Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Temptation of Present Interest

“Men, ’tis true, are always much inclin’d to prefer present interest to distant and remote; nor is it easy for them to resist the temptation of any advantage, that they may immediately enjoy, in apprehension of an evil, that lies at a distance from them.”
David Hume, “Of the Source of Allegiance”, A Treatise of Human Nature (New York: Dover Publications, 2003), section VIII, p.19

1 comment:

Phil O. Vance said...

At the age of 26, when he wrote his treatise, Hume was in agreement with Plutarch and Cervantes. Plutarch wrote: "He is a fool who leaves things close at hand to follow what is out of reach" (Morals. "Of Garrulity"). Cervantes had the famous "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" in his Don Quixote, pt. I, bk. IV, ch. 4. Then there is Schopenhauer, who was bold enough to assert "There is more to be learnt from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel, Herbart, and Schleiermacher taken together" (The World as Will and Representation, vol. II, ch. XLVI).But he was speaking specifically of Hume's Natural History of Religion and Dialogues on Natural Religion.