Jump to content

When a person is once heartily in love, the little faults and caprices of his mistress, the jealousies and quarrels, to which that commerce is so subject; however unpleasant they be, and rather connected with anger and hatred; are yet found, in many instances, to give additional force to the prevailing passion.

David Hume, Dissertations of the Passions, section VI, §1

The word “commerce”

Does the appearance of the word “commerce” give away Hume’s conception of love as an economic, transactional matter? This would be supported by Lysias’s words in Plato’s Phèdre, as well as the mathematical calculation which Marcello alludes.

The paradox

The flaws of the lover (or the loved one) would allow them to be loved even more, since those flaws increase the “dominant passion” (i.e. the amorous passion). Surprising, since Hume suggests that the association of similar ideas and impressions tends to reinforce these mutually, not the opposite ones. But in this case, yes.


Do we naturally prefer things that are not perfectly flawless, thus with accidental imperfections, textures of randomness, organic and living traits?

Or is it to preserve one’s own pride?

Hypothesis in the light of feelings described in Hume’s works: thanks to flaws found in the other, one can love them without fearing for their own pride. In the other’s company, the lover can lower their guard and behave serenely, fearing not to be negatively judged in regards to their flaws (to be liked by someone else, and even more to be seen with this person in public before the eyes of other people, also contributes to self’s pride).

This is however absolute speculation: Hume notices the paradox, but does not explain it.