more from David Hume

Single Idea 3923

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 3. Motivation for Altruism]

Full Idea

Would any man, who is walking along, tread as willingly on another's gouty toes, whom he has no quarrel with, as on the hard flint and pavement?


Gout is excrutiatingly painful and sensitive

Gist of Idea

No one would cause pain to a complete stranger who happened to be passing


David Hume (Enquiry concerning Principles of Morals [1751], V.II.183)

Book Reference

Hume,David: 'Enquiries Conc. Human Understanding, Morals', ed/tr. Selby-Bigge/Nidditch [OUP 1975], p.226

A Reaction

He is right that we empathise with the pain of others, and this is presumably one of the bases of morality. Animals lack sympathy for other animals.