Volume 92, Issue 3, July 2015
Ethical and Religious Themes in Humean Philosophy
The Movement of Feeling and the Genesis of Character in Hume
This paper is concerned with the question of how affect, or feeling, moves through and ultimately shapes the Humean mental landscape, with particular focus on the question of how this constantly changing geography of feeling results in the kind of enduring dispositions and tendencies necessary for the existence of character, an essential component of Hume’s moral philosophy. Section 1 looks at the concept of ‘attending emotion’ and outlines two important principles of mind Hume introduces in Book II of the Treatise: the Principle of Attending Emotion, and the Principle of Affective Conversion. Section 2 explores the origin of enduring tendency and disposition by considering the calm and violent passions in conjunction with these principles. The paper concludes with some preliminary suggestions of how, on this picture, an individual might come to take an active hand in shaping her own character.