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Hume’s Passions: Comparison

Prelude to envy and malice.

So little are men govern’d by reason in their sentiments and opinions, that they always judge more of objects by comparison than from their intrinsic worth and value.

David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, book II, part II, section VIII

Human beings are profoundly irrational—this has already been said.

Their biggest epistemological pitfall? Comparison, which terrible passions derive from:

[O]bjects appear greater or less by a comparison with others. We have so many instances of this, that it is impossible we can dispute its veracity; and ’tis from this principle I derive the passions of malice and envy.

David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, book II, part II, section VIII

Malice and envy: more passions which did not figure in Hume’s initial (and too simple) system.

The proofs Hume brings up seem so irrefutable (so many examples—typical argument from an empiricist), who keeps finding new extensions to his system.

How far will Hume’s treaty on the passions bring us?