Just finished reading Hume’s Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals which is a good overall flavour of Hume’s position on ethics. I found though that it’s very repetitive and spends a lot of time illustrating the same point over and over before moving on, which can be frustrating when the references are for another age.

The interesting thing was how I continually found myself thinking of the Humeans in my A-level philosophy class, the main voice being someone now off studying natural sciences. I imagined the cool, confident agreement from middle-class intellectuals who see Hume as putting to bed all the major questions with his simple appeal to agreeableness to individuals and utility to mankind for ethics, and to the principle that we just can’t help but use induction in epistemology. It justifies the material aspects of their lives and desire to keep pushing society in the direction of a bunch of secular humanists practising natural science and being happy with that.

At the end of the book we see the characters of Pascal and Diogenes brought out and described as being much admired in their ages yet being very opposite in their views. Hume calls them out as exceptions that we can’t consider in common morality, with Pascal showing the excesses of religious superstition and Diogenes of what he calls ‘philosophical enthusiasm’. I would like to know more about Hume’s opinion of both of these. I suspect he’d see me as a victim of philosophical enthusiasm.

@spwhitton just a suggestion that lesswrong.com is most entertaining as a philosophy blog

(this comment is being posted by the blog owner after David let me know that commenting was broken when he tried to post a comment.  So it may not have been on this post, but one around this time)

Comment by dgerard Wed 27 Apr 2011 19:53:04 UTC