Life and Works Born in Edinburgh, Hume spent his childhood at Ninewells, his family's modest estate in the border lowlands. His father died just after David's second birthday, leaving him and his elder brother and sister in the care of our Mother, a woman of singular Merit, who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her Children. MOL 3 Katherine Falconer Hume realized that David was uncommonly precocious, so when his older brother went up to Edinburgh University, Hume went with him, although he was only 10 or
These now-familiar labels were not available to Hume when he published his Treatise in and The specific connections are detailed in KivyTownsendand Costelloe From the older tradition, elegantly expounded by Addison in numerous essays written between andHume retains the idea that the values within the scope of criticism are essentially pleasures of the human imagination.
Value judgments are expressions of taste rather than reasoned analysis. Values cannot be addressed except in the context of a general theory about our shared human nature. Although recognition of aesthetic and moral beauty is a manifestation of taste and perhaps they cannot ultimately be distinguished from one anothertaste must not be dismissed as subjective, idiosyncratic preference.
Granted, Hume has many other influences. He drew on classical sources, including Cicero. See Section 4 below. So does the essay on tragedy. See Section 5 below. Within this framework of concerns and influences, Hume is neither interested in working out a theory of art in contributing to philosophy of art nor in analyzing aesthetic properties in doing aesthetics.
Although he is aware of debates about the nature of the sublime and recognizes it as a category of artistic achievement SOT,he offers no theory of the sublime. An attempt to pull together a Humean account is made by Hipplepp.
Due to the seamless connection Hume posits between moral and aesthetic value, much of his technical discussion of aesthetics appears only as an illustration of his moral theory.
The construction of each essay suggests a purpose of working out details of the larger project in the face of an obvious counterexample. Yet their limited purpose does not detract from their continuing importance. They provide insight into perennial problems and so serve as the historical foundation for subsequent attempts to defend a subjectivist aesthetic theory.
Poetry differs from the more practical arts in being designed for the primary purpose of giving pleasure SOT, In contexts where he can only be taken to be interested in the narrower category of fine art, Hume variously mentions painting, statuary, architecture, dance, poetry, and music.
But he places poetry among the arts of eloquent public discourse. Eloquence includes sermons, essays, argumentative discourse, and other categories that we today would regard as too overtly didactic to be fine art E.
Hume assumes that every product of human labor has some definite purpose, with only a limited subset of art being produced for the sake of pleasure alone. He is skeptical about appeals to teleological or final causes in nature.
Houses will be designed and built apart from any need to satisfy our taste for beauty, and representational art will be produced in order to provide visual information.
The interesting questions are why houses and visual representations also appeal to taste, and what this appeal tells us about the relative contributions of human nature and education as conditions for appropriate responses to our surroundings. It may be easier to specify which labels do not fit his theory than to attach one to it.
He rejects normative realism. There is considerable controversy on the question of whether Hume is a realist regarding matters of fact. Putting that issue to one side, he clearly denies that normative judgments have the same degree of objectivity that holds for matters of fact.
Hume is equally at pains to deny that reason provides an adequate foundation for judgments of taste.
Is he therefore a subjectivist? Not if subjectivism implies that such judgments are arbitrary. He is not a relativist, for the main point of the essay on taste is that some judgments of taste are superior to others.
Nor, in his own terms, is he a skeptic regarding aesthetic properties and value judgments. Despite his philosophical view that beauty is not a real property of things, Hume never questions the meaningfulness of general practice of making aesthetic judgments. Because the verdicts of taste are sentiments, devoid of truth-value, there is no opportunity for the conflicts and failures of reason that give rise to philosophical skepticism.
Hume is an inner sense theorist who treats aesthetic pleasure as an instinctive and natural human response.
Successful art exploits our natural sentiments by employing appropriate composition and design. Only empirical inquiry can establish reliable ways to elicit the approval of taste. Natural, general laws guide both.
Both permit of education and refinement and thus better and worse responses. Both produce sentiments or feelings of approval and disapproval. It feels different from other pleasures.First, to examine the extent and significance of the connection between Hume's aesthetics and his moral philosophy; and, second, to consider how, in light of the connection, his moral philosophy answers central questions in ethics.
From the psychology of passions in the Treatise, through its moral philosophy to its theory of law and government there is, therefore, one constantly maintained idea, viz. that sympathy is not only one of the greatest but one of the noblest and best forces of the human soul.
David Hume’s views on aesthetic theory and the philosophy of art are to be found in his work on moral theory and in several essays.
Although there is a tendency to emphasize the two essays devoted to art, “Of the Standard of Taste” and “Of Tragedy,” his views on art and aesthetic judgment are intimately connected to his moral philosophy and theories of human thought and emotion.
Hobbes and Hume on the imagination can initiate a discussion of empiricism in the 17th and 18th centuries: here, however, it provides the opportunity to focus on Kant's attempt to overcome the limits of their sense originating, naturalist ethics.
After the publication of Essays Moral and Political in , which was included in the later edition called Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, Hume applied for the Chair of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Description and explanation of the major themes of David Hume (–).
This accessible literary criticism is perfect for anyone faced with David Hume (–) essays, papers, tests, exams, or for anyone who needs to create a David Hume (–) lesson plan.