“Gilding or Staining” the World with “Sentiments” and “Phantasms”

Barry Stroud

in Philosophers Past and Present

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608591
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729621 | DOI:
“Gilding or Staining” the World with “Sentiments” and “Phantasms”

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This chapter asks how Hume can account for our having the thoughts we do about the beauty, deformity, goodness, or badness of various things in the world, given that our feelings or ‘sentiments’ play a crucial role in such evaluations. The problem Hume faces extends beyond evaluation to thoughts about the colour and smell and taste of things as well as to causation, enduring objects, and the self. Since we encounter no such facts directly in our experience, our thoughts about them are generated by certain things happening only in our minds. It is argued that Hume's view of the mind and thought as nothing more than the comings and goings of ‘impressions’ and ‘ideas’ lacks the resources to explain satisfactorily how we can even so much as think thoughts that in that way go ‘beyond’ the sensory ‘data’ we receive. The difficulties identified apply even to ‘projectivist’ accounts of this or that kind of thought that do not explicitly commit themselves to the details of a strictly Humean conception of the mind.

Keywords: Hume; beauty; deformity; goodness; badness; sentiments; impressions; ideas; mind

Chapter.  9693 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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