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Sympathy and Reflection in Hume's Philosophy: Mind, Morals, Art and Politics

KIM, BYOUNGJAE (2018) Sympathy and Reflection in Hume's Philosophy: Mind, Morals, Art and Politics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Hume, as an “anatomist” of human nature, believes that “the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences”. The naturalistic and experimental analysis of human nature, as it informs his epistemology, is the basis for other areas. Thus, in order fully to understand his philosophy, we need to shed light on the connection between Hume’s experimental analysis of human nature in epistemology, and his naturalistic account in ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy. However, too often, writers on the latter are not always fully informed on his general philosophy and vice versa. A principal aim of this research is to bring together investigation of his naturalistic epistemology, and his ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy.

This project brings close attention to bear on all of these areas, focusing on three key concepts: sympathy, general rule, and reflection. First, I examine the nature of sympathy. I argue against recent interpreters who use his concept of sympathy to construct a solution to the Problem of Other Minds. On my interpretation, Hume employs the concept of sympathy for his ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy, not for his epistemology. Second, I show that the concept of general rule plays an essential role in his philosophy. On my interpretation, Hume first establishes the general rules of human nature. He then establishes the general rules of his ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy. Third, I uncover the role of reflection in his philosophy. According to him, it is wrong to apply abstract reasoning to matters of fact; Instead, we should adopt the experimental reasoning that he terms “reflection” to observe and generalise matters of fact, thus establishing general rules in ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy. In this way, we can see the intimate connections between these diverse aspects of his philosophical writings.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Feb 2019 11:25

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