An essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections
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An essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections, Francis Hutcheson, 1728 AD
Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746)
MA Glasgow, professor of moral philosophy, University of Glasgow
An essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections, 1728 London, Smith & Bruce (pp. 333) PP. 56-7, 88, 93-5
THE POWER OF DESIRE AND AVERSION
Let Physicians or Anatomists explain the several Motions in the Fluids or Solids of the Body, which accompany any Passions; or the Temperaments of Body which either make Men prone to any Passion, or are brought upon us by the long Continuance, or frequent Returns of it. 'Tis only to our Purpose in general to observe, 'that probably certain Motions in the Body do accompany every Passion by a fixed Law of Nature; and alternately, that Temperament which is apt to receive or prolong these Motions in the Body, does influence our Passions to heighten or prolong them'. Thus a certain Temperament may be brought upon the Body, by its being frequently put into Motion by the Passions of Anger, Joy, Love, Sorrow; and the Continuance of this Temperament shall make Men prone to the several Passions for the future. We find our selves after a long Fit of Anger or Sorrow, in an uneasy State, even when we are not reflecting on the particular Occasion of our Passion. During this State, every trifle shall be apt to provoke or deject us. On the contrary, after good Success, after strong friendly Passions, or a State of Mirth, some considerable Injuries or Losses, which at other times would have affected us very much, shall be overlooked, or meekly received, or at most but slightly resented; perhaps because our Bodies are not sit easily to receive these Motions which are constituted the Occasion of the uneasy Sensations of Anger. This Diversity of Temper every one has felt, who reflects on himself at different Times. In some Tempers it will appear like Madness. Whether the only Seat of these Habits, or the Occasion rather of these Dispositions, be in the Body; or whether the Soul itself does not, by frequent Returns of any Passion, acquire some greater Disposition to receive and retain it again, let those determine, who sufficiently understand the Nature of either the one or the other .. .
From what was said above it appears, that our Passions are not so much in our Power, as some seem to imagine, from the Topicks used either to raise or allay them. We are so constituted by Nature, that, as soon as we form the Idea of certain Objects or Events, our Desire or Aversion will arise toward them; and consequently our Affections must very much depend upon the Opinions we form, concerning any thing which occurs to our Mind, its Qualities, Tendencies, or Effects .. .
Hence we see how impossible it is for one to judge of the Degrees of Happiness or Misery in others, unless he knows their Opinions, their Associations of Ideas, and the Degrees of their Desires and Aversions. We see also of how much Consequence our Associations of Ideas and Opinions are to our Happiness or Misery, and to the Command of our Passions. For tho in our Appetites there are uneasy Sensations, previous to any Opinion, yet our very Appetites may be strengthened or weakned, and variously alter'd by Opinion, or Associations of Ideas. Before their Intervention, the bodily Appetites are easily satissied : Nature has put it in almost every one's power, so far to gratify them, as to support the Body, and remove Pain. But when Opinion, and confused Ideas, or Fancy comes in, and represents some particular kinds of Gratifications, or great Variety of them, as of great Importance; when Ideas of Dignity, Grandure, Magnisicence, Generosity, or any other moral Species, are joined to the Objects of Appetites, they may furnish us with endless Labour, Vexation, and Misery of every kind .. .
The common Effect of these Associations of Ideas is this, 'that they raise the Passions into an extravagant Degree, beyond the proportion of real Good in the Object : And commonly beget some secret Opinions to justify the Passions. But then the Confutation of these false Opinions is not sufficient to break the Association, so that the Desire or Passion shall continue, even when our Understanding has suggested to us, that the Object is not good, or not proportioned to the Strength of the Desire'. Thus we often may observe, that Persons, who by reasoning have laid aside all Opinion of Spirits being in the dark more than in the light, are still uneasy to be alone in the dark. Thus the luxurious, the extravagant Lover, the Miser, can scarce be supposed to have Opinions of the several Objects of their Pursuit, proportioned to the Vehemence of their Desires; but the constant Indulgence of any Desire, the frequent Repetition of it, the diverting our Minds from all other Pursuits, the Strain of Conversation among Men of the same Temper, who often haunt together, the Contagion in the very Air and Countenance of the passionate, beget such wild Associations of Ideas, that a sudden Conviction of Reason will not stop the Desire or Aversion, any more than an Argument will surmount the Loathings or Aversions, acquired against certain Meats or Drinks, by Surfeits or emetick Preparations.
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