these virtues are entirely political and based on deliberate education in the interests of social control [an amazing anticipation of Bourdieu].  These activities do influence natural sentiments and moral preferences, but there are also natural roots, as in widespread distinctions expressed in words such as 'honourable and shameful' (214), and we are right to dismiss such scepticism as offering mere 'cavils' [we need to halt philosophy if it leads to social harm?].  Social virtues have 'a natural beauty and amiableness...  antecedent to all precepts ['order words' as in Deleuze?] or education'.  However, public utility is a hallmark, and must correspond to some natural affections [which shows that public utility itself is natural?].

It could be that we simply admire those 'habits or principles' which promote social order anyway and which bring personal peace and humanity.  This view was held by some Greek philosophers although we should not argue solely from authority.  We can certainly see the virtue in actions performed in quite different societies, even if we cannot tie these firmly to self interest'. We admire brave or generous deeds even if they contradict our own particular interests.  We know when private advantage combines with a more general affection for virtue because we feel quite differently, and may even attempt to affect others with sentiment rather than reasoning with them.  If we describe a model character with all the moral virtues, and can demonstrate how they have emerged, we will 'readily engage the esteem and approbation of...[the] audience'(216).  The audience classically is not interested in the social settings.  There is some direct connection to self and love and concern for our own happiness.  Again, there are examples from Greek thought where statesmen have even praised the virtues of the enemies, and we can recognize this even though we are far from Athens 2000 years before.  Reducing everything to a narrow self interest would fail to explain the pleasure in every occasion which praises other men.

Is it that we are capable of somehow empathizing and placing ourselves in the place of others?  This would be an act of imagination, and it would be difficult to explain its connection with real sentiment or passions [we are really getting some insight into the high aesthetic here].  We can deal with imaginary dangers, for example, by manipulating dangerous situations in reality [learning not to be afraid of heights].  It is also the case that the habit of scrutiny develops a feeling of much more precision in discriminating vice and virtue.  This sort of experience helps as guard against false views, which would resist any serious challenge [as above].  Overall we can see that we routinely consider usefulness not just for ourselves but for others.

Part two.  Self love happens to be usually connected with the interests of the community, and this explains those who think that personal interest always explains community interest, as a modification of self and love.  However, we can think of a crucial experiment which will decide the issue (219) [based on Bacon not Popper].  We have examples where private interest was even contrary to public interest, without disturbing the interest in community welfare.  We note that when they concur, there is an amplification of sentiment towards vice and virtue.  These are decisive for Hume [!].  There must be therefore an independent interest in public affairs and society.  Usefulness is only a tendency to a certain end, and it would be wrong to separate useful means from indifference towards the end.  In this way, anything that leads to the happiness of society will recommend itself in addition to regard for self interest.  It is this interest and society that explains the origin of morality, and it is, for Hume, 'obvious and natural'
[a footnote says that we have no need to search for the origin any further, and this is like scientists being content with general principles to limit otherwise exhaustive causal analysis.  It is simply asserted that we do have an interest in the happiness and mystery of others, and that this might well be resolved into more simple principles, but that is irrelevant for present purposes, where we need to make things 'sufficiently plain and perspicuous': a pedagogic interest limits philosophical ones].

We can plainly see the force of humanity and benevolence, and the connection of pleasure to happiness and prosperity.  We just are affected by others [with a reference to Horace on the contagion of human sentiment].  If we are placed in isolation, we lose all enjoyment because this is not reflected in our fellows.  We are simply affected by the signs of mourning, but genuinely moved by 'the natural symptoms, tears and cries and groans'(220) [a high aesthetic again, distrusting mere signs and valorising our refined feelings --but only the refined ones since popular ones were seen as a source of error before?].  We experience pleasure if surrounded by hospitable and good humored people, especially if they are characterized by 'freedom, ease, confidence, and calm enjoyment' (221), and we feel indignation at hearing that they have been wronged by somebody, especially if they are also wrong to a lot of other people.

Anything we reflect on or converse about relates to human happiness or mystery, and induces either 'a sympathetic movement of pleasure or uneasiness'[this is the effortless reproduction of unconscious discriminations in the habitus].  Vulgar pleasures, like those experienced by the audience in a theater, can generate [in the visiting nob]  'a superior sensibility or disposition of being affected with every sentiment', a sense of sharing with other humans.  Such pleasures are increased by seeing the effects of positive feedback on the actor. The skill of a poet in the theater can be gauged by the extent to which the work affects the spectators emotionally in line with the passions being depicted [acceptable in the theater, of course, but probably not in bear baiting?]. 

Art should never 'represent anything cool and indifferent', and poets should avoid cool commentators.  We see this with pastoral poetry conveying tranquility in the scenes and therefore communicating 'a like sentiment to the reader'.  It avoids 'toil, and labour, and danger' which will be painfully experienced by the audience.  It is true that we like sentiments which are like the ones we experience, but all passions are of interest since we have experienced all of them at various times.  Effective poetry touches on these affections and make them 'look like truth and reality'(223) [through using a 'lively imagery and representation'].  This only confirms Hume's point that 'wherever that reality is found, our minds are disposed to be strongly affected by it' [so an important addition to the virtues of common sense based on common action, here we include realist drama as a part of that common experience].

Any recent event or news item can be interesting to people even if they are not actually affected themselves.  News spreads widely, again showing that the interest of society is engaged, regardless of the interest of each individual.  Again imagination and passion may be involved.  This is how we find pleasure in history as an entertainment, and while we are not so pleased with descriptions of 'trivial encounters'.  [Greek historians are compared, and those who depict characters sympathetically so that we can identify with them are preferred]. Penetrating beneath any 'suspicion of fiction and deceit' (224) [a bit late to raise such suspicions?], We can see that concern is raised, and takes a form that is even 'superior, in many instances', to narrow self interest.  Sometimes, phenomena such as 'popular sedition, party zeal, a devoted obedience to factious leaders' can also arise, although this is 'less laudable'. 

Even frivolity can refer to general human sentiment and affection.  Even the style of the book or letter can remind us of 'harsh and disagreeable' effects of flawed speech [as in stuttering or lack of fluency].  This shows how delicate our tastes are [if we are the right sort of chap, of course].  'Easy unconstrained postures and motions are always beautiful', we find health and vigor agreeable, clothes which warm us without constraining us seem 'well fashioned': and all these judgements of beauty of feelings are involved and they communicate themselves to others. 

It is the same with the 'character and conduct of men'(225).  We suspect that anyone who seems insensible to the signs of human happiness or misery [just above] is 'equally indifferent to the images of vice and virtue' (225), and the reverse is always found as well.  We are always making judgments about the tendencies of actions and principles toward happiness or misery [a footnote explains that we have different expectations of people in different social stations, and we tend to judge statesmen by their pursuit of their own country's interest, not the prejudice involved towards its enemies.  Luckily, 'nature has implanted in everyone a superior affection to his own country', which leads us not to sympathize with distant nations.  A completely general interest regardless of specifics would never produce 'beneficial action' anyway, because it would never be focused on a specific object].  We always expect a preference for happiness, even if only where private interests can be set aside: surely no one would deliberately cause harm if there were no point to it.  Again this shows that there is some influence being exerted by considerations of what is useful to society, even though the degree of influence can be debated.

A completely malevolent person would find themselves not just indifferent to vice or virtue, but positively displeased and made uneasy by virtue.  Examples are chosen from ancient Greece.  The Manicheans might believe in equal opposites between good and evil, but all humans tend to prefer the good.  'Absolute, unprovoked, disinterested malice' (227) is unnatural: even Nero was possibly cruel because of his 'constant fear and resentment' rather than just his will. 

In general, statesman who serve their country are always more highly regarded than those who benefit more distant ages or nations, because we have less immediate sympathy for them [does he mean plebs or anyone?], even where the merit might be equal.  The problem is that our emotions and perceptions are unequal.  This is a good thing because it keeps us from error, as when we order perceptions of the same object at different distances.  These corrections are essential to any grasp of a permanent object, or any talk about one.  As we gain experience and converse more widely, we shall also realize the force of 'general preferences and distinctions'[and so move away from parochial judgement—but this assumes that the high bourgeoisie will only find support for their views?].  We have to converse with each other, even though individual interests are peculiar.  There must be some more general views in order to permit general language at all [a footnote says that we rarely extend a notion of equality to the people we meet or discuss with, despite any effort to make a general judgement, although we are usually able to distinguish the natural from the accidental, largely by judging actions rather than intentions. Lovely slippery pronouns -- 'we' in the first bit means 'you plebs', but in the second bit means 'we philosophers'].

Such general judgements affect everybody, even if not as strongly as those related to private interest.  Sympathy is not as strong as concern for ourselves, and not as strong for those remote from us.  But 'calm judgement and discourse' (229) can overcome these limits, and make sentiments 'more public and social'.  When we do meet different sorts of people, we must move away from individual judgments.  Social intercourse tends to form  'some general unalterable standard'.  We may not be entirely committed to this, nor use it to regulate all our judgments regardless of self, but we should allow it 'a considerable influence', and let it at least regulate public conduct, especially 'in company, in the pulpit, on the theater, and in schools' [a note says that the natural self interests must still be cultivated and that more general ones will not be invested with the same affections or lively sentiments, but reflection is still crucial].

So we have argued that the 'interests of mankind and society' are important for the development of the social virtues.  Daily experience and observation makes it possible for us to say, a priori, that men can never be indifferent to his fellow creatures, and will promote their happiness, unless particular biases might be involved.  This shows more generally how general distinctions may emerge.  The more our own humanity increases, the more we are able to conceive of the misery or happiness of others and thus to take more vigorous action.  Generous actions in remote times or places can be appreciated by reason, but will not affect the senses: the more proximate actions invoke greater sympathy and warm sentiments as 'our hearts are immediately caught'(230).  We can make the same argument in reverse, starting with the consequences and seeing what has produced them: in all cases, we will see utility as the source of 'praise and approbation', as the constant basis of moral decisions.  We will also see that it is inextricably bound up with the other social virtues such as 'humanity, generosity, charity, affability, lenity [sic], mercy, and moderation'(231).

However it is not utility leading to self interest alone, but a more general 'tendency to public good', which includes the promotion of 'peace, harmony and order'.  Such benevolence commonly engages us, influencing our deepest sentiments, resulting in 'the strongest censure and applause'.  This particular conclusion is 'the simple result of all these inferences, each of which seems founded on uniform experience and observation' [so we are doing induction after all, despite the early scepticism?].  We can cite 'numberless instances' that whatever promotes the interests of society is highly approved of.  This shows 'the force of the benevolent principle'.  It follows that anything that promotes the interests of society must 'communicate pleasure'.  [Hume thinks that he has built an argument based on 'undisputed evidence', following from the concurrence of 'different reflections and observations'(232), and that later sections will confirm this—yes, produce 'a farther confirmation', and bollix to the problems of induction].

Section six.  It's relatively easy to find faults in peoples character and to describe these in terms of qualities such as indolence or obstinacy.  However, no single quality is either good or bad, but much depends on the degree.  What counts as a reasonable degree is normally governed by utility.  This inevitably involves other people, so the basis of morality in self-love is unlikely.  We tend to admire other people who possess the right combination of talent and ability, ambition and the rest.  Grounding everything in self regard would make it impossible to form general moral opinions, and such a person would be unable to distinguish good or bad qualities [or rather express indifference towards this issue].  Real individuals clearly have a set of preferences which enables him to make choices or distinctions. 

Moral distinctions are in effect 'distinction between what is useful, and what is pernicious' (235).  The same judgements and stances, even the same sentiments are found in both, and even the proximity of the connection with others produces the same kind of energy in making these decisions.  The same kind of conviction that produces a belief in the constant behaviour of physical objects is found in moral judgments as well [although again, we are considerably more skeptical about the first kind, as in the first Enquiry].  A few everyday examples will demonstrate this.

Discretion for example is entirely necessary for practical action.  It may get in the way of great reforming projects, but it's a requisite for everyday conduct in order to avoid 'the most fatal miscarriages and disappointments' (236).  The best forms of human conduct might even involve the avoidance of any kind of temper in favor of a combination of enterprise and caution [examples of French or Roman generals].  Steady accumulation is the secret of amassing a fortune, including a 'reasonable frugality', as opposed to the activities of 'worthless prodigals', engaging in wild spending and debauchery.  However, frugality when it develops to the opposite extreme turns into avarice.

Other moral qualities are more complicated, such as 'honesty, fidelity, truth': these are beneficial to society and also to the person showing them, who can be trusted.  This helps us understand the great emphasis on the chastity of women, because fidelity in this regard is the only guarantee that females do not constantly indulge their appetites.  That is why a single lapse leads to a complete decline in women.

Everyone desires happiness, but one major factor turns on the 'strength of mind' which enables us to resist temptation [and defer gratification].  It is one thing to rank and grade our preferences in the light of reason, but sometimes, alternatives present themselves as available, and 'catch the heart or imagination' (239).  Immediate enjoyment is preferred although 'lasting shame and sorrow' often ensues: this is the source of 'all dissoluteness and disorder, repentance and misery'.  Self-satisfaction can lead to folly or wisdom, but nearly every other quality distinguishes the fool from the wise man, such as facility in 'business, books, conversation' (240).  Ignorance and stupidity are particularly damaging and evoke disgust, even more than treachery or ingratitude, 'deformity and old age'.

It is debatable whether a quick apprehension is more desirable than a slow one [almost defined in terms of deep and surface!].  Different kinds of understanding can only be judged in terms of their utility, although the higher virtues like 'refined sense and exalted sense' (241) might have an overriding rarity value [handy].  And good memory can overcome any defects of judgement, although this was even more important in ancient times.

There are particular circumstances as well.  It is better to have your talents and accomplishments matched to your station and profession (242), although any 'misplaced' locations may be felt more keenly in private [hidden injuries of class now!].  There's a higher status at the moment for men active in public affairs, and those whose speculations can be seen as benevolent, although there are so many 'false pretensions to each', that widespread incredulity is common.  Such virtues are not as widely regarded as 'discretion, caution, enterprise, industry, assiduity, frugality, economy, good sense, prudence, discernment', and the following also avoid 'the most determined scepticism': 'temperance, sobriety, patience, constancy, perseverance, forethought, considerateness, secrecy, order, insinuation [sic], address, presence of mind, quickness of conception, facility of expression' (243) and others.  All of these show a willingness to serve people without any necessary claims to status.  These also pave the way to more disinterested moral qualities.

Resolving everything to self love is deceptive.  The qualities above are socially useful and are rewarded as a result.  After all, the happiness of others is our concern as well, and inducing it 'communicates a secret joy and satisfaction'(244) [the same goes for misery only the other way around].

Part two.  What about bodily endowments such as beauty?  We tend to confer bodily qualities on to people's minds as well.  Beauty in animals turns on the advantage they gain from suitable proportions of their bodies, and so do humans: 'broad shoulders, a lank belly, firm joints, taper legs'.  The notion of utility therefore plays a considerable part at least in judging these matters.  We see this by looking at ancient times and the connection of bodily qualities to use and importance in war.  At the same time, both sexes regard impotence with 'derision and contempt', to such an extent that it is impossible to confess to it.  Barrenness in women is also a matter for reproach, again because it shows 'inutility'(245).  The right sort of balance is also important both in figures and compositions, because imbalance suggests 'the disagreeable ideas of fall, harm and pain'.

The possession of wealth is often seen as a sign of an estimable disposition.  The image that the wealthy communicate to the rest of us is one of 'prosperity, happiness, ease, plenty, authority' and the gratification of appetite (246).  This has clearly got nothing to do with self love, and without goodwill, there can be no pleasure in the activities of the wealthy.  We commonly associate just desert with existing social station.  Those who are currently wealthy have often descended from a long line of estimable ancestors [so even the dead can give us pleasure].  The system of respect and status does not depend on immediate advantage, shown in the way which strangers are greeted in polite society, although again estimates of wealth and fortune are important.  So, overall, riches and wealth 'beget esteem'(247), because there is a direct reference to the pleasures of life.  We particularly value people at their ease, especially in pleasing surroundings.  The appearance of the poor immediately invokes 'disagreeable images of want, penury, hard labor, dirty furniture, coarse or ragged clothes, nauseous meat and distasteful liquor' (248): indeed, this is what richness or poverty means in social terms.  It might be different for a person who has sincerely renounced the pursuit of fortune in favor of the personal characters of people, but generally, 'riches are the most convenient, being the most fixed and determinate, source of distinction'. 

In most European countries, the title itself might possess more esteem than current fortune, but it is the opposite in England.  Generally speaking, it is better to base a system of esteem on things that can be achieved, although both systems have the good and bad points: in hereditary systems, the ambitious find no outlet, and where riches dominate, 'corruption, venality, rapine'(249) can prevail, as well as arts, manufacture and commerce.  Monarchical systems with hereditary titles might be better in encouraging military virtue, while republican [achievement] systems encourages industry.  In both cases, we need to see a variable utility of customs.

Section seven.  Some personal qualities are clearly valued in polite society, above all cheerfulness, which is particularly contagious.  Such 'mental qualities' seem to produce a general satisfaction rather than any social or personal utility.  We do feel well disposed towards a cheerful person, and similarly averse to those who are melancholy or sullen.  We see such melancholics as dangerous.  The 'noble pride and spirit' arising from conscious virtue (252) shows how the sublime is deeply connected to magnanimity.  Dignified silence can have the same effects [citing the Odyssey], and soldiers have been shamed by such a display [lots more classical examples].  The opposite vice of 'meanness' shows a willingness to degrade oneself, sometimes 'by intimacy and familiarities with undeserving inferiors' (253).

Courage is often admired, and it has more than a clear utility: we sympathize with 'daring confidence'[ancient Greek examples].  It rarely extends beyond the individual, however.  In martial societies it can be the ultimate virtue, to the extent of destroying more humane sentiments.  It was the dominant virtue in 'uncultivated nations' (255) [which can even include 'many barbarous parts of Ireland', at least according to Spenser].  In the same class is philosophical tranquility managing emotions especially sorrow or anxiety.  Sometimes this can lead philosophers to look down on those who are merely pursuing honors or riches, and even when excessive, it still attracts admiration [as in Socrates].  Modern virtues of humanity or clemency would be seen as astonishing to the ancients

However, we have already discussed benevolence as a virtue, and sometimes the sentimental tone of it itself can produce warm attachments.  These are not only delightfully, but contagious.  Soothing poetry or notions of Arcadia are widely admired.  We tend not to like 'the roughness and harshness' of emotions like wrangling and scolding, and we tend to take a stand against them even if there are no obvious adverse consequences.  As a further argument to separate the merits of benevolence from utility alone, people can be seen to be too good, too indifferent to their fortune, although even here these tendencies are seen as noble and as engaging our sympathies.  [More Greek examples—the Athenians tended to be praised for their achievements in war, although they also displayed many peaceful honors]. 

Poetry gets its charm from referring to the sublime passions or tender affections, although it sometimes also reminds us of the more disagreeable kinds as 'such as grief and anger' (259), although these can be justified.  It is the nobler sentiments that lead best to an identification with the character.  Being able to write poetry itself can 'exalt the person possessed of it' [as in Virgil].

Other virtues can be  found too that seem to provide 'immediate pleasure' rather than obvious utility, although they look like those that are useful, and the same 'social sympathy' [latent functionalism] is responsible for both [so these are the residual or autonomous cultural virtues not yet overturned entirely by reason and calculation. They just might be the same as 'ascribed' rather than 'achieved'?].

Section eight.  [social principles that are even further removed from utility: this really is an early formulation of the distinction between laws on the one hand and mores on the other in terms of their ability to bind people to the social order].  Justice regulates interest and social interest, but other rules applied to company [voluntary company I assume], in the form of manners or politeness.  These do facilitate social interaction [so they are a bit utilitarian, but within particular social contexts?].  For example, 'among well bred people' (261), mutual deference is preferred, authority is concealed, contempt of others is disguised.  This produces an immediate ease with others, regardless of utility, and has the effect of extending esteem and affection [I think Hume is much more sceptical here of utilitarianism than he was in earlier sections where he was exposing the hidden utility behind things like religious sentiment. It is too much to apply it to socially-rooted distinctions].  Wit, ingenuity and good manners are also required: these are hard to define, but they lead to mutual agreeability.  They are more important where there is public life.  A reasonable turn taking in conversation is preferred to excessive loquacity.  The truth is preferred to lies on the whole, except where a humorous story is being told.  Eloquence, genius, good sense and sound reasoning are also 'immediately agreeable, and have a merit distinct from their usefulness' (263), although rarity gives them an additional value.  [a half-recognition of the important function of elitist distinction]

Modesty is also valued, although it means different things, sometimes a permanent sense of honor and virtue, sometimes a due regard for others instead of 'impudence and arrogance'.  Displays of modesty like this also flatter listeners.  An excess of modesty is preferred to an excess of its opposite, and this is partly a widespread tendency to opt for minority values instead of what is usual [!].  It is also that excessive self praise would produce 'a flood of impertinence' which would threaten social order (264).  Things are different with intimate friends or 'people of very manly behaviour' [the example given is the military].  On the other hand, it is agreeable to know your own merits and accomplishments, and, for this reason, modesty is not usually exactly taken at face value: nevertheless, 'a small bias towards modesty' is favored, especially if combined with other virtues like nobility.

A personal desire for fame or reputation is acceptable and often found together with genuine genius and capacity.  An attention to detail is also welcomed, especially when behaving in public [eg detail in elegant dress].  However, excessive display of advantages and accomplishments turns into vanity which is offensive to others, often because it limits their own 'secret vanity and ambition' (266).  It is incompatible with proper dignity, partly because it indicates that the audience would not be able to recognize and ascribe these qualities themselves.

Decency in personal conduct is another agreeable quality, but much depends on behaviour which is suitable to particular characters [especially the characters of the different sexes].  It is important to avoid disproportion [dissonance][excessive femininity in men or the opposite in women is condemned].  Cleanliness makes us agreeable to others, and that's a good example of how trivial matters serve as 'the origin of moral distinctions'(267) [especially if the point is to use these small details to do distinction]  we do not need elaborate, learned investigations. 

There are still some unspecifiable qualities, 'a manner, a grace, and ease, a genteelness, an I- know- not- what'[unspecifiable because located in the habitus].  It just affects us.  It might be based in sexual attraction between men and women, but it affects all our estimations of character.  What is responsible is 'the blind, but short testimony of taste and sentiment', something provided by nature, which still baffles philosophy and shows its limits.  We make judgements of approval on the basis of 'wit, politeness, modesty, decency or any other agreeable qualities', without necessarily knowing others that well, as a result of an agreeable effect on our imagination.  This is a universal principle [for the bourgeoisie] affecting all judgements of manner and character.

Section nine.  It seems obvious that personal merit means of possessing qualities which are either useful or agreeable, to self or to others.  This is easy to recognize, and widespread in everyday common life, in all spheres [an imagined dialogue, between ancient Greeks, ensues, showing that participants agree on the qualities of a particular person which add up to overall 'accomplished merit' (270)].  We can all see this unless suffering from 'the delusive glosses of superstition and false religion', including those weird habits like celibacy and fasting which only 'stupefy the understanding and harden the heart, obscure the fancy and sour the temper', and thus as should be seen more as vices than monkish virtues. 

Nor is there any point in discussing different degrees of benevolence or self and love.  Because a resolution is never possible and because issues at stake are always subject to different interpretation.  We can assert that there is some small notion of benevolence or spark of friendship in our natures which are always at work however weakly, and which will always lead us to prefer what is useful and serviceable to humanity.  This is the ultimate basis of moral distinction, a preference for approbation.  Even those who argue for the predominant selfishness of human beings admit that there is at least a weak sentiment of virtue and that the two are often combined.

Self love, however, can never be the basis for a moral system, since we have to think of the sentiment affecting all mankind, capable of universal agreement, universal and comprehensive and leading to judgment of actions and conduct.  We are subject to other passions including desire and hatred, but these can never be comprehensive enough for a moral system.  Self love appears in statements referring to other individuals, say as enemies, but terms such as 'vicious' or 'depraved' (272) expressed sentiments which anticipate universal agreement and which therefore invoke universal principles.  Often, for example, there is an implication that society as a whole will be affected.  The 'human heart' must always be capable of thinking of the public good and describing characters and manners in suitable terms.  It might not be a strongly felt as passions such as vanity or ambition, but it is the only foundation of morals as General Systems.

The sentiment supplied to all human beings, while the more selfish passions applied to individuals according to their particular situation, and tend not to concern themselves with mankind as a whole.  The two do not overlap, since individuals are not usually universally known.  But some judgements are universal affecting everyone, even those who are unknown.  [So self love alone is not the real basis for morals, and strict utilitarians rejected along with Catholics].  It follows that language also reflects this distinction, and invents terms that express universal sentiments, such as virtue and vice.  Abstract rules are developed, and these are intended to constrain self love.

We can witness the amplification tendencies of social gatherings in tumults,  seditions and panics, and we can see how emotions and passions can produce serious disorders.  Even the best philosophers have found it difficult to remain cool and indifferent.  Again this shows that small principles can have major consequences.  Overall, there is a preference for order, and for benevolent concern for others, and these can regulate even the strongest alternative passions.  Social order is also assisted by the search for personal fame which means constant self regulation, a search for nobility and the more refined virtues at the expense of 'animal conveniences and pleasures' (276).  Considering public approbation is a final prop. These arguments reinforce the view that personal merit follows from acquiring qualities which are useful or agreeable, to self or to others.  All the more specific values follow from this, such as justice, honour, chastity, generosity, industry, forethought [and lots of others, page 277].  A mind possessing these qualities with serenity and cheerfulness is more agreeable to others as well.

Philosophers should never be dogmatic or too positive, but excessive skepticism leads to passion without deliberation, and absurdity.  However, the arguments here is still disputable, as are all moral questions.  If they were so compelling, why have they not been accepted long ago?

Parts two.  What of obligation, not just approbation?  If we could demonstrate obligation, this would strengthen the arguments above.  The philosophical truth of an argument is an independent matter, but social practice which is produced is relevant: the most ingenious philosophical research would soon be abandoned if they lead to dangerous practice.  The philosophical arguments here, by contrast, are clearly beneficial.  They value agree ability, gentleness, even play.  They aim at making people happy and cheerful, and requires them only to calculate where their greatest happiness lies.  They deny austerity, which can never be seen as in the interests of everyone.  It is obvious that the useful and agreeable increase our self interest—why else advocate temperance and other limits to excess if they did not harm us? 

The companionable virtues of good manners are clearly better than their alternatives, even for those who are driven by vanity.  No-one chooses the opposite, although 'bad education, want of capacity, or a perverse and unpliable disposition' (280) can minimize them.  No one wants to feel unwelcome or to induce disgust and aversion.  The same general considerations clearly affect more local social gatherings such as clubs and societies, if we suggest that more local customs are driven by the same kind of desires as the 'enlarged virtues of humanity'.  We should not be confused by verbal distinctions.

It is 'vulgarly'(281) supposed that the selfish and social dispositions are in conflict, but they are not really opposites: indeed, the propensity to self love, once it focuses on social objects ends in benevolence all humanity.  It is true that we can pursue one option at the expense of the other, but it is not so easy to show that selfishness produces the same sort of rewards as generosity, since only particular affections are indulged.  If we were ever capable of controlling entirely a disposition, we would choose satisfactions arising from benevolence and friendship.  These would gratify ourselves as well as showing that we have done good towards mankind and society.  The latter will produce good will and good wishes from others, to a much greater extent.  Most people are convinced of this already. There is no reason to prefer vice over virtue in terms of self interest, except in those rare cases where personal integrity might produce adverse personal consequences [in some cases of justice]. 

There may well be occasions where personal iniquity will benefit individuals without harming society, so that although it is true that honesty is the best policy, there may well be many exceptions.  Thus the wise person might swell observe the general rule and also take a 'advantage of all the exceptions'(283).  We can only appeal to people's better nature here, to their 'heart', and those who believe in this wisdom probably have lost an interest in virtue.  For most 'ingenuous natures', treachery and rotary could never be counterbalanced by profit: we all welcome 'peace of mind, consciousness of integrity'.  Such people know that even though cheats might prosper, reputation and trust is forfeited.

For the honest person, riches can provide 'worthless toys and gewgaws', but nothing beats the enjoyment of character.  We have to meet the necessities of nature, but that requires only a little.  The real pleasures lying in 'the onboard satisfaction of conversation, society, study, even health and the common beauties of nature, but above all the peaceful reflection on one's own conduct' (283-4).  Luxury and expense provide only 'feverish, empty amusements'.

(3) Appendix one

We can now see that both reason and sentiment underpin moral sentiments.  Because utility is one foundation, reason is required to calculate consequences, although there will always be controversy, opposition from interests, and a requirement for judgement.  We see this with the justice system, where adverse consequences for individuals might be preferred to advantages to society, and collective action raises problems.  Reason alone is not sufficient, however, since utility shows us only the means to an end, and we still have to value the end.  Here sentiment is required to express a preference.  It will take the form of a feeling for the happiness of mankind and resentment of mystery, in particular cases. 

There is no other plausible basis for morality: 

First, arguments based on reason alone can only operate with general and undefined terms, with comparisons rather than instances: ingratitude for example can never be definitively identified as good or bad.  Reason can only judge matters of fact or of relations.  We would first have to identify the facts that constitute a crime, but they cannot be separated from opinion and passion [the crime in question here is in gratitude again], or expectations of normal behavior.  Crime involves moral relations, but these cannot be discovered by reason alone as if they were the 'truths of geometry' (288).  It is not enough to note that two individuals may have opposite opinions about whether a crime has been committed, since some good actions can also produce contrary views.  Only sentiment can decide.  Is not like the rules of addition.  It is not just a matter of obedience to some moral rule, if that moral rule is itself defined in terms of actions that count as moral.  Inevitable metaphysical discussions will be involved.  By contrast, the position here defines virtue as whatever will induce 'the pleasing sentiment of approbation' (289) [makes a metaphysical assumption about universal sentiment here].  We can examine such matters as matters of fact, study actions which meet this sort of approbation and then move to general observations.  'If you call this metaphysics, and find anything abstruse here, you need only conclude that your turn of mind is not suited to the moral sciences' (289) [classic denigration of opponents].

Second, moral calculation is not the same as calculating the characteristics of a triangle.  With the latter, all factors and known and given, so we can move shortly to what is unknown.  In moral matters, it is more a matter of examining the whole picture before we move to our choice, without establishing any new facts or relations.  We suspend judgment if we cannot acquaint ourselves through all the circumstances.  Once we have the circumstances, we need no further reasoning [actually, no more 'understanding'], but can precede to develop an 'active feeling or sentiment' (290), using our 'heart'.  Our mind receives impressions from contemplating the whole.  Questions of right are not the same as questions of fact, and we do not blame people as much if they failed to grasp the facts, as when Oedipus killed his father in ignorance of the relation: those who commit crimes while in full possession of the facts face strong sentiments of disapproval.

Third, moral beauty is similar to natural beauty.  The latter can be understood in terms of proportion or relations of the parts, although it is clear that more is involved than just the intellectual understanding: we feel a sentiment as well.  Beauty is not just a quality of the formal parts, but an overall effect on the mind [with examples of geometric versus aesthetic qualities of circles and pillars].  The same goes with denunciations of crimes, which have an effect as a whole, more than the sum of the parts: it is irrelevant to fully explain the relations between the parts [eg events] , and condemnation arises solely from sentiments of disapprobation, such as the 'apprehension of barbarity or treachery' (293).

Fourthly, we do not apply morality to inanimate objects, even though we can explain their relations in physical terms.

Fifthly, the ultimate ends of human actions can never be accounted for by reason alone—asking for reasons will only lead to infinite regress [the example is asking people why they desire health, which implies that health is good thing and so on].  Once we have said that something produces pleasure it is absurd to ask for further reasons.  Virtue is also an end in its own right, and requires no other reward than immediate satisfaction.

Overall, reason operates with notions of truth and falsehood, sentiment with notions of 'beauty and deformity, vice and virtue' (294).  The one confines itself to 'objects as they really stand in nature', but sentiment adds color, adds something creatively.  Reason is cool and disengaged and offers no impulse to action, but taste suggests pleasure and pain and is a motive to action.  Reason leads us to discover what is concealed and unknown, but sentiment makes us feel something about the whole.  Reason works with 'eternal and inflexible' standards, but sentiment arises from the internal nature of animals and is thus only derive from 'that Supreme Will [not Supreme Being,which explains facts etc] , which bestowed on each being its peculiar nature'.

(4) Appendix two

There is a view that all benevolence really stems from selflove and it is hypocritical to claim otherwise.  This self loves disguised in various ways, especially if we want to exploit people.  Those who take this view are clearly heartless and malevolent towards humanity, but we should examine them.  They arise from 'superficial' reasoning (295), or are based on a few examples of social pretense, but it is foolish to generalize: why should humans be an exception from the obvious benevolence exerted by all other creatures?

Another approach argues that no passion can be disinterested, although this might not be no even to ourselves.  We seem to be enthusiastic supporters of others, but at bottom it all turns on the regard for our own happiness.  Here, there can be no accusation of malevolence, since some eminent Greek philosophers have taken this view [Epicurus], and some modern ones [Hobbes and Locke].  Such people admit that there is friendship, although it can be resolved into quite different elements based on self love.  That this leads to social esteem sometimes is a result of different directions of our imagination.  However, the differences between the selfish and the altruistic are real, and their characters 'durable and untransmutable' (297).  Excessive analysis and subtlety can mislead, and everyday sentiment is to be trusted in flavor of the elaborations of philosophy [the example is that we genuinely like some 'countenances' rather than others, even though the differences in biology may well be minute]

The issue of selfishness is not really relevant to morality of practice, although it is a big issue in 'the speculative science of human nature', so it might be worth discussing.  The first problem is that we really have to stretch philosophy to get to it as a major principle, despite what everyday life, 'common language and observation' (298) indicates.  The obvious appearance of things should be taken as evidence, and till some deeper hypothesis about human nature appears: none has so far.  The real source of the self and love hypothesis is a love of simplicity, 'the source of much false reasoning in philosophy'[although used himself in the above reduction of everything to utility or agreeableness].  Most philosophers disagree and so will 'every impartial enquirer'.

We can even suggest that accounting for benevolence from selfishness will never be persuasive.  It is not the case that, as in science, hypotheses can eventually become accepted, and opinions reversed.  When considering the human mind and passions, the 'simplest and most obvious cause' is 'probably the true one' (299) [so this is 'good' simplicity].  If we are forced to use 'intricate and refined reflections 'instead, we should be on our guard.  In particular, we cannot use the subtleties of reason to explain the affections, without destroying them.  We can never be sure of our own predominant motives, but we are aware that that is usually because we wish to conceal certain motives.  It is a common experience to feel sincere passions, and it would be absurd to think that some mechanism underneath produces these passions.

Animals can demonstrate kindness without artifice, and it would be wrong to conclude that all their actions arise from self interest [why?].  If they exhibit benevolence, why would superior species not do so?  We know that love between the sexes is not the same as just gratifying appetites, nor is tenderness to offspring: indeed there are many examples of parental self sacrifice.  We genuinely experience gratitude, the desire for the welfare of friends, preferences in company, in the absence of any real interest.  Why conjure up an imaginary interest?  Such matters will never support the self love hypothesis.

Overall, it is even simpler to assume disinterested benevolence, and more analogous to the way nature works.  We do have to gratify our primary appetites, and this gives us pleasure which can be sought for its own sake.  The same goes for 'mental passions' , things like fame or power, or vengeance.  They must have natural original propensities if pleasure is to be gained in the form of vanity,  ambition, power or other basic passions.  These will also generate secondary passions.  We can now see that self love is a secondary passion: it must be based on some antecedent appetite.  The same case can be made for benevolence and friendship as based on antecedent passions like a desire for the happiness of others which will become pleasure for us.  It all seems clear for  vengeance, based on a passion which overwhelms all other considerations: if this is accepted, why should not humanity and friendship be seen in the same way? Only a malignant philosopher would argue against this, unless they are trying to develop some 'paradoxical wit and raillery' instead of 'serious argument or reasoning' (302).

(5) Appendix three

This one focuses on justice.  Benevolence and humanity act directly and immediately, without any 'schema or system' (303), nor with complicated consequences.  Often, they are focused on the happiness of a particular individual.  With justice, the benefit 'arises from the whole scheme or system'(304) and aims at more general qualities like peace and order.  Individual happiness can sometimes be considered as having pernicious consequences, opposite to the interests of the whole system.  The prosperity and happiness of all of us depends on the participation of many people and the diligence of those who maintain the system.

All the laws of nature are involved in the regulation of property [the most pressing issue] and civil law, operating independently of the 'characters, situations, and connections of the person concerned' and regardless of the consequences.  They uphold the rights of misers if necessary against those of virtuous men.  'Public utility requires that property should be regulated by general inflexible rules'(305), even though there might be individual injustices. [Marx is good on how these general rules have been developed afresh for particular interests -- like the 'fair day's work' notion, the rights of capitalists alone to surplus value, the rights of clan chiefs to own land in Scotland etc] The whole scheme supports civil society.  As long as the consequences are overall beneficial, it is sufficient.  No general laws can deliver in all particulars.

Some see justice is entirely conventional and based on the voluntary consent of all involved, but if convention means promise, this is absurd, because keeping promises is only one part of the overall justice system, and the overall system guarantees that we keep our promises anyway.  If conventions represent common interests, especially that notion of a stake in public utility, the argument makes more sense.  It is obvious that some consequences are harmful to the public, and that it is reasonable to expect that everyone will agree to avoid those consequences, and not just follow private interest.  We see this public interest in any example of voluntary and informal cooperation for common interest, in the common trust in gold and silver as measures of exchange, in common understandings of words and speech.

We have to take care in using the word natural.  If self and love is natural, and if benevolence and reason are also natural, then we might suggest that justice and order property and society are also natural.  Necessity leads us to combine with others, and we understand that such combination is impossible without rules and regard for the possessions of others.  When we notice those same understandings and concerns in others, a sentiment of justice emerges.  If this is a result of the exertion of natural faculties, the process itself is natural.

All civilized nations have attempted to regularize notions of property, 'to remove everything arbitrary and partial in its definition and in judgements about it (308).  It is obvious that justice will not work if it takes account private friendships or enmities, and any suspicion that this is involved will produce ill will.  However, reason is not always able to decide on the public utility involved, and here, more 'positive laws' are required.  If these also fail, 'as often happens', precedent becomes important, and analogical reason and comparison is applied.  These are, however, 'often more fanciful than real'.  There is no procedure in jurisprudence that can be described as scientific, no obvious truth or falsehood.  Analogical arguments balance out, and here, judges have to operate with preferences, 'often founded more on taste and imagination than on any solid argument' (309).  Deciding public utility is particularly prone to this sort of decision, especially where there are several rules, 'nearly equal and indifferent' which might be applied. 

[A note says that the interests of society absolutely require an notion of independent possessions, but deciding who owns them is often  'determined by very frivolous views and considerations'. Examples include a preference given for 'occupation or first possession' as the 'foundation of property' being unable to operate where objects apparently belonged to nobody, like deciding who owns a tree {cf the notorious terra nullis arguments that Australian land belonged to no-one before colonization}  Here, labor suggests a new relation of property, reflecting the public interest in industry and labor.  Sympathy for those who have labored for property can also be effective, even though private humanity is no basis for social justice.  All notions of succession or inheritance are similarly dependent on 'the imagination' where the relation to a possessor gets transferred onto his property.  It might be true that this practice encourages effective transfer of property which might help develop industry in advanced societies, but inheritance is also valued even in barbaric ones.  Similar problems arise when discussing who might own a river, especially if the bordering territories are not very large.  The ownership of land is similar, and we often find the acts of imagination in conceiving property assisted by arguments about 'alluvion'{something to do with acquisition 'insensibly and imperceptibly' (310)}. Sometimes matters turn on whether the land has been connected organically with existing properties, such as when 'trees and plants have spread their roots into both'{or where there is some other 'natural' basis for the claim?}.  Overall, there might be a necessity for 'separation and constancy' in property of relations, but the actual rules that emerge might be based on public utility, or sentiment, or even on precedents and analogies, and  'very fine connections and turns of the imagination'].

Once the laws of justice are fixed, calculating injury or hardship from violating them greatly helps the development of general notions of blame, and conceptions about what ought to be the case.  Expectations are developed and offence caused if they are violated.  It is both a public wrong and and a private harm to violate established property rights, although the second depends on the first.  Nevertheless, 'the regard to general good is much enforced by the respect to particular' (311).  Where substantial public and private wrong are combined, 'the highest disapprobation' results. 

(6) Appendix four

Philosophy sometimes gets mixed up with disputes about words.  These are usually 'frivolous and endless' (312), and that is why this inquiry preceded by listing qualities which attract praise or blame, and the terms and vice and virtue were avoided.  Some of the objects of praise are better understood as talents rather than virtues, and the bad qualities are sometimes called defects rather than vices.  Again the point is not to provide grammatical distinctions.

The boundaries are never exactly fixed, and no precise definitions are available.  There is a tendency to call virtue the estimable qualities which are voluntary: things like courage or patience are social virtues, which implies that there must be others.  It is not sufficient to distinguish intellectual and moral endowments, because many intellectual virtues influence conduct, such as discernment and discretion.  Some people would distinguish between the heart and the head, with the first producing sentiments, but many other virtues like industry, temperance and perseverance are also seen as virtues although there is no immediate sentiment and they are judged by their effects.  Luckily, these verbal disputes 'cannot possibly be of any importance' (314), and would be endless anyway once it considered different languages.  However, despite the currents of different sorts of virtues, it is social qualities that are generally been judged, and any quality that threatens social quality, such as defects in courage or temperance, can destroy personal qualities.

Is not surprising that languages are imprecise, since little distinction is made 'in our internal estimation of' virtues, talents, vices and defects.  For that matter, the sentiment of worth probably has no simple name [pride is rejected in a note], because it arises from a combination of things such as 'courage and capacity, industry and ingenuity'.  Similarly, a recollection of stupidity or ill manners can produce deep mortification which persists.  That is why everyone is anxious to hide such blunders, and to talk up instead their 'bravery or learning, wit or breeding'(315).  They also want to improve those, even more than the social virtues.  Character and honesty are clearly valuable and so are highly prized, if often taken for granted rather than explicitly praised.  However, 'endowments of their head' are supposedly more rare, more often attract pride and self conceit or boasting, and thus are strongly suspected.

Ranking these qualities is more personal—Hume himself would like to be thought of as a genius with courage, even more so than having a 'a friendly, humane heart'.  Being able to interact socially is equally important, because otherwise personal advantages or intentions would never lead to much regard.  However, generally, these characteristics form personal merit which together provides both personal satisfaction and the esteem of others, so there is no need to be too 'scrupulous' about words and definitions (316).  There might be some differences between approbation, and being seen as possessing justice and humanity, but there is no need to distinguish them, since both can be virtuous, and are often linked together.

It is easier to condemn vices, such as dissolute pleasures [with lots of classical examples, and much citing of Cicero, 318-20.  The gist of it is that the ancient moralists did not bother to distinguish different species among the virtues and vices.  In general, 'to sustain and to abstain' (319) seemed to summarize desirable moral courses, although there were other specialisms, as when the stoics admired 'affirmed temper and the sound understanding', while others saw folly or wisdom as the basis for vice and virtue.  Particular figures such as Hannibal or Pope Alexander seem to offer a combination of virtues—courage and confidence, resilience and endurance, but on the other hand cruelty, perfidy, no respect for oaths or promises.  Indeed, an adequate history should reflect this sort of mixture.

This seems to be a modern preference for a distinction between voluntary and involuntary, although the ancients were more interested in whether virtue could be taught or not.  This did imply that there were things in dependent of the will.  However, in the modern era, theology has come to dominate philosophy especially ethics, and this permits no 'terms of composition' (322), but rather imposes its own purpose on sentiments reasoning and language.  As a result, some differences have been imposed where they did not exist in nature, and moral laws tended to be equated with civil laws, especially in terms of thinking about rewards and punishments.  As a results, the issue of voluntary action became the foundation of the theory.  Again, common practice operates with a number of different distinctions, and it is that that we should be explaining.

We seem to attribute different degrees of blame when we refer to things as either a blemish or a crime, for example, but we can see that there is something underlying these distinctions.  Again we need to look at things rather than words.  It is obvious that there is an notion of duty in all systems of morals and this must be examined, especially in terms of whether it refers to 'that which we owe to society' (323)—it is probable that both are similar whatever words we use.

(7) A dialogue

[With an imaginary friend describing an imaginary society where people act quite differently from the way they do here].  It was hard to use the meaning of the terms they used and whether they attracted praise or blame.  Some terms received immediate approbation in public, but were insults in private.  The friend lived with a person universally esteemed, with high personal merit, and observed his public conduct.  He pursued a particular woman, who turned out to be a male.  This was socially approved as long as he behaved appropriately in enhancing the young man's prospects.  A similar episode had arisen with the friend himself. The friend's wife who was also his sister approved. 

It also became clear that the friend was a murderer and parricide, who had committed these evils on the advice of his friends, to improve his own circumstances.  Indeed, the highest virtue of all was based on the assassination of a former friend, in order to gain his fortune.  The former friend was admired, but his assassin even more so as a result.  The friend was once beaten by a colleague, although they restored friendly relations, and the friend gained honour as a result.  The friend eventually committed suicide, but again this was seen as a sign of nobility, since it was accompanied with a boast that wise men are not inferior to great gods.

The same puzzlement attends good manners and sociableness.  It was considered to be naive to offer people to share food, for example, and one occasion where the friend had shared food was treated as an extraordinary event.  There were rumours that you could gain merit by telling people strange stories and then mocking them if they believed you: there was certainly much sneering and banter and it was hard to tell if people were serious or not.  This leads the listener to believe that perhaps the whole thing is one of those stories, because such outrageous behavior would be incompatible with civilization.

The imaginary friend then says he has been describing the Athenians all along!  Parallels can be found among the best of them [with details of the lives of great Athenians page 329].  The listener admits that the Athenians were pretty undeveloped in terms of their morals compared to their other fields, but urges that we judge them by their own standards not ours.  If we use the wrong standards, unknown to the people themselves, we can render any one 'odious or ridiculous' (330) [and goes on to refer to a nation which values adultery—France?  Regency England?  It would be possible to set these bizarre preferences in context, and they had other absolute values, such as preserving their own lives at any stake.  Children are locked up in prisons and tortured [!] Especially if they are not in line to inherit.  At Saturnalia, the world is turned upside down.  Sportsmen gain permanent status, women are revered.].  The listener gets the point, that judgements vary.

The overall conclusion is that judgements about characters are deeply affected by 'fashion, vogue, custom, and law' (333).  Both the Athenians and the French can be seen as both civilized and yet absurd in the definitions of what counts as merit.  Can there ever be a common standard?

There may well be some underlying common foundation.  Both French and Greek society's value 'good sense, knowledge, wit, eloquence, humanity, fidelity, truth, justice, courage, temperance, constancy, dignity of mind' (334).  Particular practices might arise from local causes: Greek homosexuality from the frequency of gymnastic exercise or to build solidarity; incestuous relations are not necessarily socially harmful; children can be sent away as a result of parental love, to prevent later failures; assassination of leaders can be justified.  Both French and Greek gallantry look inexplicable, and differ only in the sense that one seems more natural and agreeable, while the other represents a higher value placed on sociable pleasures, ease and freedom at the expense of strict fidelity.  Obedience to the laws of the country as they are is seen everywhere is a virtue.  Even dueling can be seen as producing 'civility and good manners' (335), and to encourage personal courage or honour.  Suicide may be valued or not according to what is permitted.

We can therefore get to original principles.  We see that these are uniform, despite surface differences.  We have corrected our impressions 'by sounder reasoning and larger experience' (336).  Despite the ages that have elapsed since ancient Greece, there's been no real innovation in moral principles.  We can detect that being useful or agreeable underpins these qualities as 'one general foundation'.  There may be particular circumstances which affect the judgement of utility: in times of war or disorder, the military virtues are more important, and the notion of courage differs.  Warfare provides the greatest variations in morality, but other circumstances can have an influence.  Luxury can encourage either industry or the arts, as we see in the differences between London and Paris.  Different customs can have an influence.  The balance between self, other, reason and sentiment can vary, as we see with a different stances towards women and public life [more examples from ancient Greece, where banning women from public life did have certain permissible exceptions.  Women in modern times are seen as much more powerful, even capable of toppling Kings in the case of 'Harry the third'(339).  If there are free and open relations between the sexes, intrigues, license and gallantry are almost inevitable, and we have simply sacrificed maximum utility in order to increase agreeability, and we have learned to turn a blind eye to female infidelity [despite all the anxieties about its implications for social order above?].

We need to keep a proper balance between the agreeable and a useful, and we might well study societies where this has been achieved with regard to sex, preferring Rome and England, to the customs of the Spaniards and Italians, riddled with 'gallantry and jealousy' (340).  Relations with the sexes will clearly affect more general estimates of personal merit, and men can be esteemed for either prudence or gaiety, simple manners or politeness, good sense or taste.  These are seen as 'the natural effects of such customs'.  Chance has a great influence on the operation of general rules, as when living freely with women seems to lead to the neglect of music and dancing [Romans being compared to Greeks].  Republics are different from monarchies, rich societies from poor, learned from ignorance.  Customs and situations seem to affect young men particularly, while those who are older seem to conform much more to a common belief in integrity knowledge or the other solid qualities.

What about 'artificial lives' , that is societies where life is regulated largely by 'artificial' conventions like those found in philosophy, which tends to produce 'great singularities of maxims and of conduct' (341)?Luckily, philosophy does not have this role in modern societies but is confined to scholastic speculation. Modern religion attempts to police us more extensively. but there can still exist individuals who develop their own maxims, like Diogenes or Pascal . Pascal had very high personal standards and professed constant humility. He embraced voluntary privations and denial of pleasure.He tried to stay cool to friends and praise enemies. Pascal was directed  by 'most ridiculous superstitions' including a contempt for life. Diogenes was almost the opposite. Both were admired.  Neither seemed to embrace any universal standard of morals. But --such artificial ways of life are quite different from normal lives and are prone to 'religious superstition or philosophical enthusiasm' (343) .

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