Tuesday – July 18

Keynote: Jane McIntyre Keynote ‘Revisiting Hume’s ‘New and Extraordinary’ account of the Passions’

In the Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature (1740) Hume began his comments on Book 2 by saying, “‘Tis of more easy comprehension than the first; but contains opinions, that are altogether as new and extraordinary” (A 30; SBN 659). The Abstract, however, supplied only hints as to what those opinions might be. In an earlier paper, I examined works on the passions prior to the Treatise to provide a context for Hume’s claim, and to identify the features of the account of the passions in the Treatise that represented a break from previous discussions. At the end of his life, in an advertisement for a new edition of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects, Hume urged his readers to ignore his “juvenile work” (the Treatise), writing, henceforth, the Author desires, that the following Pieces may alone be regarded as containing his philosophical sentiments and principles”.

This paper briefly summarizes my previous conclusions about the innovations in Hume’s account of the passions in the Treatise, and then examines whether (or to what extent) he continued to endorse his early views in his later works. My approach here is thematic, tracing the post-Treatise fate of the opinions that had been “new and extraordinary.”

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