Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Gallows and the Rack

When Hume builds his account of the passions, he makes extensive use of examples. Some of them are rather interesting little insights into the culture of the day, at least as it was seen by Hume. (The Treatise was first published in 1739.) An interesting instance:

Thus we find, that tho' every one, but especially women, are apt to contract a kindness for criminals who go to the scaffold, and readily imagine them to be uncommonly handsome and well-shap'd; yet one, who is present at the cruel execution of the rack, feels no such tender emotions; but is in a manner overcome with horror, and has no leisure to temper this uneasy sensation by any opposite sympathy.


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