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Hume’s Passions: Judgements and Opinions I

Men always consider the sentiments of others in their judgment of themselves.

David Hume, Dissertations of the Passions, section II, §11

Hume states that we exist through the eyes (and opinions) of others. He notes that such foundation of our own pride is rather fragile:

Our opinions of all kinds are strongly affected by society and sympathy, and it is almost impossible for us to support any principle or sentiment, against the universal consent of every one, with whom we have any friendship or correspondence. But of all our opinions, those, which we form in our own favour; however lofty or presuming; are, at bottom, the frailest, and the most easily shaken by the contradiction and opposition of others.

David Hume, Dissertations of the Passions, section II, §10

We naturally seek others’ approval, which pleases us; their disapproval offends us. This is even more true with people with a stronger connection:

We receive a much greater satisfaction from the approbation of those, whom we ourselves esteem and approve of, than of those, whom we contemn and despise.

David Hume, Dissertations of the Passions, section II, §10

The opinions and feelings of people close to us counts for much, much more. What the lover says to the loved one (on their qualities and their faults) will have an immense impact on the perception of the loved one of themself.

Hume therefore suggests that we not take lightly the remarks made to the cherished ones: they will be equally flattered by a pleasant remark (to receive a compliment, praise) as offended by a humiliating contradiction (to have an ugly trait, a flaw, highlighted).