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|Quotations by David Hume|
|In our reasonings concerning. . . - In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.|
Where am I, or what? From what. . . - Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? ... I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty.
Most fortunately it happens, that since Reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends. And when, after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.
When I shall be dead. . . - When I shall be dead, the principles of which I am composed will still perform their part in the universe, and will be equally useful in the grand fabric, as when they composed this individual creature. The difference to the whole will be no greater betwixt my being in a chamber and in the open air. The one change is of more importance to me than the other; but not more so to the universe.
Celibacy, fasting, penance. . . - Celibacy, fasting, penance, mortification, self-denial, humility, silence, solitude and the whole train of monkish virtues...Stupify the understanding and harden the heart, obscure the fancy and sour the temper...A gloomy hair-brained enthusiast, after his death, may have a place in the calendar, but will scarcely ever be admitted, when alive, into intimacy and society, except by those who are as delirious and dismal as himself.
Propensity to hope and joy is real riches - A propensity to hope and joy is real riches; one to fear and sorrow, real poverty.
The only Catholic remedy - Accurate and just reasoning is the only Catholic remedy, fitted for all persons and all dispositions; and is alone able to subvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which, being mixed up with popular superstition, renders it in a manner impenetrable to careless reasoners, and gives it the air of science and wisdom.
All ills spring from some vice - All ills spring from some vice, either in ourselves or others; and even many of our diseases proceed from the same origin. Remove the vices, and the ills follow. You must only take care to remove all the vices. If you remove part, you may render the matter worse. By banishing vicious luxury, without curing sloth and an indifference to others, you only diminish industry in the state, and add nothing to men's charity or their generosity.
Power rests on opinion - All power, even the most despotic, rests ultimately on opinion.
Most everyone has a predominant inclination - Almost every one has a predominant inclination, to which his other desires and affections submit, and which governs him, though perhaps with some intervals, through the whole course of his life.
Mutual deference and civility in conversation - Among the arts of conversation no one pleases more than mutual deference or civility, which leads us to resign our own inclinations to those of our companions, and to curb and conceal that presumption and arrogance so natural to the human mind.
Conversation in well-bred people - Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt of others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority.
Mankind governed by authority, not reason - An established government has an infinite advantage by that very circumstance of its being established--the bulk of mankind being governed by authority, not reason, and never attributing authority to anything that has not the recommendation of antiquity.
Nature produces the man - Art may make a suit of clothes; but nature must produce a man.
The limited influence of curiosity - Curiosity, or the love of knowledge, has a very limited influence, and requires youth, leisure, education, genius and example to make it govern any person.
Delicacy of taste - Delicacy of taste has the same effect as delicacy of passion; it enlarges the sphere both of our happiness and our misery.
Eloquence leave little room for reason - Eloquence, when at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection, but addresses itself entirely to the fancy or the affections, captivates the willing hearers, and subdues their understanding. Happily, this pitch it seldom attains.
Everything is sold to skill and labor - Everything is sold to skill and labor; and where nature furnishes the materials, they are still rude and unfinished, till industry, ever active and intelligent, refines them from their brute state, and fits them for human use and convenience.
Friendship is a calm and sedate affection - Friendship is a calm and sedate affection, conducted by reason and cemented by habit; springing from long acquaintance and mutual obligations, without jealousies or fears, and without those feverish fits of heat and cold, which cause such an agreeable torment in the amorous passion.
Suiting temper to any circumstance - He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper; but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances.
A small spark kindle to the greatest flame - In a vain man, the smallest spark may kindle into the greatest flame, because the materials are always prepared for it.
In this sullen apathy - In this sullen apathy neither true wisdom nor true happiness can be found.
Beauty and value of nature's productions - It is a great mortification to the vanity of man that his utmost art and industry can never equal the meanest of Nature's productions, either for beauty or value. Art is only the underworkman, and is employed to give a few strokes of embellishment to those pieces which come from the hand of the master.
Soften and humanize the temper - It is certain that a serious attention to the sciences and liberal arts softens and humanizes the temper, and cherishes those fine emotions in which true virtue and honor consist. It rarely, very rarely happens that a man of taste and learning is not, at least, an honest man, whatever frailties may attend him.
Harder to avoid censure that gain applause - It is harder to avoid censure than to gain applause; for this may be done by one great or wise action in an age. But to escape censure a man must pass his whole life without saying or doing one ill or foolish thing.
Government founded only on opinion - It is on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.
Plainess of manner is more engaging - It is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of manner and of dress is more engaging than that glare of paint and airs and apparel which may dazzle the eye, but reaches not the affections.
Love in full force requires some jealousy - Jealousy is a painful passion; yet without some share of it, the agreeable affection of love has difficulty to subsist in its full force and violence.
Let us consider viscious luxury - Let us consider what we call vicious luxury. No gratification, however sensual, can of itself be esteemed vicious. A gratification is only vicious when it engrosses all a man's expense, and leaves no ability for such acts of duty and generosity as are required by his situation and fortune. The same care and toil that raise a dish of peas at Christmas would give bread to a whole family during six months.
Liberty of thinking fatal to priestly power - Liberty of thinking, and of expressing our thoughts, is always fatal to priestly power, and to those pious frauds on which it is commonly founded.
Luxury is a word of uncertain signification - Luxury is a word of uncertain signification, and may be taken in a good as in a bad sense.
Easiness in the many, governed by few - Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.
Study of beauties improving to the temper - Nothing is so improving to the temper as the study of the beauties either of poetry, eloquence, music, or painting.
First appearances are deceitul in politics - Of all sciences there is none where first appearances are more deceitful than in politics.
For pleasure, praise must concur with opinion - Praise never gives us much pleasure unless it concur with our own opinion, and extol us for those qualities in which we chiefly excel.
Riches are valuable at all times - Riches are valuable at all times, and to all men, because they always purchase pleasures such as men are accustomed to and desire; nor can anything restrain or regulate the love of money but a sense of honor and virtue, which, if it be not nearly equal at all times, will naturally abound most in ages of knowledge and refinement.
The nature of novelty - Such is the nature of novelty that where anything pleases, it becomes doubly agreeable if new; but if it displeases, it is doubly displeasing upon that very account.
The corruptions of true religion - That the corruption of the best thing produces the worst, is grown into a maxim, and is commonly proved, among other instances, by the pernicious effects of superstition and enthusiasm, the corruptions of true religion.
The end result of human industry - The great end of all human industry is the attainment of happiness.
The two classes of mankind - The greater part of mankind may be divided into two classes; that of shallow thinkers who fall short of the truth; and that of abstruse thinkers who go beyond it.
The richest genius, when uncultivated - The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds; and instead of vines and olives for the pleasure and use of man, produces to its slothful owner the most abundant crop of poisons.
Life through avenues of science and learning - The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science and learning; and whoever can either remove any obstruction in this way, or open up any new prospect, ought so far, to be esteemed a benefactor to mankind.
A set of harmless liars - There is a set of harmless liars, frequently to be met with in company, who deal much in the marvelous. Their usual intention is to please and entertain; but as men are most delighted with what they conceive to be the truth, these people mistake the means of pleasing, and incur universal blame.
Distinguishing men of delicate taste - Though men of delicate taste be rare, they are easily to be distinguished in society by the soundness of their understanding, and the superiority of their faculties above the rest of mankind.
For happiness, passions must be cheerful - To be happy, the passions must be cheerful and gay, not gloomy and melancholy. A propensity to hope and joy is real riches; one to fear and sorrow, real poverty.
Uncommon expressions in discourse - Uncommon expressions are a disfigurement rather than an embellishment of discourse.
Vanity is closely allied to virtue - Vanity is so closely allied to virtue, and to love the fame of laudable actions approaches so near the love of laudable actions for their own sake, that these passions are more capable of mixture than any other kinds of affection; and it is almost impossible to have the latter without some degree of the former.
When are most sure and arrogant . . . - When men are most sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken, and have then given views to passion, without that proper deliberation and suspense which can alone secure them from the grossest absurdities.
The shortness and uncertainty of life - When we reflect on the shortness and uncertainty of life, how despicable seem all our pursuits of happiness.
An incurable and inflexible human passion - Where ambition can be so happy as to cover its enterprises even to the person himself, under the appearance of principle, it is the most incurable and inflexible of all human passions.
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