By Michael L. Frazer
Enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century have been devoted to the best of reflective autonomy--the precept that every people may still imagine for ourselves, rather whilst deciding upon ethical and political criteria. in line with that era's recognition as "the age of reason," many interpreted autonomy in a distinctively rationalist way--privileging reflective cause over all different psychological colleges.
However, different best philosophers of the era--such as David Hume, Adam Smith, and J.G. Herder--placed larger emphasis on feeling, seeing ethical and political mirrored image because the right paintings of the brain as an entire. They argued that with no emotion, mind's eye, and sympathy we'd be incapable of constructing the ethical sentiments that shape the root of our dedication to justice and advantage.
The Enlightenment of Sympathy reclaims the sentimentalist thought of reflective autonomy as a source for enriching social technology, normative conception, and political perform this day. The sentimentalist description of the reflective method is extra empirically exact than the competing rationalist description, and will consultant scientists investigating the procedures in which the brain formulates ethical and political ideas.
Yet the idea is far greater than simply descriptive, and will additionally give a contribution to the philosophical venture of discovering principles--including rules of justice--that wield actual normative authority. Enlightenment sentimentalism demonstrates that emotion is inevitably primary to our civic lifestyles, and indicates how our reflective sentiments can counterbalance the unreflective emotions that would differently lead our political ideas astray.
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Extra info for The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today
It is the role of reason “to discern what actions really tend to the public good in the whole, that we may not do that upon a partial view of good which afterwards, upon a fuller examination, we shall condemn and abhor ourselves for” (ENC 1:4:4, p. 76). In this respect, Hutcheson is an obvious forefather of what later became known as utilitarianism. One important difference between Hutcheson and the classical utilitarians of the following century, however, is that Hutcheson rejected what is now known as consequentialism.
For Shaftesbury, as for his ancient predecessors, the universe is a well-ordered, purposive whole made up of well-ordered, purposive parts designed to work harmoniously together. In order to understand any phenomenon, natural or artificial, one must understand the purpose, or final cause, of its design. Shaftesbury here utilizes one of the watchmaker analogies so popular in the eighteenth century: If a passenger should turn by chance into a watchmaker’s shop, and thinking to inform himself concerning watches, should inquire of what metal, or what matter, each part was composed .
As Hume’s arguments demonstrate, however, it is God’s authority that is actually doing the normative work in Hutcheson and Butler’s arguments regarding conscience, and not the faculty’s authority in itself. As has already been discussed, Hume has good reasons for rejecting all such appeals to divine intensions. Recognizing that Hume rejects the idea of a faculty’s self-approval as a source of normative authority is particularly important given that prominent commentators have attributed something resembling Butler’s view to Hume.