The Agora Speaker Series is hosted by the School of Liberal Arts. Lectures presented as part of the series are free of charge and are open to members of the School of Liberal Arts, the University and the general public.
Agora Speaker Series 2021 - Associate Professor Anik Waldow
How not to be an uncouth monster? Hume on reflective pleasures.
In this paper I argue that for Hume the acceptance of the other as a cognitive equal stands at the beginning of a process of reflection that generates a specific form of epistemic pleasure. This pleasure neutralises the experience of monstrous deformity Hume encounters at the end of Book I of the Treatise of Human Nature as a result of his sceptical doubts. It does so by placing the subject of experience into a community of like-minded creatures, and through this makes a rational engagement with the world possible. To substantiate this interpretation, I examine Claude Buffier, a French Jesuit writer whose works on common sense were available and widely read during the time Hume wrote his Treatise at La Flèche. I demonstrate that Hume’s account of reflective judgement in Book III resonates with central aspects of Buffier’s conception of agreement and concord, thereby inspiring a new understanding of the epistemic function of the feeling of humanity.