[SydPhil] Philosophy at westernsydney seminar

John Hadley john.hadley at iinet.net.au
Tue Jul 31 07:35:00 AEST 2018

Anik Waldow, University of Sydney

The Rational Animal: Hume on Sympathy, Reflection and Communication

 In this paper I argue that, for Hume, the human capacity to reflect and communicate through language is grounded in a far more basic form of affective communication that enables us to tune in to the feelings and thoughts of others. What this means more generally is that the ability to sympathise can in principle be regarded as a precondition for the possibility of developing a rational grasp of the world. This world opens up to us when we no longer simply respond in an instinctual, animal-like fashion to the causal impact of our sensory impressions, but learn to stand back and integrate the many different ways in which things appear to us from our continually changing perspectives. Given that, for Hume, the crucial step in this development occurs when we are sympathetically connected with others, we can say that, on a Humean account, being rational is not only not contrary to being responsive and passionate—a point he explicitly states—but also formulate the much stronger claim that rationality cannot even be comprehended without understanding it as a product of well-functioning affective capacities.

Wednesday August 8, 2018 3.30pm-5pm
Western Sydney University, Bankstown Campus
Building 3, Room 3.G.54

To get to the Bankstown Campus: take the Airport line to Revesby and then the free university shuttle bus to the campus.
Alternatively, take the M5 to the Henry Lawson Drive exit and follow the signs.
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