Understanding Hume’s Insights on Qualities: Keys to Personal Happiness and Social Harmony

Some of the qualities Hume analyzed are directly related to a person himself. They are either useful to himself or pleasing to himself. In fact, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Qualities that are useful to you often make you happy, and vice versa. Moreover, such qualities will also have corresponding effects on others, so this distinction is completely relative.

Directly related to one’s own quality, mainly in terms of personality and intelligence. In terms of character, firmness of mind and self-control are extremely useful qualities. Everyone pursues happiness, but very few succeed. An important reason is the lack of spiritual power.

People with spiritual strength can resist the temptation of immediate comfort or happiness and seek long-term benefits and enjoyment. It is also necessary to have flexibility and ability to adapt to changes. Hume said: “The person whose environment is suitable for his temperament is lucky, but the person who can adapt his temperament to any environment is better.”

In evaluating a person’s value, character quality is no less important than moral quality as is usually considered. Calling a man a coward does no less damage to his reputation than calling him a villain. In people’s minds, a zombie-like foodie or drunkard is no less despicable than a selfish and stingy miser.

In terms of intelligence, sound judgment, keen insight and discernment, wisdom and prudence are all very useful qualities in life. Like moral character, they will have a considerable impact on a person’s behavior. Many ancient philosophers believed that stupidity and wisdom correspond to vice and virtue, and that perfect virtue is a kind of humane wisdom. In fact, people attach great importance to other people’s evaluation of their intelligence. We can see some people talking about the bad things they have done, but we can’t see a person who can tolerate others saying he is stupid.

Among the qualities that are useful and pleasing to oneself, there is a kind of tranquility called philosophy. The Stoics advocate that because philosophers are aware of their own virtues, they can transcend pain, sorrow, anxiety, the blows of fate, and all the contingencies of life. They can dwell in the temple of wisdom and overlook the busy pursuits in the lower world. Ordinary people who enjoy power, wealth, fame and all kinds of meaningless enjoyment. Hume said that this kind of conceited assertion, if taken to the extreme, would be too lofty and unsuitable for human nature. However, as long as we grasp it properly, the tranquility of this philosophy can indeed enable us to discover that the human mind is greater than the external world.

Qualities that make others happy

The qualities that are useful to others and society are mainly benevolence and justice. Benevolence also has the property of making others happy. Hume also listed some qualities that make others happy, most of which are manifested in interpersonal interactions, such as sincerity, frankness, courtesy, humility, decency, etc. There are some qualities that his discussion is more interesting, let me talk about them.

The first is wit, which is mainly reflected in conversation. You have spent an evening with a serious and depressed person, and you are feeling bored. Then a person with a humorous and lively temperament comes, and the conversation suddenly becomes lively, the atmosphere suddenly becomes cheerful, and everyone becomes energeticThis quality of wit naturally wins people’s general favor. Some people are very talkative, but lack wit. They like to tell long stories or be eloquent. This is the most annoying thing. People present often look at the raconteur who deprives themselves of the opportunity to participate in the conversation with vicious eyes. .

The second is demeanor. This is a kind of elegance, ease, ease and calmness in dealing with others. Hume said that he didn’t know how to explain it clearly. It is completely different from external beauty and beauty, but it can capture our emotions powerfully at once. The charm of demeanor is particularly prominent in interactions with the opposite sexIn the evaluation of style, we have different expectations for the two genders. Men’s delicate behavior and women’s rude style both make us think they are particularly ugly.

The third is dignity. Dignity is a person’s appropriate feeling of his or her own value. We cannot respect a person who does not feel any value in himself. Some people are groveling to those with a higher status than themselves, andarrogant and rude to those with a lower status than themselves. In order to achieve their own goals, they can endure the most humiliating treatment and curry favor with those who insult them. The absolute lack of dignity in such a character is most inexcusable, and we justly call it baseness.

Morality should make people happy

Hume’s moral system is generally utilitarian, valuing utility, and hedonistic, valuing pleasure. Utility and pleasure can be encompassed by one concept: happiness. Each of us has an obligation to ourselves, which is to make ourselves happy, and to society, which is to seek the happiness of mankind. These two obligations are related. Whether it be qualities that are useful or pleasing to ourselves, or qualities that are useful or pleasing to others, the approval we give is of a similar nature and arises from similar principles, namely, a concern for happiness. . The sole purpose of morality is to achieve the greatest happiness for individuals and mankind.

In Hume’s view, monkish virtue was the most contrary to his moral principles. He said that the reason why asceticism, asceticism, celibacy, self-denial, humility and other behaviors and qualities are everywhere rejected by sane people is because they do not serve any positive purpose and do not improve a person’s destiny in the world. Nor does it make him a valuable member of society, nor does it qualify him for social entertainment, nor does it add to him the power to entertain himself. On the contrary, their effect is to paralyze the intellect, harden the heart, cloud the imagination, and perverse the temper. Therefore, they should be moved to the column of evil deeds. A melancholic and confused fanatic may occupy a place in the calendar after death, but will hardly be accepted by any sane relatives and friends while alive.

The happiness brought by virtue is indispensable for inner feelings. Some people ostensibly follow the general rules of integrity, but benefit from the many exceptions to the general rules. They disguise themselves so well that they deceive everyone. Hume said that if you think that such a person is happy, you have lost the most important moral motivation. Inner peace of mind, a sense of integrity, a contented examination of one’s conduct, are indispensable ingredients of happiness. Therefore, this kind of people think they are smart, but in fact they are the biggest fools. In order to obtain trivial benefits, they sacrifice the immeasurable enjoyment of their inner character.

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