Hume on Reason and Taste

“Thus the distinct boundaries and offices of reason and taste are easily ascertained. The former conveys the knowledge of truth and falsehood: The latter gives the sentiment of beauty and deformity, vice and virtue. The one discovers objects, as they really stand in nature, without addition or diminution: The other has a productive faculty, and gilding or staining all natural objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiment, raises, in a manner, a new creation. Reason, being cool and disengaged, is no motive to action, and directs only the impulse received from appetite or inclination, by showing us the means of attaining happiness or avoiding misery: Taste, as it gives pleasure or pain, and thereby constitutes happiness or misery, becomes a motive to action, and is the first spring or impulse to desire and volition. From circumstances and relations, known or supposed, the former leads us to the discovery of the concealed and the unknown: After all circumstances and relations are laid before us, the latter makes us feel from the whole a new sentiment of blame or approbation. The standard of the one, being founded on the nature of things, is eternal and inflexible, even by the will of the Supreme Being: The stand of the other, arising from the internal frame and constitution of animals, is ultimate derived from that Supreme Will, which bestowed on each being its peculiar nature, and arranged the several classes and orders of existence.”

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, 88. (Hackett Edition)

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One Response to Hume on Reason and Taste

  1. Pingback: Four chapters down –> anxious reflections | My Desiring-Machines

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