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Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment$
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Ryu Susato

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699803

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699803.001.0001

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‘Refinement’ and ‘Vicious Luxury’: Hume’s Nuanced Defence of Luxury

‘Refinement’ and ‘Vicious Luxury’: Hume’s Nuanced Defence of Luxury

(p.92) 4 ‘Refinement’ and ‘Vicious Luxury’: Hume’s Nuanced Defence of Luxury
Hume's Sceptical Enlightenment

Ryu Susato

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter deals with the issue of luxury, which is another crucial topic for Hume as an Enlightenment thinker. The Humean defence of luxury is significantly different from the ways in which Mandeville, Rousseau, and Adam Smith deal with the issue. The widening gap between reality and appearances is one of the characteristics of Augustinian thought that is often considered to be allied with Epicureanism in its understanding of civilised societies. However, Hume is unique in his complete silence on the issue of hypocrisy in refined societies. Hume’s Epicureanism is, therefore, characterised as one devoid of this Augustinian element. By combining both elements of Epicureanism and Shaftesburian Stoicism he attempts to demonstrate how to refine social intercourse through the enjoyment of luxury. This chapter also sheds some new light on an aspect of Hume’s thought that, so far, has been relatively neglected: his distinction between ‘innocent’ and ‘vicious’ forms of luxury, as well as his acknowledgement of the possibility of the emergence of the latter in the modern commercial world.

Keywords:   Augustinianism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, refinement, luxury, Mandeville, Rousseau, Smith, Shaftesbury

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