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Reflecting Subjects: Passion, Sympathy, and Society in Hume's Philosophy

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Reflecting Subjects

Passion, Sympathy, and Society in Hume's Philosophy

By Jacqueline Taylor

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Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 02 November 2017
Jacqueline Taylor offers an original reconstruction of Hume's social theory, which examines the passions and imagination in relation to institutions such as government and the economy. Reflecting Subjects begins with a close examination of Hume's use of an experimental method to explain the origin, nature and effects of pride, an indirect passion that reflects a person's sense of self-worth in virtue of her valuable qualities, for example, her character or wealth. In explaining the origin of pride in terms of efficient causes, Hume displaces the traditional appeal to final causes, and is positioned to give an account of the significance for us of the passions in terms of a social theory. Subsequent chapters reconstruct this social theory, looking in particular at how the principle of sympathy functions to transmit cultural meanings and values, before examining Hume's account of social power-especially with regard to rank and sex. Turning to Hume's system of ethics, Taylor argues for the importance of Hume's more sophisticated moral philosophy in his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, since it emphasizes certain virtues of good moral evaluation. She demonstrates that the principle of humanity stands as the central concept of Hume's Enlightenment philosophy.

About the Author

Jacqueline Taylor is Professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco. She co-edited the second edition of the Cambridge Companion to Hume, and has published many articles on Hume, as well as on contemporary moral psychology.


In Reflecting Subjects, Jacqueline Taylor gives a fresh and rigorous development of the connection between Hume's theory of the passions and his moral philosophy, cast in the form of Humean social theory. It is an important and helpful book for anyone working on these topics in several respects. Nathan Sasser, Journal of Scottish Philosophy Taylor's book displays a refreshingly concrete awareness of the ways in which concepts traditionally investigated by philosophers are socially realized In providing a wealth of pertinent detail, her book makes valuable contributions to a more three-dimensional understanding of Hume, especially in the later chapters. Christopher Williams, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

EAN: 9780198801429
ISBN: 0198801424
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.8 x 1.2 centimetres (0.25 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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