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The Testimony of Sense: Empiricism and the Essay from Hume to Hazlitt
 9780198812739, 0198812736

Table of contents :
Cover
The Testimony of Sense: Empiricism and the Essay from Hume to Hazlitt
Copyright
Contents
Preface
Introduction: Empiricism Made Easy
INTERSUBJECTIVITY
HUME AND THE ‘DISEASE OF THE LEARNED’
EXPERIENCE AND EXPERIMENT
THE SOCIAL A PRIORI
TRUST AND TESTIMONY
COMMUNICATION
ESSAYS AND ESSAYING
CONSOLIDATION AND PRODUCTION
AN UNMETHODICAL METHOD
1: Self and Intersubjectivity
INTRODUCTION
MAKING A VIRTUE OF SCEPTICISM
NATURE AND THE STANDARD OF TASTE
SMITH: COMMANDING PERFORMANCE
REID: THE SOCIAL A PRIORI
STEWART: NATURAL TRANSCENDENTALISM
SCOTTISH PHILOSOPHERS AND ENGLISH PSYCHOLOGISTS
EMPIRICISM AND CONVERSATION
IRONY AND RADICAL EMPIRICISM
CONCLUSION
2: The Subject of Trust
INTRODUCTION
ENLIGHTENMENT, MODERNITY, AND THE PROBLEM OF TRUST
HUME ON TESTIMONY AND EXPERIMENT
REID AND STEWART: PHILOSOPHIZING TRUST
CONCLUSION
3: The Conversable Intellect
INTRODUCTION
THE SOCIAL INTELLECT: HUME AND REID ON LANGUAGE
FICTIONS OF REASON: BENTHAM AND STEWART ON MEANING
THE RHETORIC OF PHILOSOPHY
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RHETORIC
CONCLUSION
4: Essays in Experience
INTRODUCTION
THE GENRE OF EMPIRICISM
DOXA AND EPISTEME
ESSAYING THE PUBLIC SPHERE
LEARNING AND ‘LIFE’
ESSAYING AS PHILOSOPHICAL PERFORMANCE
STYLING SOLIDARITY
CONCLUSION
5: Romantic Essayism
INTRODUCTION
PRINT AND PROFESSIONALIZATION
HAZLITT’S ‘TREMBLING BOUNDARY’
LAMB’S ‘TWILIGHT OF DUBIETY’
BETWEEN PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE
EXPRESSIVE LIMINALITY
MANNERS AND CHARACTER
CONCLUSION
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

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THE TESTIMONY OF SENSE

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The Testimony of Sense Empiricism and the Essay from Hume to Hazlitt TIM MILNES

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1 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © Tim Milnes 2019 The moral rights of the author have been asserted First Edition published in 2019 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Control Number: 2018961088 ISBN 978–0–19–881273–9 Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY Links to third party websites are provided by Oxford in good faith and for information only. Oxford disclaims any responsibility for the materials contained in any third party website referenced in this work.

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Contents Preface Epigraph

Introduction: Empiricism Made Easy

vii ix 1

1. Self and Intersubjectivity

23

2. The Subject of Trust

75

3. The Conversable Intellect

109

4. Essays in Experience

145

5. Romantic Essayism

191

Conclusion Bibliography Index

253 255 273

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Preface This study addresses what intellectual historians such as Leslie Stephen and Élie Halévy once registered as a lull in British intellectual history: a sharp reduction in the volume of epistemological debate between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Halévy, for instance, claims that between David Hartley and James Mill, English thought passed ‘through a period of standstill.’1 This change coincided with what Uttara Natarajan describes as ‘a generic development almost unnoticed in English philosophy: the migration of philosophical discourse from the eighteenth-century “treatise,” which had hitherto been chiefly its realm, into the more informal, more intimate writings of the belletrist.’2 In this study, I suggest that these phenomena are related. British thought did not so much stand still in this period as switch paradigms, at least for a time. This is evident in two connected events: a shift in the philosophical current (the ‘socialization’ of British empiricism, largely through the epistemology of the Scottish Enlightenment) and the development of a literary genre (the familiar essay). These converged to produce a remarkable turn in the relationship between philosophy and literature between the publication of Hume’s Treatise in 1740 and the flourishing of the Romantic familiar essay in the 1820s. What Halévy registered as a hiatus is really a swerve away from systematic epistemology and towards a kind of essayism, involving a corresponding change in philosophical style and vocabulary. The argument of this book is threefold. Its first claim is that, around the middle of the eighteenth century, a model of intersubjectivity emerges as the cornerstone of a counterdiscourse to the scientific empiricism that, since Descartes, had been based upon the epistemological binary of subject and object. Exemplified by Hume’s ‘easy’ philosophy, this counterdiscourse seeks to reground epistemological correspondence in social correspondence; above all, it bases knowledge upon the circulation of trust. The second claim that the book makes stems from its understanding of the ways in which trust is regulated and policed within late Enlightenment and Romantic culture. Accordingly, it focuses upon the genre that, since Addison, had become a metaphor for philosophical conversability: the essay. The rise of the essay in the eighteenth century, like the contemporary concern with trust, reveals the period’s preoccupation with the ways in which intellectual life was being shaped by economic change. Itself a reaction against the partition of cultural labour, the essay nonetheless falls prey to specialization, subdividing into two subgenres: what I loosely term its ‘closed’ and ‘open’ forms. In the former—its apodictic or Baconian 1  Élie Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism (1972), p. 434. See also Leslie Stephen, History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 (1902), p. 2: Stephen finds that ‘[t]he influence . . . of Hume’s teaching is . . . obscure because chiefly negative. It produced in many minds a languid scepticism which cared little for utterance . . . . ’ 2  Uttara Natarajan, ‘The Veil of Familiarity: Romantic Philosophy and the Familiar Essay’, Studies in Romanticism 42, no. 1 (2003), p. 30.

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viii Preface mode—the essay is viewed as extending the logical and experimental procedures of the scientific Enlightenment; its overriding objective is the removal of error and uncertainty. In its familiar or Montaignean mode, however, the essay seeks to bring about a performative critique of instrumental reason, a critique that—while essentially nostalgic in its desire for unsystematic accomplishment, its subordination of theory to practice—presents a pragmatic counterthrust to Enlightenment rationality. In this form, the essay’s principal end is the establishment of intersubjective norms based upon style, consensus, and sentiment. Efforts to ‘open’ up the essay (to make it performative rather than apodictic in its operations) reflect a broader endeavour in some quarters to bring ‘philosophy’ and ‘literature’ into a productive dialogue at a time when these categories were being subjected to increasing amounts of disciplinary rigour. Such efforts encompass attempts to reconcile ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ (Bacon and Montaigne, Newton and Cicero) through a literary style that is both intimate and authoritative. The ways in which this reconciliation is conducted is the subject of the third major claim of this book. In its closing chapters, I examine the relationships between Neoclassical essayists such as Hume and Johnson and their Romantic successors such as Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt by considering their varying conceptions of literary ‘performance.’ I examine how these variations, in turn, lie behind their differing perceptions of what is at stake in the work of the familiar essayist. For Hume and Johnson, the performance of virtue represents and enacts the social solidarity that either underpins conventional norms (Hume) or reflects fundamental moral truths (Johnson); the task of the familiar essayist is to maintain this solidarity. For the Romantic writer, however, the fiction of familiarity is, for political and cultural reasons, both more tenuous and more urgent. Accordingly, the essayist’s primary burden becomes one of establishing social and epistemological norms through the exercise of imaginative power. In the essays of Lamb and Hazlitt, the enactment of familiar conversation creates an experience of singularity and enchantment that is linked to an essentially idealized and nostalgic form of sociability. Consequently, while the epistemological and cultural mission of the Neoclassical essayist is to consolidate truth and value, the task of the Romantic essayist is to produce them.

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How many things of slight probability there are, testified to by trustworthy people, which, if we cannot be convinced of them, we should at least leave in suspense! For to condemn them as impossible is to pretend, with rash presumption, to know the limits of possibility.1 There is no doubt an analogy between the evidence of sense and the evidence of testimony. Hence we find in all languages the analogical expressions of the testimony of sense, of giving credit to our senses, and the like. But there is a real difference between the two, as well as a similitude. In believing upon testimony, we rely upon the authority of a person who testifies: But we have no such authority for believing our senses.2

1  Michel de Montaigne, ‘It is Folly to Measure the True and False by Our Own Capacity’, The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne, ed. Donald M. Frame (1958), p. 133. 2  Thomas Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785), p. 275.

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Introduction Empiricism Made Easy Opening his 1742 essay, ‘Of Essay-Writing’, David Hume distinguishes between the ‘learned ’ and the ‘conversible’ spheres of intellect: The elegant Part of Mankind, who are not immers’d in the animal Life, but employ themselves in the Operations of the Mind, may be divided into the learned and conversible. The Learned are such as have chosen for their Portion the higher and more difficult Operations of the Mind, which require Leisure and Solitude, and cannot be brought to Perfection, without long Preparation and severe Labour. The conversible World join to a sociable Disposition, and a Taste of Pleasure, an Inclination to the easier and more gentle Exercises of the Understanding.1

This division, decried by Hume as ‘the great Defect of the last Age’, was one that he laboured to overcome, styling himself as ‘a Kind of Resident or Ambassador from the Dominions of Learning to those of Conversation.’2 Hume’s courteous and ­diplomatic ‘Ambassador’ would later shape the more confident authorial persona of the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), both of which seek to effect a dialogue between the abstruse but ‘accurate and abstract’ philosophy epitomized by Aristotle and the ‘easy and humane’ arts of rhetoric, sentiment and taste practised by Cicero.3 Since ‘nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to the human race’, Hume surmises, the truest philosophy will also be that which proves to be most useful, involving a fruitful exchange between the exacting methods of the ‘anatomist’ and the figurative skills of the ‘painter.’4 1  David Hume, ‘Of Essay-Writing’, Essays Moral, Political, and Literary 1741–77, ed. Eugene F. Miller (1985), p. 533. 2 Hume, Essays pp. 534–5. 3 Hume, David, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. L.A. Selby-Bigge (1975), p. 9. 4 Hume, Enquiries pp. 9–10. Hume had been far less confident about reconciling these roles while working on the Treatise of Human Nature. Responding to Francis Hutcheson’s claim that the third book of the Treatise ‘wants a certain Warmth in the Cause of Virtue’, Hume argues that ‘[o]ne may consider it [i.e. the mind] either as an Anatomist or as a Painter; either to discover its most secret Springs & Principles or to describe the Grace & beauty of its Actions. I imagine it impossible to conjoin these two Views.’ (‘To Frances Hutcheson’, 17 September 1739, letter 13 of The Letters of David Hume, ed. J.Y.T. Greig, vol. 1 [1932], p. 32). See also Susan Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, eds. H.B. Nisbet, Claude Rawson, vol. 4 (1997), p. 588: Manning notes that ‘[t]he opposition of the “anatomist” and the “painter”, and the possibility of bringing them together in writing, constantly unites the concerns of philosophy and literary criticism in the eighteenth century.’ For a thorough analysis of the painter/anatomist analogy in the context of Hume’s ­relation to Hutcheson and his followers, see M.A.  Stewart, ‘Two Species of Philosophy: The Historical

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Hume presents his attempt to reconcile the most valuable elements of Aristotelian and Ciceronian traditions as a corrective to his earlier Treatise of Human Nature (1739–41), in which his youthful dedication to Aristotelian abstruseness had made for a distinctly un-easy manner and a tone that veered between breezy overconfidence, irony, and melancholy.5 From a modern perspective, it is tempting to read Hume’s attempts to assert a measure of control over his speculative activities as an episode in the struggle between literature and philosophy—a contest, as Mark Edmundson observes, that was already ancient in Plato’s time.6 Drawing disciplinary boundaries, however, can be a hazardous undertaking, and nowhere more so than in the crucible of the Enlightenment, where both poetry and philosophy are apt to swing between the didactic and the pragmatic. Accordingly, in thinking about the tensions between Hume’s ‘painter’ and ‘anatomist’, it is useful to keep another distinction in play, one that Stanley Fish borrows from Richard Lanham. Lanham distinguishes between two intellectual postures, which, he claims, have characterized Western thought throughout its history: those represented by the species ‘homo rhetoricus’ (rhetorical man) and ‘homo seriosus’ (serious man). In Lanham’s words, while homo seriosus ‘possesses a central self, an irreducible identity’, homo rhetoricus ‘is an actor; his reality public, dramatic’, whose lowest common denominator in life ‘is a social situation.’7 Fish and Lanham’s distinction is about as sweeping as they come, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Nietzsche’s characterization of the ‘man of reason’ and the ‘man of intuition.’8 Nonetheless, it usefully describes a tension that exists within the work of Hume, one that cuts across the fledgling disciplinary boundaries of modern philosophy, rhetoric, and literature.9 Moreover, it addresses an issue that many intellectual historians tend to overlook: the point at which questions of intellectual substance and debate are determined by matters of literary form and style. Consequently, while the contributions of scholars such as Israel and Rasmussen have proved invaluable to our understanding of ‘radical’ and ‘pragmatic’ currents in Enlightenment thought, they leave unexamined the question of the extent to which intellectual positions depend, in addition to their conceptual frameworks, upon the rhetorical techniques and literary strategies of the texts through which they Significance of the First Enquiry’, Reading Hume on Human Understanding: Essays on the First Enquiry, ed. Peter Millican (2002), pp. 67–95. I return to this issue in Chapter 4. 5  See the ‘Advertisement’ to the first Enquiry, which claims that in the latter volume, ‘some negligences in his former reasoning and more in the expression, are, he hopes, corrected.’ (p. 2). 6  Mark Edmundson, Literature against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida: A Defence of Poetry (1995), p. 1. 7  Stanley Fish, Doing What Comes Naturally: Change, Rhetoric, and the Practice of Theory in Literary and Legal Studies (1989), pp. 482–3. 8  Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense’, The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, eds. Vincent B. Leitch, et al. (2010), p. 773: Nietzsche describes the man of reason as ‘fearful of intuition’, ‘unartistic’, and ‘guided by concepts and abstractions’ in his efforts to be ‘as free as possible of pain’, while the man of intuition is ‘unreasonable’, ‘filled with scorn for abstraction’, and gaining through his intuition ‘a constant stream of brightness’. 9  Other commentators have drawn similar comparisons. In The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume (1994), p. 160, Adam Potkay suggests that Hume ‘may indeed be read as the type of Lanham’s homo rhetoricus: pragmatic, shy of absolute convictions, and opposed to any type of zealousness’. See also Leo Damrosch, Fictions of Reality in the Age of Hume and Johnson (1989), p. 25: Damrosch contrasts Hume’s ‘homo rhetoricus’, with Samuel Johnson’s ‘homo seriosus’.

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are expounded.10 Hume’s writing is crucial to this issue because of the fundamentally rhetorical way in which he first triggers and then responds to a crisis within empiricism. Having assumed the guise of an Aristotelian/Newtonian homo seriosus so that he can demonstrate the inescapability of philosophical scepticism, Hume switches roles, taking on the persona of a Ciceronian homo rhetoricus and exchanging the dominions of learning for those of conversation. Hume does this not to nullify scepticism, but to alter the context in which it is understood and evaluated. As he observed, a truly ‘Academic’ scepticism is sceptical even of its own doubts, since ‘[t]he reflections of philosophy are too subtile and distant to take place in common life, or eradicate any affection. The air is too fine to breathe in, where it is above the winds and clouds of the atmosphere.’11 Overcoming scepticism meant, in a sense, not overcoming it; it meant changing the metaphors that governed philosophical thinking. In the Treatise, Hume’s reaction to sceptical paralysis had been to vacillate between the sociability of urban life, in which he is ‘absolutely and necessarily determin’d to live, and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of life’, and the study, where he ‘cannot forbear having a curiosity to be acquainted with the principles of moral good and evil, the nature and foundation of government, and the cause of those several passions and inclinations, which actuate and govern me.’12 In his essays and in the Enquiries, however, Hume exchanges evasion for transformation: in these works, the complexion of philosophy fundamentally alters, becoming not literature, exactly, but an ‘easier’ and more ‘sociable’ mode of discourse. INTERSUBJECTIVITY Exploring some of the consequences of this transformation, both for Hume and for those writing in his wake, forms one of the three principal tasks of this book. At this point I should note that, while Hume’s shadow is the longest cast by any 10  See Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (2010), p. 16: Israel’s conception of ‘Radical Enlightenment’, defined as ‘a set of basic principles that can be summed up concisely as: democracy; racial and sexual equality, individual liberty of lifestyle; full freedom of thought, expression, and the press; eradication of religious authority from the legislative process and education; and full separation of church and state’ (p. vii) is fundamentally political rather than epistemological in construction, and consequently of limited use here. Nonetheless, Israel locates Hume squarely in the camp of the reactionary, Moderate Enlightenment, noting that his scepticism became a ‘useful philosophical resource against egalitarian and democratic ideas’. Similarly political in its approach is Dennis  C.  Rasmussen’s account of Hume and Smith’s ‘nonfoundationalist form of liberalism’ in The Pragmatic Enlightenment: Recovering the Liberalism of Hume, Smith, Montesquieu, and Voltaire (2013). Liberalism, he claims, ‘emphasized the importance of context in the formulation of moral standards’, ‘stressed the limits and fallibility of human understanding’, and ‘saw people as inherently social and sought . . . to unite them . . . in commerce’ (p. 4). While this account is broadly in line with the picture presented here, Rasmussen, like Israel, does not focus on the significance of ‘social empiricism’ and its wider implications for the relationship between literature and philosophy as forms of writing. 11  David Hume, ‘The Sceptic’, Essays, p. 172. 12 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects, ed. P.H. Nidditch (1978), pp. 269–70.

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writer over the concerns of this study, it is not my purpose to present a complete and comprehensive account of his career and thought. In pursuing its argument, the current study has been obliged to cut its coat according to its cloth. For example, Hume’s work on politics and religion, while of unquestionable significance for intellectual history, falls outside the interests of the present volume, and so readers who bring to it an expectation of finding a full narrative of Hume’s intellectual development are bound to be disappointed. Instead, I have tried to highlight and explore the vital importance of one leading aspect of Hume’s thought (the socialization of reason) for the development of the familiar essay. Focusing upon this feature of Hume’s thinking is justified both by its significance and by the surprising extent to which it has been overlooked. Since Norman Kemp Smith’s depiction of a non-sceptical, realist Hume, much of the debate over his philosophical legacy has concentrated upon the contested idea of ‘naturalism.’13 Comparatively less attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which the ­naturalized, social epistemologies of Hume and Reid instigate a pragmatic turn in eighteenth-century empiricism. I argue that this turn is associated with a persistent tension in eighteenth-century thought between Newtonian and Ciceronian models of rationality: in other words, between an objective, plenary system of knowledge and an accumulation of essayistic insights into virtue and the practicalities of living a good life. Accordingly, in this study I will characterize the Humean strategy as one that effects a transition from a model of thought based upon objectivity (i.e. upon an epistemological binary of subject/object) to one that is based upon an epistemologically radical idea of intersubjectivity. By downgrading ‘correspondence’ theories of truth and meaning, which tend to treat experience as a form of mental representation, Hume moves away from the Lockean picture of a punctual subject­ ivity constituted by a manifold of atomized experiences (ideas and impressions) and underwritten by a providential rationality. In its place, he revives an older model of ‘experience’ as based in trial and experiment.14 As the definitions of ‘experience’, ‘empiricism’, and their cognate terms in Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary reveal, this latter notion, which prioritizes practice rather than phenomena, was still current at the time; in turn, it is associated with a heightened awareness of the role of ­communicative action in knowledge formation. Once epistemological relations are reformulated in terms of social relationships, the most pressing questions that arise relate not to objective truths but to the status of the norms and bonds that regulate the community of knowledge. This ultimately produces a concern with what might be considered as the social a priori of knowledge: rational accommodation, trust, and testimony. Consequently, the line between trusting persons and trusting the ‘testimony’ of sense begins to blur. 13  See Norman Kemp Smith, The Philosophy of David Hume: A Critical Study of its Origins and Central Doctrines (2005). 14  See also John Sitter, Literary Loneliness in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England (1982), p. 45: Sitter claims that between the Treatise and Enquiries Hume’s theory of knowledge underwent ‘an important change of focus away from the supposed atoms of experience to an experiencing mind, actively grasping its world’.

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For Hume, the intersubjective, trusting intellect is the communicative intellect; reason itself is based upon communication. The background to this assumption is a peculiarly Scottish insistence that society, conceived as a set of interdependent institutions and behaviours, precedes rationality—a conviction that, in turn, directs Enlightenment debate towards the pragmatic aspects of language. As will be seen, Hume’s account of promises and Thomas Reid’s interest in the illocutionary dimension of language contribute to the development of a performative conception of the speech-act situation—indeed, Reid’s linguistic theory challenges the whole epistemological enterprise, replacing it with a hermeneutics of perception that ultimately rests upon trust. Hume’s conventionalist account of meaning, meanwhile, feeds into broader developments in eighteenth-century linguistics, culminating in the gradual detachment of language from the idea of mental ‘contents’ and a reappraisal of the relationship between language, thought, and reality. As Nicholas Phillipson observes, ‘[f ]or Hume, the story of making judgements was a story about human beings’ encounters with common life and . . . that was a matter of language.’15 Against the Lockean idea that reference is achieved via the use of arbitrary signs, Hume argues that reference is always underdetermined by the referent: language, like reason, is fundamentally conventional. It is this claim that would ultimately encourage attempts by Tooke, Burke, Bentham, and Dugald Stewart to engineer a shift from meaning as ‘aggregative’ to meaning as contextual or ‘propositional’. Foregrounding questions of performance in turn refocuses philosophical attention upon issues of style and manner. Thanks to Hume, literary form itself becomes a philosophical issue. As Michael Prince observes, it was a ‘given for Enlightenment authors . . . that style is substance, that political, theological, and philosophical polemics are carried out as much by how one writes as by what one writes.’16 This brings me to the second of this study’s main claims, which is that the protean and polyphonic genre of the ‘familiar’ essay comes to be seen by some philosophical writers as an important tool for creating and sustaining intersubjective consensus. For Hume and many subsequent writers, the familiar essay, with its amenability to tentative, unmethodical improvisation and friendly conversation, offers a kind of literary embodiment for reason, based on custom, habit, and sentiment.17 And yet, at the same time, its somatic character and lack of determinate form means that the essay is more liable than other genres (such as the novel) to be pulled in contrary directions in the struggle between learning and conversation, between the epistemological models of Newton and Cicero. Adapting Adorno’s account of the essay as ‘the critical form par excellence’, I discuss the tensions between the ‘closed’, systematic, or apodictic essay and more ‘open’, familiar or performative forms. I also explore

15 Nicholas Phillipson, ‘Polites, Politeness and the Anglicisation of Early Eighteenth-Century Scottish Culture’, Scotland and England, 1286–1815, ed. Roger A. Mason (1987), p. 237. 16  Michael Prince, Philosophical Dialogue in the British Enlightenment: Theology, Aesthetics, and the Novel (1996), p. 136. 17  Hume published the Essays, Moral and Political in 1741–2. In addition, the first Enquiry originally appeared under the title Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1748).

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the causes and consequences of the genre’s division into its formal (academic) and experimental (familiar) varieties during this period.18 Answering this question will involve examining Enlightenment and Romantic perceptions of the familiar essay as a self-consciously amphibious genre, one that is neither ‘pure’ literature nor philosophy, but which incorporates elements of both. It might be considered that the familiar essay’s tendency to present its subject (and its author’s subjectivity) as something that is performed rather than established or given indicates that the genre fully flourishes only with the advent of Romanticism. Indeed, it could be argued that what distinguishes the essays of Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt from those of precursors such as Hume and Johnson is not so much their philosophical ‘content’ as the fact that they make engagement with philosophical problems dependent upon questions of feeling, personality, and manner. In the book’s third main line of inquiry, however, I argue that these Romantic-performative strategies are ones that are shared with essayists across the ‘long’ eighteenth century. What distinguishes the Neoclassical from the Romantic essayist is not performativity per se but what is at stake in the performance of essaying. For the former, the overriding priority is to maintain social norms by policing public discourse; accordingly, the language game engaged by the familiar essay necessitates that certain normative structures are presupposed. In Hume, for instance, such structures are determined by custom and reinforced by the exhibition of courteous manners; in Johnson, they form part of an objective moral order and so are less vulnerable to changes in ‘acceptable’ social habits. In both cases, however, it is assumed that the reader cannot fully appreciate the performance of the author without already sharing a great deal of their ‘common’ background of beliefs. In other words, what is epistemologically at stake for the Neoclassical familiar essayist is the status of a truth whose verifiability is fundamentally (for Hume) or practically (for Johnson) a practical and intersubjective affair. This Ciceronian and social conception of literary truth contrasts with that of later essayists such as Lamb and Hazlitt. The gesture of the Romantic familiar essay is based upon a very different form of cultural logic. In philosophical Romanticism, the unification of style and substance is underwritten by an ideal presence, whether this is figured (as it is, for instance, in Hazlitt) in terms of the formative power of imagination, or (alternatively, in the case of Lamb) in relation to a borderline, twilight territory of enchanted consciousness. The philosophical preconditions of this strategy had already been established in Germany during the closing years of the eighteenth century. In the pages of Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel’s Athenaeum, transcendental logic was deployed to underwrite the epistemological conditions for staking performances of individual power, insight, or whimsicality upon the prerogative of the author’s imagination. According to this logic, the ‘truth’ in relation to which the Romantic familiar essay situates itself is underwritten by 18  T.W. Adorno, ‘The Essay as Form’, New German Critique 32 (1984), p. 166. As I discuss in Chapter 4, the essay is a genre that tends to resist all attempts at classification. See also Clifford Siskin, System: The Shaping of Modern Knowledge (2016), p. 33: Siskin identifies the essay as the main competitor genre to ‘system’ in Enlightenment epistemology until the two forms begin to merge around the end of the eighteenth century.

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the idea of a transcendentally postulated but unattainable unification of form and content. While neither Lamb nor Hazlitt explicitly endorses this Romantic logic, it remains embedded in their writing tacitly as a proleptic ideal, one that confers upon their essayistic performances, at least potentially, the autotelic status of ‘Literature’. For Hume and Johnson, however, such a consummation was inconceivable: literary language did not aspire to transcend everyday human experience; rather, it confirmed the unity and integrity of shared norms through the practical performance of social virtues and manners. Consequently, as will be seen, the Neoclassical familiar essay operates without the support of the ideal imaginative presence posited by the Romantics, staking its normative and epistemic status instead upon the less secure footing of the intersubjective fictions of belief that Hume had uncovered at the foundations of knowledge. HUME AND THE ‘DISEASE OF THE LEARNED’ This discovery had initially dismayed Hume. The belletristic confidence with which his essays reinforce the social stability of truth belies an early uneasiness. Indeed, it is possible to see in his idea of an easeful and essayistic empiricism, based upon virtues of character and sociability, the determination of a mature writer to overcome the philosophical awkwardness of the vacillating performances of the Treatise. The rhetorical dissonances of the latter work are foreshadowed by Hume’s earlier, less formal writings, in particular the 1734 letter to Dr Arbuthnot, described by Kemp Smith as ‘the most important of all Hume’s extant letters.’19 Written a few months before settling in France prior to completing the Treatise, the unsent letter establishes the template for much of Hume’s later work by deploying narrative and rhetorical techniques in order to exert control over philosophical problems that threaten to unsettle or even overwhelm the thinker. In doing so, it reveals Hume’s early dissatisfaction with the apodictic aspirations of philosophy and his tentative efforts to construct an alternative: an empiricism based upon intersubjectivity, trust, and style. The letter begins by recounting Hume’s youthful impatience with the disputes of philosophers and critics. Having decided that ancient moral philosophy suffered from the ‘Inconvenience’ of being ‘entirely Hypothetical, & depending more upon Invention than Experience’, the young Hume became convinced that all that was needed in reasoning was ‘to throw off all Prejudices.’20 This conviction drove him ‘to seek out some new Medium, by which Truth might be establisht’, until at around the age of eighteen, ‘there seem’d to be open’d up to me a new Scene of 19  Kemp Smith, David Hume, p. 14. Recent studies have cast doubt on whether Arbuthnot was the intended recipient. See John P. Wright, ‘Dr. George Cheyne, Chevalier Ramsay, and Hume’s Letter to Physician’, Hume Studies 29, no. 1 (2003): pp. 125–41. Wright suggests that Hume was instead writing to George Cheyne, author of The English Malady: or, a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of all Kinds, as Spleen, Vapours, Lowness of Spirits, Hypochondriacal, and Hysterical Distempers, &c. (1733). However, even Wright admits that the evidence for this is ‘not definitive’ (p. 125). 20  David Hume, ‘To [Dr George Cheyne]’, [March or April 1734], letter 3 of Letters, vol. 1, p. 16.

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Thought, which transported me beyond Measure [. . .].’21 Hume’s elation, however, lasts only a few months. By the beginning of September 1729, as he recalls, ‘all my Ardor seem’d in a moment to be extinguisht’, to be replaced by a ‘Coldness’ which ‘remain’d for nine Months.’22 This nine-month period of lassitude marks the onset of a malady of reflection, of overthinking, the main symptom of which is a ‘Desertion of the Spirit’ so severe that it is accompanied by physical symptoms:23 At last about Aprile 1730, when I was 19 Years of Age, a Symptom, which I had notic’d a little from the beginning, increased considrably . . . a Ptyalism or Watryness in the mouth. Upon my mentioning it to my Physician, he laught at me, & told me I was now a Brother, for that I had fairly got the Disease of the Learned. Of this he found great Difficulty to preswade me, finding in myself nothing of that lowness of Spirit, which those, who labor under that Distemper so much complain of . . . Tho I was sorry to find myself engag’d with so tedious a Distemper yet the Knowledge of it, set me very much at ease, by satisfying me that my former Coldness, proceeded not from any Defect of Temper or Genius, but from a Disease, to which any one may be subject . . . I have notic’d in the Writings of the French Mysticks . . . that, when they give a History of the Situation of their Souls, they mention a Coldness & Desertion of the Spirit, which frequently returns . . . . I have often thought that their Case & mine were pretty parralel, & that their rapturous Admirations might discompose the Fabric of the Nerves & Brain, as much as profound Reflection, & that warmth or Enthusiasm which is inseperable from them.24

More explicitly than in the Treatise, intense philosophical thought is here depicted as a form of illness, the ‘Disease of the Learned’. Hume writes to Arbuthnot as a patient seeking medical advice, one who assumes that, since the condition of the mind and that of the body have ‘a very near Connexion together’, philosophical and physical pathologies are closely related.25 However, one peculiar characteristic of Hume’s distemper is its reflexivity, whereby the very act of reflecting upon his condition prolongs and exacerbates it. On one level, the letter recognizes this, acknowledging that reflective thought will always be a form of cognitive hypochondria, compulsively registering the symptoms of a disease of which it is itself the cause. On another level, however, this very realization itself perpetuates Hume’s malady by extending the pathology of reflection. For Hume, the act of understanding his own distemper wounds where it heals, leaving him in a predicament parallel to that of the ‘French Mysticks’, whose ‘rapturous Admirations might discompose the Fabric of the Nerves & Brain, as much as profound Reflection’. Admitting that both philosophy and mysticism are prone to the effects of excessive ‘Enthusiasm’, Hume attempts to outmanoeuvre reflection with a gesture that he would deploy repeatedly throughout his career. With an insouciant wave of the hand, he changes the subject, deploying caesura as a remedy for reflection. Apologizing for his prolixity, he 21 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 13. Kemp Smith interprets this as a declaration of independence from Locke and Berkeley. He also sees it as indicating that the ‘new Scene of Thought’ Hume had uncovered by extending Frances Hutcheson’s affective theories of moral judgement ‘to our beliefs regarding matters of fact and existence’ marks a ‘crisis’ in his thought (David Hume, p. 20). 22 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 13. 23 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 17. 24 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, pp. 14–17. 25 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 16.

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adds that ‘’tis a Symptom of this Distemper to delight in complaining & talking of itself.’26 As Jerome Christensen observes, this rhetorical technique fits with Hume’s general habit of exploiting epistemological paradox ‘as just another articulation, a productive inconsistency’ to be mastered through exercising style as a form of social activity.27 Viewed this way, the importance of the letter emerges in a different light. Its fundamental significance is not, as Kemp Smith claims, that it marks the point at which Hume stumbles upon a new, Hutchesonian solution to a philosophical problem, or even, as M.A. Stewart suggests, that it commemorates a ‘religious crisis’, an attempt ‘to place his early self-appraisal and philosophical reflection within a conventional theistic framework which it cost [Hume] some pains to abandon.’28 Hume’s letter indicates his dissatisfaction not so much with a certain philosophical method as with philosophy itself : its narrative is one of how a young thinker arrives at a way of deflating philosophical reflection altogether. In this context, Hume’s philosophical shrug is highly significant. Both the conversion to the ‘new Scene of Thought’ and the illness that follow it are functioning parts of a narrative constructed not to relate Hume’s discovery of a new system of philosophy (whether ‘sentimental’, ‘naturalistic’, or otherwise), but to demonstrate, through a performance of Enlightened indifference, the limitations of the philosophical attitude itself. In this respect, the letter to Arbuthnot shares with Hume’s later work a tendency to engage rhetorically with problems that, though initially presented as philosophical, ultimately give way to questions of living. This is nowhere more evident than in the concluding section of Book I of the Treatise, which, as John Sitter notes, re-enacts many of the ‘dilemmas and solutions’ of the letter to Arbuthnot.29 More specifically, as Donald Siebert argues, the Arbuthnot letter and the Treatise enact a ‘movement from ecstatic discovery to bewilderment and anxiety, and then to salvation through common life.’30 In both pieces of writing, Hume’s disorienting drama of changing moods confounds philosophical analysis and highlights his emerging reliance upon narrative, biographical, and performative means of providing his reader with philosophical reassurance in the face of scepticism. At the heart of this strategy is a picture of the philosopher as a public communicator rather than a private thinker. In a 1944 article, Ernest Mossner registers, without further comment, the Arbuthnot letter’s ‘Humian reserve’ and lack of ‘Rousseauistic exhibitionism.’31 And yet, this very circumspection is bound up with 26 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 18. 27 Jerome Christensen, Practicing Enlightenment: Hume and the Formation of a Literary Career (1987), p. 14. 28 M.A.  Stewart, ‘Hume’s Intellectual Development, 1711–1752’, Impressions of Hume, eds. Marina Frasca-Spada and Peter J.E. Kail (2005), pp. 30–1. 29 Sitter, Loneliness, pp. 32. 30  Donald T. Siebert, ‘ “Ardor of Youth”: The Manner of Hume’s Treatise’, The Philosopher as Writer: The Eighteenth Century, ed. Robert Ginsberg (1987), p. 181. Siebert elaborates on Hume’s need in the Treatise to have a happy ending based on naturalism: ‘Windows must be flung open, light and air must be let in to drive away the fumes of philosophical enthusiasm’ (p. 183). 31 Ernest Campbell Mossner, ‘Hume’s Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, 1734: The Biographical Significance’, Huntington Library Quarterly 7 (1944), p. 135.

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Hume’s prioritization of the public over the private offices of intellect. In contrast to Rousseau, Hume considers individual transparency and sincerity to be themselves dependent upon social conventions. Since thought is rooted in communication, the mind must negotiate the pragmatics and courtesies of social intercourse if it is to engage in meaningful conversation. Egotism and emotional exhibitionism disrupt this fragile intellectual economy by undermining the tacit agreements that make conversation possible. In this respect, the fact that Hume is set ‘very much at ease’ by the news that his illness makes him a ‘Brother’ of the physician is particularly revealing, in that it demonstrates how important it is to the young, solipsistic Hume that his malady confers membership of a community—in this case, a community of intellectuals. In future, Hume would set his own readers at ease by using the conversational and familiar form of the essay to cultivate mutuality. Here, the dialogical, collaborative, extra-disciplinary framework of the letter facilitates the act of thinking ‘aloud’ as intersubjective performance, halting Hume’s slide into the paradoxes of reflection. It is hardly surprising, then, that the letter to Arbuthnot appears never to have been sent. By the end, Hume’s act of writing has transformed itself from being the symptom of a disease into its own remedy: Being sensible that all my Philosophy wou’d never make me contented in my present Situation, I began to rouze up myself . . . . I found, that as there are two things very bad for this Distemper, Study & Idleness, so there are two things very good, Business & Diversion . . . . For this reason I resolved to seek out a more active Life, & tho’ I cou’d not quit my Pretensions in Learning, but with my last Breath, to lay them aside for some time, in order the more effectually to resume them.32

By ‘rouzing himself up’, Hume exchanges a philosophical paradigm of reflection and contemplation for one of ‘Business and Diversion’, a resolution echoed in the determination expressed by the author of the Treatise ‘never more to renounce the pleasures of life for the sake of reasoning and philosophy.’33 Though in both instances this determination turns out to be short-lived, Hume’s proto-pragmatic turn towards essay writing, history, and the ‘easy’ or ‘active’ philosophy, eschews certainty in order to cultivate intersubjective consensus through the rhetorical power of a polite, sociable, and accomplished style. EXPERIENCE AND EXPERIMENT This conversion to an empiricism of ‘ease’ was for a long time concealed by Hume’s reputation as a sceptic, which made it difficult to assess his influence and legacy. And yet, Hume’s influence upon late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century thought appears obscure only from the perspective of a kind of philosophical positivism for which scepticism signals the negation of cognition, rather than a method for rethinking basic paradigms. Leslie Stephen’s failure to detect Hume’s influence on late eighteenth-century British thinkers, for instance, indicates not that the 32 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 17.

33 Hume, Treatise, p. 269.

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intellectual culture of this period had resigned itself to a Hobson’s choice between common sense and ‘languid scepticism’, but rather that the terms of Stephen’s own inquiry were unable to register the nature of Hume’s legacy as anything other than an absence.34 In reality, Hume’s move towards an ‘easy’ philosophy signals a new attitude towards reflective thought and a fundamental shift away from traditional epistemology, involving a corresponding change in vocabulary. This change was assisted in part by an ambiguity within the eighteenth-century understanding of ‘experience’. The challenge of Hume’s scepticism lies in the way in which it presses representationalism, and with it the ‘correspondence’ model of truth and meaning, to its limit. One of the main reasons why his unravelling of corpuscularian empiricism did not simply produce a ‘languid’ scepticism is that the contemporary idea of ‘experience’ remained broad enough to accommodate notions of activity as well as receptivity. Indeed, until the eighteenth century, the words ‘experience’ and ‘experiment’ are so closely related that they could be used synonymously to mean the act of practical, tentative trial. John Bender notes that, while the English term ‘experience’ and the French ‘expérience’ are distinct (in that only the latter is fully synonymous with ‘experiment’), experience and experiment ‘intertwine so richly, as in Hume’s discussions of judgement and probability in his Treatise of Human Nature, that they become elements in one conceptual domain.’35 Johnson’s Dictionary testifies to this continued intimacy, defining the noun ‘experience’ as ‘1. Practice; frequent trial’ and ‘2. Knowledge gained by trial and practice.’36 The philosophy of ideas, however—and especially the widespread influence of associ­ ationist and other forms of psychological language—was busily reordering experience along more phenomenalistic lines of conceptualization. As Bender argues, this development was simply an extension of one branch of the Baconian model of knowledge, according to which knowledge occurs ‘when general principles were determined through controlled analysis of particulars as they emerged from the planned and specialised form of experience called the experiment.’37 As the ‘experimental’ senses of experience recede during the eighteenth century, they are replaced by a set of connotations clustered around a Lockean, psychologized rendering of Bacon’s epistemology. What emerges from this is the idea of a predominantly receptive subject whose ‘experience’ is a form of knowledge based in observation— that is, in the words of the OED, the state of ‘being consciously affected by an event’. Seen from this perspective, Hume’s intervention is pivotal, since his sceptical critique of reason and receptivity as the basis of a unified and coherent subject arrives precisely at the point where phenomenalism is beginning to reshape everyday conceptions of what ‘experience’ is. The Treatise not only questions any epistemology conceived as a Cartesian ‘First Philosophy’, it also challenges its reader to think of experience as foundationless: as Hume puts it, ‘[a]fter the most accurate and exact of my reasonings, I can give no reason why I shou’d assent to it; and feel nothing 34 Stephen, History, vol. 1, p. 2. 35  John Bender, ‘Novel Knowledge: Judgement, Experience, Experiment’, Fictions of Knowledge: Fact, Evidence, Doubt, eds. Yota Batsaki, et al. (2012), p. 135. 36  Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., vol. 1 (1777). 37  Bender, ‘Novel Knowledge’, p. 136.

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but a strong propensity to consider objects strongly in that view, under which they appear to me.’38 Rather than searching for new foundations, Hume and his ‘essayistic’ successors reach for an alternative vocabulary in which the object/subject dyad is replaced by the language of intersubjectivity. This approach construes knowledge and subjectivity as relational rather than punctual, held together by trust between persons rather than tethered to metaphysical grounds. As Sitter argues, ‘as he gravitates towards the ideal of a more sociable prose, Hume moves as well toward a less passive and solitary description of mind.’39 By supplanting private and psychological data with public and communicative action as the basis of ‘experience’, Hume’s naturalized, social epistemology signals a pragmatic turn in eighteenth-century empiricism, what Nicholas Capaldi refers to as anglophone philosophy’s own ‘Copernican revolution’. Consequently, rather than centring his analysis in the perspective of a punctual subjectivity, Hume treats persons ‘fundamentally as agents, as doers, immersed in both a physical world and a social world along with other agents.’40 THE SOCIAL A PRIORI An alternative way of phrasing this claim is to state that ‘human life’ considered ‘in the common course of the world’ becomes for Hume the social a priori of thought, since without it, knowledge and subjectivity would be impossible. As I argue in Chapter 1, Hume’s conversion from ‘difficult’ to ‘easy’ empiricism is the product of a general tension within Enlightenment thought between the competing value systems associated respectively with modern Newtonian science and classical ideas of virtue and eudaimonia. J.G.A. Pocock has demonstrated how this conflict had its roots in two competing discourses in late seventeenth-century and early eighteenthcentury British thought: on one hand, a jurisprudential, ‘rights’-based language, driven by a growing commercial culture, which defined the individual in relation to his relationship to things, and, on the other, an ancient, civic conception of the citizen that defined him according to his virtues and actions.41 Hume’s work reflects this contradiction in Enlightenment thought in a number of ways, but of particular interest here is his adoption of ancient ethical models of virtue in order to counteract the alienating effects (abstraction, individuation, specialization) of an increasingly reified philosophical culture. Cicero’s works are critical in this regard, for while they originally contributed to Hume’s adolescent ‘distemper’, they effectively heal the very wound they inflict by providing the philosopher with a route away from 38 Hume, Treatise, p. 265. 39 Sitter, Loneliness, p. 45. 40  Nicholas Capaldi, Hume’s Place in Moral Philosophy (1989), pp. 22–3. 41  See J.G.A. Pocock, Virtue, Commerce, and History: Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century (1985), p. 48: as Pocock observes, this conflict was triggered in large part by the advent of public debt and the commercialization of government and military agencies, leading to fears of increased corruption, which ‘was a problem in virtue, not in right, which could never be solved by asserting a right of resistance’. Consequently, political thought ‘moves decisively, though never irrevocably, out of the law-centered paradigm and into the paradigm of virtue and corruption’.

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the dangerously self-absorbed vita contemplativa and towards the vita activa. Ciceronian, ‘Academic’ scepticism establishes a template for the way in which Hume’s promotion of epoché, or suspension of belief, attempts to harmonize the apparently conflicting desiderata of rationality on one hand and utility and sentiment on the other. At the same time, the cultivation of manners in Hume’s work forms a bridge between literary works as consumable things and as enactments of virtue. In this way, the author’s performance attempts to overcome the contradiction between commercialization and virtue through a form of what Pocock calls ‘commercial humanism’, according to which ‘a right to things became a way to the practice of virtue, so long as virtue could be defined as the practice and refinement of manners.’42 Adam Smith’s work takes this thought further. In the figure of the ‘impartial spectator’, Smith extends Hume’s socialized intellect by basing agency upon a thoroughly social and dialogical concept of the moral imagination—one whose normative basis approximates the aesthetic standards outlined in Hume’s essay ‘Of the Standard of Taste’. Smith’s socially civil and multi-layered conception of virtue predicates intersubjective norms upon an unintended and spontaneous natural order. Thus, Smith foregrounds the importance of subjectivity as performance, an idea that his Theory of Moral Sentiments enacts through its own rhetorical manoeuvres. Viewed this way, the work of Hume and Smith inhabits the same broad current as that of common-sense thinkers such as Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. Indeed, the philosophical differences between Hume and Reid can ultimately be reduced to a disagreement between naturalists over how to understand the relationship between knowledge and virtue, or between the pursuit of philosophical certainty and the continuance of the groundless everyday beliefs necessary for leading an intelligent life. Cutting across this disagreement is a shared belief that society underpins rationality, which in turn enables Hume, Smith, Reid, and Stewart to be receptive to the idea that what Habermas calls the ‘lifeworld’ discourse of the public sphere has a constitutive role to play in establishing and maintaining rational norms. Within this lifeworld, the philosophical language of Locke is translated into the thick vocabulary of social norms and values, whereby the political metaphors of psychological ‘correspondence’ and ‘association’ are rendered as forms of social activity. It is the abandonment of this sphere by systems of instrumental rationality and specialized scientific endeavour that many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers attempt to halt or even reverse.43 Accordingly, Hume’s intercourse of ‘sentiments’, Reid’s ‘prescience’, and Stewart’s ‘stamina’ of intellect mark the end of an epistemological paradigm constructed around punctual subjectivity, and the emergence of a form of natural transcendentalism according to which social conversation, association, and correspondence become the natural preconditions of meaningful thought. In this respect, as Manfred Kuehn 42 Pocock, Virtue, p. 50. 43  See Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, vol. 1 (1984), p. xlii: It is partly because of this divided legacy in Enlightenment thought, Habermas maintains, that any theory of rationality must incorporate a ‘concept of society that connects the “lifeworld” and “system” paradigms in more than a rhetorical fashion’.

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has argued, Scottish naturalism offers a prototype for Kant’s ‘critique of all preceding philosophy’ by providing an a priori basis for the foundations of knowledge in experience.44 However, as Kant recognized, by positing principles of experience that were themselves beyond justification, it also threatened to undermine philosophy itself. Underlying Kant’s disdainful image in the Prolegomena of common-sense philosophy’s vulgar appeal to the ‘multitude’ is his concern that Scottish naturalism threatens to de-reify and socialize epistemic norms by locating the transcendental, a priori conditions of coherent experience in communities rather than in psychological faculties. In this way, socialized empiricism brings to an end an idea of knowledge (and epistemology) as centred in individual consciousness. The ‘naturalist of pure reason’ returns reason to earth by clipping the wings of philosophy itself.45 T RU S T A N D T E S T I M O N Y As Hume comes to realize, the relations of mutuality presupposed by intersubjective knowledge themselves depend, above all, upon networks of trust. Despite his sceptical treatment of testimony in the Treatise and (more controversially) in the essay ‘Of Miracles’ in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume increasingly views both testimony and trust as essential to the fabric of social virtues and habits necessary for the cultivation of reason. In doing so, he places increasing epistemological weight upon presupposed (and therefore invisible) relationships of truthfulness between certain individuals who could be identified by the disinterestedness and moderation of their verbal performances. These qualities constituted what Steven Shapin terms the ‘epistemological decorum’ of a mitigated scepticism that distinguished the independent gentleman as a reliable truth-teller, i.e. a testifier free from necessity and constraint.46 In this way, Hume’s Academic scepticism presents the metaphysical foundations of ‘experimental’ philosophy as themselves dependent upon intersubjective relationships in which, in Shapin’s words, ‘[m]anners, mores, and mundane ontology were implicated together in a moral economy of truth.’47 In Chapter 2, I argue that trust and testimony acquire a significance in the work of Hume and his contemporaries that belies the relatively scant (and in Hume’s case, wary) attention they pay to the subject. As Annette Baier, Martin Hollis, Guido Möllering, and John Hardwig have maintained, philosophy’s suspicion of trust is rooted in the fact that, since the latter is fundamentally non-rational and social, it is antithetical to the Cartesian picture of a lucid, private rationality. In Möllering’s words, one of the defining aspects of trust is that it ‘rests on the fiction of a reality in which social uncertainty and vulnerability are unproblematic’ that is 44  Manfred Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768–1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy (1987), p. 34. 45  Immanuel Kant, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, eds. Henry Allison and Peter Heath (2002), p. 107. 46  Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (1996), p. xxix. 47 Shapin, Social History, p. xxx.

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itself ‘produced intersubjectively through interaction with others and through institutionalized practices.’48 These fictions become for Hume the social presuppositions of ­knowledge, since, in Möllering’s words, ‘a fiction of reality tends to be maintained and may even become “real” in the sense of a social fact.’49 Having unsettled the empirical foundations of impressions and ideas, Hume proceeds to replace an ideal and dyadic correspondence between mind and world with a social and triangular correspondence between two or more individuals and the world. This in turn highlights the importance of virtue and character. Truth itself, Hume realizes, depends upon social norms, and thus upon morality: if, as Annette Baier maintains, the narrative of the Treatise is that of the triumph of sentiment over reason, then trust is for Hume the social sentiment sine qua non.50 By enshrining trust as epistemologically basic, the Humean picture of communicative intelligence emerges as the antitype of the Rousseauian model, which attempts to ground trust upon transparency, perfect sympathy, and reason. Indeed, the conflict between instrumental reason and trust that continues to exercise philosophers and economists today has its roots in the work of Hume, Rousseau, and other thinkers from this period. As Martin Hollis observes, the problems with Rousseau’s conception of social reason would be exposed by the ways in which Jacobin demands for truthfulness, candour, and transparency undermined the very conditions of trust upon which, as Hume perceived, the performance of reason depends. This paradox in turn highlights the fact that ‘the progress of reason destroys ties which free people need’, which, for Hollis, demonstrates the need for a non-instrumental conception of reason founded on reciprocity and the pursuit of the common good— in other words, a conception of trust within reason.51 It is this notion, I argue, that Hume, Reid, and Stewart pioneer. C O M M U N I C AT I O N The rhetoric of intersubjectivity in Hume and Smith underscores the ways in which the proto-pragmatic turn in empiricism is also, in a broad sense, a linguistic turn. Shapin has demonstrated how, for much of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the social intellect was the communicative intellect: truth in scientific and philosophical discourse ‘flowed along the same personal channels as civil conversation.’52 In Chapter 3, I explore the impact that the drawing together of empirical knowledge and communication has upon theories of language in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I argue that Hume’s Academic scepticism regarding ‘correspondence’ in both knowledge and reference spurs a reappraisal of the relationship between language, thought, and reality. In turn, this 48  Guido Möllering, Trust: Reason, Routine, Reflexivity (2006), p. 112. 49 Möllering, Trust, p. 114. 50  See Annette C. Baier, A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume’s Treatise (1991), p. 20: according to Baier, Hume offers ‘natural sentiment not as a mere distraction but as the replacer of reason. Reason must be worked through, taken to the end of its tether, before sentiment can take over the guiding role.’ 51  Martin Hollis, Trust within Reason (1998), p. 14. 52 Shapin, Social History, p. 410.

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reconsideration leads to a pragmatic deconstruction of the thought/thing and idea/ word dyads and, as Brigitte Nerlich and David Clarke observe, a heightened interest in pragmatics, culminating in the speech-act theories of Reid and Bentham.53 Indeed, running throughout the work of Hume, Reid, and Bentham is the idea that the problems that had beset empiricism since Locke regarding the arbitrary and metaphorical nature of language might be obviated by replacing a private, representational model of knowledge and language with one based on intersubjective norms whose validity rests upon their performance within a speech community. The question that divides these thinkers, however, is that of whether such norms can be fixed and articulated through a system of philosophical principles. ‘Serious’minded thinkers such as Reid and Stewart answer this question in the affirmative, claiming that the communicative act is incorporated into thought itself. By denying the proposition, however, ‘rhetorical’ thinkers such as Hume, Tooke, and Bentham ultimately disperse philosophical thought into its various communicative acts, into the rhetoric of philosophy. Consequently, unlike Reid, who does not permit his own theory of performed speech acts to alter his view of the philosopher as scientist, Hume cultivates a style that presupposes that philosophy is limited in its ability to represent the true and the good. This in turn suggests that any assessment of Hume’s arguments relating to the roles played by trust, sentiment, and virtue in human life should be sensitive to the ways in which these notions inhabit Hume’s own practice of writing as a kind of performance. In accentuating this dimension of Hume’s work, I follow in the footsteps of a number of critics who have argued, in Alexander Dick’s words, that ‘the rhetorical performance of empiricism is part of the condition described.’54 While this mode of writing, as Angela Esterhammer demonstrates, reaches its zenith in the ironies and sublimities of Romanticism (including the familiar prose of Lamb and Hazlitt), its conditions of possibility lie in Hume’s original dismantling of representationalism, which intensifies doubts regarding the capacity of language to represent the world.55 E S S AY S A N D E S S AY I N G In this book’s final two chapters, I argue that mid- and late eighteenth-century ‘conversational’ philosophy models itself on the familiar essay. In Chapter 4, my claim is that understanding the ways in which the essay comes to embody Hume’s ‘easy’ philosophy involves appreciating how the genre’s experimental and improvisational manner evolved in line with a conception of experience as experiment. As the Oxford 53  See Brigitte Nerlich and David D. Clarke, Language, Action, and Context: The Early History of Pragmatics in Europe and America, 1780–1930 (1996). 54  Alexander Dick, introduction, Theory and Practice in the Eighteenth Century: Writing between Philosophy and Literature, eds. Alexander Dick and Christina Lupton (2008), p. 3. See also: Fred Parker, Scepticism and Literature: An Essay on Pope, Hume, Sterne, and Johnson (2003); John J. Richetti, Philosophical Writing: Locke, Berkeley, Hume (1983); M.A. Box, The Suasive Art of David Hume (1991). 55  See Angela Esterhammer, The Romantic Performative: Language and Action in British and German Romanticism (2000).

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English Dictionary records, the words ‘essay’, ‘experience’, and ‘experiment’ share a common origin in the words meaning ‘to try, put to the test.’56 With its groping attempts to establish commonalities through the performance of character and dialogue, the essay becomes a metaphor for the kind of experience wherein, in the absence of certainty, the activity of conversation establishes the virtues necessary for establishing moral and epistemological norms. It is in the exploitation of the permeable borders between ‘experience’ as knowledge and ‘experience’ as experiment that the familiar essayist aspires to Max Bense’s image (cited approvingly by Adorno) of the methodically unmethodical writer who ‘writes while experimenting.’57 Nonetheless, the essay as Hume and Johnson inherit it is an epistemologically ambivalent genre, rooted in both the rhetorical playfulness of Michel de Montaigne and the aphoristic, practical empiricism of Francis Bacon. From these very different sources, the essay emerges in this period as a complex literary form whose affiliations with commonplace books, reading manuals, and epistolary writing enable it to range freely across disciplinary boundaries. By rethinking experience as social experiment, Hume ensures that the familiar essay assumes a function that mediates between the propagation of scientific knowledge and the emulation of the fragmentary, improvisatory progress of the human intellect. At the same time, the essay genre remains a symptom of the very wound it tries to heal. Indeed, like ‘trust’, ‘experience’, and ‘literature’, the origins of the ‘essay’ lie in a process of disassociation whereby the products of collective endeavour (‘truth’, ‘perception’, ‘writing’, the ‘work’ of an author) are increasingly abstracted from human activity. In this sense, the modern essay is the product of the very forces against which its embodiment of a decentred intersubjectivity protests; it is caught in the reflex of an increasingly abstract and essentialized subjectivity. Consequently, the genre remains suspended between two postures: in its Montaignean, familiar mood, it tends to be nostalgic and sentimental, attempting to roll back adult certainties to regain a sense of possibility through playful trial; in its more Baconian, systematic mood, it becomes a vehicle for increasingly abstract forms of rationality conducted through rigorously theorized experimental procedures. In the first, the essay offers experiment/ experience as a tentative test that engages the trust of the reader as a means of consolidating consensus; in the second, it presents experiment/experience as scientific method for arriving at truth. C O N S O L I D AT I O N A N D P RO D U C T I O N Following the upheavals of the 1790s, perceptions of what might be at stake in the literary performance of the familiar essay shift markedly. For both Hume and Johnson, the fictions of social cohesion (the forerunners of Burke’s ‘second nature’) form the preconditions for rational discourse; consequently, the social intellect is policed in the court of custom, habit, and character. The empirical performative 56  According to the OED, both noun and verb forms of ‘essay’ have roots in the Old French ‘essai ’, while ‘experience’ stems from the Latin ‘experiri ’. 57  Adorno, ‘Essay’, p. 164.

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promises no transcendental compensations: instead of symbolizing a lost wholeness, it gestures towards the social virtues, and above all trust, as the ultimate guarantors of meaning. However, the Revolutionary debates of the final decade of the century made the consolidation of imagined solidarity appear evermore precarious. At the same time, reading audiences were becoming larger, more diverse, and less ‘familiar’. As essayists sought firmer grounds for literary ‘truth’, the experimental maintenance and consolidation of intersubjective consensus was replaced by the experimental production of new intellectual territory. Once social harmonies were exchanged for transcendental sublimities, Hume’s idea of literature as the domain of polite letters, courtly virtues, and easy philosophizing was overtaken by the Romantic notion of literature as, in Wordsworth’s phrase, ‘the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge’. The subject invoked by the Romantic familiar essay is one who searches, however unsuccessfully and ironically, for transcendental authentication. Accordingly, the persona of Hazlitt’s essay is that of a powerful ego striving to establish unity amidst bewildering contingency, while Lamb’s style, particularly in the ‘Elia’ essays, errs towards the ironic and partial recuperation of a lost wholeness. This stands in marked contrast to the literary manner of Hume and Johnson, which presupposes an intersubjective conception of identity—one determined by pragmatic, rather than by metaphysical, principles. As I argue in Chapter 5, however, we should resist the conclusion that this shift represents the eclipse of social empiricism by idealism. Indeed, one reason why descriptors such as ‘empiricism’ and ‘idealism’ feel clumsy when applied to describing the differences between Neoclassical and Romantic familiar essayists is that all of these writers exhibit, in different ways, a profound ambivalence towards philosophy itself. It is this ambivalence that lends the familiar essay its shape, and, in many respects, its fundamental purpose, defining a space in which formal understanding, aesthetic appreciation, and social communication overlap. Seen from this perspective, the conversational, ironic, and philosophy-deflating Hume (for example) and the conversational, ironic, and philosophy-ridiculing Lamb have a surprising amount in common, not least in that both defy contemporary philosophical taxonomies. Moreover, and on a more general level, the disciplinary boundaries between ‘philosophy’ and ‘literature’ in the late eighteenth century remained inchoate at best, and they would only fully emerge once the implications of German idealist aesthetics had finally seeped through into nineteenth-century British intellectual culture. In theoretical terms, the idea that literature qua ‘Literature’ might, as pure ‘generativity’, compensate for, or even redeem philosophy’s failure to complete itself by figuring the absolute productively (as what Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy describe as the ‘literary absolute’), entailed setting out from a fundamentally Kantian settlement between the self, experience, and the world.58 In Lamb and Hazlitt, however, this picture is more complicated. Ideas of visionary imagination and poetic truth are invoked in the absence of transcendental 58  See Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, The Literary Absolute, trans. Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester (1988), p. 12: ‘[R]omantic thought involves not only the absolute of literature, but literature as the absolute. Romanticism is the inauguration of the literary absolute.’

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foundations and (by extension) any clear sense of the work of art as autotelic. Consequently, their essays exhibit a form of expressive liminality: not only do they occupy an indeterminate status between ‘high’ and ‘low’ literature, they also offer an image of the self that attempts to blend an inherited discourse of sociability and pragmatic intersubjectivity with aspects of an emerging, albeit untheorized transcendental idealism. Thus, while for Hume and Johnson the problem of writing the familiar essay is one of how to ground authority and consolidate knowledge in the discursive space of the public sphere and the ‘conversable’ world, the challenge facing Lamb and Hazlitt is one of how to reconfigure this space as ideal and productive, without divorcing the genre from the very conditions of sociability and intersubjectivity upon which it depends. AN UNMETHODICAL METHOD Finally, a brief word about method, which is a topic one can ill afford to neglect in studying a genre whose distinguishing feature, as Adorno indicates, is that it proceeds ‘methodically unmethodically.’59 Adorno argues that the essay’s aesthetic autonomy lies in its resistance to the Enlightenment’s false binary of ‘[t]echnician or dreamer’, methodical scientist, or unmethodical artist. The essayist rejects this Hobson’s choice by being ambiguously intuitive and conceptual at once. To this extent, the essay as form critiques what Adorno and Horkheimer term the ‘triumphant calamity’ of Enlightenment, through which a program of ‘disenchantment’ inaugurates a form of systematic rationality whose commitment to knowledge as domination comes at the price of alienation.60 Similarly, some of the key claims of this book regarding the preoccupation of Enlightenment and Romantic writers with certain concepts— particularly ‘trust’, ‘manners’, ‘sociability’, ‘experience’, and ‘essaying’ itself—share Adorno and Horkheimer’s concern with how the emergence of such ideas betrays (and, indeed, creates) an absence, a loss of immediacy and connection. As Eagleton argues, this development is bound up more broadly with the ‘growing aestheticization of social life’ in the eighteenth century.61 Thus, through the inculcation of ‘habits, pieties, sentiments and affections’, a new bourgeois social order signalled its rejection of absolutism while trying to respond to the problem of how society might be regulated once ancient feudal structures had been dismantled.62 Adorno and Horkheimer make a similar point when they describe the ways in which the traditional and material social bonds that unite societies are abstracted into discourses of calculation and instrumentality: Not only is domination paid for with the estrangement of human beings from the dominated objects, but the relationships of human beings, including the relationship of individuals to themselves, have themselves been bewitched by the objectification of 59  Adorno, ‘Essay’, p. 161. 60  See Adorno, ‘Essay’, p. 166: ‘The essay remains what it always was, the critical form par excellence; specifically, it constructs the immanent criticism of cultural artefacts . . . it is the critique of ideology.’ 61  Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990), p. 44. 62 Eagleton, Ideology, p. 20.

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mind. Individuals shrink to the nodal points of conventional reactions and the modes of operation objectively expected of them.63

This point regarding the aestheticization of power, through which, in Eagleton’s words, ‘[c]ustom, piety, intuition and opinion must now cohere an otherwise abstract, atomised social order’, applies particularly to the familiar essay, which attempts to overcome such contradictions both formally (‘methodically unmethodically’) and in its typical choice of subject matter (current opinions, manners, fashions, sentiments). In this respect, ‘social’ empiricism and the familiar essay are simultaneously symptoms of and responses to the malady of Enlightenment rationalism diagnosed by Hume in his letter to Arbuthnot. As Adorno points out, Romanticism does not remove this contradiction, since the fundamental ‘untruth’ at stake in the Enlightenment is not analysis, reflection, or abstraction per se, but the presupposed presence of absolute knowledge itself, the ‘assumption that the trial is prejudged.’64 Both moments in this dialectic are vital: the Romantic essay is a product of the Enlightenment and also a critique of it, an ‘anti-idealist motive even in the midst of idealism.’65 Similarly, a truly dialectical method for understanding the aesthetic ideology of mercantile interests in the long eighteenth century must register the extent to which the transfer of power from an absolute ruling bloc to a general culture of politeness and civility constitutes a progressive gain. As Eagleton observes, ‘[i]f we can and must be severe critics of Enlightenment, it is Enlightenment which has empowered us to be so.’66 However, while this study recognizes the contradictions at work within many of the concepts under discussion, it eschews the metatheory of negative dialectics. As Habermas argues, Adorno and Horkheimer oversimplify the landscape of Enlightenment rationality by focusing exclusively upon the objectification of nature and the instrumentalisation of rationality, thereby neglecting conceptions of knowledge and experience that were not geared toward the production of technical improvement. By extending their suspicion of Enlightenment reason to reason itself, they install a totalized ‘other’ of reason—one that is, in its turn, inherently undialectical. The result of this is that critique is divorced from its own foundations, fostering, in Habermas’s words, both ‘totalization and independence of critique.’67 Moreover, what is lost in this analysis is the ‘explosive power of basic aesthetic experiences that a subjectivity liberated from the imperatives of purposive activity . . . gains from its own decentering.’68 In contrast, the present study endeavours as much as possible to avoid reinscribing hypostatizations, both positive and 63  Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr (2002), p. 21. 64  Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic, p. 18. 65  Adorno, ‘Essay’, p. 164. 66 Eagleton, Ideology, p. 8. 67 Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (1987), p. 119. As Habermas notes, Adorno, like Nietzsche before him, was conscious of the performative contradiction involved in deploying the very methods he rejects in Enlightenment totalitarianism in order to overcome it. Negative Dialectics (1966) was an attempt to explain the necessity of this contradiction. 68 Habermas, Philosophical Discourse, p. 113.

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negative. In the tradition of the familiar essayist, it does so by acknowledging the need for the intersubjectively presupposed grounds that allow any conversation to begin.69 This is doubly vital in the context of the subject matter of this book, since it is the existence and nature of such pragmatic grounds of communication that are found to be at stake in both the ‘aestheticisation’ of empiricism and the flourishing of the familiar essay in the period between Hume and Hazlitt. 69  See Habermas, Philosophical Discourse, p. 130: ‘In argumentation, critique is constantly entwined with theory, enlightenment with grounding, even though discourse participants always have to suppose that only the unforced force of the better argument comes into play under the unavoidable communication presuppositions of argumentative discourse.’

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1 Self and Intersubjectivity I N T RO D U C T I O N One of the central contentions of this book is that the language of intersubjectivity that emerges in the eighteenth century is not, strictly speaking, ‘epistemological’, (at least, not in the Cartesian or Lockean sense of being centred in an essential selfhood); rather, it is social and rhetorical. Hume’s radical innovation is to usher this language into the precincts of philosophy itself. Having searched fruitlessly for certainty in the grounds of consciousness in Book 1 of the Treatise, Hume takes the radical step of remodelling ‘experience’ entirely. In doing so, he reorients Enlightenment thought away from the discourse of faculty psychology and towards that of intersubjectivity and emotion, taking in conversation, sociability, and sentiment. This shift away from psychology and the idea of the punctual self reverberates throughout the work of Hume’s contemporaries, regardless of whether they accept, reject, or ignore his arguments. Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, and, later, Dugald Stewart build upon Hume’s socialized empiricism by rethinking ‘truth’ in terms of the pragmatic presuppositions that underlie cognitive judgements and ordinary communication in the course of what Hume sees as the ‘common affairs of life’ and Reid identifies as the ‘social operations of the human mind.’1 Hume’s own conception of the intersubjective basis of knowledge and morals is influenced by the active, practical, and socially engaged thinking of Cicero. Through the pragmatic principle of suspending judgement (epoché ), Cicero provided Hume with an understanding of how to manage the relationship between knowledge as episteme or science and as doxa or everyday certainty (and thus between the vita contemplativa and the vita activa). Consequently, Hume presents his task in the Enquiries as that of mediating between an anatomical and exact Aristotelian philosophy and a more painterly and socially engaged form of Ciceronian rhetoric. This strategy of philosophical diplomacy in turn reflects a broader tension within eighteenth-century thought in Britain: between the epistemological norms of Newtonian science on one hand and the practical ethics foregrounded by classical theories of virtue and eudaemonia on the other. Setting out from Cicero instead of Newton enables Hume to highlight the performative dimension of subjectivity and to develop a social model of reason; this model in turn becomes a counterweight 1  Thomas Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of Man (1788), p. 448. See also Hume, Treatise: ‘Here then I find myself absolutely and necessarily determin’d to live, and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of life.’ (p. 269).

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to the notion of a self defined by the possession of a single, unified consciousness. By taking the ‘easy’, probabilistic, and Ciceronian route through the paradoxes of belief and scepticism, Hume foregrounds the moral and aesthetic dimensions to knowledge, thereby raising the epistemological profiles of virtue and taste. Since Kemp Smith, debates about the roles of sentiment and intersubjectivity in Hume have been dominated by the question of naturalism, an issue Hume raises in the Treatise when he argues that in the face of radical scepticism, ‘Nature will always maintain her rights, and prevail in the end over any abstract reasoning whatsoever.’2 ‘Naturalism’, however, is an inconveniently broad term and should be deployed with caution. The Ciceronian perspective upon Hume’s thought is helpful here because it helps to explain the conditions according to which he was able to combine elements of scepticism and naturalism; it enables one to appreciate that Hume’s Academic scepticism is, strictly speaking, neither a metaphysical nor an epistemological thesis, but a practical philosophy of life. This pragmatic feature of Hume’s thought informs his alignment of aesthetic, cognitive, and moral judgements. As Peter Jones argues, while Hume insists that the ultimate standard in any judgement must be ‘experience and observation’, he relies throughout the Enquiries upon a notion of qualified but ‘neither infallible nor irreplaceable’ observers as the only possible standard of objectivity.3 To this extent, Hume bases cognitive norms upon the very same standards as those that are seen to support aesthetic judgements in his essay ‘Of the Standard of Taste’. Here, Hume suggests that ‘universal’ norms, whether epistemic, aesthetic, moral, sentimental, could only ever be intersubjective— in other words, based on human virtues that are generally agreed to correspond to ‘sound’ states of judgement.4 Hume’s intersubjective ‘standard of taste’ casts important light upon Adam Smith’s deployment of the impartial spectator in his theory of moral judgement. Smith’s role in developing Hume’s concept of sympathy has been well documented. As D.D. Raphael notes, by uncoupling sympathy from considerations of utility and allowing that ‘sympathy can be a sharing of any feeling’, Smith offers a more complex picture than Hume of the moral sentiments.5 In the figure of the ‘impartial spectator’, moreover, Smith further develops the intersubjective norms posited by Hume in ‘Of the Standard of Taste’ by locating them within the conscience of every individual, thereby resting moral judgement upon a reflective act of imagination rather than a sentimental reflex. By doing so, Smith bases agency in a thoroughly social and dialogical concept of moral selfhood. This in turn is linked to a concept of virtue that is multilayered rather than essentialized, and which predicates intersubjective norms upon an unintended, spontaneous social order. Smith’s depiction of the natural convergence of virtuous behaviour highlights the importance of 2 Hume, Treatise, p. 41. 3  Peter Jones, Hume’s Sentiments: Their Ciceronian and French Context (1982), p. 64. 4  See David Hume, ‘On the Standard of Taste’, Essays, pp. 233–4: ‘In each creature, there is a sound and a defective state; and the former alone can be supposed to afford us the true standard of taste and sentiment.’ 5  D.D. Raphael, introduction, The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith, eds. A.L. Macfie and D.D. Raphael (1976), p. 13.

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performed behaviours to the moral economy of any society, an idea that is embodied in The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ enactment of its own central premise regarding the theatricality of the moral feelings. Indeed, style comes to play a vital role in Hume and Smith, insofar as it underpins the trusting relationships that sustain polite conversation and sociability. While Hume’s self-consciously easy blend of Aristotelianism and Ciceronianism inaugurates a playful dialogue between philosophical reflection and quotidian experience, Thomas Reid, by contrast, attempts to unite philosophy and everyday thought under the umbrella of common sense. By doing this, Reid aims to invest the social intellect with a philosophical legitimacy that he felt was absent from Hume’s account of the artificial virtues. Hume had based judgement upon feelings rooted in custom and habit. In this way, as Baier observes, ‘[r]elations between thinking persons and relations between thought contents turn out not to be independent of each other.’6 However, by locating the truth instinct in a non-rational predisposition, or ‘a kind of prescience of human actions’ necessary for human communication and interpretation, Reid grounds knowledge in an intuition that he treats as philosophically foundational.7 As Heiner Klemme argues, ‘[f ]or Hume, our flight to common sense is the result of our ignorance about first principles; for Reid, common sense is nothing other than the domain of the original principles.’8 Another way of putting this is that, while for Hume and Smith the mental is social, for Reid and Stewart the social is mental. One surprising result of these developments is that, insofar it rethinks experience as a practical activity that presupposes a social nexus of customs, habits, and relations, the pragmatic turn in the empiricism of Hume, Smith, Reid, and Stewart increasingly takes on the logic of a transcendental argument. Of these thinkers, Stewart is most alert to the implications of this shift. Although he agrees with Reid that perception presupposes judgement, Stewart does not believe that this judgement is based in mere common sense. Instead, he argues that the task of philosophy is to systematize human understanding at an axiomatic level. With Kant, Stewart maintains that knowledge is fundamentally based in a (non-empirical) transcendental principle, which, itself being indemonstrable, should be classed among a special order of truths that in the Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792–1827) he describes as the ‘Fundamental Laws of Human Belief, or Primary Elements of Human Reason.’9 Nonetheless, Stewart considers these elements to constitute a practical rather than an ideal a priori footing for human knowledge. When compared to Kant’s transcendental idealism, Stewart’s system appears as a form of anthropological transcendentalism, based, like that of his Scottish Enlightenment precursors, upon an account of human instinct and the entirely natural preconditions for living an intelligent life. 6 Baier, Progress, p. 28. 7  Thomas Reid, An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense, 4th ed. (1785), pp. 427–8. 8  Heiner F. Klemme, ‘Scepticism and Common Sense’, The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment, ed. Alexander Broadie (2003), p. 132. 9  Dugald Stewart, The Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, ed. William Hamilton, vol. 2 (1854–60), p. 44.

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In pursuing varying forms of natural or anthropological transcendentalism, the four thinkers discussed in this chapter respond to the epistemological stalemate of Hume’s scepticism by exchanging the vocabulary of psychological foundationalism inherited from Locke for one of natural description. In this respect, they differ markedly from contemporaries such as David Hartley and Joseph Priestley, who continue to embrace psychologism despite the withering of any confidence in the ability of the latter to secure apodictic grounds for scientific knowledge. And yet, what might appear as a straightforward parting of ways between Scottish naturalism and English associationism in the late eighteenth century is complicated by the fact that naturalism remains divided between, on one hand, a sceptical, rhetorical, and performative tendency, as represented by Hume and Smith, and, on the other, a commitment to foundationalism maintained by Reid and Stewart. In this regard, it is the common-sense school that stands apart in its belief that philosophy still has important work to do, independently of science, in establishing a secure basis for knowledge. Nonetheless, a common thread that runs throughout the Academic scepticism of Hume, the commonsensism of Reid, and the anthropological transcendentalism of Stewart is a rolling back of abstract universalism in favour of a kind of pragmatic holism. As this development gathers strength, the language of pure reason is gradually replaced by the rhetoric of trust, friendship, and intersubjectivity, implying that at the private as well as the social level, truth depends upon the truthfulness and the trustworthiness of others. In place of representationalism and the correspondence model of knowledge, these thinkers situate ‘truth’ within a socialized epistemology of life, friendship, and sincerity. Ultimately then, what we witness in the socialized empiricism of the late eighteenth century is the end of epistemology as the attempt to secure knowledge through the perceptions of a centred consciousness. Indeed, as I discuss below, it is possible to read Hume’s separation of theory and practice as a form of postmodern irony avant la lettre. And yet, despite recent Deleuzian and Rortian readings of Hume, his own brand of counter-Enlightenment thinking ultimately has more in common with the theories of communicative rationality found in the work of philosophers such as Donald Davidson and Jürgen Habermas, both of whom have outlined broadly pragmatized, ‘deflated’ conceptions of truth. Such conceptions, as I argue in the closing sections of this chapter, play crucial roles in forming the framework for an empirical conception of knowledge predicated upon communicative activity in the mid- to late eighteenth century. M A K I N G A V I RT U E O F S C E P T I C I S M Central to Hume’s socialized empiricism is communication, underlined by his reflections on the nature of language in the Treatise, which point to the dependency of human knowledge upon (often unspoken) social arrangements. Although Hume did not produce a fully developed theory of language (unlike Smith), his interest in the way that customs shape human nature drew him towards an account of language as social and conventional. The groundwork for this conception is laid out in

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the Treatise’s nominalistic treatment of abstract ideas. Despite maintaining that ideas are ultimately derived from impressions, Hume concluded that the underdetermination of our complex and abstract notions by sensory data suggests that such abstractions are, in effect, nothing more than particular ideas acting as placeholders for more general ideas. Moreover, these ideas only acquire their general significance through language. As Hume indicates in the early Treatise section ‘Of Abstract Ideas’, a ‘word raises up an individual idea, along with a certain custom; and that custom produces any other individual one, for which we may have occasion.’10 For Hume, as Claudia Schmidt observes, we not only acquire ‘most of the words that we use to designate our abstract ideas by learning an existing language’, we also ‘develop many abstract ideas by learning the general terms of a particular linguistic community.’11 In this way, cognition itself is seen by Hume to depend upon conventions that are developed within linguistic communities; practical reasoning, as outlined the Treatise, is underpinned by a presupposition of social solidarity that operates in ways that are similar to the conventions of linguistic and monetary exchanges. This supposition is based upon ‘a convention or agreement betwixt us’ that is ‘gradually establish’d by human conventions without any promise.’12 As Jones and Livingston argue, the significance of such non-contractual conventions is that the formation of complex ideas necessary for human interaction depends upon the maintenance of the trusting relationships that sustain the ‘natural processes whereby social rules are hammered out unreflectively over time.’13 There are no rational principles to describe such processes. Hume’s interest in the ways in which linguistic conventions structure complex ideas is in line with his subordination of epistemological problems to social and relational questions. It also signals a shift in thinking about belief, a move away from a model based upon the correspondence between ideas and the world, and towards one governed by the correspondence between individuals within a community. As Jones points out, in his essay on miracles, Hume ‘emphasises that we have to rely on testimony, that is, reports by others . . . because knowledge is a social phenomenon and cannot be acquired alone.’ Thus, he ‘holds that there could be little knowledge without others on whom to rely for testimony about events we have not experienced ourselves.’14 Consequently, as Hume acknowledges, ‘there is no species of reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to human life, than that which is derived from the testimony of men, and the reports of eyewitnesses and spectators.’15 I discuss the particular importance of trust and testimony to Hume in Chapter 2. Here, however, it is sufficient to note that by reflecting on testimony, Hume connects his empiricism of custom and habit to a more general thesis regarding the social character of knowledge. On these terms, ‘easy’ philosophy appears as a kind of coherentist epistemology that abandons the foundations of certainty in favour of forging a community of 10 Hume, Treatise, p. 21. 11 Claudia M. Schmidt, David Hume: Reason in History (2003), p. 417. 12 Hume, Treatise, p. 490. 13 Livingston, Common Life, p. 66. 14 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 165. 15 Hume, Enquiries, p. 111.

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belief. However, for Hume the ramifications of intersubjectivity go further. As Parker notes, Hume’s manoeuvre ‘describes a kind of paradigm shift, whereby the intellectual dilemma is not at all addressed in its own terms but is simply abandoned, displaced by the arrival of a truth of a quite different kind.’16 Hume’s socialized empiricism uncovers a moral and aesthetic dimension to knowledge, raising in turn the epistemological profiles of virtue and taste. The first of these elements is reflected in the stress Hume places on the cultivation of an ‘accomplished’ character in the Enquiries, one that displays ‘in conversation that discernment and delicacy which arise from polite letters; and in business, that probity and accuracy which are the natural result of a just philosophy.’17 Accordingly, the task of philosophy is not merely to communicate an intellectual position, it is also to promote a certain form of life, according to which ‘happiness and prosperity of mankind, arising from the social virtue of benevolence and its subdivisions’ rest upon intersubjective relationships.18 By accentuating the principle that speculative thought should not overshadow the importance of living a good life, Hume reveals his disenchantment with the prospect of constructing a science of man solely according to a Newtonian model. This disillusionment corresponds to his increasing interest in the work of Cicero, a development which he narrates in the Enquiries as an attempt to moderate between the anatomical exactness of Aristotelianism and the painterly ease of Ciceronian rhetoric.19 In his Academica (c.45 bc), Cicero defended the moderate scepticism of the ‘Academic’ philosophy associated with Carneades of Cyrene, endorsing Carneades’ claim that ‘there is no presentation of such a sort as to result in perception, but many that result in a judgement of probability.’20 As Harvey Cormier observes, ancient scepticism ‘did not claim to provide a pessimistic but still somehow true picture of humanity’s intellectual relationship to the world. Instead, like Epicureanism and Stoicism, it offered a way of life that would lead to peace of mind.’21 Consequently, for Cicero, scepticism results in intellectual paralysis only where it is not self-applied; being sceptical even about our sceptical doubts leads us to recognize that there are also degrees of probability that are useful in living a human life. Central to this moderate, probabilistic scepticism is the practical principle of suspending judgement (epoché ). As Cicero declares in De Natura Deorum (c.45 bc), ‘philosophy has its origin and starting-point in ignorance, and . . . the Academic School were well-advised in “withholding assent” from beliefs that are uncertain: for what is more unbecoming than ill-considered haste?’22 Here again, Cicero adopts the Carneadean position that problems of knowledge cannot be considered in isolation from questions of well-being: even in the absence of certainty, ‘there

16 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 26. 17 Hume, Enquiries, p. 8. 18 Hume, Treatise, p. 305. 19  See Hume, Enquiries, p. 9. 20 Cicero, De Natura Deorum and Academica, trans. H.  Rackham. The Loeb Classical Library (1933), p. 595. 21  Harvey Cormier, The Truth is what Works: William James, Pragmatism, and the Seed of Death (2001), p. 91. 22 Cicero, De Natura Deorum and Academica, p. 3.

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remain presentations of a sort that arouse us to action.’23 By maintaining epoché as part of living a good life, Academic scepticism provides Hume with a model of sceptical empiricism that incorporates at its heart a philosophy of activity and of human flourishing. Accordingly, in the key fifth section of the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (‘Sceptical Solution of These Doubts’), Hume warns of the dangers of excessive philosophizing and links overthinking to social alienation and Stoicism, noting that ‘while we aspire to the magnanimous firmness of the philosophic sage, and endeavour to confine our pleasures altogether within our own minds, we may, at last, render our philosophy like that of Epictetus, and other Stoics, only a more refined system of selfishness, and reason ourselves out of all virtue as well as social enjoyment.’24 And yet, he notes, there remains one species of philosophy which seems little liable to this inconvenience . . . and that is the Academic or Sceptical philosophy. The academics always talk of doubt and suspense of judgement, of danger in hasty determinations, of confining to very narrow bounds the enquiries of the understanding, and of renouncing all speculations which lie not within the limits of common life and practice.25

By transforming scepticism into the wisdom of ‘common life and practice’, Cicero provides Hume with a route from epistemological paradox to ‘easy’ empiricism. This conversion from ‘difficult’ to ‘easy’ empiricism reflects the tension within Enlightenment thought between the values of Newtonian science and those of classical virtue. As Peter Fosl has noted, Hume’s own account of mitigated scepticism ‘is in complete agreement with Cicero’s’, a fact that has considerable ramifications for his thought more generally.26 It is important to note, moreover, that Cicero’s significance for Hume had as much to do with the way in which the Roman orator exemplified an attitude (towards philosophy, society, life) as it did with the doctrine of mitigated or Academic scepticism per se. Nor was Hume unusual in this respect. During the Enlightenment, as Matthew Fox notes, the reputation of Cicero rested more ‘on the effectiveness of his discourse, whether in oratory, letters or philosophical writings . . . for its statesman-like authority; its polite, educated quality; its pedagogic value; its republicanism’ than on his contribution as a philosopher.27 And yet, reading Cicero’s philosophy had troubled the young Hume: the ‘Disease of the Learned’ that had afflicted him as a teenager was exacerbated by reading ‘many Books of Morality’, including Cicero. It is only later that Hume realizes that, regardless of orientation, immoderate engagement in philosophical analysis is counterproductive, and that too much time in the study is philosophically unhealthy. While reflection has its uses within the framework of an active life, in solitary contemplation, and ‘meeting with no Resistance’, the mind wastes itself.28 Hume comes 23 Cicero, De Natura Deorum and Academica, p. 601. 24 Hume, Enquiries, p. 40. 25 Hume, Enquiries, pp. 40–1. 26  Peter S. Fosl, ‘Doubt and Divinity: Cicero’s Influence on Hume’s Religious Skepticism’, Hume Studies 20, no. 1 (1994): p. 105. 27  Matthew Fox, ‘Cicero during the Enlightenment’, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero, ed. C. Steel (2013), p. 322. Emphasis added. 28 Hume, Letters, vol. 1, p. 14.

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to see that the ‘resistance’ that thought requires as a constructive counterpoint to itself is the very practical, social activity of dialogue and conversation he finds in Cicero. Only by acting, by communicating, is Hume able to replace the desiderata of epistemological certainty with the utility of the virtues as a means of promoting social well-being. Academic scepticism thus becomes a model for Hume’s attempt to reconcile the arts of the ‘anatomist’ and the ‘painter’ in a philosophy that selfconsciously blends the dispassionate language of empiricism with the rhetoric of sentiment and feeling. By showing Hume how to reconcile the vita contemplativa with the vita activa, Cicero helps to heal the very wound that he once inflicted. It is chiefly in this manner that Cicero performs a vital role in shaping both the content and the form of Hume’s philosophy. Relieved of its apodictic status as the mirror of nature, philosophy in Hume’s hands merges with other kinds of writing and conversation whose forms and genres, as communicative acts, are determined as much by the manner of their performance as by their relationship with the objects to which they refer. Hume’s own performance as a writer is, in this regard, linked to his insistence on the constitutive nature of custom in determining the conventionality of language, morals, and aesthetics. Once the association of ideas is seen to be epistemologically continuous with the association of enlightened citizens, a social and performative model of reason emerges as a philosophical counterdiscourse to that which defines the subject in terms of a centred and unified consciousness. Hume’s Ciceronian self-presentation as ‘a Kind of Resident or Ambassador from the Dominions of Learning to those of Conversation’ highlights his method of treating philosophical works as dramatic presentations, as the performances of a diplomat.29 As I argue in Chapter 5, the familiar essay becomes, for Hume, the genre par excellence for this performance of philosophical diplomacy. N AT U R E A N D T H E S TA N D A R D O F TA S T E For Hume, virtue and character constitute the sole basis for the critique of philosophy. The purely rational, philosophical attitude is unsustainable, he concludes, because it is unnatural. Accordingly, barely a few pages into the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume asserts that ‘nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to the human race, and secretly admonished them to allow none of these biases to draw too much, so as to incapacitate them for other occupations and entertainments . . . . Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.’30 In advancing this claim at an early stage in the first Enquiry, Hume foregrounds a similar point made in the Treatise, which seeks to dispel any apprehensions among readers that the Academic philosophy, ‘while it endeavours to limit our enquiries to common life, should ever undermine the reasonings of common life, and carry its doubts so far as to destroy all action, as well as speculation.’ On the 29  David Hume, ‘Of Essay Writing’, Essays, p. 535. See also Baier, Progress, p. 27: ‘The Treatise is a dramatic work which presents and does not merely describe a new turn in philosophy.’ 30 Hume, Enquiries, p. 9.

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contrary, in the face of speculation, Hume argues, ‘Nature will always maintain her rights, and prevail in the end over any abstract reasoning whatsoever.’31 Hume’s appeal to ‘nature’ should be treated with care. The issue of naturalism has dominated Hume studies since the early twentieth century, when Norman Kemp Smith argued that Hume’s greatest innovation was to apply the moral sense theory of Francis Hutcheson to epistemological problems. According to Kemp Smith, Hume thereby came ‘to hold that [Hutcheson’s view] of our moral judgements and approval and disapproval can be extended to our beliefs regarding matters of fact and existence, and that “logic”, morals and “criticism” may thus be brought within the scope of the same general principles.’32 The trouble with ‘naturalism’, however, is that it remains a highly versatile and adaptable term. Thus, although he laces empiricism and common-sense philosophy at opposing philosophical poles, John Skorupski considers the dispute between Hume and Reid to have been an ‘in-house controversy among enlightened Scottish naturalists.’33 Indeed, so broad is the term ‘naturalism’, Skorupski concedes, that only by contrasting it with Kantian idealism does it achieve any solidity or definition as a philosophical doctrine.34 It is unsurprising, then, that Kemp Smith’s account of Hume’s ‘naturalism’ has been criticized for lacking precision. H.O. Mounce, for instance, argues that Kemp Smith ‘confuses epistemological naturalism, the view that our knowledge depends on what is given us by nature, with metaphysical naturalism, the view that there is no reality apart from the natural world.’35 Metaphysical naturalism, Mounce maintains, is associated with a scientific positivism that is quite at odds with the naturalism of the Scottish Enlightenment, in that while the first proposes that belief is measured by reason, the second argues that reason is ultimately grounded in belief.36 It is difficult to disagree with Mounce on this point. For example, there is little that is ‘naturalistic’, in the positivist sense, about Hume’s reference to scepticism in the Treatise as ‘a malady, which can never be radically cur’d.’37 Statements such as this reinforce the impression that Hume did not attempt to reconcile the sceptical conclusions of reason and the common-sense convictions of quotidian belief because he did not think that this was possible. Instead, as the following passage makes plain, the best human beings can hope for is a kind of ‘double existence’ between uncertainty and activity: Nature is obstinate, and will not quit the field, however strongly attack’d by reason; and at the same time reason is so clear in the point, that there is no possibility of disguising her. Not being able to reconcile these two enemies, we endeavour to set ourselves at ease as much as possible, by successively granting to each whatever it demands, and by feigning a double existence, where each may find something, that has all the conditions it desires.38

31 Hume, Treatise, p. 41. 32  Kemp Smith, The Philosophy of David Hume, p. 20. 33  John Skorupski, English-Language Philosophy 1750 to 1945 (1993), p. 13. 34 Skorupski, English-Language Philosophy, p. 2. 35 H.O. Mounce, Hume’s Naturalism (1999), p. 11. 36 Mounce, Hume’s Naturalism, p. 9. 37 Hume, Treatise, p. 218. 38 Hume, Treatise, p. 215.

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In his attempts to wrest Hume’s legacy from the clutches of logical positivists, Kemp Smith overestimates Hume’s scientific positivism and downplays the drama of our ‘double existence’ enacted at the heart of the Treatise. Unlike Reid, for whom radical scepticism is not a philosophical problem, but ‘a certain proof of insanity, which is not to be remedied by reasoning’, Hume never dismisses the voice of sceptical doubt.39 It is this tension, between what Hume calls the ‘absolute and uncontroulable necessity’ of natural belief and the philosophical conclusion that belief rests upon no principle other than ‘custom operating upon the imagination’ that underlies what Paul Russell designates as the ‘riddle’ of Treatise.40 As Russell puts it, the challenge for readers of the Treatise is one of how we are to ‘reconcile Hume’s ambitions to be the Newton of the moral sciences, not only with his skeptical principles, but with a form of “naturalism” that teaches “that reason, as traditionally understood, has no role in human life” ’. The paradox, he maintains (contra Kemp Smith), is that ‘both the skeptical and naturalistic dimensions of Hume’s thought seem to be equally essential to what he is trying to achieve but are nevertheless inherently opposed and irreconcilable.’41 Nonetheless, once the Ciceronian accent to his thought is adequately registered, Hume can be seen to be operating both as a naturalist and as a sceptic. From this perspective, the key moment in the Treatise passage quoted above occurs when Hume counsels us to ‘endeavour to set ourselves at ease as much as possible’. Rather than consistency, it is the establishment of a state of ease, of eudaemonia and balance in human life, which is Hume’s goal. What matters most in cultivating ease is not logical argument, but an adjustment of mood and sentiment. Once this is understood, it becomes evident that both Kemp Smith and Mounce overestimate, albeit in different ways, the level of Hume’s commitment to conventional philosophy. Indeed, Hume’s Academic scepticism is, strictly speaking, neither a metaphysical nor an epistemological thesis, but a practical philosophy, defined not by a proposition but by the attitude of epoché in which belief is neither assigned nor denied, but suspended. Doubt itself comes to be seen as natural once the significance of what is doubted is weighed by the scales of happiness and well-being rather than those of certainty. Hume’s attempt to connect speculative uncertainty and common life through ‘mitigated scepticism’ thus involves the rehabilitation of natural belief through the process of doubting scepticism itself.42 In this way, philosophical argument gives way to a mood of doubt in which the polarities of assertion and denial are themselves suspended. In a 1757 letter to Andrew Millar, for instance, Hume writes of his own opinions that ‘I defend none of them positively: I only propose 39 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 41. 40 Hume, Treatise, pp. 183, 103. 41  Paul Russell, The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion (2008), p. 7. Russell’s own answer to this question is that disguised irreligion, rather than epistemological scepticism, is the key to understanding the Treatise. In this respect, Hume’s contemporaries were right about his fundamental intentions: ‘Considered from this perspective, Hume belongs not so much in the tradition of Descartes and Malebranche, or Locke and Berkeley, as in the “freethinking” or “atheistic” tradition that has Hobbes at its head.’ (p. 15). 42 Hume, Enquiries, p. 162. See also Russell, Riddle, p. 221: ‘The Academic skeptic, Hume s­ uggests, is a more perfect skeptic because he turns his skeptical principles on themselves.’

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my Doubts.’43 As Fogelin observes, from the vantage point of Hume’s thought, caught between scepticism and belief, ‘[w]e do not argue for mitigated skepticism; we find ourselves in it.’44 Described in this way, Hume’s naturalism begins to look distinctly modern. Kenneth Richman, for example, has suggested that by refashioning empirical knowledge as a matter of sentiment, trust, and community, Hume anticipates some of the key themes in post-analytical thought during the early and mid-twentieth century. Hume effectively lets the air out pf epistemological scepticism, Richman claims, thereby arriving at ‘a kind of “deflationary naturalism” (as opposed both to epistemological naturalism (externalism) and (more generally) to scientific naturalism) that we in fact find full-bloodedly in the likes of [Nelson] Goodman and, above all, Wittgenstein.’45 Nor is Richman alone in making this claim. Peter Strawson has advanced a similar argument, likening Hume’s reliance upon ‘unavoidable natural convictions, commitments, or prejudices . . . ineradicably planted in our minds by Nature’ to Wittgenstein’s account of the scaffolding of linguistic practice that holds knowledge together.46 Thus, in Wittgenstein’s insistence both that the most basic epistemological difficulty ‘is to realize the groundlessness of our believing’ and that, nonetheless, ‘[m]y life consists in my being content to accept many things’, Richman and Strawson detect a Humean intention to reduce epistemological controversy to the nuts and bolts of everyday communication and sociability.47 As Strawson puts it, Hume and Wittgenstein have in common the view that our ‘beliefs’ . . . are not grounded beliefs and at the same time are not open to serious doubt. They are, one might say, outside our critical and rational competence in the sense that they define . . . the area in which that competence is exercised.48

It might be countered, nonetheless, that Hume’s adherence to psychologism— to the language of ideas, impressions, and associations—remains too firm from a Wittgensteinian point of view, and that although Hume would likely have agreed with Wittgenstein that ‘[o]ur talk gets its meaning from the rest of our proceedings’, his own continuing talk of faculties and mental states curbs his tendency to think of epistemological questions in social terms.49 Strawson himself notes that, at least in the first book of the Treatise, Hume views the inductive basis of experience as a given that is open to philosophical scrutiny, or ‘connective analysis.’50 By contrast, he notes, Wittgenstein adopts a more pragmatic approach to conceptual 43  Hume, ‘To Andrew Millar’, 3 September 1757, letter 140 of Letters, p. 265. 44 Fogelin, Hume’s Skepticism, p. 150. 45  Kenneth A. Richman, ‘In Closing: The Antagonists of “The New Hume.” On the Relevance of Goodman and Wittgenstein to the New Hume Debate’, The New Hume Debate, eds. Rupert Read and Kenneth A. Richman (2000), p. 191. 46 P.F. Strawson, Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. The Woodbridge Lectures 1983 (1985), p. 18. 47 Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty, trans. Denis Paul and G.E.M.  Anscombe, eds. G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright (1969), pp. 24, 44. 48 Strawson, Skepticism, p. 19. 49 Wittgenstein, On Certainty, p. 30. 50 Strawson, Skepticism, p. 25.

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norms, comparing empirical truths to a riverbank that takes on the sediment of established truths, but which also erodes, sometimes suddenly, in the face of paradigm shifts. Thus, [i]t might be imagined that some . . . empirical propositions, were hardened and functioned as channels for such empirical propositions as were not hardened but fluid; and that this relation altered with time, in that fluid propositions hardened, and hard ones became more fluid’; indeed, in time, ‘the river-bed of thoughts may shift.51

Only Wittgenstein, Strawson implies, is able to accommodate the possibility of gradual change and dynamic alteration to even the most fundamental of intellectual frameworks. And yet, Hume quite clearly thinks of rational norms in terms of what Schmidt calls ‘the historicity of human nature’, by drawing attention throughout his work to ‘the influence of social and historical existence on human cognition, passion, and volition.’52 He defends historicized methods of thought in his essay ‘Of the Study of History’ as striking an appropriate balance between interestedness and abstraction: thus, while the ‘businessman . . . is too interested in character’ and the philosopher, who ‘contemplates characters and manners in his closet’, remains ‘cold and unmoved’, history maintains ‘a just medium between these extremes, and places the objects in their true point of view.’53 Given that the human ‘nature’ to which Hume appeals is not heaven-sent but constituted by custom and habit, it follows that natural dispositions are continuous with social norms. These norms are, in turn, inherently temporal. Indeed, even Hume’s basic model for a simple idea is the faint after-image of an impression; an image which, as Livingston registers, is itself ‘a past-entailing and narrative notion.’54 Livingston concludes from this that since, for instance, ‘no one has a full conception of red unless he has gone through the experience of the color and its image in recollection’, experience for Hume is best described as ‘a narrative encounter’. Consequently, Hume’s challenge to philosophical language is that it should always be expressed ‘in terms of a tensed, narrative relation between past and present existences.’55 Seen this way, deflationary naturalism emerges as both social and temporal in its framing of human knowledge. In addition to these factors, Hume insists on the constitutive role of feeling in thought. While his naturalism leads him to deflate reason into social and historical norms, it also encourages him to treat rationality in terms of mood, or ‘sentiment’. This in turn affects Hume’s work stylistically as well as thematically, as his literary practice attempts to accommodate the bifocal perspective forced upon the thinker by a life divided between speculative reflection and everyday reasoning. Hume’s characteristic strategy in this regard is to temporize between two moods: the serious or philosophically earnest on one hand, and the rhetorical, deflationary, or indifferent on the other. For example, in his Appendix to the Enquiry Concerning the Principles

51 Wittgenstein, On Certainty, p. 15. 52 Schmidt, David Hume, p. 416. 53 Hume, Essays, p. 568. 54 Livingston, Common Life, p. 105. 55 Livingston, Common Life, p. 110.

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of Morals, Hume’s argument that reason can never be a motive to action is supported by the following observations regarding the boundaries ‘of reason and of taste’: The former conveys the knowledge of truth and falsehood: the latter gives the sentiment of beauty and deformity, vice and virtue. The one discovers objects as they really stand in nature, without addition or diminution: the other has a productive faculty, and gilding or staining all natural objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiment, raises in a manner a new creation.56

With no obvious irony, Hume distinguishes between a faculty of reason concerned with determining objective truth, and a faculty of taste that concerns itself with creatively ‘gilding or staining’ the world as it finds it. And yet, thinly veiled within this sober assessment is the knowledge that since (as he has elsewhere demonstrated) reason is incapable of discovering ‘objects as they really stand in nature, without addition or diminution’, taste must be admitted as essential even to philosophy itself. As Hume admits in the Treatise, in an altogether different mood: ‘’Tis not solely in poetry and music, we must follow our taste and sentiment, but likewise in philosophy.’57 In this way, the constitutive role of ‘taste and sentiment’ in establishing epistemic norms shapes both the manner and the argument of Hume’s philosophical rhetoric. Moreover, once the notion of truth as objective ‘correspondence’ between mind and reality is replaced by one based on intersubjective ‘correspondence’ between the emotions of individuals, the division between epistemic and aesthetic judgement begins to break down. Baier makes this point eloquently: Hume in the end transforms the concept of reason. From being a quasi-divine faculty and something that we share with God, it becomes a natural capacity and one that we essentially share with those who learn from experience in the way we do, sharing expressive body language, sharing or able to share a language, sharing or able to share our sentiments, sharing or able to share intellectual, moral and aesthetic standards, and sharing or aspiring to share the setting of those standards.58

Consequently, epistemology becomes, in a Ciceronian way, part of a broader practical philosophy, encompassing factual knowledge, wisdom, eloquence, and the virtues of character. The idea that there might be a neutral scale for measuring such values, one that is independent of rhetoric and aesthetic feeling, is all but abandoned by Hume. As Peter Jones observes, although Hume insists that the ultimate standard in judging testimony must be ‘experience and observation’, he implicitly relies throughout the Enquiries upon a notion of qualified but ‘neither infallible nor irreplaceable’ observers as the only possible standard of objectivity. This is the same standard he applies to aesthetic judgements in the essay ‘Of the Standard of Taste.’59 As he demonstrates in this essay, the criterion of good taste and sound sentiment finally rests upon virtues of character, which are in turn based upon what are generally agreed to be the ‘sound and defective’ states of human judgement. Accordingly, ‘[s]trong sense, united to a delicate sentiment, improved by practice, 56 Hume, Enquiries, p. 294. 57 Hume, Treatise, p. 103. 59 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 64.

58  Baier, ‘Hume’, p. 36.

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perfected by comparison, and cleared of all prejudice, can alone entitle critics to this valuable character; and the joint verdict of such, wherever they are to be found, is the true standard of taste and beauty.’60 By using the word ‘true’ in this statement, Hume does not mean that the verdict of the best critics corresponds objectively to the truth regardless of questions of sentiment and preference: given the social basis of experience and observation, the grounds of taste can only ever be intersubjective. Indeed all ‘universal’ norms, whether epistemic, aesthetic, or moral, must be based upon standards that are arrived at conventionally within a certain historic and linguistic community. Such conventions are not as weak as one might think. As Hume wryly observes, ‘nothing has been experienced more liable to the revolutions of chance and fashion than these pretended decisions of science’, and yet, ‘[t]he case is not the same with the beauties of eloquence and poetry.’61 The reputations of Virgil and Homer, he notes, enjoy a healthier status among the moderns than do the theories of Plato and Aristotle. And yet, as Hume maintains, while the existence of intersubjective norms gives us good reason to reject the relativistic argument that ‘[a]ll sentiment is right, because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself ’, it does not provide immunity against contingency.62 Faultless variations in sentiment will always remain between individuals and cultures, or between the ‘different humours of particular men’ and ‘the particular manners and opinions of our age and country’: for example, ‘[o]ne person is more pleased with the sublime; another with the tender; and third with raillery.’ In such cases, Hume insists, ‘there is such a diversity in the internal frame or external situation as is entirely blameless on both sides.’ Indeed, ‘[s]uch preferences are innocent and unavoidable, and can never reasonably be the object of dispute, because there is no standard, by which they can be decided.’63 This does not mean that standards of taste are wholly indeterminate, simply that they are as determinate as one might reasonably expect any historical convergence of social norms to be. This same intersubjective, character, and virtue-based account of standard formation that informs Hume’s understanding of normativity in aesthetics, also applies to his social and historical narratives of morals and knowledge. Once the activities of ‘experience and observation’ are understood to be experiments conducted within a social context, neither their truth nor the manner of their communication can transcend the collective sentiments of a community of virtuous judges. SMITH: COMMANDING PERFORMANCE Hume was not alone in emphasizing the connection between intersubjectivity and the establishment of aesthetic, moral, and epistemic norms. Adam Smith incorporated similar arguments into The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), and in doing so extended Hume’s account of a self that is constituted by its social performances. 60  David Hume, ‘Of the Standard of Taste’, Essays, p. 241. 62 Hume, Essays, p. 230. 63 Hume, Essays, p. 244.

61 Hume, Essays, p. 242.

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Traditionally, much of the debate around The Theory of Moral Sentiments has focused upon the problem of its relation to Smith’s later magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations (1776), whose economic account of human behaviour as fundamentally selfinterested seemed to sit uneasily with the emphasis placed upon sentiment and sociability in the earlier work. However, as Smith’s editor D.D. Raphael indicates, Smith himself provides the best evidence to suggest that he did not see any conflict between the two. In his ‘Advertisement’ to the sixth edition of Moral Sentiments, Smith notes that ‘[i]n the last paragraph of the first Edition of the present work, I said, that I should in another discourse endeavour to give an account of the general principles of law and government . . . . In the Enquiry concerning the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, I have partly executed this promise.’64 Regardless of whether the Wealth of Nations can justifiably be said to extend the arguments of Moral Sentiments in the way that Smith indicates, the significance of his earlier work for the present study lies in the ways in which it extends certain lines of thought that I have sought to associate with a general turn towards a sociable, deflated, and ‘easy’ form of empiricism. I shall concentrate on three of these, focusing first upon Smith’s use of the figure of the ‘impartial spectator’ to locate human agency within a social and dialogical conception of the moral imagination. I then discuss Smith’s defence of a pluralistic idea of virtue based upon the operations of civil society, rather than upon the attributes of an individual. Thirdly, I assess the argument that by foregrounding theatricality in his treatment of the moral sentiments, Smith highlights the performative nature of character itself, a concern that is in turn enacted by the rhetoric of Moral Sentiments. Smith’s deployment of the impartial ‘spectator’ is not itself original; as Raphael notes, both Hutcheson and Hume had already made use of the figure.65 Like Hume, Smith inherits from Hutcheson the idea that virtue might be explained in terms of the social affections and sentiments, rather than according to principles of reason or self-love. Hutcheson’s moral epistemology had sought to combine Shaftesbury’s notion of Sensus Communis or love of mankind with a more robust, empirical account of moral psychology constructed around the idea of an inner, ‘Moral Sense of Beauty in Actions and Affections.’66 Uncoupled from Shaftesbury’s Neoplatonic identification of ‘Beauty’ and ‘Moral Truth’, Hutcheson’s theory of benevolence maintains that the ‘moral Beauty of Characters arises from their Actions, or sincere Intentions of the publick Good, according to their Power.’67 Indeed, Hutcheson maintains, ‘the highest Perfection of Virtue is an universal calm Good-will toward

64  Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, eds. A.L. Macfie and D.D. Raphael (1976), p. 3. Regarding the changes Smith made to Moral Sentiments throughout his life, Raphael is adamant that, despite the greater exposure given to Stoicism in the later edition, ‘Smith’s account of ethics and of human behaviour is basically the same in edition 6 of 1790 as in edition 1 of 1759. There is development but no fundamental alteration.’ (20). 65 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 15. 66  Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue; In Two Treatises, 4th ed. (1738), p. xiv. 67  Anthony Ashley Cooper [Third Early of Shaftesbury], Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 1 (1711), p. 142; Hutcheson, Inquiry, p. 195.

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all sensitive Natures.’68 Hume, who was more sceptical about the existence of Hutcheson’s postulated moral sense, moved to reground both benevolence and justice in public utility, arguing in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals that [i]t appears to be matter of fact, that the circumstance of utility, in all subjects, is a source of praise and approbation: That it is constantly appealed to in all moral decisions concerning the merit and demerit of actions: That it is the sole source of that high regard paid to justice, fidelity, honour, allegiance, and chastity: That it is inseparable from all the other social virtues, humanity, generosity, charity, affability, lenity, mercy, and moderation: And, in a word, that it is a foundation of the chief part of morals, which has a reference to mankind and our fellow creatures.69

Moreover, Hume argues, since utility cannot be an end itself, the only possible basis of morality is the promotion of happiness and well-being. As he puts it, ‘[i]f usefulness, therefore, be a source of moral sentiment, and if this usefulness be not always considered with a reference to self; it follows, that everything, which contributes to the happiness of society, recommends itself directly to our approbation and good-will.’70 Smith places the sentiment of sympathy at the heart of his moral psychology. ‘As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel’, he declares at the beginning of Moral Sentiments, ‘we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.’71 This echoes Hume’s claim in the Treatise that ‘[t]he sentiments of others can never affect us, but by becoming, in some measure, our own.’72 Nonetheless, whereas Hume maintains that sympathy is an emotional response triggered in us by our ideas of the pains or pleasurable feelings of others, so that ‘their pains and pleasures must strike upon us in a lively manner, and produce an emotion similar to the original one’, sympathy plays a more complex role in Smith’s account.73 For Smith, ‘sympathy’ is not limited to the sharing of pleasure and pain. It involves the full spectrum of human emotions; consequently, the term ‘may . . . be made use of to denote our fellow–feeling with any passion whatever.’74 Rather than being produced directly by an idea, sympathy arises in the mind through an act of imagination whereby the spectator places himself in the position of another. It is his perception of the correspondence between his own feelings and those of the person he perceives, not the immediate perception of that person’s passions, which makes the experience of sympathy inherently pleasurable. By denying Hume’s claim that ‘the Sympathetic Passion is a reflex Image of the principal’, Smith confronts the former’s objection, made in a 1759 letter, that the arguments of Moral Sentiments fail to accommodate the possibility of ‘a disagreeable Sympathy.’75 As Smith points out, ‘in the sentiment 68 Hutcheson, Inquiry, p. 183. 69 Hume, Enquiries, p. 231. 70 Hume, Enquiries, p. 219. 71 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 9. 72 Hume, Treatise, p. 593. 73 Hume, Treatise, p. 369. 74 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 10. 75  In a footnote, Smith’s editor includes the relevant extracts from Hume’s letter, dated 28 July 1759: ‘. . . I wish you had more particularly and fully prov’d, that all kinds of Sympathy are necessarily Agreeable. This is the Hinge of your System, and yet you only mention the Matter cursorily’ ­(Moral Sentiments, p. 60).

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of approbation there are two things to be taken notice of; first, the sympathetic passion of the spectator; and, secondly, the emotion which arises from his observing the perfect coincidence between this sympathetic passion in himself, and the original passion in the person principally concerned.’ Only the latter, ‘in which the sentiment of approbation properly consists, is always agreeable and delightful.’76 For Smith then, Hume’s explanation of sympathy is incomplete. More importantly, it fails to explain the nature of virtue because it pays insufficient attention to questions of intentionality in human behaviour. Where Hume rests his account of how moral sentiments are justified by appealing to general utility or happiness, Smith distinguishes between the propriety of the emotions that cause any given action on one hand and the merit of its effects on the other. As he puts it, in the former consists ‘the suitableness or unsuitableness, in the proportion or disproportion which the affection seems to bear to the cause or object which excites it’, and in the latter, ‘the beneficial or hurtful nature of the effects which the affection aims at, or tends to produce.’77 Despite the arguments of the ‘ingenious and agreeable’ Hume, Smith maintains that ‘it is not the view of . . . utility or hurtfulness which is either the first or principal source of our approbation and disapprobation.’78 Only by considering the source and thus the propriety of an action can one establish whether it is worthy of moral approval. For example, the virtue of ‘self–command . . . by which we restrain our present appetites, in order to gratify them more fully upon another occasion, is approved of, as much under the aspect of propriety, as under that of utility.’79 By emphasizing the importance of propriety over utility in the morality of sentiments, and by focusing upon the virtue of ‘self-command’, Smith reveals the influence upon his thought of Stoicism, a philosophy which, he claims, ‘affords the noblest lessons of magnanimity, is the best school of heroes and patriots, and to the greater part of whose precepts there can be no other objection, except that honourable one, that they teach us to aim at a perfection altogether beyond the reach of human nature.’80 For Smith, the Stoic virtue of self-command highlights the importance of impartiality. ‘Man, according to the Stoics’, he observes, ‘ought to regard himself, not as something separated and detached, but as a citizen of the world, a member of the vast commonwealth of nature.’ Accordingly, he concludes, we should view ourselves ‘not in the light in which our own selfish passions are apt to place us, but in the light in which any other citizen of the world would view us.’81 It is at this point that Stoicism intersects with Smith’s interest in the role played by imaginative identification in moral sympathy. The product of this confluence of classical virtue theory and modern moral psychology in Smith is his theory of the impartial spectator. In providing a framework for the reflective structure of individual moral conscience, the notion of the impartial spectator forges a link in Smith’s thought between intersubjectivity and normativity. Like Hume, Smith trusts in ‘[s]ociety and conversation’ as ‘the most 76 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 45. 78 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 188. 80 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 60.

77 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 18. 79 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 189. 81 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 140.

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powerful remedies for restoring the mind to its tranquility.’82 Accordingly, it is the trope of spectating that provides the justificatory model for moral self-criticism. In the case of any social action, Smith argues, just ‘as nature teaches the spectators to assume the circumstances of the person principally concerned, so she teaches this last in some measure to assume those of the spectators.’ Significantly, the ‘concord’ that this produces between the sentiments of the agent and spectator is not absolute, since [w]hat they [i.e., the spectators] feel, will, indeed, always be, in some respects, different from what he [i.e., the agent] feels . . . . These two sentiments, however, may, it is evident, have such a correspondence with one another, as is sufficient for the harmony of society. Though they will never be unisons, they may be concords, and this is all that is wanted or required.83

The impartial spectator is not, then, an ‘objective’ moral spectator in the sense discounted by Hume; that is, a neutral and dispassionate observer of moral facts.84 Instead, she is a placeholder for such objectivity, whose normative status is derived from a dialogue or conversation between the individual and society—or, to be more specific, between the individual’s self-perception and what she imagines society’s perception of her actions to be. As many commentators have noticed, this feat of moral specularity implies a division within the self, a suspension of unified subjectivity. Smith describes this process in the following terms: When I endeavour to examine my own conduct . . . I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator, whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, by placing myself in his situation, and by considering how it would appear to me, when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form some opinion. The first is the judge; the second the person judged of.85

Although nuances in Smith’s presentation of the relative importance of the social situation and the work of the imagination vary throughout the six editions of Moral Sentiments, this basic model of the impartial spectator remains constant. For Smith, rather than being illuminated from within, conscience is ineluctably bound up with relationships in which we are actively involved as spectators and agents, both in a social space and in a psychological one. The result is a theory in which the sociology of the imagination is enlisted to determine the norms of moral behaviour.

82 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 23. 83 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 22. I discuss some of the further implications of this socialtranscendental argument below. 84  See also Charles L. Griswold, Jr, Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment (1999), p. 21: Griswold dismisses the idea that Smith intends the impartial spectator to be ‘detached, synoptic, external.’ 85 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 113.

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As Adam Seligman argues, Smith’s work highlights a divergence between two eighteenth-century models of self and society: a Rousseauian, ‘civic virtue’ paradigm that conceives the human as fully realized in the figure of a model citizen who completely embodies the values of the collective, or volunté général, and the ‘civil society’ model associated with the Scottish Enlightenment, through which social otherness is internalized within a private self. Resting virtue upon sentiment and sympathy rather than conformity enables thinkers such as Smith and Hume to imagine a relationship between self and society that is neither agonistic nor reductive. Instead of being absorbed into the collective will, the divided self of Smith’s Moral Sentiments is constituted reflectively and dialogically through the activities of the internal spectator. For Seligman, the significance of Smith’s work is that it provides ‘one of the earliest and most insightful understandings into the new terms of privateness, defined as individual agency, which has come to characterize the modern era.’86 By the same token, however, Smith’s account of the moral sentiments also challenges the spatial and punctual model of the private self underpinned by Lockean empiricism. It does this by basing agency upon a social and dialogical conception of the moral imagination. As Charles Griswold argues, the radicalism of Smith’s impartial spectator lies in the thought that ‘we always see ourselves through the eyes of others and are mirrors to each other.’ Consequently, spectatorship becomes ‘the condition for the possibility of agency.’87 By grounding moral values in the intersubjectivity of civil society rather than in an essentialized, individualized conception of civic virtue, Smith’s survey of theories of virtue adopts a pluralistic stance that accommodates a range of perspectives. As Ryan Hanley notes, Smith inherits from Aristotle a conception of moral philosophy as fundamentally practical; indeed, ‘for both Smith and Aristotle, ethics is a rhetorical and dialectical process rather than a deductive process—one which calls for persuasion rather than either conviction or mere demonstration.’88 Precision and logical consistency are not the watchwords of Smith’s ethics. Consequently, while he discounts the ‘licentious’ system of Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees (1714), Smith acknowledges the validity of accounts that identify virtue with propriety, prudence, or benevolence, arguing that ‘the general tendency of each of those three systems is to encourage the best and most laudable habits of the human mind’, adding that ‘it were well for society, if, either mankind in general, or even those few who pretend to live according to any philosophical rule, were to regulate their conduct by the precepts of any one of them.’89 One could go further, indeed, and argue that Smith’s understanding of the marketplace gives him an insight into how human behaviour can determine what counts as normative. As James Otteson observes, for Smith the norms upon which society sets the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour do not depend upon pre-existing standards or rational principles, but emerge spontaneously through conventions established via the interpersonal exchange of goods and words. According to Otteson, in Smith’s marketplace of life, 86 Seligman, Problem, p. 127. 87 Griswold, Adam Smith, pp. 105–6. 88  Ryan Patrick Hanley, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (2009), p. 90. 89 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 307.

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the general rules of morality and the general rules and regulations of economic markets are analogous in the sense that they develop, change, and are sustained by the interactions and mutual exchanges of information among the people of the relevant communities as they strive to satisfy their interests in cooperation with one another.90

What Hume calls the intercourse of sentiments has, like the marketplace, an ability to regulate itself; for Smith, the true virtues of civil society are those that promote and maintain this order. Among these virtues, as has been seen, self-command assumes the status of first among equals in Moral Sentiments. And yet, rather than consolidating subjectivity, this Stoic virtue necessitates a negotiation between the self and its others. As Smith declares, ‘[o]ur sensibility to the feelings of others, so far from being inconsistent with the manhood of self–command, is the very principle upon which that manhood is founded.’91 Like Hume, Smith, exchanges punctual subjectivity for pragmatic relationality, relocating the self from the crumbling grounds of consciousness into the theatre of sociability. In this respect, the significance of the impartial spectator lies in the way in which it establishes the dialogue through which the character of the enlightened and self-commanding individual is established. For Smith, a commanding performance involves an enactment of the very interpersonal relations upon which the self depends for its moral awareness, its agency, and its identity. Accordingly, the reason why ‘the wise and just man who has been thoroughly bred in the great school of self–command . . . has never dared to forget for one moment the judgment which the impartial spectator would pass upon his sentiments and conduct’ is precisely that wisdom itself depends upon the performance of the dialogue between the self-commanding individual and the impartial spectator. Smith continues: He has never dared to suffer the man within the breast to be absent one moment from his attention. With the eyes of this great inmate he has always been accustomed to regard whatever relates to himself . . . . He does not merely affect the sentiments of the impartial spectator. He really adopts them. He almost identifies himself with, he almost becomes himself that impartial spectator, and scarce even feels but as that great arbiter of his conduct directs him to feel.92

In this passage, Smith captures the energy and intensity of the specular drama at work in moral consciousness. The insistent, anaphoric references to the impartial spectator (‘He’) embody the predicament of the moral intellect, which commands itself only on the condition that it continually divides itself. By enacting its moral coordinates through the perspective of an imagined interlocutor, the ‘man within the breast’, the self reveals the basis of its own integrity in a social otherness with which it approximates, without ever attaining, complete identification. Indeed, to the extent that Smith defines the self through ethical and theatrical relationships, knowledge itself is seen to depend upon the dynamics of performed intersubjectivity, rather than the light of reason.

90  James Otteson, Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (2002), p. 6. 91 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 152. My emphasis. 92 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 146.

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This rooting of wisdom and virtue in social relationships by the dialectical, easy empiricism of Moral Sentiments has led commentators such as Griswold to depict Smith as an anti-rationalist, anti-utopian thinker whose mining of ancient virtue philosophy reflects a deeper awareness of the ‘ironies and shadows of the Enlightenment.’93 As Griswold notes, the manner in which Smith himself divides philosophy into moral philosophy (encompassing the theory of the moral sentiments, or ethics, and theory of ‘natural jurisprudence’) on one hand and the ‘Philosophical History of the Liberal Sciences and Elegant Arts’ on the other suggests that he had learned from Hume the limited value of pursuing the intractable problems of epistemology, metaphysics, and theology, and had decided instead to concentrate upon the practical task of exploring the natural and social preconditions of intelligent human life.94 In a similar vein, Clifford Siskin has argued that for Smith, like Hume, the epistemological problems of the Enlightenment were ultimately to be considered not as intellectual conundrums but as questions of utility. Thus, ‘[f ]or Smith, true knowledge was useful knowledge that worked in the world to change that world.’95 What this means in practice, moreover, is that Smith, like Hume, defines his task as a writer less according to the terms of the new science of Newton and Locke, and more along the lines of the ancient moralists, such as Cicero. As Siskin puts it, ‘[j]ust as, for Galileo and Newton, the book of nature was written in the language of mathematics, so, for the moral philosophers of the Enlightenment, the book of human nature was written in sentiments or their functional equivalents.’96 As proof and demonstration give way to the pragmatics of persuasion, Smith and Hume increasingly treat the function of the philosopher as akin to that of a public orator or performer. In doing so, they exploit the common etymology of ‘theatre’ and ‘theory’, whose Latin and Greek origins, as the Oxford English Dictionary documents, encompass notions of ‘looking at, viewing, contemplation, speculation, theory, also a sight, a spectacle’. Hume had already referred in the Treatise to the mind as ‘a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.’97 More suggestive still, however, is the inversion of this metaphor in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, where, through their participation in the social ‘intercourse of sentiments’, the sensibilities of the theatre spectator are depicted as socially, rather than phenomenologically determined.98 Smith further reinforces this connection between speculation and spectatorship by incorporating the theatrical figure of the impartial spectator into the heart of his account of moral reasoning. Moreover, as Griswold indicates, he also inherits from Shaftesbury the idea of books

93 Griswold, Adam Smith, p. 20. 94 Griswold, Adam Smith, p. 31. 95 Siskin, System, p. 122. 96 Siskin, System, p. 123. 97 Hume, Treatise, p. 253. 98  See Hume, Enquiries, p. 221: ‘A man who enters the theatre, is immediately struck with the view of so great a multitude, participating in one common amusement; and experiences, from their very aspect, a superior sensibility or disposition of being affected with every sentiment, which he shares with his fellow-creatures.’

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as ‘intellectual dramas presented for an audience of spectators.’99 Consequently, Smith’s practice both as a philosopher and as a rhetorician involves the enactment of the same sociable practices of intersubjective dialogue that underpin his argument that ‘[s]ociety and conversation . . . are the most powerful remedies for restoring the mind to its tranquillity.’100 One of the more notable of these practices is the tendency of Moral Sentiments to couch claims regarding human behaviour in the first person plural, such as in the following passage from Part 3, Chapter 1: We can never survey our own sentiments and motives, we can never form any judgment concerning them; unless we remove ourselves, as it were, from our own natural station, and endeavour to view them as at a certain distance from us. But we can do this in no other way than by endeavouring to view them with the eyes of other people, or as other people are likely to view them. Whatever judgment we can form concerning them, accordingly, must always bear some secret reference, either to what are, or to what, upon a certain condition, would be, or to what, we imagine, ought to be the judgment of others.101

This passage is as good an example as any of the performativity of Smith’s writing, which invokes a community of interdependent individuals both theoretically and grammatically. As Smith explores the intersubjective scene of moral judgement, his own judgement as a philosopher acknowledges in the repeated use of ‘we’ its own dependence for success upon a spectating theatre of like-minded citizens. The Theory of Moral Sentiments is not a formal dialogue in the manner of Shaftesbury’s The Moralists: A Philosophical Rhapsody (1709) or Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). However, it draws much of its rhetorical power from the impression it creates of engaging in a conversation conducted in a form of language that eschews formality, even to the point of ungainliness. It is in its emulation of the halting, qualified syntax of everyday speech that Smith’s philosophical prose performs the conditions of sociability that underpin moral sentiments, which, in turn, ‘must always bear some secret reference, either to what are, or to what, upon a certain condition, would be, or to what, we imagine, ought to be the judgment of others’.

REID: THE SOCIAL A PRIORI I have stated that one of the main objectives of this book is to explore the conditions and limits of a new form of socialized empiricism that develops in mid- and late eighteenth-century British thought. Hume’s Academic scepticism instigates a view of the mind and of the human subject as relational rather than punctual, and of knowledge as determined through triangulation between persons rather than by the correspondence between hypostatized mental contents and the world. Running throughout this reorientation in empirical thinking is the abandonment of the project to establish certainty through the mental representations of an epistemologically 99 Griswold, Adam Smith, p. 68. 101 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 100.

100 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 23.

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centred consciousness, as illustrated by Locke in his simile of the mind as ‘not much unlike a Closet wholly shut from light, with only some little openings left, to let in external visible Resemblances, or Ideas of things without.’102 Replacing the language of representationalism and abstract universalism with a form of pragmatic holism, the ‘easy’, performative prose of Hume and Smith attempts to establish a non-reductive dialogue between philosophical reflection and everyday thought. Not all socialized empiricism, however, adopts this ‘easy’ manner. While Hume and Smith respond to the crisis in representationalism by initiating a dialectic between philosophy as, on one hand, self-undermining, doubtful episteme and, on the other, as doxa or everyday thought, Thomas Reid attempts to unite the two within a grounding philosophy of common sense. Like Hume, Reid tests the Cartesian ‘idea’ idea against everyday thought and finds it wanting. For Reid, however, the representational inadequacy of sense experience outlined by Hume in his Treatise indicates not that we should adopt an attitude of sophisticated, mitigated scepticism when dealing with the paradoxes of human belief, but rather that the nature of perception itself must be rethought. Accordingly, in his 1764 Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense, Reid substitutes a representational model of experience with a hermeneutic one. Since sensation, he argues, in no way resembles its referent or object, any description of the relationship between mind and world based upon ideas of correspondence or representation is fundamentally flawed. This is particularly apparent in the case of smell (the first of the sensory experiences to be examined in the Inquiry), in which ‘it is evident that neither the organs of smell, nor the medium . . . do in the least resemble the sensation of smelling.’103 For Reid, the scent of a rose indicates that, rather than representing the existing world by creating truthful ideas, ‘sensation suggests the notion of present existence’ in a way that the mind is able to interpret as meriting belief:104 From what hath been said, we may learn, that the smell of a rose signifies two things. First, A sensation, which can have no existence but when it is perceived . . . . Secondly, It signifies some power, quality, or virtue, in the rose . . . which hath a permanent existence, independent of the mind, and which by the constitution of our nature, produces the sensation in us. By the original constitution of our nature, we are both led to believe, that there is a permanent cause of the sensation, and prompted to seek after it; and experience determines us to place it in the rose.105

Since sensation signifies, the causes of sensation are more properly described as ‘natural signs, and what we call effects, the things signified.’106 This argument entails a fundamental transformation of empiricism’s model of the mind, from one based in largely passive receptivity to one modelled on active interpretation. Aware of the radical nature of his argument, Reid is at pains to cite authority, borrowing a phrase from Francis Bacon to describe the perception of natural causes as the ‘interpretation of nature.’107 And yet, the problem remains that the basis of such interpretation is 102  John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (1975), p. 163. 103 Reid, Inquiry, p. 35. 104 Reid, Inquiry, p. 64. My emphasis. 105 Reid, Inquiry, p. 75. 106 Reid, Inquiry, p. 112. 107 Reid, Inquiry, p. 111. See Edward  H.  Madden, ‘The Metaphilosophy of Commonsense’, American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (1983), p. 23: Madden reduces the metaphilosophical claims of

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itself inexplicable. At this point, Reid’s critique of representational empiricism becomes a critique of philosophy. Philosophy, he maintains, must recognize its limits, since ‘[w]hy sensation should compel our belief in the present existence of the thing, memory a belief of its past existence, and imagination no belief at all, I believe no philosopher can give a shadow of reason . . . : They are all simple and original, and therefore inexplicable acts of the mind.’108 Indeed, the simplest and barest apprehension of a thing, Reid insists, presupposes the interpretive act involved in sensation, and thus ‘a natural and original judgement.’109 Given that the principles behind such judgements are of a kind that ‘the constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life, without being able to give a reason for them’, any attempt to reason either against them or for them is futile, a kind of category error: the belief that accompanies sensation is ultimately not the province of reason, but of common sense.110 It is Reid’s characterization of experience as interpretive that chiefly distinguishes his own non-rational, philosophical foundationalism from that of other works of this period, principally James Beattie’s influential An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, In Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism (1770) and James Oswald’s An Appeal to Common Sense in Behalf of Religion (1766). Both works seize on Reid’s claims that belief is a simple, indefinable act of the mind and that truth is ultimately that which ‘the constitution of my nature determines me to believe’ in order to defend morality and religion against what they perceive to be an overextended faculty of reason.111 Beattie, for example, complains that Hume’s scepticism has ‘perverted’ reasoning, leading to a licentiousness that has challenged the ‘principles of morality and religion.’112 In a similar vein, Oswald fears that in devoting themselves to reasoning, philosophers ‘forget to give full exercise to the simple powers of perception and judgement; which proves one of the chief sources of the ignorance, the mistakes, and the follies of mankind.’113 Nonetheless, both Beattie’s identification of common sense with sound ‘prejudice’ and Oswald’s attempt to develop a common-sense account of religious knowledge based upon ‘rational perceptions’ emerge as merely dogmatic assertions of realism when detached, as they are, from Reid’s account of the language of nature and the hermeneutics of experience.114 common-sense philosophy to the following three precepts regarding truth, meaning and ontology respectively: ‘a philosophical analysis (1) must not [as scepticism does] contradict the truth values of ordinary propositions; (2) must not [as Berkeley does] contravene the meaning of an ordinary proposition discernible to the non-philosopher, and (3) should [as Locke does not] explicate the ontology implicit in ordinary judgements, which, when articulated, is competitive with alternative ontologies.’ 108 Reid, Inquiry, p. 39. 109 Reid, Inquiry, p. 44. 110  See Reid, Inquiry, p. 49: ‘They are first principles; and such fall not within the province of Reason, but of Common Sense.’ 111  James Beattie, An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism, 2nd ed. (1771), p. 29. 112 Beattie, Essay, pp. 48, 6. 113  James Oswald, An Appeal to Common Sense in Behalf of Religion, 2nd ed. (1768), p. 26. 114 Beattie, Essay, p. 6; Oswald, Appeal, p. 194. Oswald goes even further than Beattie in presenting common sense as a divinely implanted power ‘intended by the author of our being for giving us entire

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This brings us to what is, for the present study, the most salient aspect of Reid’s thinking. As he argues in the Inquiry, since ‘our belief of the continuance of nature’s laws is not derived from reason’ but from ‘the interpretation of natural signs’, this implies a communicative relationship with nature that is analogous to our interaction with other persons in the ‘common concerns of life’. As he explains, the ‘inductive principle’ upon which rests our intuitive interpretation of causal reality is based upon ‘an instinctive prescience of the operations of nature, very like that prescience of human actions which makes us rely upon the testimony of our fellowcreatures.’115 Reid characterizes such ‘prescience’ as a predisposition to interpret other people and the world through signs, guided by ‘an early anticipation . . . that our fellow-creatures will use the same signs in language, when they have the same sentiments.’116 Beattie takes up the same idea in his Essay when he argues that ‘[i]n all our reasonings from the cause to the effect, we proceed on a supposition’ and that ‘[t]his presumption of continuance is the foundation of all our judgements concerning future events; and this, in many cases, determines our conviction as effectually as any proof or demonstration.’117 Such prescience or supposition is akin to testimony: as Reid puts it, just as ‘without the latter, we should be incapable of receiving information from men by language; so, without the former, we should be incapable of receiving the information of nature by means of experience.’118 In Chapter 3, I further discuss the ways in which Reid’s treatment of prescience and testimony in his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785) and Essays on the Active Powers of Man (1785) forges a close bond between truth and trust. I argue that Reid replaces Locke’s trust in the correspondence between our ideas and reality with a common-sense trust in the power of mind intuitively to interpret an ordered universe. For the moment, it is sufficient to note that by grounding experience in a social intuition that is treated as philosophically foundational, Reid both systematizes and internalizes the playful, sociable intellect outlined by Hume and Smith. The result of this is a subtle but significant shift of direction within Scottish naturalism: while for Hume and Smith the mental is social, for Reid, and later for Stewart (who reaffirms the Reidian maxim that ‘the philosopher as well as the infant . . . proceeds on an instinctive belief, for which he is unable to account, of the uniformity of the laws of nature’), the social is fundamentally mental.119 Thus, while Hume grapples in his essays with the paradox of considering human belief as based upon sentiments generated by custom and habit, Reid seeks to assemble a philosophical framework that adequately represents the validity of quotidian experience. In addition to the ‘artificial signs’ generated by human habit, he maintains, there is a language of natural signs whose suggestions are determined by the satisfaction concerning all primary truths, those of religion in particular’ (p. 8). Undaunted by his own claim that the histories of philosophy and theology provide ‘abundant proof of the impropriety of investigating primary truths by reasoning’ (87), he attempts to elevate Reid’s intuitive common sense to the status of rational perceptions, which, he maintains, allow us to grasp such primary truths as the ‘idea of a governing mind’ in the universe (107). 115 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 427–8.    116 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 427–8. 117 Beattie, Essay, p. 124.    118 Reid, Inquiry, p. 441. 119 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 397.

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‘original constitution of our minds.’120 In this way, the conditions deemed by Reid and Stewart to be necessary for engaging with the ‘common concerns’ of life collectively constitute a kind of commonsensical, social a priori: without them, knowledge would be impossible. Reid’s confidence in the ability of philosophy to rehabilitate itself through common sense reflects a disciplinary bias that contrasts with that of Hume. Whereas for the latter, history was the final arbiter for problems of truth and knowledge, Reid’s sense of what is philosophically possible continues to be guided by pneumatology, or the study of spirit, which had formed a central part of his education at the University of Aberdeen. As Peter Diamond has argued, the Aberdonian and Glaswegian contexts of Reid’s thought are vital to understanding the differences between Reid’s and Hume’s commitments to the cultivation of virtue as a way of ‘linking the study of man to the pursuit of the public good.’121 Diamond points out that the largely Episcopalian intellectual elite of Aberdeen in the early eighteenth century had little interest in the proto-republican ideas of civic morality and participation that were circulating within the Presbyterian capital, and were more concerned with using the new science of Newton and Locke to understand God’s creation.122 This entailed an investigation of the human mind that was fundamentally non-historic in its approach. In addition, it implied a more systematic, less essayistic idea of the work of philosophy than that developed by Hume and Smith. As I argue in Chapter 4, Hume’s essayism stems from his Addisonian and Ciceronian belief in the importance of the artificial virtues of sociability and public correspondence in promoting the well-being of a community. Like Hume, Reid faces the task of reconciling a Ciceronian praxis of virtue that is fundamentally rhetorical with a new philosophical seriousness based upon a model of science inspired by Newton. However, while Hume’s ‘easy’ empiricism and Smith’s spectator theory err towards a sociological conception of the individual, stressing the importance to civic virtue of practical wisdom and performed intersubjectivity, Reid’s insistence that virtues are natural, constitutional dispositions in human nature leads him to reaffirm the status of philosophy as the guarantor of truth and social norms. This does not mean that the Inquiry is free of rhetoric; merely that, unlike Hume’s Treatise, it does not acknowledge a rhetorical strategy as integral to its philosophical purpose. One consequence of this is that the Inquiry bears traces of how difficult Reid found it to prioritize between the language of the academy and that of public discourse. As Diamond observes, ‘[b]y adopting an eminently “public”, hence richly ambiguous, rhetoric of common sense, Reid effectively straddles the divide between the theistically guaranteed universe of Locke and the socially inculcated, historically variable maxims of propriety embodied in the language of common sense.’123 120 Reid, Inquiry, p. 110. 121  Peter John Diamond, The Ideology of Improvement: Thomas Reid and the Political Thought of the Scottish Enlightenment (1986), p. 4. 122 Diamond, Ideology, p. 68. 123  Peter J. Diamond, ‘Rhetoric and Philosophy in the Social Thought of Thomas Reid’, Sociability and Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland, eds. John Dwyer and Richard B. Sher (1993), p. 70.

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Despite having likened our constitutional disposition to interpret natural signs as causes to the interpersonal communication upon which we rely for our everyday knowledge, Reid’s realism resists the implication that the mental world itself is socially constructed. Oswald expresses more unequivocally than Reid the unease of much common-sense thinking on this point by explicitly rejecting the specular model of rationality offered by Smith: The tempers and manners of others are, no doubt, a mirror in which we may see the right and wrong of conduct with more ease, and perhaps more clearly, than in our own. But those observations would avail us nothing, if we could not try them by the standard of truth within ourselves.124

Accordingly, when Reid writes of human perception as a ‘drama’, he does so in order to emphasize its epistemological mystery rather than its dependence upon the performance of the participants. In recycling Hume’s image of the theatre of  the mind, Reid emphasizes not the intersubjectivity, but the inscrutability of experience: The process of Nature in perception by the senses, may therefore be conceived as a kind of drama, wherein some things are performed behind the scenes . . . . In this drama, nature is the actor, we are the spectators. We know nothing of the machinery by means of which every different impression upon the organ, nerves, and brain, exhibits its corresponding sensation; or of the machinery by means of which each sensation exhibits its corresponding perception.125

In the intellectual theatres of Hume and Smith, epistemological norms emerge through the intercourse of the sentiments, and the roles of actors and spectators can be reversed at any moment. Reid’s theatre of the mind, by contrast, is one in which the ‘machinery’ of intellect is concealed by the mind’s stagecraft, so that the act of perception appears as a miraculous deus ex machina. As I discuss in Chapter 2, this hypostatization of the social activity of intellect as an unanalysable intuitive faculty is particularly evident in Reid’s handling of the question of trust and its relation to knowledge. In attempting to defend a foundational philosophy of intersubjectivity, Reid’s writing displays an uneasiness with the rhetorical implications of his own socialized conception of the human mind’s experience. One striking consequence of the pragmatic and social turn in the thought of the Scottish counter-Enlightenment is that, insofar it rethinks the social nexus of customs, habits, and relations as the presupposition of experience, it assumes the character of a transcendental argument. Several ‘New’ Hume commentators have drawn attention to Hume’s development of the notion that, as Richman describes it, ‘ideas that we suppose but do not conceive can also be meaningful to us.’126 By exchanging a discourse that treats experience in terms of corpuscularian phenomena for one that treats it as an activity that presupposes certain social practices, both Hume and Reid draw closer to Kant than their standard philosophical profiles would suggest. Like 124 Oswald, Appeal, p. 166. 126 Richman, New Hume, p. 3.

125 Reid, Inquiry, p. 390.

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Kant, Hume and Reid’s interrogation of empiricism prompts them to ask questions such as ‘what are the conditions of empirical knowledge?’ and ‘what does coherent experience presuppose?’ Some of Hume’s most developed answers to these questions can be found in An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, where, in defending the possibility of ‘some general unalterable standard, by which we may approve or disapprove of characters and manners’, he locates such standards in the very ‘intercourse of sentiments . . . in society and conversation’ without ‘which our conversation and discourse could scarcely be rendered intelligible to each other.’127 This view would be echoed in the ‘Introduction on Taste’ added by Edmund Burke to the second edition of his Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, in which Burke maintains that ‘if there were not some principles of judgement as well as of sentiment common to all mankind, no hold could possibly be taken either on their reason or their passions, sufficient to maintain the ordinary correspondence of life.’128 In both cases, the possibility of everyday communication or ‘correspondence’ becomes the social-transcendental condition of judgement. As H.O. Mounce argues, ‘Kant and the Scottish naturalists arrived independently at similar solutions. Sense experience is unintelligible except within categories or forms of belief which in the empiricist sense are a priori.’129 Parallels such as these between, on one hand, the broadly naturalistic and empirical philosophies of Hume and Reid and, on the other, the idealistic systems of later, German thinkers such as Kant and Jacobi are more than merely coincidental, a point made some time ago by Ernst Cassirer in The Philosophy of the Enlightenment: The sharp distinction between the transcendental and psychological methods . . . as Kant systematically develops it, cannot be retained in a historical presentation of the fundamental problems of eighteenth century thought. For there is constant overlapping of the two methods, and transcendental deduction is never separated from psychological deduction.130

Indeed, the influence of Scottish philosophy upon German thought in the late eighteenth century is well documented. As Manfred Kuehn notes, from 1768 and 1800 Scottish philosophical works were reviewed in the major philosophical journals in Germany ‘almost immediately’ after they appeared.131 He maintains that ‘between 1764 and 1781, the year of the appearance of the first Critique, there was scarcely anyone, Kant included, who could not have learned from the Scots.’132 Before later idealists such as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel rejected outright the notion that the task of philosophy is to clarify and justify everyday thought, counterEnlightenment thinkers such as Hamann, Herder, and Jacobi drew upon the 127 Hume, Enquiries, pp. 229–30. 128  Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1759), p. 1. 129 H.O. Mounce, Hume’s Naturalism (1999), p. 131. 130 Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, trans. Fritz  C.A.  Koelln and James P. Pettegrove (1951), p. 94. 131  Manfred Kuehn, Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768–1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy (1987), p. 6. 132 Kuehn, Common Sense, p. 35.

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Scottish critique of abstract rationality in their attempts to construct new models of humanity based on faith and a non-representational epistemology. Of special interest to German thinkers in this regard, Kuehn notes, was the common-sense ‘affirmation of principles which are prior to and independent of experience, but presupposed in all knowledge.’133 This attempt to establish a kind of naturalized and social a priori was later dismissed by Kant in the opening of his 1783 Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics as having ‘utterly and completely . . . missed the point’ of Hume’s sceptical dismantling of the concept of causation. For Kant, the debate Hume addresses is ‘about the origin of this concept, not about its indispensability in use.’134 In response, Jacobi cites Hume, Reid, and Stewart in defence of his claim, contra Kant, that the preconditions of rational thought are based not in reason itself, but in natural feelings.135 Using Hume’s sentimental account of reason, he turns Kant’s transcendental argument against itself, arguing that the Kantian system harbours an unacknowledged presupposition in the form of the salto mortale, or leap of faith. Accordingly, in his Preface to the 1815 edition of David Hume on Faith or Idealism and Realism: A Dialogue, Jacobi argues that ‘it is impossible to enter into the [Kantian] system without proceeding from natural faith as a firm and stable foundation and yet also impossible to take up residence and abide in it with that faith.’136 Without this faith in reason, for Jacobi, demonstrative reasoning itself is impossible. Consequently, ‘there is no arguing against anyone who is not convinced by pure feelings of the beautiful and the good’ and there is certainly ‘no defeating the upper or full blown idealist à la Hume.’137 Jacobi, however, was hampered in developing a historical and social conception of rationality by his own failure to shake off the idealists’ tendency to treat ‘existence, sensation, and reason as abstractions.’138 As a result, the salto mortale threatens to become yet another hypostatization, an idealized fiat of consciousness rather than a natural, historical process. Transcendentalism in Hume, on the other hand, signals a quite different kind of approach to the problem. Specifically, the conditions he identifies as forming the possibility of thought are pragmatic rather than logical and social rather than ideal; they are rooted in the history and culture of ordinary life, and the fact that ‘[t]he mutual dependence of men is so great in all societies that scarce any human action is entirely complete in itself.’139 As Livingston puts it, for Hume ‘[c]ommon life . . . is a transcendental concept logically located in the last stage of the natural history of the philosophical consciousness.’140 Consequently, Hume’s account of both epistemic and moral norms, unencumbered by the Kantian architectonic, appeals to contingent and historical factors, particularly the ‘intercourse 133 Kuehn, Common Sense, p. 33. 134 Kant, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, p. 56. 135  See also James Engell, The Committed Word: Literature and Public Values (1999), p. 79: Engell argues that Hume’s idea of an ‘experimental, experiential, scepticism that nevertheless comes to grips with the necessity of belief, is the kind of self-testing and experimentalism that leads to personal Bildung and, ultimately, to social or national Bildung or culture’. 136  Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill, trans. George di Giovanni (1994), p. 553. 137 Jacobi, Philosophical Writings, p. 570. 138 Jacobi, Philosophical Writings, p. 115. 139 Hume, Enquiries, p. 89. 140 Livingston, Common Life, p. 33.

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of sentiments . . . in society and conversation’. While the objectivity of such standards may be dubious from a strictly epistemological point of view, ‘yet are they sufficient for discourse, and serve all our purposes in company, in the pulpit, on the theatre, and in the schools.’141 Associated with this approach is what Claudia Schmidt describes as Hume’s ‘study of reason in history’, whereby Hume traces ‘the influence of social and historical existence on human cognition, passion, and volition’ as a means of establishing the ways in which ‘social and historical traditions influence concept formation.’142 The constitutive role of such traditions means that, for Hume, the transcendental conditions of thought rest not upon categories of understanding, but upon a social a priori at whose heart are the pragmatics of communication. In this respect at least, he agrees with Reid, who declares that ‘man is by his nature a social animal; . . . he delights to associate with his species; to converse, and to exchange good offices with them.’143 Indeed, common sense itself implies a ‘degree of judgement which is common to men with whom we can converse and transact business.’144 For Hume and Reid, both morality and knowledge depend upon society, and thus upon what Annette Baier describes as ‘secular faith’, or ‘faith in the human community and its evolving procedures.’145 Another way of phrasing this, as I argue in Chapter 2, is to say that rational discourse depends upon trust.

S T E WA RT: N AT U R A L T R A N S C E N D E N TA L I S M The narrative offered here of early eighteenth-century psychologism giving way to naturalism and transcendentalism in the late 1700s is not a novel one; as noted previously, it is partly influenced by P.F. Strawson’s analysis of naturalism in Hume and Wittgenstein. Strawson notes that transcendental modes of thought are particularly suited to naturalistic accounts of human knowledge that reject the ‘project of wholesale validation’ and ‘embrace the real project of investigating the connections between the major structural elements of our conceptual scheme’. If, while investigating the natural structure of our belief systems, Strawson adds, ‘connections as tight as those which transcendental arguments . . . claim to offer are really available, so much the better.’146 Nowhere in Enlightenment thought is this development better exemplified than in the work of Dugald Stewart, who articulates more explicitly than any of the writers hitherto discussed the transcendental turn 141 Hume, Treatise, p. 603. 142 Schmidt, David Hume, pp. 416–17. 143 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 58. 144 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 520. 145  Annette Baier, ‘Trust and Antitrust’, Ethics 96, no. 2 (1986), p. 239. 146 Strawson, Skepticism, p. 22. For an alternative account, see Wayne Waxman in Kant and the Empiricists: Understanding Understanding (2005), pp. 4–5: Identifying ‘sensibilism’ rather than transcendentalism as the common ground shared by British empiricism and Kantian idealism, Waxman argues (contra Strawson) that both ‘the British Empiricists and Kant counted the mind’s perceptions of the operations it performs on the data of sense (reflexions as well as sensations) among the objects of inner sense’. Kant’s transcendentalism, he claims, is thus ‘a sensibilist continuation of British Empiricist sensibilism by non-empiricist means’.

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in naturalist thinking. By converting Reid’s common-sense principles into ‘those primary truths, a conviction of which is necessarily implied in all our thoughts, and in all our actions, and which seem on that account rather to form constituent and essential elements of reason, than objects with which reason is conversant’, Stewart attempts to lay the foundations of a philosophical system that is both naturalistic and transcendental.147 Furthermore, in developing the notion of ‘sympathetic imitation’, he expands the discourse of performed intersubjectivity by translating Smith’s account of imaginative sympathy into a bodily language of movement and gesture. Stewart adopts and adapts many of Reid’s central ideas, maintaining in his Outlines of Moral Philosophy (1793) that ‘[t]he knowledge of the Philosopher differs from that sagacity which directs uneducated men in the business of life, not in kind, but in degree, and in the manner in which it is acquired.’148 Consequently, the business of philosophy for Stewart is to identify the principles presupposed by everyday experience, terminating ‘in the discovery of some law of nature, of which no explanation can be given.’149 Like Reid, Stewart rejects the notion that the human mind assumes a largely passive role in its sensory interaction with the world: instead, he maintains, perception presupposes judgement. In contrast to Reid, however, who argues that judgement is conscious and intentional, Stewart posits a discrete faculty of ‘attention’, or ‘a certain act or exertion of the mind necessary to fix in the memory the thoughts and the perceptions of which we are conscious.’150 This act, ‘one of the simplest of all our intellectual operations’, is antecedent to both perception and conception and as such may be either conscious or unconscious.151 Reid, in turn, expressed doubts about a theory of mind that posited unobservable mental processes. As Daniel Robinson notes, the older thinker objected to the new faculty of attention as a superfluous hypothesis, one that smacked of ‘modes of truth-finding and truth-gathering not reducible to direct, conscious, publicized observation.’152 For Reid, Stewart’s notion of ‘attention’ was not only unscientific, it also violated the principles of common sense. This disagreement between Stewart and Reid exposes a deeper difference in their philosophical perspectives. Stewart’s willingness to theorize about non-empirically verifiable faculties is based on his denial of the position, which was shared by Reid, Beattie, and Oswald, that perceptual judgement can be reduced to principles of common sense. In his Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792–1827), Stewart criticizes Reid for failing to distinguish the primary elements of human thought from ‘those prejudices to which the whole human race are irresistibly led, in the first instance, by the very constitution of their nature.’153 Instead, he offers an account of the first principles of thought as ‘Fundamental Laws of Human Belief, or Primary Elements of Human Reason.’154 While these laws, like Reid’s principles,

147 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 23. 148 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, pp. 6–7. 149 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 9. 150 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 25. 151 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 25. 152  Daniel  N.  Robinson, ‘Thomas Reid’s Critique of Dugald Stewart’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 27, no. 3 (1989), p. 409. 153 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 60. 154 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 45.

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correspond to quotidian experience, their epistemological status cannot be reduced to that of everyday beliefs: These different truths all agree in this, that they are essentially involved in the exercise of our rational powers; although, in themselves, they furnish no principles or data by which the sphere of our knowledge can, by any ingenuity, be enlarged. They agree farther in being tacitly acknowledged by all men, learned or ignorant, without any formal enunciation in words, or even any conscious exercise of reflection.155

Against Reid, Stewart insists that a scientific account of first principles requires a theoretical account of the elements of reason that is itself grounded in more than an appeal to natural human dispositions and to the testimony of common sense. As Robinson argues, Stewart is ‘bent on providing nothing less than a theory of mind.’156 Accordingly, in the Elements, he depicts himself as building on foundations that have been prepared by the philosophy of common sense. ‘The rubbish being now removed, and the foundations laid’, he announces, ‘it is time to begin the superstructure.’157 Just as this ‘superstructure’ respects, but cannot not be confined to the precepts of common sense, so Stewart argues (contra Reid) that the technical language of philosophy is ‘a still more convenient instrument of thought, than those languages which have originated from popular use.’158 Common sense can only take us so far, Stewart claims; thereafter, there remains further work for philosophy to undertake. This work was to be implemented not through experience and induction alone, but with the assistance of the abstract sciences of logic and algebra. Whereas Hume had tempered philosophy with rhetoric and civility, and Reid had subordinated it to common sense, Stewart attempts to rehabilitate philosophy by placing it upon an axiomatic footing. Accordingly, in the Outlines, he lists three forms of ‘intuitive evidence’: ‘(1.) The evidence of axioms. (2.) The evidence of consciousness, of perception, and of memory. (3.) The evidence of those fundamental laws of human belief, which form an essential part of our constitution.’159 Only by proceeding axiomatically, he believes, can the philosopher (as distinguished from the everyday thinker) guard against the dangers of analogy and metaphor that lure the imagination into conflating efficient causes with philosophical principles. As he notes in the Elements, ‘the imperfections of words constitute the principal obstacle to our progress; nor is it possible to advance a single step without struggling against the associations imposed by the illusions of metaphorical terms, and of analogical theories.’160 Consequently, although (as I argue in Chapter 3) Stewart is on other occasions surprisingly relaxed about the relationship between language and abstraction, on the need for mathematical lucidity in philosophical method he remained unbending. One important consequence of Stewart’s rethinking of Reid’s common-sense principles as ‘elements’ akin to mathematical axioms is the separation of belief from 155 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 47. 157 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 56. 159 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 28.

156  Robinson, ‘Reid’s Critique’, p. 413. 158 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 83. 160 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 360.

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consciousness. For instance, in the first Chapter of the second Part of Elements (titled ‘Of the Fundamental Laws of Human Belief; Or the Primary Elements of Human Reason’), he claims that it is ‘more correct to call the belief of our own existence a concomitant or accessory of the exercise of consciousness, than to say, that our existence is a fact falling under the immediate cognizance of consciousness.’161 In this way, Reid’s idea of the ‘prescience’ of human consciousness is transformed by Stewart into an account of primary truths or elements of reason that form part of the ‘stamina of intellect’. In order to distinguish such axioms from empirical and common-sense principles, he designates these truths as ‘transcendental’: The belief which all men entertain of the existence of the material world . . . and their expectation of the continued uniformity of the laws of nature, belong to the same class of ultimate or elemental laws of thought . . . . The truths which form their objects are of an order so radically different from what are commonly called truths, in the popular acceptation of that word, that it might perhaps be useful for logicians to distinguish them by some appropriate appellation, such, for example, as that of metaphysical or transcendental truths. They are not principles or data . . . from which any consequence can be deduced; but form a part of those original stamina of human reason, which are equally essential to all the pursuits of science, and to all the active concerns of life.162

Stewart’s concern with the truths that are presupposed by consciousness is wholly Reidian. Less so, however, is his determination of such truths, from a logical perspective, as ‘metaphysical or transcendental’. As Kuehn points out, although ‘Scottish common sense offers a “critique of all preceding philosophy” ’, it generally does so based on a priori principles that are beyond formal justification.163 However, by abandoning common-sense principles in favour of axiomatic elements, Stewart attempts to build just such an element of justification into his own foundations. Once arguments such as this are considered, Stewart’s ‘stamina of human reason’ appears closer to Kant’s transcendental method than to Reid’s appeal to common sense, insofar as the a priori component that both Kant and Stewart identify as essential to human reasoning lies beyond immediate consciousness. For Kant, the inaccessibility of such truths to the understanding means that a new logic is required that transcends what Stewart calls the mere ‘cognizance of consciousness’. As he puts it in his Introduction to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, this transcendental logic would be concerned ‘not so much with objects but rather with our mode of cognition of objects insofar as this is possible a priori.’164 Similarly, Stewart argues that human knowledge is fundamentally based in transcendental elements of reason that must be classed as a logically discrete order of truths. Unlike Kant, however, Stewart does not distinguish between ‘metaphysical’ and ‘transcendental’ truths. Indeed, Stewart’s axiomatic, primary truths of reason are for Kant precisely what remains to be proved by transcendental critique, the principal objective of which is to establish the very possibility of the synthetic a priori 161 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 42. 162 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 44. 163 Kuehn, Common Sense, p. 34. 164  Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, eds. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (1998), p. 149.

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cognition upon which mathematical knowledge is based.165 From a Kantian perspective, Stewart’s transcendentalism is pre-critical. As such, his account of the ‘elements’ is every bit as guilty of taking the status of such knowledge for granted as the common sense of Reid, Beattie, and Oswald. And yet, in the absence of a proto-Kantian critical framework, Stewart’s account of the transcendental elements of reasoning rests upon a naturalized conception of human functioning. In Kant’s quasi-legal apparatus of justification, epistemological authority is ultimately derived from the unity provided by the supersensible faculty of reason, the ‘faculty of the rules of understanding under principles.’166 By contrast, Stewart’s epistemology rests upon an anthropological account of truth in which even the most basic and self-evident elements of reason derive their legitimacy from needs that are social and biological as well as logical. For example, the third category of intuitive evidence mentioned in the Outlines of Moral Philosophy (following mathematical axioms and the evidence of consciousness, perception, and memory), Stewart classes as the ‘evidence of those fundamental laws of human belief, which form an essential part of our constitution’. This class comprises not the logical conditions of thought, but the preconditions for thought as part of our intellectual life and ‘animal existence’: Of this class, is the evidence for our own personal identity; for the existence of the material world; for the continuance of those laws which have been found, in the course of our past experience, to regulate the succession of phenomena. Such truths no man ever thinks of stating to himself in the form of propositions; but all our conduct, and all our reasonings, proceed on the supposition that they are admitted. The belief of them is necessary for the preservation of our animal existence; and it is accordingly coeval with the first operations of the intellect.167

From this it can be seen how Stewart’s use of the term ‘metaphysical’ in Elements to describe primary truths might mislead the modern reader. The elements of reason are bound up with the active natures of our social intelligence, not with ideal forms of reason. Stewart’s other phrase, ‘stamina of intellect’, with its suggestions of physical strength and biological endurance, more effectively captures the direction of his transcendental thinking. On this account, the basic preconditions of even the most abstract thoughts are those concerned with what is necessary for living a healthy and intelligent life. This in turn leads Stewart to consider the elemental, axiomatic truths on which we depend for our awareness of the world, our identity, and our ability to communicate with others: such truths are indubitable, incorrigible, but not ideal. As he claims in Philosophical Essays (1810), the objective of his work was ‘to take as comprehensive a survey as possible of the human constitution’, in order to show ‘the manifold powers, both of intellect and of enjoyment, by which Nature has distinguished our species’. To this end, ‘[t]he cultivation of Reason, with

165  See Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 146: ‘The real problem of pure reason is now contained in the question: How are synthetic judgements a priori possible?’ 166 Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 389. 167 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 28.

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a view to the investigation of truth, is only one of the means . . . towards the improvement and happiness of the individual.’168 This desideratum of understanding and improving ‘the manifold powers, both of intellect and of enjoyment’ in turn shapes Stewart’s exploration in the Second Part of Elements of the communicative and affective aspects of the human intellect. It is here, under the rubric of the ‘auxiliary faculties and principles essential to our intellectual improvement, or intimately connected with it’, that Stewart discusses ‘the power of expressing our thoughts by Language, and the principle of Imitation.’169 I examine Stewart’s theory of language in Chapter 3, where I also assess Stewart’s involvement (with Reid, Smith, Horne Tooke, and Bentham) in the language controversies of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the principle of sympathetic imitation, however, Stewart offers a radical rethinking of the role of sympathy as the affective means of establishing intersubjectivity. As he describes it, the sympathetic form of imitation ‘is that chiefly which depends on the inimical powers connected with our bodily frame; and which, in certain combinations of circumstances, seems to result, with little intervention of our will, from a sympathy between the bodily organizations of different individuals.’170 Stewart is struck by the fact that sympathetic interactions between human beings are often communicated through bodily gesture in such a way that leads physical attitudes to determine, rather than be produced by, feelings and emotions. This leads him to the conclusion that the roots of sympathy lie in physical mimicry: ‘whenever we see, in the countenance of another individual, any sudden change of features, more especially, such a change as is expressive of any particular passion or emotion, our own countenance has a tendency to assimilate itself to his.’171 Stewart’s theorization of the process of sympathetic imitation involves acknowledging the mutuality of mind and body in the circulation of social sentiments. As an example of this process, he cites the ‘imitative propensity’ of children, who ‘learn, insensibly, to model their habits on the appearance and manners of those with whom they are familiarly conversant.’172 Stewart argues that this innate relationship between sentiment and bodily action calls into question Smith’s account of the role of imagination in the process of sympathetic identification. Against Smith, he counters that in none of the cases where sympathetic feelings are triggered by physical mimicry ‘is the sympathy, which is manifested by the spectator, founded on an illusion of the imagination, leading him to conceive himself in the same situation with the party really interested.’173 Echoing Reid’s notion of an anticipation or ‘prescience’ in the human mind, Stewart likens sympathy to our ability to interpret natural signs, both of which are rooted in a constitutional predisposition ‘for which experience alone will not account.’174 Thus, as Stewart explains it, as ‘every emotion of the mind produces a sensible effect on the bodily appearance, so, upon the other hand, when we assume any strongly expressive look, and accompany it with 168 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 51. 169 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 5. 170 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 117.    171 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 118. 172 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 121. 173 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 130. 174 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 137.

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appropriate gestures, some degree of the correspondent emotion is apt to arise within us.’175 The significance of Stewart’s theory of sympathetic imitation to the present discussion lies in the way in which it depicts character as shaped by this performance. In the notion of sympathetic imitation, Stewart externalizes the performative intersubjectivity postulated by Hume and Smith through a triangulation of intellect, language, and body: While we copy the looks and gestures of any public speaker, or of any prominent character in private society, imitating, at the same time, the peculiarities of his elocution; the hesitation or the fluency, the conciseness or the redundancy, of his diction; the looseness and carelessness of his phraseology, or the artificial rhythm of his periods; the state of our own faculties and feelings may be expected to be, in some measure, assimilated to his.176

From this perspective, the imaginative otherness of Smith’s impartial spectator is replaced by a model of bodily communication as a means of maintaining the intersubjective norms of an interpretive community. This complicates our view of Stewart as well as of Reid, whose theory of perception retained its influence upon Stewart’s thought. On one hand, the epistemological realism of both Stewart and the common-sense school with which he maintained an ambivalent relationship meant that neither was prepared to abandon the assumption that knowledge must have philosophical foundations. Consequently, unlike Hume and Smith, Reid and Stewart remain epistemologically ‘serious’ thinkers insofar as they persist in their belief that philosophy, by grounding belief in transcendental elements or common-sense principles, has more than a merely practical role to play in establishing the social virtues necessary for a civilized society. And yet, both Reid and Stewart move to free empiricism from a correspondence model of truth by emphasizing the presuppositions that underlie both empirical judgements and communication. By rethinking the relationship between subject and world as fundamentally interpretive and grounded in the social and physical preconditions of thought, Reid and Stewart build their new foundationalism upon an anthropological and socialized vision of the human intellect. S C OT T I S H P H I L O S O P H E R S A N D E N G L I S H   P S YC H O L O G I S T S Hume’s legacy left philosophy with the dilemma of whether scepticism should be countered or ignored. For those who took his arguments seriously, such as Reid, Stewart, and Kant, refuting him meant reorienting epistemology away from Lockean psychology and towards common sense and/or transcendentalism. This response contrasts with that of associationists such as David Hartley and Joseph Priestley, who 175 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 140.

176 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 4, pp. 144–5.

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continue to embrace Lockean psychologism despite diminishing confidence in empiricism’s ability to provide an epistemological foundation for scientific knowledge. Hartley and Priestley, indeed, detect no crisis within empiricism, merely a touch of hysteria north of the border. For Priestley, the success of Hartley’s associationist psychology in explaining the mechanisms of mind outweighed any sceptical doubts. Mocking Reid’s ‘panic fear of scepticism’, he claims that ‘if, instead of such a plenary assurance as only this new common sense promises, he [i.e. Reid] would have been content with a reasonable degree of evidence for the reality of all the things above mentioned, the old hypothesis would have been quite sufficient.’177 Locke’s ‘old hypothesis’, Priestley maintains, is quite adequate for the purposes of understanding the human mind. If, he suggests, empiricism as epistemology fails to provide the ‘plenary assurance’ that Hume and Reid seek, then so much the worse for epistemology. It is tempting to interpret the schism between these currents—between a naturalism rooted in Scottish notions of civic society, and a materialism that was broadly based in a culture of English Dissent—as a rupture within empiricism itself. Accordingly, the four thinkers discussed in this chapter could be depicted as responding to Hume’s epistemological cul-de-sac by exchanging the vocabulary of psychological foundationalism they inherit from Locke for one of natural description. According to Elie Halévy, this response contrasts with a kind of philosophical paralysis in England, which he attributes, in part, to a ‘confusion’ that had ‘arisen between the psychology of association and the sceptical conclusions which Hume had drawn from it’. Halévy’s main interest, of course, is not in identifying the roots of this epistemological crisis, but in accounting for the rise of English radicalism, and, indeed, the eventual replacement of Edinburgh by London as the centre of progressive thought in Britain. Nonetheless, he continues, ‘at a time when the whole intellectual life of the island seemed to be concentrated in Scotland, the scepticism of Hume was being eloquently refuted by the great professors at Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was in France that from Condillac up to Destutt de Tracy ideology continued the tradition of Locke and Hume.’178 On closer inspection, however, Halévy’s picture of a British response to Hume that is initially divided between Scottish reaction and English confusion looks more like a parting of ways between epistemology and psychology, signalling the emergence of two separate disciplines. Thus, while Priestley downplays the importance of epistemology and ‘truth’ (a mere thing of ‘art’, as he calls it), Reid abandons psychology and the associationist language of ‘ideas’ in his endeavour to dig for new epistemological foundations that might be proof against scepticism.179 In following suit, Scottish Enlightenment thinkers uncover conditions of knowledge that are 177  Joseph Priestley, An Examination of Dr Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, Dr Beattie’s Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, and Dr Oswald’s Appeal to Common Sense on Behalf of Religion (1774), pp. 62, 64. According to S.  A.  Grave in The Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense (1960), Priestley’s poor grasp of Reid’s objections to Hume meant that he ‘excusably misunderstood’ the force of the argument from common sense (p. 14). 178 Halévy, Growth, p. 435. 179 Priestley, Examination, pp. xliv–xlv.

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based not in logic, but in trust and intersubjectivity. From this perspective, Hume is closer to Reid than might be supposed, in that both seek to deflate the pretensions of epistemology by securing knowledge to naturalized and socialized grounds. As I have argued, running throughout the Academic scepticism of Hume, the specular reasoning of Smith, the commonsensism of Reid, and the natural transcendentalism of Stewart, is a commitment to the idea of the social a priori, reflecting their shared commitment to a model of civil society as a prerequisite for rationality. The difficulty that later thinkers found in holding this line is evident in the pains taken by Stewart and others to unite the foundationalist precepts of common-sense philosophy with the increasingly technical language of associationist psychology. Stewart’s Edinburgh University colleague Thomas Brown, for instance, attempts to reconcile Reid’s intuitionism with Hume’s sentiment-based associationism by modifying the former. Accordingly, he agrees with Reid that ‘[a]ll reasoning . . . whether sceptical or dogmatical, must take for granted, as its primary evidence, the truth of certain propositions, admitted intuitively, and independently of the reasoning, which follows, but cannot precede, the perception of their truth.’180 As this claim suggests, Brown conceives such intuitive truths in transcendental terms, arguing that ‘[w]ithout the belief of these physical truths, we could not exist a day, and yet there is no reasoning from which they can be inferred.’181 And yet, while Brown is ready to leap to Reid’s defence against the ‘ridicule . . . with which Dr Priestly and some other English metaphysicians, were disposed to regard the decision of certain ultimate principles of common sense’, he concedes that ‘the phrase common sense . . . was not the happiest that could have been chosen.’182 For Brown, Reid was too dogmatically intuitive, asserting the priority of principles of intuitive belief ‘to an extravagant and ridiculous length’ and ‘acquiescing too soon, in an easy and indolent faith.’183 Accordingly, while Reid was correct about the nature of sensation and perception, he was mistaken in basing his realist theory of knowledge upon ‘a peculiar mental power, co-extensive with sensation’ rather than upon ‘the results of a more general power . . . of association,— by which one feeling suggests, or induces, other feelings that have formerly co-existed with it.’184 Despite their efforts, however, neither Brown nor Stewart succeed in reconciling common-sense realism with psychological theory, a feat that that would have involved founding an intuitive a priori principle of knowledge upon the entirely contingent phenomena of association. This impasse highlights the degree to which the works of Hume and Reid chart radically different paths for philosophy. The 180  Thomas Brown, Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, 13th ed. (1841), p. 78. 181 Brown, Lectures, p. 79. 182 Brown, Lectures, p. 78. 183 Brown, Lectures, p. 79. Brown attempts to improve on Reid by characterizing the primary truths of intuition as ‘universal, immediate, and irresistible’ (p. 83). 184 Brown, Lectures, p. 163. This power of association Brown reduces in Humean fashion to the power of habit, or suggestion (p. 277). Abstract reasoning, indeed, might be reduced to ‘a series of felt relations’ (p. 311).

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decision as to whether philosophy should pursue the epistemology of intuition or the psychology of association turns upon the question of whether the grounding of reason upon the foundations of the social a priori could itself be rendered in the form of philosophical first principles. Although Hume and his commonsense critics converge in the belief that the social a priori is fundamental to human knowledge, they diverge in their accounts of how this principle functions. Hume’s deflationary naturalism and reliance upon feeling and habit means that he is more tolerant than Reid of the paradoxes and twilight doubts of rationality. For Hume, the importance of sociability in sustaining human knowledge highlights the limitations of the faculty of reason in determining norms and values; ultimately, there is no justification for the basic principles of thought. For Reid, however, the constitutive role played by sociability in cognition stems directly from the operations of the social intellect, itself part of the original constitution of human nature. Where Hume and Smith part company with Reid and Stewart, then, is in how they conceptualize the relationship between theory and practice. Cultural and philosophical Enlightenment as depicted by the former consists above all in the practice of the characteristic virtues of sociability. This fundamentally performative conception of the social virtues underpinning human knowledge implies downgrading what Priestley called philosophy’s ‘plenary’ status in the science of man. At the same time, by foregrounding the constitutive status of testimony and speech acts (as I discuss further in Chapter 3), Reid reverses the Lockean hierarchy whereby private acts of mind are treated as epistemologically prior to acts of the social intellect. However, Reid’s providential naturalism and conception of civic virtue means that he retains a commitment to ‘first’ philosophy as a basis for polity. Consequently, where Hume cultivates a dialectic between theory and practice, between the perspectives of the private study and public life, common-sense philosophy aims to synthesize the two. In the former, philosophizing is a language game that involves a carefully stage-managed interplay of the reflective and the quotidian, with all the risks and uncertainties that this involves; thus, having travelled by different routes, Hume and Smith arrive at the same conclusion as Priestley regarding the unsustainability of epistemological foundationalism. For Reid and Stewart, however, the failure of representational empiricism merely clears the ground for a new foundational philosophy. The impossibility of reducing everyday discourse to the language of reason indicates the need for the reductive process to be reversed rather than suspended.

E M P I R I C I S M A N D C O N V E R S AT I O N Some of the features of the philosophical discourse to which I have alluded are likely to recall Jürgen Habermas’s account of the language of the ‘bourgeois public sphere’ that shape the civic and cultural life of eighteenth-century Western

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Europe.185 Habermas later refined this idea by identifying a ‘counterdiscourse’ of Enlightenment thought that, he claims, emerges in response to unsustainable (and potentially hegemonic) objectivism. Based upon ‘the paradigm of mutual understanding between subjects capable of speech and action’, this counter discourse replaces the ‘objectifying attitude’ of subject-centred thought with one of ‘linguistically mediated interaction.’186 The distinction implied by this model, between what Habermas sees as the discursive praxis of the everyday ‘lifeworld’ and the reflective, theoretical perspective of the systemic ‘world’, maps what can be characterized, albeit in looser terms, as a tension within Hume’s thought between philosophical reflection and quotidian reality. In erring towards the ‘easy’ philosophy of conversation and pragmatic communication, Hume prioritizes what Habermas describes as the ‘intuitively known, unproblematic, and unanalyzable, holistic background’ of the lifeworld, for which the truth of any statement cannot be separated from its illocutionary force, or performance.187 In this way, Hume replaces an ontologically dubious standard of truth with a concern for social harmony based in natural, communicative activity. Viewed from a Humean perspective, however, Habermas’s distinction begs the question of whether the irreconcilability of philosophy and the quotidian is itself a philosophical problem or merely one of attitude—what Baier, using a Lockean phrase, calls a ‘posture’ of the mind.188 Following Peter Jones and others, I have argued that Hume’s rhetoric constitutes a performative philosophical practice whose concern for communication and intersubjectivity as a basis for knowledge owes as much to Ciceronian rhetoric as it does to Enlightenment rationalism. Indeed, behind the struggle between homo seriosus and homo rhetoricus in Hume’s work is an eighteenth-century territorial dispute between new science and ancient rhetoric over the jurisdiction of philosophy. At stake in this conflict is the authority of scientific seriousness itself. For Newtonians such as Reid and Stewart, philosophy aspires to objectivity by reconciling experiment and observation with (in Stewart’s case) mathematical demonstrability. For Ciceronians like Hume, however, philosophy becomes increasingly practical and intersubjective, concerned with the cultivation of virtue and the promotion of utility and eudaemonia. It is towards these ends that the writerly postures, attitudes, and inflexions of the Ciceronians tend. A good example of such sociable attitudinizing occurs in Hume’s essay ‘The Sceptic’, one of three written with a view, as Hume puts it, ‘not so much to explain accurately the sentiments of the ancient sects of philosophy, as to deliver the sentiments of sects, that naturally form themselves in the world.’189 In this essay, Hume downplays the significance of philosophy, whose ‘authority is very weak 185  Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (1989), p. 30. 186  Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (1987), pp. 295–7. 187 Habermas, Modernity, p. 298. 188  Annette Baier, Postures of the Mind: Essays on Mind and Morals (1985), p. ix. The title of Baier’s book derives from Locke’s discussion of grammatical particles. 189 Hume, Essays, p. 138.

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and limited’, and whose benefits to society are indirect.190 And yet, by eschewing the ‘exhortations and consolations, which are in such vogue among speculative reasoners’, and by exemplifying the manner of courteous conversation, philosophy ‘insensibly refines the temper, and . . . points out to us those dispositions which we should endeavour to attain, by a constant bent of mind, and by repeated habit.’191 This virtuous ‘habit’ is precisely what the undogmatic and easy ‘bent’ of Hume’s delivery of sentiment strives to cultivate. What these performances indicate is that the bottom line for Hume’s ‘easy’ philosophy is sociability rather than certainty. By stressing the importance of epoché, or the withholding of assent (a key component of Cicero’s Academic or mitigated scepticism), Hume’s work foregrounds the need for social cohesion as a precondition of rationality. As Malcolm Kelsall observes, the notion that ‘skeptical empiricism (rather than dogmatic enthusiasm) was the sign of polite society’ had been circulating in Britain since Addison.192 Moreover, in Academic scepticism Hume finds a method that seeks to accommodate rather than expunge the role played by fictions of belief in human life. Again, in this respect, his position contrasts with that of Reid, who was less preoccupied with Roman ideas of civic virtue, and who, as Diamond notes, consequently maintains that ‘man enjoys a natural (rather than “artificial,” in Hume’s sense) devotion to virtue, which proceeds directly from his constitution’—namely, from social acts of mind.193 This difference in approach is reflected in the contrasting philosophical performances of Hume and Reid in their experiments with the essay. Thus, while Reid’s Newtonianism motivates him to present his philosophical essays as strenuous and serious studies of the relationship between man and God, Hume’s Academic scepticism exploits the protean and playful characteristics of the essay as an antidote to the malady of systematic thinking. In Hume’s hands the essay comes to embody and exemplify the intersubjective and rhetorical space in which the human mind is constructed. The practical arena of this construction is dialogue and conversation. Viewed as a practice rather than a doctrine, scepticism shares with dialogue and conversation the characteristics of improvisation and digression, as well as an awareness of the presence of contingency and provisionality. As Fred Parker notes, the possibility of doubleness, playfulness, and irony in dialogue means that conversations both spoken and written are ideally suited to a non-dogmatic, non-enthusiastic mode of discourse that is itself typically ‘dynamic and open-ended, a process.’194 Accordingly, following the classical precedents of Plato and Pyrrhus, ‘polite’ scepticism in the eighteenth century adopts dialogue as its ‘most natural habitat.’195 From a philosophical point of view, however, the problem with dialogue is that it appears to produce (at best) agreement, consistency, or coherence, rather than truth. Michael Prince has distinguished between two historical conceptions of dialogue, both of which go back to Plato: in the first, we are presented with ‘dialogue as a basis for 190 Hume, Essays, p. 168. 191 Hume, Essays, p. 171. 192  Malcolm Kelsall, ‘Addison, Joseph’, Encyclopedia of the Essay, ed. Tracy Xhevalier (1997), p. 5. 193 Diamond, Improvement, p. 182. 194 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 10. 195 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 3.

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potentially interminable inquiry’; in the second, which Prince associates with the more determinate art of ‘dialectic’, dialogue becomes ‘a means of ascending from error . . . to truth.’196 However, as Prince notes, the question posed by thinkers such as Hume is: ‘[w]hat happens during an increasingly skeptical age . . . when dialogue and dialectic begin to lose the transcendental reference point whose stability had assured the transition from tragic division to comedic unity?’197 One possible way of theorizing the connection between dialogue and truth has been outlined more recently by Donald Davidson. In his essay ‘Three Varieties of Knowledge’ (1991), Davidson explores the implications of Wittgenstein’s claim that the source of objective truth is interpersonal communication. For Davidson, our knowledge depends upon a triangular network of interdependent relationships between the self, the world, and other minds. Communication compels us to adopt a normative stance towards our beliefs because the possibility of error is a basic presupposition without which dialogue, and consequently thought, would be impossible. Consequently, as Davidson puts it, ‘[c]ommunication, and the knowledge of other minds that it presupposes, is the basis of our concept of objectivity, our recognition of a distinction between false and true belief.’198 Sharing the same basic network of beliefs with my interlocutors is thus a presupposition, not merely a goal, of communication. Since thought is inherently social, inhabiting a community of beliefs involves sharing a large proportion of that community’s norms of behaviour. Thus, ‘[g]auging the thoughts of others requires that I live in the same world with them, sharing many reactions to its major features, including its values.’199 This conception of the relationship between truth and intersubjectivity is very close to the arrangement upon which Hume finally settles. For Hume, the role of dialogue assumes a heightened significance within the context of the interdependent relationship between subjectivity, objectivity, and intersubjectivity. It becomes a crucible for forging truth as much as a means for arriving at it. Davidson describes this process as a dynamic one in which the epistemological centre is mobile: We think of dialogue as a process in which fully formed thoughts are exchanged, and we overlook the fact that dialogue supplies the nexus in which thoughts and concepts are formed and given meaning. Thought and rationality are . . . social phenomena. Without language, thoughts have no clear shape; but the shape language gives them emerges only in the context of active communication. What we think depends on what others can make of us and of our relations to the world we share with them. It follows that we have no clear thoughts except as these are sharpened in the process of being grasped by others.200

196 Prince, Philosophical Dialogue, p. 3. Prince adds that first is a conception based in ‘tragedy’, the second, in ‘comedy’ (p. 4). 197 Prince, Philosophical Dialogue, p. 10. 198  Donald Davidson, Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (2001), p. 217. 199 Davidson, Subjective, p. 220. 200  Donald Davidson, ‘The Socratic Concept of Truth’, Truth, Language, and History (2005), p. 249.

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Underpinning the thought-shaping activity of dialogue is the presupposition that Davidson claims underlies the Socratic elenchus itself: namely, that dialogue within a community requires that most of the beliefs held by that community cannot be false. We can coherently entertain doubt only within a framework in which we assume that most consistent beliefs are also true. Accordingly, in ‘Plato’s Philosopher’ (1985), Davidson argues that ‘someone who practises the elenchus can, as Socrates repeatedly did, claim that he does not know what is true; it is enough that he has a method that leads to truth. The only question is whether there is reason to accept the assumption.’201 Davidson’s reason for accepting this assumption is what he sees as the holistic interdependence of language, self, and the world: thus, just as intersubjective communication is the precondition of subjective thought, the objective truth of most coherently shared beliefs is the presupposition of intersubjective communication. Like Davidson, Hume disconnects objective empirical truth from its foundations and endeavours to account for it through a consensus forged through coherent dialogue and conversation. The preconditions of communication, he suggests, are themselves sufficient to keep radical scepticism in check. From this perspective, Hume’s admission that one cannot live as a sceptic prefigures Davidson’s claim that it is not possible to live an intelligent life and doubt the truth of all of one’s beliefs. Nonetheless, in discussing eighteenth-century dialogue, care should be taken to discriminate between vernacular and formal models of conversation in the period. As Michael Malherbe demonstrates, dialogue is considered as ‘a true philosophical art’ by thinkers such as Shaftesbury who take pains to distance it from everyday verbal exchanges.202 Similarly, Jon Mee distinguishes between the formal, Ciceronian paradigm of dialogue and a parallel idea of verbal intercourse that uses the coffee house and the popular press (both synonymous with ‘commerce’ and ‘freedom’) as its models. Indeed, Mee cautions, the very practice of conversation was ideologically contested: ‘[c]onversation didn’t just happen in eighteenth-century Britain. It was scrutinized, policed, promoted, written about, discussed, and practiced.’203 Hume himself bridges the Classical ideals of dialogue embodied by Shaftesbury’s essayism and the quotidian conversationalism of Steele and Addison. In this way, according to Mee, Hume cultivates ‘a form of vernacular discourse, closely associated with the literary, that can save ordinary life from vacuity, but also properly socialize the scholarly world.’204 The socialization of scholarly debate was doubtless to the fore of Hume’s concerns when he wrote to Gilbert Elliot in 1751, lamenting the fact that that they were unable to compose the Dialogues Concerning Natural 201 Davidson, Truth, p. 239. 202 Michel Malherbe, ‘Hume and the Art of Dialogue’, Hume and Hume’s Connexions, eds. M.A. Stewart and John P. Wright (1994), p. 201. 203  Jon Mee, Conversable Worlds: Literature, Contention, and Community 1762 to 1830 (2011), p. 6. Mee explores in detail the ways in which the struggle to define conversation was fought through metaphors, such as the ‘flow’ of polite dialogue and the ‘collision’ of ideas favoured by many Dissenters such as Priestley and Godwin. 204 Mee, Conversable Worlds, p. 62.

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Religion together: ‘I believe, too, we coud both of us have kept our Temper very well; only, you have not reach’d an absolute philosophical Indifference on these Points. What Danger can ever come from ingenious Reasoning & Enquiry?’205 Despite his gentle ribbing of Elliot, Hume takes the Ciceronian virtue of friendship very seriously when it comes to the practice of dialogue and debate. Writing of benevolence in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, he argues that no qualities are more intitled to the general good-will and approbation of mankind than beneficence and humanity, friendship and gratitude, natural affection and public spirit, or whatever proceeds from a tender sympathy with others, and a generous concern for our kind and species. These wherever they appear, seem to transfuse themselves, in a manner, into each beholder, and to call forth, in their own behalf, the same favourable and affectionate sentiments, which they exert on all around.206

Although Hume describes the circulation of benevolence by using a metaphor of transfusion, friendship and ‘general good-will’ function above all as natural preconditions of understanding. Thus, as he claims in the Treatise, ‘we every day meet with persons, who are in a different situation from ourselves, and who cou’d never converse with us on any reasonable terms, were we to remain constantly in that situation and point of view, which is peculiar to us.’207 Without intersubjectivity and friendship, rational discourse would not be possible. Indeed, basic acts of intellection depend for Hume upon the intercourse of sentiments: the association of ideas is inextricably bound up with the association of persons.208 As Carol Kay argues, for Hume the arts of ‘polite conversation, fictional representation, of elegant persuasion, and of philosophical reasoning would all be impossible if people were not able, to some degree, to adopt the general view required in employing general terms of value and applying them in mutually recognizable ways.’209 The constit­utive roles played by dialogue, conversation, and sociability in shaping human understanding have, in turn, important implications for the authorial voice of the ‘easy’ philosophy and its balancing of philosophical introspection and public communication.

I RO N Y A N D R A D I C A L E M P I R I C I S M The picture presented here is of a form of ‘social’ empiricism, initiated by Hume, that responds to scepticism by adopting more socialized, performative, and therefore (in Davidson’s sense of the term), more ‘holistic’ ways of understanding human 205  David Hume, ‘To Gilbert Elliot of Minto’, 10 March 1751, letter 72 of Letters, vol. 1, p. 154. 206 Hume, Enquiries, p. 178. 207 Hume, Treatise, p. 603. 208 See Cairns Craig, Associationism and the Literary Imagination: From the Phantasmal Chaos (2007), p. 147: For Craig, ‘Hume’s description of association as taking place within conversation and between conversationalists throws into relief the fact that Tristram Shandy is associationist . . . because it is a novel of a conversible world, what we might describe as a “stream of conversation” novel.’ 209  Carol Kay, ‘Valuing Practices in Hume’, New Literary History 30, no. 4 (1999), p. 759.

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knowledge and communication. In broad terms, it chimes with James Engell’s depiction of Hume’s intellectual position as ‘at once sceptical and pragmatic’—a scepticism, in other words, that is ‘empirical but not dogmatic.’210 And yet, in likening Hume’s pragmatic scepticism to Richard Rorty’s notions of ‘liberalism, irony, and solidarity’, it is likely that Engell goes too far.211 Similarly, it is important to distinguish the account offered here from postmodern readings, such as that of Jeffrey  A.  Bell, that draw parallels between Hume’s work and that of Gilles Deleuze. Postmodern echoes of Enlightenment topoi are often striking and piquant, particularly when traced to a writer as prone to doubleness and irony as Hume, but they are easily exaggerated. Since I am less sympathetic to ‘Deleuzian’ than ‘Rortian’ readings of Hume, I will address the former first. As Bell points out, Delueze’s interest in Hume dates to his early work, Empiricism and Subjectivity (1953), an essay that establishes some of the principal concerns of his mature thought.212 Deleuze sees Hume as a thinker who opens up the sublime, incommensurable side of empiricism, one who is prepared to consider thought from the ‘outside’, through pure difference. For Deleuze, to think entirely without grounds is to think difference itself as the power of life; it is to think in and of difference, not just as the empirical difference that lies between things, but also as primordial ‘difference in itself ’, which ‘lies between two repetitions’, just as ‘repetition lies between two differences.’213 ‘If difference is the in-itself ’, he maintains, ‘then repetition in the eternal return is the for-itself of difference.’214 To think difference and repetition in this way is to participate in an encounter with the non-conceptual presupposition of thought, the ‘outside’ (rather than just the ‘exterior’) of thought. In the transcendental empiricism of Deleuze and Guattari, this ‘outside’ is expressed as a plane of immanence, as that which ‘must be thought and that which cannot be thought. It is the nonthought within thought. It is the base of all planes, immanent to every thinkable plane that does not succeed in thinking it.’215 Significantly, it is this very image of immanence that Deleuze finds in the work of Hume. Hume’s contention that consciousness presupposes a prior activity of association that is entirely mechanical in nature is read by Deleuze as an indicator of thought’s thoughtless foundation. Indeed, for Bell, in its affirmation of contingency and multiplicity, ‘Deleuze’s empiricism is remarkably similar to Hume’s.’ Contrary to the criticisms of William James and Henri Bergson, Bell argues, Hume’s associationism ‘does not presuppose the simple, discontinuous identities of impressions and ideas as the already individuated givens with which the principles of

210 Engell, Committed Word, pp. 68, 70. 211 Engell, Committed Word, p. 74. 212  Gilles Deleuze, Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature, trans. Constantin V. Boundas (1991). 213  Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (1994), p. 76. 214 Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 125. 215 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy? trans. Graham Burchill and Hugh Tomlinson (1994), p. 59.

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association work.’216 Instead, ‘Hume confronted the problem of how a multiplicity of elements could become an identifiable, unified system without presupposing the identity such a multiplicity will become, and without presupposing a transcendent principle that would serve as unifier.’217 Accordingly, in his 1972 essay on Hume, Deleuze argues that what we find in Hume’s work is the possibility of a nonpredicative logic of ‘AND’—in other words, a logic of purely contingent, horizontal connections between concepts: The real empiricist world is . . . a world of exteriority, a world in which thought itself exists in a fundamental relationship with the Outside, a world in which terms are veritable atoms and relations veritable external passages; a world in which the conjunction ‘and’ dethrones the interiority of the verb ‘is’ . . . . It is thus Hume who first breaks with the constraining form of predicative judgement and makes possible an autonomous logic of relations.218

Hume’s great innovation, Deleuze believes, is to remove the distinction between philosophy and life by grasping the idea of ‘immanent’ thought in its purity. Hume’s work reveals the secret world of radical empiricism, in which the image of knowledge as subject-centred recognition is eclipsed by that of a subject-less encounter of pure immanence, which in turn is best expressed by the notion of immanence as entirely ‘in itself ’ and not ‘in something, to something.’219 For Deleuze, the use of the indefinite article is crucial here, since what he describes is a singularity that exceeds possible individuation. As he puts it, ‘[w]e will say of pure immanence that it is A LIFE, and nothing else. It is not immanence to life, but the immanence that is in nothing is itself a life. A life is the immanence of immanence, absolute immanence: it is complete power, complete bliss.’220 Deleuze believes that Hume’s ‘immanent’ empiricism is important in promoting difference because it acts as a bulwark against reflection, mediation, negation, and other tendencies of thought that tend towards indifference. Kant first identified ‘indifference’ in Western philosophy in his Preface to the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, accusing popular German Enlightenment thinkers such as Moses Mendelssohn, who advocated a ‘complete indifferentism’ to foundational philosophy, of ‘always unavoidably fall[ing] back into metaphysical assertions, which they yet professed so much to despise.’221 Deleuze and Guattari, however, turn Kant’s claim back on itself by identifying an indifference within thought itself, and philosophical thought in particular. Reflection, under the justificatory paradigm of thought, itself promotes indifference. In this way, as Iain MacKenzie claims, we can see how ‘indifference to philosophy that characterizes both Kant’s epoch and that of Deleuze and Guattari is the result of indifference residing within philosophy.’222 The value of 216 Jeffrey A. Bell, Deleuze’s Hume: Philosophy, Culture and the Scottish Enlightenment (2009), p. 2. 217 Bell, Deleuze’s Hume, p. 122. 218  Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: Essays on A Life, trans. Anne Boyman (2001), p. 38. 219 Deleuze, Pure Immanence, p. 26. 220 Deleuze, Pure Immanence, p. 27. 221 Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 100. 222  Iain MacKenzie, The Idea of Pure Critique (2004), p. 38.

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Hume’s work in this regard lies in how it resists such indifference through its preservation of contingency. Deleuze and Guattari’s own constructivist remedy for indifference and entropy in thought is to remodel philosophy as concept creation, dedicated to thinking entirely ‘outside’ normative models, beyond any justificatory regime. Deleuze’s Hume shrugs off Enlightenment dreams of equipoise altogether, launching into a realm of pure difference and contingency, of endless complicatio in which ‘fantasy forges fictive causal chains, illegitimate rules, simulacra of belief.’223 The principal problem with such readings, however, is that, by perpetuating the picture of Hume’s thought as primarily impressionist, associationist, and phenomenological, they remain in thrall to epistemology in ways that Hume did not. It is precisely this characterization of Hume as epistemologist that much commentary since Kemp Smith has either rejected outright or tempered with some account of Hume’s understanding of sentiment, virtue, and the natural preconditions of the social intellect. Doubtless, Hume would have agreed with Deleuze about the hazards of indifference in human thought. The inability of thought to purify itself— that is, coherently to sustain itself in the absence of the evaluative—provokes a reflex in Hume’s writing whereby epistemological paradox triggers a radicalized mistrust of thought itself. Thus, the Treatise acknowledges that the price of philosophical reflection is the estrangement of thought from everyday existence: Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium . . . . I dine, I play a game of back-gammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hour’s amusement, I wou’d return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain’d, and ridiculous, that I cannot find it in my heart to enter into them any farther.224

Like Deleuze, Hume sees the normative, justificatory element of thought as a kind of self-induced malady, warning his reader that ‘[t]o reduce life to exact rule and method, is commonly a painful, oft a fruitless occupation’, and that ‘[w]hile we are reasoning concerning life, life is gone.’225 Nonetheless, ‘life’ for Hume signifies the quotidian reality that forms the social and practical background to thought, not the radical exteriority conjured by Deleuze. Similarly, while both Hume and Deleuze search for empiricism’s transcendental conditions, Hume’s identification of these in the ‘intercourse of the sentiments’ contrasts starkly with Deleuze’s incommensurable plane of difference, while Deleuzian concept-creation, from a Humean perspective, appears unsociably Romantic. Ultimately, Hume’s own response to philosophy’s failure to ground itself is to appeal to the culture of common life as the condition of all thought, a strategy that is communitarian, practical, and naturalistic.

223 Deleuze, Pure Immanence, p. 42. 225 Hume, Essays, p. 180.

224 Hume, Treatise, p. 269.

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It is this social, pragmatic, and meliorist Hume that appeals to Richard Rorty, who like many neopragmatists remains wary of postmodernism’s tendency to exchange Enlightenment foundationalism for a super-foundationalism based upon the ‘others’ of reason. In conversation with Habermas and others in 1996, Rorty describes himself as a ‘neo-Humean’, adding that ‘I think of imagination and sentiment, rather than reason (considered as the ability to argue), as the faculties which do most to make moral progress possible.’226 Rorty ranks Hume among those thinkers who (in public at least) resist the philosophical impulse to transcend the ‘acculturation’ of social practices, or what, in lecture notes from 1992, he identifies as ‘a Romantic impulse to break out of this world into another world’ common to Romantic radicals such as Plato, Rousseau and Nietzsche. Hume, by contrast, ‘reacts against this kind of thing’ and maintains, like Montaigne, that ‘there is no such thing as “the nature of human beings” ’, merely habit and culture.227 This unromantic, conservative, and social view of the intellect avoids reinstating the hypostatizations of both the Enlightenment and its postmodern others. Accordingly, in his essay ‘Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity’ (1984), Rorty disagrees with Habermas’s claim that reason takes a wrong turn with Hegel’s absolute idealism and the latter’s ‘lack of a sense of rationality as social.’228 Instead, Rorty claims, the original mistake lies in Kant’s hypostatization of the ethical imperatives of the Scottish Enlightenment: Kant suggested that we need not let our knowledge of the world qua matter in motion get in the way of our moral sense. The same suggestion was made by Hume and Reid, but unlike these pragmatical Scots, Kant thought that he had to back up this suggestion with a story which could differentiate and ‘place’ the three great spheres into which culture must be divided. From the point of view common to Hume and Reid (who disagreed on so much else) no such metanarrative is needed. What is needed is a sort of intellectual analogue of civic virtue—tolerance, irony, and a willingness to let spheres of culture flourish without worrying too much about their ‘common ground,’ their unification, the ‘intrinsic ideals’ they suggest, of what picture of man they ‘presuppose.’229

For Rorty, Hume’s ‘easy’ empiricism is rightly relaxed about finding different uses for different perspectives. If, as Deleuze claims, the outcome of Hume’s sceptical empiricism is that speculative, reflective thought is incommensurable with the common sense of the everyday lifeworld, Hume’s own response to this is to dedicate his philosophy to maintaining the beauty of social harmonies rather than pursuing the sublimity of concept creation. What Rorty finds especially appealing in Hume’s position lies in its ‘pragmatical’ separation of the thought of the study 226 Richard Rorty, ‘Relativism Finding and Making and Transcription of Conversation with Juergen Habermas and other Scholars’, Richard Rorty Born Digital Files, 1988–2003, http://ucispace. lib.uci.edu/handle/10575/7 (accessed June 11 2010). 227 Richard Rorty, ‘Pragmatism, Deconstruction and Feminism Course Notes for Lecture on Sandra Harding’, Richard Rorty Born Digital Files, 1988–2003, http://ucispace.lib.uci.edu/handle/10575/7 (accessed 11 June 2010). I consider Hume’s relation to Montaigne in Chapter 4. 228  Richard Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers Volume 2 (1991), p. 170. 229 Rorty, Essays, p. 171.

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from the entangled and emotive thought of the street: for Hume, detachment and discrimination distinguish the enlightened thinker from the fanatic, whether religious or philosophical. As Fred Parker notes, this ‘doubleness of stance’, with its acknowledgement of contingency and provisionality, is essential to Hume’s scepticism, and would be echoed in turn by Rorty’s own ironism.230 On this view, one is at liberty to think Deleuzian immanence and sublimity in the ‘private’ sphere of the Humean study while promoting social consensus in public life. Rorty’s ironist, like Hume’s sceptic, shares a ‘natural affinity’ with the literary writer in her tolerance of playfulness and rhetoric. Indeed, Parker adds, Rorty’s own narrative of ironism in his book Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989) ‘begins too late’ by setting out from Romanticism, given that ‘the eighteenth century was . . . a pervasively sceptical age.’231 Nonetheless, in making this claim, Parker neglects the real reason why Rorty carefully qualifies his identification with Hume, and why he traces his ironism only to the late eighteenth century. It was only with the advent of Romanticism, Rorty argues, that ‘the idea that truth was made rather than found began to take hold of the imagination of Europe.’232 Together with the Darwinian idea of belief as an environmental adaptation rather than a means of grasping truth, the Romantic notion of truth as something that is created or produced separates the radical empiricism of Dewey, James, and Rorty from the Academic scepticism of Hume and from the virtue-based philosophies of the Scottish Enlightenment. Consequently, it is only by bearing in mind these significant differences (of which Rorty was fully aware), that one can assent, cautiously, to Leo Damrosch’s claim that ‘Humean skepticism can be seen as a direct ancestor of the various forms of pragmatism that are increasingly invoked today.’233 C O N C LU S I O N The rise of socialized empiricism in the late eighteenth century is a direct response to Hume’s exposure in the Treatise of Human Nature of the groundlessness of human belief. It signals the demise of Enlightenment hopes for a ‘first’ philosophy constructed around a psychological description of a punctual self, and a turn to the idea of intersubjectivity as a means of accounting for the relationship between truth and belief. Central to these developments is the influence of classical theories of virtue: indeed, on one level, what occurs in the later stages of the century is a struggle between the Ciceronian image of philosophy implied by (on one hand) the descriptive, deflationary naturalism of Hume and Smith and (on the other) the Newtonian foundationalism underpinning the providential naturalism of Reid and his followers. For the former, the value of philosophy lies chiefly in the ways in which it promotes intersubjective consensus through the performance of philosophical 230 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 2. 231 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, pp. 2, 4. 232  Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), p. 3. 233 Damrosch, Fictions, p. 46.

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sociability. Hume’s ideas of how philosophy should operate within civic society are based upon a pragmatic principle of epoché or the withholding of judgement, through which he attempts to balance the irreconcilable demands of the vita contemplativa and the vita activa, that is, between systematic, reflective thought and the assumptions of everyday knowledge required to live an active, communicative, and healthy human life. As Miriam Solomon argues, Hume takes the first radical step towards the development of a truly ‘social’ empiricism by abandoning the philosophical tradition that sought to establish certainty through the removal of epistemic ‘idols’. For Hume, ‘scientific knowledge depends on human habits of mind that are not chosen for their rational perspicuity but, instead, performed instinctively’ and which ‘help us physically survive and flourish.’234 Through Hume’s Academic scepticism, an empiricism of ‘ease’ modelled upon conversation exercises diplomacy and linguistic skill as the means of maintaining the social norms necessary for ‘truth’ to exist. In this way, the counter-Enlightenment thought of Hume and Smith proposes an epistemology in which the political connotations of psychological ‘correspondence’ and ‘association’ are literalized as forms of social activity. This involves the deployment of tact, politeness, and taste, all of which are grounded in the practice of interpersonal relationships. Smith further extends these ideas by developing a theory of moral sentiments in which the performance of the virtues underlying intersubjectivity is internalized within the specular drama of the impartial spectator, a theory that, in turn, is rethought by Stewart as a process of sympathetic imitation, in which the performing mind enjoys no priority over the performing body. On the other side of this struggle, Reid and Stewart continue to defend the Lockean ideal of philosophy as an apodictic and primary science that can indubitably, if not transparently, establish basic principles of knowledge. Rather than ironizing the division between a scientific episteme and a quotidian doxa, Reid and Stewart seek to synthesize the two, either by taking the first of these (as Stewart does) or the second (as Reid does) as the major term in the new philosophy. Where Hume bases judgement upon feelings rooted in custom and habit, Reid grounds it in a form of intuition that is philosophically foundational. Stewart, meanwhile, is the only thinker discussed here explicitly to theorize the new language of socialized empiricism as ‘transcendental’ in its shift away from identifying the causes of experience to understanding its (social, material, and natural) preconditions. Viewed from this perspective, Hume’s ‘intercourse of sentiments’, Smith’s ‘impartial spectator’, Reid’s ‘prescience’, and Stewart’s notion of the ‘stamina’ of intellect all appear as varieties of natural transcendentalism, according to which sociability, conversation, association, and correspondence become the conditions of meaningful thought. This highlights the close connections between Scottish and German philosophy in the late eighteenth century as well as the widening gulf between the former and the psychological materialism and associationism promulgated by Hartley and Priestley south of the border. As has been noted, however, in abandoning epistemology as 234  Miriam Solomon, Social Empiricism (2001), p. 52.

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the ‘serious’ pursuit of foundational certainty, Hume and Smith side with the English associationists in at least one regard. Moreover, their work bears striking similarities with modern theories of communicative rationality expounded by Davidson, Habermas, and Rorty (although, as I have suggested, one should be wary of claims that counter-Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume and Smith develop a form of holistic pragmatism avant la lettre). Crucial to this development, but not discussed at any length so far, is the idea which, in the absence of psychological grounds, forms the most fundamental of the social-transcendental conditions of knowledge: the notion of trust.

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2 The Subject of Trust I N T RO D U C T I O N Men live upon trust and their knowledg is noething but opinion moulded up betweene custome and Interest, the two great Luminarys of the world, the only lights they walke by.1

Locke’s sceptical observation, made in an unsent undergraduate letter of 1659, reminds us that the problematic relationship between the dynamics of trust and the philosophy of empiricism is something that Hume and his contemporaries inherit rather than create. The idea of trust would later play a significant role in Locke’s political thought, particularly in his delineation in the Two Treatises of Government of ‘the Bounds which the trust, that is put in them by the Society, and the Law of God and Nature, have set to the Legislative Power of every Common-wealth.’2 Indeed, as Hannah Dawson observes, for Locke ‘[t]he commonwealth is conceived and continued through trust. Trust brokers not only the relationships between prince and people, but also between those people.’3 Trust in society was one thing, however; trust in reason was quite another. When it came to reasoning, Locke’s remarks betray his early pessimism regarding the everyday intellectual functioning of his fellow human beings. Our reliance upon the opinions of others was for him a source of regret, not a cause for celebration. Accordingly, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) builds upon the earlier attempts of Bacon and Descartes to wean the mind off any epistemic authority that is socially rather than privately validated; its epistemological model is one in which private consciousness modelled on the camera obscura supplants public forms of written authority and testimony as the basis of human knowledge. Consequently, as Michael Ayers notes, Locke defines knowledge as a state of consciousness in which a ‘truth or fact or state of affairs in question is itself perspicuously presented to us by our faculties.’4 In this chapter, I argue that Locke’s conception of the relationship between trust and reason undergoes considerable changes—in some cases, a reversal—in midto-late eighteenth-century Britain. This argument in turn breaks down into two, related claims. The first traces the changing role played by trust in Enlightenment epistemology back to the aftermath of Hume’s sceptical refashioning of ‘experience’ 1  John Locke, The Correspondence of John Locke, ed. E. S. De Beer, vol. 1 (1976), p. 123. 2  John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (1988), p. 142. 3  Hannah Dawson, Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy (2007), p. 285. 4  Michael Ayers, Locke: Epistemology and Ontology, vol. 1 (1991), p. 127.

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as a practical and experimental activity (rather than as mere passive receptivity). Because of Hume’s dismantling of the punctual subjectivity upon which the Lockean picture of private knowledge rests, trust becomes a crucial term in contemporary debates over knowledge and society. Hume’s own inquiries, meanwhile, uncover a continuity between trusting the testimony of persons and trusting the ‘testimony’ of sense. In turn, Thomas Reid situates his epistemology of testimony within a philosophy of common sense in which the hermeneutics of perception ultimately rests upon a community of trusting interpreters. By highlighting the public function of intellect as the social a priori of knowledge, Hume and Reid initiate an affective and proto-pragmatic turn in eighteenth-century empiricism that departs from reason and psychology in favour of a kind of social epistemology. As the language of pure reason is subjected to this socialized critique, it is replaced by what Stephen Shapin terms ‘the great civility’, the ultimate basis of which is trust: A world-known-in-common is built up through acts of trust, and its properties are decided through the civil conversations of trusting individuals. The root of all civility and good manners is therefore the presumption of that basic perceptual competence and sincerity which provide warrants for our conversation as being reliably oriented towards and about the realities upon which we report.5

For Hume, social cohesion and trust, operating through rhetorical channels of friendship, sociability, and intersubjectivity, replace psychological criteria as the basis of knowledge. Indeed, subjectivity itself comes to be based in a triangulation between persons rather than in private self-knowledge. Increasingly, ‘truth’ is taken to depend upon the truthfulness and the trustworthiness of others at a private as well as a social level. Rather than building public trust upon private certainty, Hume and others suggest that without trust, the social intercourse of life, and thus coherent experience itself, would be inconceivable. The differences between these thinkers in the accounts they give of how trust constitutes rational discourse reflect the varying ways in which they respond to the challenge of scepticism. These are, in turn, informed by differing accounts of the relationship between knowledge and virtue. For example, in Hume and Smith the unravelling of reason leads to the abandonment of epistemology as ‘first’ philosophy and a reorientation of philosophy towards questions of ethics, morals, and sentiment, according to which epistemic norms are ultimately only as robust as intersubjective standards of taste. As Baier argues, ‘[r]elations between thinking persons and relations between thought contents turn out not to be independent of each other. Hume’s naturalism in epistemology takes human nature as the nature closest to hand, and takes our nature to be social and passionate, before it is cognitive.’6 In Hume, moreover, this paradigm-shift is registered in the manner as well as the content of his writing: as the essay replaces the treatise as the primary vehicle of Academic scepticism, Hume’s essayistic prose attempts to perform an interplay of theory and practice, of reflective and quotidian thought. In the work of Reid and Stewart, by contrast, trust’s constitutive role is incorporated into a radically 5 Shapin, Social History, p. 36.

6 Baier, Progress, pp. 28–9.

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remodelled first philosophy in which the speculative foundations of philosophy are re-entrenched in common sense. Thus, while Reid and Stewart look back to Locke in their foundationalist attempt to ground the reality of experience upon trust in God, Hume and Smith base the operations of the social intellect upon the idea that one of the most basic preconditions of thought is the foundationless human habit of trusting others. Trust and its problems, of course, continue to preoccupy thinkers today. It is therefore unsurprising that modern sociologists, economists, and philosophers have returned repeatedly to the thought of the middle and late eighteenth century in the course of their attempts to answer a fundamental question: is trust rational? As I show below, once trust is distinguished from notions of confidence and faith, there is a range of ‘no’ and ‘yes’ answers to this question, ranging from normative defences of the ‘leap of faith’ to accounts of trust as itself a constitutive part of reason. Moreover, while much modern commentary on the subject supports the idea that for trust to be considered rational, ‘reason’ must be redefined as social rather than as private, the question of how this redefinition might be brought about separates modern thinkers in the same way that it divides thinkers in Hume’s era. Some, such as Martin Hollis, argue in favour of a Rousseauian return to notions of communal reason.7 This in turn, however, raises the question of whether it is possible to step outside the individualistic rationality that has defined modern subjectivity since the Enlightenment without removing the very conditions that are necessary for trust to flourish. Indeed, since Rousseauian calls to recover communal virtues ultimately culminated in the subjugation of relationships of trust to the Universal Will, it could be argued that while solidarity must be based in trust, trust cannot be based in solidarity alone. My own argument is that trust presupposes a fundamental indeterminacy and unpredictability in human thought and behaviour, a fact of which Hume was acutely aware. Without this indeterminate space, trust has no room to function. Like sincerity and authenticity, the performance of trust is a social game with no fixed rules or codes. One consequence of this is that it is prone to performative misfire in ways that threaten the intersubjective economy of knowledge: as Bernard Williams notes, trust is a fragile idea that quickly becomes unstable under reflection.8 Indeed, the modern need for trust itself indicates a loss, an absence that is bound up with the emergence of the modern self as an abstracted, hypostatized and punctual ‘subject’. As Pocock has argued, the financial revolution and advent of public credit in the 1690s contributed to this development by undermining the classical model of civic virtue: suddenly, ‘[s]pecialised, acquisitive and post-civic man has ceased to be virtuous, not only in the formal sense that he has become the creature of his own hopes and fears; he does not even live in the present, except as constituted by his fantasies concerning a future.’9 Increasingly, what an individual owned was not property underwritten by virtue, but ‘promises, and not merely the 7  See Martin Hollis, Trust Within Reason (1998). 8  Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (2002), p. 91. 9 Pocock, Virtue, p. 112.

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functioning but the intelligibility of society depended upon the success of a program of reification.’10 Steven Shapin has shown how a combination of social mobility and philosophical scepticism led to the erosion of the customs and practices that had supported the scientific culture of trust in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Like Hume’s essayistic ‘ease’, ‘trust’ appears in Enlightenment discourse precisely where it is suddenly experienced as an absence. And yet, while Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and Hume expressed reservations about human beings organizing their affairs and knowledge on trust, in practice, as Shapin observes, ‘trust was not rejected but managed.’11 It is towards the maintenance of this finely balanced truth-economy of trust that Hume directs his considerable resources of tact, irony, and essayistic diplomacy. This brings me to the second strand of this chapter’s argument. By replacing a dyadic form of empiricism based on epistemological correspondence with a triangular one based on coherence and communication, Hume not only installs trust as a precondition of knowledge, he also makes the performance of certain types of trusting relationships integral to his socialization of philosophy. For Hume, the fictions of belief sustaining human knowledge rest upon the rhetoric and the performance of trust: maintaining the correct style, manner, and character are all essential to enacting the trusting relationships that are required to conduct an empirically grounded conversation. To many, this claim might appear odd, given Hume’s seminal critique in the first Enquiry of any belief, such as belief in miracles, which relies heavily upon testimony. Hume’s writings on this topic have given rise to a tradition of representing his position on testimony as epistemologically ‘reductionist’. According to this theory, testimony is epistemically reliable only if it can be demonstrated to give, as C.A.J. Coady puts it, ‘rational support to our beliefs because each of us can somehow check observationally upon the fact that testimony is usually truth-preserving.’12 I argue against this well-established picture. Hume is far from being the reductionist on testimony that he is commonly portrayed as being. Indeed, I suggest that his position can be more accurately described as a form of coherentism, in that it suggests that all our experience must hang together as a web of belief—as an interdependent, organized whole. From this perspective, the ‘testimony’ of other persons is theoretically neither a stronger nor weaker foundation for knowledge than the ‘testimony’ of sense. All the writers discussed in this chapter explore trust as a background condition of the establishment and maintenance of intersubjective norms. I shall argue that this turn towards trust reflects a broader shift away from Cartesian and Lockean notions of punctual subjectivity and towards more pragmatic conceptions of rationality based upon communication and social relationships. Differences remained, however, over whether and how such notions might be framed within philosophical principles. For Hume and Smith, for whom social morality can ultimately only be based upon manners and virtue, such a project is pointless: the task of philosophy is to describe and cultivate qualities of character. Reid and Stewart, however, seek 10 Pocock, Virtue, p. 113. 11 Shapin, Social History, p. 195. 12 C.A.J. Coady, Testimony: A Philosophical Study (1992), p. 23.

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to ground trust and testimony in an apodictic account of the workings of the social intellect. As Angela Esterhammer indicates, by arguing for the epistemological priority of social acts through the principles of ‘veracity’ and ‘credulity’, Reid reverses the established priority within empiricism between private judgements and public testimony.13 And yet, unlike Hume’s normative naturalism (which enjoins trust in others), Reid’s providential naturalism (which invokes trust in God) hypostatizes trust as a metaphysical principle. Reid’s common-sense theory of trust, unlike Hume’s, is framed within a philosophically foundationalist conception of human experience. E N L I G H T E N M E N T, M O D E R N I T Y, A N D T H E P RO B L E M O F T RU S T The idea of trust is beset by paradoxes, one of the most striking of which is that its very appearance in any discussion immediately suggests its absence. The implicit, tacit status that trust occupies in relationships means that debates about trust almost always arise when it is either already lacking or has been lost entirely. In the political sphere, this point is illustrated nicely by Anthony Selden’s Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it Back (2009), a book whose subtitle is rendered redundant by the single word in its main title.14 Indeed, it is relatively uncommon to come across the word ‘trust’ in the modern media without an accompanying term that signifies ‘crisis’. For example, Onora O’Neill’s public lectures on trust set out from the widespread perception (albeit not one that she necessarily shares) that modern societies ‘face a deepening crisis of trust.’15 It says a great deal about the delicacy of trust that the very perception of this crisis quickly becomes self-fulfilling. As Annette Baier argues, this negative feedback effect is characteristic of certain assumptions that form part of the social background to human interaction. By vocalizing such presuppositions, one can easily trigger the kind of performative misfires that ultimately undermine trust. ‘Healthy trust’, she observes, ‘rarely needs to declare itself, and the mere occurrence of the injunction “Trust me!” or of the reminder “I am trusting you” is a danger signal.’16 Invariably, trust shrivels the more it is exposed to the cold light of rational analysis. This vulnerability of trust to reflection might appear surprising, given the close etymological connections between the English words ‘trust’ and ‘truth’. As the Oxford English Dictionary documents, ‘truth’ is closely related to ‘troth’, and thus to notions of faith, loyalty, and trust. Transferring trust as loyalty between people to the relationship between the mind and world creates a secondary sense of truth as fidelity to the facts, or to reality. Viewed in this way, ‘truth’ is an abstraction of trust, just as, in Baier’s words, ‘true reason and true beliefs are abstract variants of 13  Angela Esterhammer, ‘Of Promises, Contracts and Constitutions: Thomas Reid and Jeremy Bentham on Language as Social Action’, Romanticism 6, no. 1 (2000): p. 63. 14  Anthony Selden, Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it Back (2009). 15  Onora O’Neill, A Question of Trust: The BBC Reith Lectures 2002 (2002), p. 4. 16 Baier, Moral Prejudices, p. 133.

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true friends.’17 In modern European thought, this process of abstraction has its roots in the Enlightenment refashioning of the individual around a model of reason that is fundamentally private and autonomous. As Adam Seligman argues, the rise of a specialized language of trust in Western societies runs parallel to a decline in traditional ways of establishing communal values and guaranteeing social stability. As society becomes ever more mobile and individual roles are increasingly open to negotiation, social cohesion comes to be framed within communities based upon shared beliefs rather than upon ‘bonds of primordial attachment to kith and kin, to territorial and local habitus.’18 Defined by consciousness and abstracted from ties of blood and kinship, the modern subject effectively creates the need for trust. Indeed, the preoccupation of Enlightenment thinkers with the status of contracts, promises and other formulations of fidelity highlights the central paradox of trust: that the conditions under which it emerges in the modern era share their origins with those that threaten to undermine it. The internal instability of trust has become the focal point for a substantial portion of the copious commentary written on the subject in recent years. Most notably, the question of whether (and if so, in what ways) trust is rational has attracted attention within the fields of sociology, social policy, psychology, economics, business studies, law, cultural studies, and game theory.19 Much of the heat in these debates originates from differences over how to define both ‘trust’ and ‘reason’. One way of getting started with the former is to distinguish between what Martin Hollis calls ‘predictive’ and ‘normative’ varieties of trust, that is, between ‘warranted prediction’ of another’s actions and trusting ‘one another to do what is right.’20 Trusting someone to behave in a certain way is not the same as having confidence that they will behave that way; while the latter implies a level of predictability, the former does not. At the heart of trust is a normative element linked to uncertainty regarding the actions of another person. I can trust a friend to keep a promise, regardless of his mixed record of doing so. Similarly, the failure of a colleague to keep a regular appointment may dent my confidence in her timekeeping, but it will not necessarily damage my trust in her. This is because, as Adam Seligman points out, with trust ‘the acts, character, or intentions of the other cannot be confirmed.’21 17 Baier, Progress, p. 287. As Baier points out, ‘[t]he English word “truth” shares its roots with those of “troth” and “trust,” and Hume’s use of it, in a moral context, exploits this ancestry . . . . Whatever is true is trustworthy, whether it be a friend, a belief or a version of reason.’ (286). 18 Seligman, Problem, p. 15. 19  A brief indicative selection of examples from these fields would include: Piotr Sztompka, Trust: A Sociological Theory (1999); Ragnar E Löfsted, Risk Management in Post-Trust Societies (2005); Marek Kohn, Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good (2009); Christel Lane and Reinhard Bachmann, eds., Trust Within and Between Organisations: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Applications (2000); Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (1990), and Cristiano Castelfranchi and Rino Falcone, Trust Theory: A Socio-Cognitive and Computational Model (2010). 20 Hollis, Trust, pp. 13, 10. See also Shapin, Social History, p. 8, and Paul Faulkner, Knowledge on Trust (2011), p. 25. Shapin notes that both confidence and trust ‘are systems of expectation about the world, yet only the latter is said to be morally textured’. Similarly, Faulkner discriminates between two kinds of trust in testimony: ‘trust in the predictive sense, depending on a bit of testimony because we believe it to be true’, and ‘trust in the affective sense, depending on a bit of testimony because we expect certain things of its speaker’. 21 Adam B. Seligman, The Problem of Trust (1997), p. 21.

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Trust enters social interaction, in Seligman’s words, when ‘systematically defined role expectations are no longer viable’ and thus where ‘roles are open to negotiation and interpretation.’22 This explains why the trust we place in other people is different from the confidence that we have in machines and systems. It also helps to explain the difference between trust and faith, in which role negotiability is absent. Faith, unlike trust, involves a level of investment in and commitment (usually to a transcendent deity) that is not present in the trust we place in another individual human being. Consequently, faith is more likely than trust to endure in the face of contrary evidence and arguments; while faith in a divine being can withstand the cruellest twists of fate, our trust in others is easily shaken. Nonetheless, trust, like faith, can exist in the absence of reasonable grounds for confidence. This makes it difficult to incorporate trust into the kind of rational choice models presupposed by some economists and game theorists, many of which presuppose a paradigm of individual practical reason predicated upon self-interest. Based upon such models, trust is at best a mere supplement to rationality, and at worst completely irrational. For example, Francis Fukuyama’s defence of trust as a form of social capital necessary to counterbalance the instrumental rationality prevalent in modern liberal democracies rests upon a definition of trust as ‘the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest, and cooperative behaviour, based on commonly shared norms.’23 As both Hollis and Seligman point out, however, Fukuyama identifies trust with familiarity, predictability, and confidence. This begs the question of whether trust is truly rational by presupposing that reason is neutral and instrumental, i.e. not normative, social, or affective (conversely, Fukayama’s vaunted social virtues of habit, duty, and mutuality are classed by him as non-rational). The problem with assumptions such as these for many theorists is they perpetuate the antinomy of trust and reason. In Hollis’s words, ‘[i]f reason is modern and if trust depends on a habit of practising some pre-modern social virtues, then it is no surprise to find trust becoming fragile.’24 Nonetheless, Fukuyama is not alone in arguing that trust is non-rational. For some commentators, the impossibility of defining trust in the instrumental language of assurance and predictability means that trust remains fundamentally unquantifiable, even mysterious. Gloria Origgi argues that ‘[t]rust seems to be allocated in a manner that is too context-sensitive and too morally and psychologically rich to be well captured by game-theoretical modelling.’25 More specifically, Guido Möllering claims that trust does not fit any of the rational choice models conventionally used by game theorists because it cannot be reduced to any theoretical account based upon confidence, institutional patterns, or self-reinforcing processes. Trust, he maintains, retains an irreducible ‘Leap of Faith’, involving a ‘suspension of uncertainty and vulnerability’. This suspension ‘is the essence of trust, because trust as a state of positive expectation of others can only be reached when reason, routine 22 Seligman, Problem, pp. 25, 27. 23  Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (1995), pp. 26, 27. 24 Hollis, Trust, p. 3. See also Seligman, Problem, p. 79. 25  Gloria Origgi, ‘Is Trust an Epistemological Notion?’ Episteme 1, no. 1 (2004), p. 64.

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and reflexivity are combined with suspension.’26 Nicholas Wolterstorff goes further in his study of Thomas Reid, arguing that it is the role played by trust in Reid’s thought (rather than that of common sense per se) that presents his most compelling response to Hume’s scepticism. When we dig down to the deepest layers of our understanding, he claims, what we find is ‘[d]eep impenetrable mystery: We do not understand.’ And yet, he adds, we find more than that: ‘[w]e find trust. Practical trust. We trust our senses, trust our memory, trust our introspection, trust our reason, trust our intellection. We trust where there are no grounds for trust except grounds infected by practical circularity—trust where we know nothing at all about the explanatory workings.’27 For both Möllering and Wolterstorff then, trust is properly basic, even miraculous; it is irreducible because it is presupposed by the very systems of thought through which we seek to understand it. Others, however, have countered that there is nothing inherently irrational about trust. For theorists of testimony such as Paul Faulkner, our habit of trusting others forms the basis of our ability to incorporate beliefs acquired via the testimony of others into a sound epistemic framework. The crucial but often overlooked feature of trust, he claims, is its normative dimension: knowledge does not take shape in a vacuum, but within a network of values. Once trust is distinguished from mere confidence, it is possible to see the way in which the role played by the normativity of trust in shaping belief is essential to the epistemology of testimony. For Faulkner, ‘testimony is the distinctive source of knowledge and warrant it is because we have a way of life founded on affectively trusting one another for the truth.’28 Similarly, Richard Foley maintains that it is incoherent for epistemological egoists such as Locke to cast doubt upon the rationality of beliefs acquired through the testimony of others when the very trust that we have in our own faculties implies that our social knowledge is ultimately built upon the same foundations. In this way, ‘[t]he presumption of trust in the opinions of others is generated . . . out of self-trust.’ For most of us, he concludes, ‘it is incoherent to trust by and large our own faculties and opinions and not to trust by and large those of others.’29 What such approaches indicate is that far from being antithetical to knowledge, trust is epistemologically basic. We rely more heavily for our knowledge upon testimony, and thus upon trust, than we do upon empirical evidence or logical deduction. If this is true, then knowing, as John Hardwig observes, ‘is often not a privileged psychological state. If it is a privileged state at all, it is a privileged social state.’30 Consequently, resolving the modern ‘problem’ of trust involves not the redefinition of trust, but the reappraisal of everyday reason. According to Hollis, the only way to overcome the alienation and dislocation of the modern intellect is to develop an understanding of reason as social. This involves placing trust within reason. ‘It may be that it is not instrumentally rational to trust instrumentally rational 26  Guido Möllering, Trust: Reason, Routine, Reflexivity (2006), p. 110. 27  Nicholas Wolterstorff, Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology (2001), p. 213. 28  Paul Faulkner, Knowing on Trust (2011), p. 25. 29 Richard Foley, ‘Egoism in Epistemology’, Socializing Epistemology: The Social Dimensions of Knowledge, ed. Frederick F. Schmitt (1994), p. 64. 30  Hardwig, John. ‘The Role of Trust in Knowledge’, Journal of Philosophy 87 (1991), p. 697.

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people’, he argues; ‘[i]f so, we need a better account of reason . . . and one which does not spread distrust as more people come to accept it.’31 As Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden indicate, instrumental accounts of trust based upon reputation and disposition depend upon a fundamentally individualistic conception of rationality, according to which ‘each person is moved only by what he or she wants.’32 Instead of this, Hollis proposes an idea of trust as a kind of reciprocity that runs deeper than merely the joint pursuits of individual interests. To socialize reason is to cultivate a notion of expressive rationality as the pursuit of the common summum bonum, so that, in Charles Taylor’s phrase, ‘[w]e have a sense of who we are through our sense of where we stand to the good.’33 This in turn involves overcoming what Taylor identifies as the obstacles inherent in the Cartesian, ‘epistemological construal’ of the self: ‘the picture of the subject as ideally disengaged . . . from the natural and social worlds’; the ‘punctual view of the self’, and ‘an atomistic construal of society as constituted by . . . individual purposes.’34 Similarly, for Hollis, modern disengagement, atomism, and instrumentalism are precluded by a conception of reason in which the collective rather than the individual determines the parameters and the content of reason. Within this context, trust is rational. This notion of socialized reason, however, carries us back to a few eighteenthcentury dilemmas. The most familiar of these is the Rousseauian problem of how to determine the relationship between individual and collective rationality. Rousseau’s ideal of a society in which the practice of perfect sincerity creates transparency between perfectly honest souls is apt to slide into a compulsory conformity with abstract moral standards. Jacobin moral philosophy enforces the idea of the Universal Individual as a model for both society and the individual, as if the two were interchangeable. In this form, reason is divested of any notion of rational accommodation; in the words of Robespierre’s 1794 speech to the Committee of Public Safety, it is reason as ‘terror.’35 As Bernard Williams argues, Rousseau’s error in The Social Contract (1762) is to create a picture of the moral world that does not ‘allow the right place for his own or anyone else’s weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.’36 Indeed, the Rousseauian standard of sincerity presupposes an idea of transparency that is ultimately self-defeating, in that it undermines the very trust upon which social solidarity depends. As Nancy Yousef points out, Rousseau’s construction of intersubjectivity around transparency and ‘inescapably public forms of life’ betrays his deep ‘anxiety about the epistemic basis of sympathetic recognition.’37 By predicating 31 Hollis, Trust, p. 2. 32  Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, ‘Moral Canals: Trust and Social Capital in the Work of Hume, Smith and Genovesi’, Economics and Philosophy 16, no. 1 (2000), p. 25. 33  Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (1989), p. 105. 34  Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments (1995), p. 7. 35  See Robespierre, qtd. in Christine Battersby, The Sublime, Terror and Human Difference (2007), p. 26: ‘Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.’ 36 Williams, Truth, p. 199. 37  See Nancy Yousef, ‘Can Julie be Trusted? Rousseau and the Crisis of Constancy in EighteenthCentury Philosophy’, Theory and Practice in the Eighteenth Century: Writing Between Philosophy and Literature, eds. Alexander Dick and Christina Lupton (2008), p. 193.

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civic trust upon the removal of the unknowable in individuals, Rousseau attempts to ‘imagine epistemic security as the basis and necessary condition for fidelity, trust and constancy.’38 And yet, his insistence in The Social Contract that the integrity of the individual rests upon the possibility of their coincidence with others removes the very indeterminacies of human behaviour upon which the role negotiations required for trusting relationships thrive. The problem of trust in Rousseau highlights two competing eighteenth-century conceptions of the social virtues. In the first, the relationship between the individual and his or her community is conceived as being direct and unmediated. Accordingly, Rousseau’s understanding of solidarity is based upon ancient Greek and Roman models of the ideal citizen as the perfect embodiment of the norms of the polis. As Seligman argues, this classical understanding of ‘civic virtue’ was echoed in revolutionary France by the identification of the individual and the people in the form of the volunté général.39 In so far as it takes the epistemic security of social solidarity as the basic term in its account of human relationships, however, the civic virtue model of collective reason is inimical to the trust and reciprocity that it seeks to establish. Since trust cannot be based upon solidarity, but must instead be presupposed by it, a different account is required of its status as a social virtue, one that cultivates a non-reductive ideal of intersubjectivity. According to Seligman, such an account is to be found in the ‘civil society’ theories of the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume and Smith are responsible for replacing both the classical view of the individual ‘as human only within the polis’ and Rousseau’s volunté général with a conception of the social other as ‘internalized in the self.’40 Against Rousseau’s outwardly oriented, socially constituted self, Hume and Smith propose a subjectivity that is reflexively determined by the virtues of sympathy and social sentiment. In Smith, sociability does not presuppose the dissolution of the self, but the constitution of the latter through an internalized, impartial spectator. Hume’s Academic scepticism, meanwhile, imbricates Greco-Roman ideas of virtue with a historical conception of reason, producing a dialectical, even playful relationship between the individual and society that accommodates the kind of unknowability and negotiability between others necessary for all trusting relationships.41 HUME ON TESTIMONY AND EXPERIMENT Describing Hume’s empiricism as ‘social’ risks begging many questions. One of these, which Alan Goldman poses in his book Knowledge in a Social World, is deceptively simple: what makes social epistemology ‘social’ in the first place? In response, Goldman identifies three distinguishing features: first, in contrast to private, subject-centred treatments of belief acquisition, social epistemology ‘looks at the many routes to belief that feature interactions with other agents’; second, 38  Yousef, ‘Can Julie be Trusted?’ p. 195. 39 Seligman, Problem, p. 106. 40 Seligman, Problem, p. 111. 41  For a full reading of Hume’s ‘historical’ view of reason, see Schmidt, David Hume.

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‘[r]ather than concentrate on a single knower, as Cartesian epistemology did, it addresses the distribution of knowledge or error within the larger social cluster’; thirdly, ‘instead of restricting knowers to individuals, social epistemology may consider collective or corporate entities, such as juries or legislatures, as potential knowing agents.’42 In the present study, I have argued that Hume treats knowledge in ways that share significant character traits with the first two of these features, and that his socialisation of epistemology manifests itself in the form of an increased concern with trust and with the role of the philosopher in managing it. Indeed, the heightened importance of trust in Enlightenment thought has its origins in one of Hume’s most celebrated technical innovations: his distinction between ideas and impressions. Hume’s definition of impressions as ‘those perceptions, which enter [the mind] with most force and violence’, and his account of ideas as merely the ‘faint images of these in thinking and reasoning’ initiates a ­cascade of thinking that culminates in the sceptical impasse of the first book of the Treatise.43 By arguing that all our ideas are either ‘copy’d from our impressions’ or made up of simple ideas that are themselves derived from impressions, Hume sets out the principle upon which the representational form of empiricism established by Locke will ultimately unravel.44 Most significantly, he argues that the idea of causation, which formed the foundation of the new science, must be viewed as epistemologically dubious, since ‘from the mere repetition of any past impression, even to infinity, there will never arise any new original idea, such as that of a necessary connexion.’45 Similar hypostatizations, such as the self, suffer a similar fate. ‘If any impression gives rise to the idea of self ’, Hume maintains, ‘that impression must continue invariably the same, thro’ the whole course of our lives.’; and yet, he finds, ‘there is no impression constant and invariable.’46 Ultimately, belief itself is  shown to rest upon nothing more substantial than sentiment: accordingly, the ‘force and vivacity’ communicated by an impression to an idea gives rise to belief in that it ‘super-adds nothing to the idea, but only changes our manner of conceiving it.’47 Hume’s arguments in the Treatise might appear paradoxical. As Kenneth A.  Richman puts it, the puzzle is that ‘Hume appears to do the following: 42  Goldman, Alvin I. Knowledge in a Social World (1999), pp. 4–5. The third of Goldman’s list of attributes corresponds to theories of socially distributed cognition, which, as described by Edwin Hutchins’ Cognition in the Wild (The MIT Press, 1995), p. 354, propose that culture is ‘a human cognitive process that takes place both inside and outside the minds of people’. See also Anna Estany and David Casacuberta, ‘Contributions of Socially Distributed Cognition to Social Epistemology: The Case of Testimony’, Eidos 16 (2012), p. 47, for a useful discussion of the relationship between ‘normative’ social epistemology (SE) and ‘empirical’ socially distributed cognition (SDC). Estany and Casacuberta claim that SE and SDC are separate but complementary accounts of knowledge and cognition respectively: just as SDC provides ‘an empirical basis for a philosophical assumption’ (the importance of trust), so the ‘epistemological analysis of the value of testimony contributes a rational and a normative basis to SDC.’ Hume was primarily interested in describing the social preconditions of the beliefs of individual agents, and so does not attribute (as SDC does) states such as consciousness, intention, and belief to groups of people, much less to non-human ‘cognitive systems’, such as (to use Hutchins’ example) the navigational apparatus of a ship. 43 Hume, Treatise, p. 1. 44 Hume, Treatise, p. 72. 45 Hume, Treatise, p. 88. 46 Hume, Treatise, p. 251. 47 Hume, Treatise, p. 101.

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(a)  endorse beliefs in objects and causes, (b) hold that we should not endorse beliefs that do not have appropriate grounding in our impressions . . . and (c) hold that the beliefs in objects and causes do not have appropriate grounding of our impressions.’48 According to Richman, this paradox has triggered debates between ‘Old’ Humeans, who see Hume’s impressionism as sceptical and phenomenalistic, and ‘New’ Humeans, who see the same phenomenalism as part of an attempt to reconstruct philosophy upon non-epistemological principles of feeling, habit, and custom. Traditional, ‘sceptical’ readings of Hume tend to downplay position (a) and emphasize (b) and (c). They foreground the way in which Hume’s sceptical attack on representationalism and the ‘correspondence’ model of truth signals the bankruptcy of an abstracted, corpuscularian view of experience and meaning. Once one reduces empiricism to impressionism, and impressionism in turn into pure difference, one sweeps away entirely the epistemological grounds of philosophy. Since Kemp Smith, however, there has been a tendency among some Hume scholars to disregard positions (b) and (c) and foreground (a). For such ‘New’ Humeans, the impression/idea distinction is really a manoeuvre whereby, having demonstrated the impossibility of accounting for human knowledge in the hypostatized and punctual vocabulary of ideas and impressions, Hume reveals the need for a new vocabulary of experience. In other words, for the ‘New’ Hume the language of empiricism must be reformed if it to avoid becoming merely a kind of philosophical negativity, an anti-epistemology. Accordingly, Hume’s scepticism triggers a thickening of the vocabulary of philosophy in ways that allow it to encompass issues of custom, sentiment, community, and most importantly, trust. Viewed in this way, Hume’s phenomenalism is, on a practical level, the selfdeconstructing, reductio ad absurdum of particularist theories of experience. As such, it exploits an easily overlooked ambiguity in the eighteenth-century use of the term ‘experience’. As Anna Wierzbicka argues, modern English is so ‘saturated with “British empiricism” ’ that key terms such as ‘experience’, ‘evidence’, and ‘sense’ have come to act as nodes for complex networks of meanings that are peculiar to anglophonic culture.49 Indeed, she adds, cultural outsiders often find the term ‘experience’ difficult to comprehend precisely because this ‘polysemous and language-specific word’ remains undefined in the English-speaking world and is usually ‘simply taken for granted.’50 As the Oxford English Dictionary records, however, the words ‘experience’ and ‘experiment’ share etymological roots in the Latin verb experior, meaning to try or ‘put to the test’. Tellingly, the relationship between these words changes significantly during the eighteenth century. Up to this point, both nouns could be used synonymously to mean the act of practical, tentative trial, an attempt at proof by demonstration.51 Under the influence of Lockean psychology, however, the peculiar association that ‘experience’ retained 48  Kenneth A. Richman, introduction, The New Hume Debate, p. 3. 49 Anna Wierzbicka, Experience, Evidence, and Sense: The Hidden Cultural Legacy of English (2010), p. 6. 50 Wierzbicka, Experience, p. 63. 51  One example of this sense given by the OED is Marlowe’s ‘to make experience of my love’ (Dido iv. iv).

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with ‘knowledge’ was expressed less in terms of testing and trying, and increasingly through the new, interiorized language of receptivity and subjectivity. Accordingly, the epistemological significance of ‘experience’ becomes less a matter of making and more a matter of receiving. This semantic shift places Hume’s scepticism in an interesting light, suggesting that his adoption and deconstruction of the language of ‘ideas’ is the first step in a process of redescription that restores the social, dialogical, and experimental dimensions to ‘experience’. In ‘Of Essay-Writing’, for example, Hume reproaches those men ‘who never consulted Experience in any of their Reasonings, or who never search’d for that Experience, where alone it is to be found, in common Life and Conversation.’52 This socialized and experimental account of experience also sheds further light upon the much-debated subtitle of the Treatise: ‘An Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects.’ Alexander Broadie opines that the reference to ‘Experimental Method’ here should be ‘handled lightly’, since ‘Hume is not referring to acts similar to the experiments carried out in laboratories by modern cognitive psychologists experimenting on human beings.’ Instead, Brodie argues, ‘he means little, if anything, more than “observations”, including introspective observations.’53 While Broadie is right to distance Hume’s use of the term from the more systematic methods of modern science, merely equating his use of the term ‘experiment’ with ‘observations’ does not explain why the latter draws the reader’s attention to the novelty of his approach in the book’s subtitle.54 Similarly, John Richetti surmises that the subtitle of the Treatise must have become an embarrassment to Hume, since from a sceptical point of view the notion of an ‘experimental method’ could only ever amount to a ‘pseudo-scientific philosophical fiction.’55 Again, however, the question this leaves unanswered is: why did Hume persist with the subtitle as it stands? Curiously, although Richetti considers Hume to be at his most interesting as a rhetorician, he does not consider the possibility that for Hume the ‘experimental’ method consists of an exploratory intellectual process that is itself rhetorical, performative, and experiential. Indeed, once one discards the ‘Old’ Humean picture of an introspectively observational, sceptical, ‘phenomenalist’ philosopher, this argument becomes more plausible. For example, dismissing phenomenalist readings as ‘the greatest barrier’ to understanding Hume’s work, Donald Livingston argues that Hume’s methods are metaphilosophical and dialectical from the ­outset.56 Accordingly, he claims, ‘it is from an analysis of what philosophy is and what it can and cannot do that he [Hume] frames a doctrine of perceptions, and not the other way around.’57 In establishing a dialectical relationship between incorrigible everyday beliefs and inescapable philosophical scepticism, Livingston claims, ‘Hume’s purpose is not to provide a theory of perception but ‘to provide a 52 Hume, Essays, p. 535. 53  Broadie, ‘Human Mind’, p. 63. 54 Broadie argues that, despite the originality of many of its arguments, the Treatise ‘was not groundbreaking in respect of the intention signalled in its subtitle’ (p. 62). 55 Richetti, Philosophical Writing, p. 250. 56 Donald W. Livingston, Hume’s Philosophy of Common Life (1984), p. 10. 57 Livingston, Common Life, p. 11.

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critical analysis of theories of perceptions.’58 In ‘sounding out’ human observations, then, Hume’s ‘experimental method’ reveals the flaw in the phenomenalistic empirical model, namely that its image of mind as purely passive and associative presupposes a contrary conception of the mind as engaged the pragmatic business of everyday conversation. As such, it is ‘both alienated from common life and presupposes it.’59 The same concern is foregrounded in the way in which the methodological subtitle of the Treatise plays with the ‘experimental’/ ‘experiential’ boundary. In both philosophy and common life, Hume suggests, the most that one can do is tentatively to try, to test, to attempt: in other words, to experiment. He makes this point explicitly in the Preface to the Treatise: ‘[w]e must . . . glean up our experiments in this science from a cautious observation of human life, and take them as they appear in the common course of the world, by men’s behaviour in company, in affairs, and in their pleasures.’60 It is this restoration of a social dimension to the eighteenth-century idea of ‘experience’ that has led some critics, such as Annette Baier, to conclude that what ultimately emerges from Hume’s work is the establishment of intersubjectivity itself as a precondition of truth. On Baier’s reading, Hume exchanges the image of a linear relationship of correspondence between belief and truth for one of networks of interdependent relationships between human beings based upon sentiment, custom, and trust. For Hume, she argues, ‘[t]ruth the virtue is wider-ranging and more sustained “agreement” than just that of one’s words with one’s beliefs or one’s deeds with one’s words. It is trustworthiness, a sustaining of all the forms of trust that there are between friends.’61 Readings such as Baier’s depart radically from the traditional philosophical debate surrounding Hume’s thought by abandoning positivist attempts to defend or attack his work on logical grounds. Baier depicts Hume as a precursor of end-of-epistemology thinkers, such as Wittgenstein and Austin, who steer philosophy away from rationalism, universalism, representationalism, and analysis. By introducing a new, more worldly key to philosophy, by subordinating ontological to practical questions and turning reflective thought ‘towards human persons, instead of towards God and the universe’, Hume initiates not a sceptical form of psychology, ‘but a broader discipline of reflection on human nature, into which Charles Darwin and Michel Foucault, as much as William James and Sigmund Freud, can be seen to belong.’62 Despite Hume’s amenability to an array of interpretive methods, Baier’s approach might still strike some as counterintuitive.63 Indeed, among the first obstacles 58 Livingston, Common Life, p. 15. 59 Livingston, Common Life, p. 33. 60 Hume, Treatise, p. xix. See also Bender, ‘Novel Knowledge’, p. 136: Bender draws attention to this comment in the Treatise, linking it to the idea of ‘a new human science’ of experimentation that, in turn, informed the ‘implicit ambitions of the new novel’ in the eighteenth century. While Bender’s discussion of the novel is revealing, my own interest is in the ways in which this ambivalence within ‘experience’ is itself reflected in the less generically stable form of the familiar essay. 61 Baier, Progress, p. 286. 62 Baier, Progress, p. 25. 63  This range of such methods and approaches is too wide to permit anything other than the briefest of sketches here. Norman Kemp Smith’s original naturalist rereading of Hume in The Philosophy of David Hume placed the scepticism of his philosophy within the context of a commitment to the ‘Science of Man’. This tradition in Hume scholarship was extended by Barry Stroud’s Hume (1977),

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confronting critics who see the role of trust as central to Hume’s thought are the statements that he makes on the matter himself. Of these, one of the more significant is the declaration that greets the reader in the first paragraph of the Introduction to the Treatise: ‘Principles taken upon trust, consequences lamely deduced from them, want of coherence in the parts, and of evidence in the whole, these are every where to be met with in the systems of the most eminent philosophers, and seem to have drawn disgrace upon philosophy itself.’64 It is precisely for this reason, he argues, that philosophy must be grounded in the ‘science of man’, and since ‘the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences, so the only solid foundation we can give to this science itself must be laid on experience and observation.’65 From the outset then, Hume appears to present the Treatise as a scientific response to hearsay and unsystematic folk wisdom, one that is based in ‘careful and exact experiments, and the observation of those particular effects, which result from its different circumstances and situations.’66 Comments such as these acquire still greater force when read alongside Hume’s more sustained sceptical reflections on testimony. In assessing the effects of relations and other habits of mind upon the formation of belief, he maintains that ‘[n]o weakness of human nature is more universal and conspicuous than what we commonly call Credulity, or a too easy faith in the testimony of others.’67 For Hume, this weakness is rooted in the ease with which the mind passes between ideas and words. Our ‘remarkable propensity to believe whatever is reported’ is rooted in the resemblance between the words deployed in testimony and ideas gained through direct experience. However, this ‘connexion is generally much over-rated, and commands our assent beyond what experience will justify.’68 Hume returns to the topic of testimony in his critique of the evidential basis of miracles in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, which sets out by registering the seventeenthcentury theologian John Tillotson’s claim that (in Hume’s words) evidence ‘for the truth of the Christian religion is less than the evidence for the truth of our senses’. He rehearses Tillotson’s argument that scriptural testimony weakens as it propagates, since evidence, already weak in original testifiers, ‘must diminish in passing from them to their disciples; nor can any one rest such confidence in their testimony,

David Pears’ Hume‘s System (1990), and H.O. Mounce’s Hume’s Naturalism (1999). Subsequent scholars have attempted to incorporate Hume’s naturalism within a more sophisticated understanding of his scepticism, such as Robert J. Fogelin, whose Hume’s Skepticism in the Treatise of Human Nature (1985) argues that in the Treatise ‘skepticism and naturalism meet in a causal theory of skepticism itself ’ (p. 150). Similarly, Donald W. Livingston’s Hume’s Philosophy of Common Life avoids any d ­ ownplaying of scepticism by reading it within the context of Hume’s sense of the dialectic between philosophy and common life, a relationship that David Fate Norton in David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician (1982) locates within Hume’s philosophy itself. Other approaches have highlighted the importance of other factors to a full understanding of Hume’s work, including Ciceronian virtue (Peter Jones, Hume’s Sentiments); Hobbist irreligion (Paul Russell, Riddle); historicism (Schmidt, David Hume), as well as fiction and the ‘literary’ (Damrosch, Fictions, and Jerome Christensen, Practicing Enlightenment). 64 Hume, Treatise, pp. xiii–xiv.    65 Hume, Treatise, p. xvi. 66 Hume, Treatise, p. xvii.    67 Hume, Treatise, pp. 109, 112. 68 Hume, Treatise, p. 113.

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as in the immediate object of his senses.’69 However, while Tillotson draws from this the lesson that scripture and tradition carry evidence only when they are ‘brought home to every one’s breast, by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit’, Hume infers that all testimony is suspect, and that ‘[t]he reason why we place any credit in witnesses and historians, is not derived from any connexion, which we perceive a priori, between testimony and reality, but because we are accustomed to find a conformity between them.’70 Hume was not the first philosopher to question the epistemic basis of testimony. As C.A.J. Coady and Frederick F. Schmitt have shown, suspicion of reported evidence dates to Ancient Greece, where both Plato and Aristotle excluded it from the domain of human knowledge.71 The rejection of testimony as unreliable in almost all cases is what Coady labels as the ‘Puritan’ attitude to knowledge based upon communication.72 Puritans such as Plato discount the epistemic value of testimony altogether. By the eighteenth century, however, the question of testimony had risen to new prominence precisely because it occupied the point at which the new philosophy of empiricism encountered established forms of knowledge based upon scriptural authority, religious belief, and moral precept. The epistemological criterion of perception in turn gave rise to what Coady labels as the ‘Reductive’ argument, whereby thinkers such as Hume attempt to reduce the epistemic warrant of testimony to evidential principles based in sense experience.73 According to Coady and Schmitt, Hume’s is the ‘archetype’ of the reductive position on testimony and is opposed in turn by the ‘Fundamentalist’ response of Thomas Reid, who refuses to reduce the operations of the social intellect to those of private consciousness, and who accordingly rejects any attempt to translate evidence from testimony into the language of perception. For Coady, Reid’s response is ‘Fundamentalist’ because he denies that our basic ‘reliance on testimony can be “justified” in terms of some other supposedly more fundamental sources of knowledge.’74 Only in Reid, he maintains, do we find the philosophical rhetoric of empiricism incorporating the social virtue of trust. Ultimately, by abandoning the Cartesian dictum that knowledge should be grounded in clear and distinct ideas, the fundamentalist position leads to a fourth and more recent perspective on testimony, the ‘End-of-Epistemology’ response, which uses social knowledge to argue that ‘positive epistemology, certainly in its foundationalist form and perhaps in any guise, is a radically mistaken enterprise.’75

69 Hume, Enquiries, p. 109. 70 Hume, Enquiries, p. 113. 71  See Frederick F. Schmitt, ‘Socializing Epistemology: An Introduction through Two Sample Issues’, Socializing Epistemology: The Social Dimensions of Knowledge, ed. Frederick F. Schmitt (1994), p. 2. 72 Coady, Testimony, p. 21. 73 Coady, Testimony, p. 22. Similarly, Schmitt classes sceptics about testimony as epistemological ‘individualists’, contrasting ‘Strong individualism’ of Plato which denies that any testimonial beliefs are justified, with Hume’s ‘weak individualism’, according to which such beliefs have a ‘secondary status’ and can only be admitted if justified by sense-experience (‘Socializing Epistemology’, p. 5). 74 Coady, Testimony, p. 23. 75 Coady, Testimony, pp. 23–4. Coady identifies W.V. Quine as an example of an ‘End-of-Epistemology’ thinker.

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As a defender of socialized epistemology, Coady believes that (with the partial exception of Reid, to whom I return later) the role of testimony in forming human knowledge has been underrated by Western philosophers. Hume is particularly at fault in this regard, Coady argues, because of the way in which he seeks to reduce testimony to direct perception. In so doing, he claims, Hume is guilty of a ‘conflation of personal and communal observation’. For Coady, there is ‘a fatal ambiguity’ in the use of terms like ‘experience’ and ‘observation’ in Hume’s discussion of testimony. As he puts it, [w]e are told by Hume that we only trust in testimony because experience has shown it to be reliable, yet where experience means individual observation and the expectations it gives rise to, this seems plainly false and, on the other hand, where it means common experience (i.e. the reliance upon the observations of others) it is surely question-begging.76

Coady’s fundamental objection to Hume’s picture of testimony is that it ‘supports an ideal of epistemic autonomy which is illusory.’77 The flaw in the idea of validating testimony by sense experience is that it presupposes that we already know what testimony might be independently of knowing that it is reliable. Ultimately, however, there is no going ‘outside’ testimony to find out if it is securely grounded, since the very language in which the reductive project is framed already presupposes its general reliability. This line of defence in discussions of testimony was not unknown to Enlightenment thinkers. Indeed, much of Coady’s critique of Hume echoes arguments made by George Campbell over two centuries earlier. Although Campbell considers Hume’s essay on miracles to be ‘one of the most dangerous attacks that have been made on our religion’, unlike many contemporary commentators he does not confine his critique of it to the claim that it fermented atheism.78 Instead, he attempts to engage the sceptic on his own ground, acknowledging in doing so that his own intellectual debts to Hume are so deep that if his counterargument has any force, then the greater share of its success ‘is perhaps to be ascribed to Mr Hume himself.’79 Nonetheless, Campbell’s arguments, based on the principle that there are ‘some original grounds of belief, beyond which our researches cannot proceed, and of which, therefore, it is vain to attempt a rational account’ bear the imprint of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society of which both he and Reid were members.80 Indeed, as Jeffrey Suderman argues, Campbell’s position on testimony is almost identical to that propounded by Reid in his Aberdeen logic class of 1763 and later in the Intellectual Powers of Man (1785). Accordingly, in refuting Hume, Campbell ‘followed [Reid’s] Common Sense maxim that we are obliged to believe testimony unless we have a compelling reason not to.’81 Hume’s mistake, according to 76 Coady, Testimony, pp. 80–1. 77 Coady, Testimony, p. 100. 78 George Campbell, A Dissertation on Miracles; Containing an Examination of the Principles Advanced by David Hume, Esq. in An Essay on Miracles, 3rd ed. (1796), p. vii. 79 Campbell, Dissertation, p. viii. 80 Campbell, Dissertation, p. 14. 81 Jeffrey M. Suderman, Orthodoxy and Enlightenment: George Campbell in the Eighteenth Century (2001), p. 171.

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Campbell, is to suppose that where testimony conflicts with experience, ‘the presumption is against the testimony’, where in fact human nature allows ‘the strongest presumption in favour of the testimony, till properly refuted by experience.’82 Like Coady, Campbell’s main argument against Hume is that he ‘avails himself of an ambiguity in the word experience’ that permits him to equivocate on the distinction between private and public perception. He points out that, by Hume’s own arguments, the only possible ground of knowledge lies in the uniformity of human experience. However, since such uniformity can only ‘be derived to us from testimony’, by invoking the standard of universality, Hume effectively, if covertly, appeals to the authority of attested collective experience.83 Hume’s sceptical arguments, however, are not as straightforward as this account of his ‘Reductive’ position on testimony would have us believe; nor are they sweepingly dismissive of testimonial evidence. His target in the essay on miracles is not reasoning built upon testimony per se, but the use of testimony to validate truths that surpass reason. Having first established the unreliability of scriptural testimony, Hume refuses to follow Tillotson and other Protestant divines, who infer from this insufficiency that scriptural knowledge needs to be supplemented by revelatory apprehension of supernatural truths. Instead, Hume’s more pragmatic assessment is that the sceptical maxim regarding experience established in the Treatise to the effect that ‘no objects have any discoverable connexion together’ applies with equal force to ‘human testimony, whose connexion with any event seems, in itself, as little necessary as any other.’84 Hume’s main point here is that evidence from testimony in general is neither more nor less reliable than the evidence of the senses—and, indeed, that what we are told will often be overruled by what we see. In truth, there was nothing particularly radical about this claim at the time. By arguing that evidence from testimony is subject to the same sceptical doubt as evidence from induction, Hume was merely rehearsing the eighteenth-century ­truism that there is no difference in principle between the way we rely upon our ‘direct’ experience and the way we trust accounts of other people’s experiences.85 Indeed, lurking within his claim that the connection between testimony and reality is as ‘little necessary’ as that between our ideas and reality is the sceptical insight that our perception of causes is itself (in more than just a metaphorical sense) a testimony of the senses. From this perspective, direct and indirect experience occupy similar points on the truth spectrum in that both involve a level of trust. In this respect, as David Norton puts it, testimony for Hume is ‘subject to the same limitations as our causal reasoning. There is no necessary connection between attestation and fact.’ Attestations are, in other words, ‘simply another kind of experience.’86 82 Campbell, Dissertation, p. 13. 83 Campbell, Dissertation, p. 38. 84 Hume, Enquiries, p. 111. 85  See  M.A.  Stewart, ‘Hume’s Historical View of Miracles’, Hume and Hume’s Connexions, eds. M.A. Stewart and John P. Wright (1994), p. 176. Stewart notes that the idea that believers in miracles are ‘relying on testimony which, though fallible, is as secure as our condition requires is a commonplace of the period.’ 86 Norton, David Hume, p. 289.

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When approached in this way, Hume’s account of testimony appears less wedded to the idea that the epistemic value of testimonial evidence can be reduced without remainder into the language of impressions and ideas. The main problem with the reductionist readings of Campbell and Coady is that they assume that Hume adopts a fundamentally Lockean, corpuscularian idea of experience as the representation of reality through mediating mental particles. And yet, as we have seen, Hume is quite explicit in conceiving ‘experience’ as both social and experimental. Indeed, if we assume that Hume remained fully committed to phenomenalism, then it becomes difficult to explain how he ever managed to progress beyond the sceptical despair with which he brought down the curtain on the first book of the Treatise. By the time Hume wrote the two Enquiries, it would have been obvious to most of his readers that his discovery of the constitutive nature of custom and habit in the formation of human knowledge had led him to abandon the project of reducing coherent experience to sensory inputs. Once social custom is established as the precondition for the formation of empirical knowledge, the fundamental dichotomy between beliefs based on testimony and those grounded in experience is removed. Thus, as Peter Jones has persuasively argued, Hume’s line of inquiry in the Treatise and the Enquiries led him to the conclusion that the ‘question of testimony . . . is central to any attempt to deal with scepticism.’87 Rather than remaining stranded between corpuscularian empiricism and communal experience then, Hume settles upon an active, social experimentalism, according to which, following Montaigne, experience is conceived as inherently essayistic. As I discuss in Chapter  4, Montaigne’s significance for Hume in this regard contrasts with his influence on Hume’s contemporary, Rousseau: while Rousseau inherits Montaigne’s inward turn towards the self and nature, Hume inherits the latter’s ironic attitude to human experience and extends this into the public realm. Reductionist interpretations of Hume fail to register this dimension of his thought because they tend to underplay the importance of irony in his scepticism. However, as Parker argues, in Hume the practice of scepticism ‘maps readily onto the . . . habitually self-conscious or ironic employment of public modes of discourse’ in such a way that nature itself cannot be articulated ‘without a certain literary play of irony.’88 The social irony in Hume’s scepticism suggests that, contrary to Campbell and Coady, the merging of private and public experience in Hume’s thought is not an equivocation, but a central component of his argument. Indeed, ‘experience’ for Hume is always already bound up with what Peter Jones describes as ‘the social nature of man, the public nature of discourse, the requirement of truth or at least trust in communication, [and] the nature of language.’89 This dependence of experience upon communication means not only that testimony assumes a significance in Hume that belies ‘reductionist’ readings of his work, but also that the performance of communicative acts takes on a crucial role in establishing and maintaining the social ties that sustain the economy of knowledge. Ultimately, for Hume, the possession of knowledge presupposes an engagement 87 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 56. 89 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 163.

88 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 50.

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with the ethical norms that are embedded within social relations. As Baier notes, ‘[w]hen Hume opposed rationalism in ethics, it was reason as nature-representer that he dethroned, in favor of corrected sentiments and reflectively approved customs and conventions.’90 As the image of reason as ‘nature-representer’ declines in favour of an image of thought based in habit, custom, and convention, so the ethics of knowledge, in the shape of trustworthiness, acquire a new prominence. Since experience presupposes testimony, it also involves the virtue of trustworthiness. Hume’s position here has modern echoes in the work of John Hardwig, who argues that ‘if much of our knowledge rests on trust in the moral character of testifiers, then knowledge depends on morality and epistemology also requires ethics. In order to qualify as knowledge (or even as rational belief ), many epistemic claims must meet ethical standards.’91 The implicit bonds of trust that enable discourse, Hume recognizes, are not always rational or voluntary, but emerge gradually, and then only against the background conditions of a healthy civil society. Similarly, at the heart of Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments is the idea that the trustworthiness that supports the web of belief is sustained within the context of a culture in which social virtues exist to the extent that they are performed. By resting the authority of the moral sentiments upon the imaginative theatre in which ‘the testimony of the supposed impartial spectator, of the great inmate of the breast’ is delivered to the moral conscience, Smith, like Hume, establishes the interdependence of social trust and trustworthiness on one hand and the performance of virtue on the other.92 It is for this reason that Hume stresses the importance of what is implied in, or presupposed by behaviour, rather than what is expressly stated; in other words, he emphasizes the priority in human affairs of conventions and the tacit assumptions of everyday intercourse over contracts and formal agreements. Crucially, Hume’s analysis in the Treatise of promises suggests that, despite being epistemologically questionable, promises qua speech acts retain a value insofar as they are ‘requisite to beget mutual trust and confidence in the common offices of life.’93 As Baier notes, this account of promises places Hume at the start of a line of philosophers, including J.L. Austin, John Searle, and Elizabeth Anscombe, who treat such locutions as communicative acts ‘whereby one alters the moral situation. One does not merely represent some possible state of affairs, one brings it about.’94 In the 1946 essay ‘Other Minds’, for example, Austin likens the ethical component of promises to that of providing testimony. For instance, [i]f someone has promised me to do A, then I am entitled to rely on it, and can myself make promises on the strength of it: and so, where someone has said to me ‘I know’, I am entitled to say I know too, at second hand. The right to say ‘I know’ is transmissible, in the sort of way that other authority is transmissible.95

Significantly, however, this ‘authority’ is transmitted not through an explicit agreement, but according to the tacit background assumptions that render communication possible in the first place. 90 Baier, Postures, p. 177. 91  Hardwig, ‘Role of Trust’, p. 708. 92 Smith, Moral Sentiments, p. 134. Emphasis added. 93 Hume, Treatise, pp. 522, 543. 94 Baier, Postures, p. 174. 95 J.L. Austin, Philosophical Papers, 3rd ed. (1979), p. 100.

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Hume discusses these conventions in the Treatise while examining the nature of property, and specifically that ‘convention enter’d into by all the members of the society to bestow stability on the possession of those external goods, and leave every one in the peaceable enjoyment of what he may acquire by his fortune and industry.’96 Arguing against the Lockean picture of an original social contract, Hume proposes that this convention arises without the need for formal settlement, ‘since the actions of each of us have a reference to those of the other, and are perform’d upon the supposition, that something is to be perform’d on the other part.’ Thus, [t]wo men, who pull the oars of a boat, do it by an agreement or convention, tho’ they have never given promises to each other. . . . In like manner are languages gradually establish’d by human conventions without any promise. In like manner do gold and silver become the common measures of exchange, and are esteem’d sufficient payment for what is of a hundred times their value.97

Seen this way, trust is the precondition, and not the product of promises; while the former exists (indeed, flourishes) in the absence of the latter, the speech act of promising cannot be performed successfully in circumstances where trust has not already been established. The example of the rowers illustrates the mutually reinforcing relationship between trust and the performance of certain kinds of action. Indeed, on Hume’s account, discourse and knowledge are ‘gradually establish’d by human conventions without any promise.’ Rather than reason and judgement, then, it is trust and intersubjectivity that keep experience afloat and science moving forward. It is worth pausing to consider an objection to this position. For some, reliance on trust as a precondition of a socially based truth smacks of bad faith. This brings us back to the ‘doubleness of stance’ that Parker attributes to both Hume and Rorty.98 In Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Rorty rejects the Platonic-Christian conception of the identical springs of ‘private fulfilment and human solidarity’, arguing that it is pointless to try and reconcile the two.99 Instead, he maintains, private aesthetic self-creation and public justice should be treated as different kinds of tools, ones which are ‘as little in need of synthesis as are paintbrushes and crowbars.’100 Accordingly, like Hume’s Academic sceptic, Rorty’s ironist leads a life divided between private irony and social solidarity, or ‘liberal hope’. Indeed, it could be argued that some of the criticisms levelled in recent years at Rorty’s ironism apply with equal force to Hume’s attempt to settle for a life divided between the psychological certainties of everyday thought and the epistemological doubt of the study.101 Bernard Williams, for example, cautions against dividing theory and 96 Hume, Treatise, p. 488. 97 Hume, Treatise, p. 490. 98 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 2. 99 Rorty, Contingency, p. xii. 100 Rorty, Contingency, p. xiv. 101  Rorty’s separation of private and public selves is one of the most debated aspects of his work. For example, Nancy Fraser, in ‘Solidarity or Singularity? Richard Rorty between Romanticism and Technocracy’, Consequences of Theory, eds. Jonathan Arac and Barbara Johnson (1991), p. 96, claims that the struggle between a liberal pragmatism and the Romantic ‘impulse that thrills to the sublimity of metaphor’, is never satisfactorily resolved in Rorty’s thought. Similarly, Kathleen Wheeler accuses

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practice in dealing with trust, arguing that it is not enough that any putative account of trust and trustworthiness is non-reductive; it must also be able to avoid becoming ‘unstable under reflection’. Bearing this in mind, it could be argued that Hume, like Rorty, plays fast and loose with the very social conventions that make his scepticism possible. To treat ideas of trust, trustworthiness, and sincerity as the preconditions of the very reflective thought processes that cast doubt upon them is to run the risk of undermining the same language game that keeps trust, and thought, intact. For Williams, this means that ‘[t]hose who treat it [i.e. trustworthiness] as having an intrinsic value must themselves be able to make sense of it as having an intrinsic value.’102 Hume’s failure (or unwillingness) to do this means that his ‘double life’ solution to scepticism might appear as what Eagleton describes as ‘a carefully cultivated false consciousness.’103 Is Hume guilty of a performative contradiction, of speaking of trust with a forked tongue? The answer to this is ‘yes’ only if one accepts the model of self-consistency assumed by Williams. Williams’ preferred way of formulating such consistency is to claim that any definition of trust needs to be one that remains stable ‘under reflection’. When put to this test, Hume’s ironism might appear to fail it. However, Williams’ account leaves open the question of what constitutes ‘reflection’. Hume himself distinguishes between the immediate and instinctive ‘reflexive’ impressions that are ‘copied by memory and the imagination’ from impressions of sensation, and the reflective (voluntary critical and speculative) exercises of reason.104 Although, unlike Reid, he allows that belief can be shaped by the latter, critical ‘reflection’ for Hume offers no transcendent perspective upon everyday thought. Indeed, as he maintains in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ‘philosophical decisions are nothing but the reflections of common life, methodized and corrected.’105 Moreover, since ‘wherever we go, whatever we reflect on or converse about, everything still presents us with the view of human happiness or misery, and excites in our Rorty in Romanticism, Pragmatism and Deconstruction (1994), p. 280, of having ‘gotten stuck’ in the very dualism between individual and community that his mentor Dewey managed to avoid. See also Sterling Lynch, ‘Romantic Longings, Moral Ideals, and Democratic Priorities: On Richard Rorty’s Use of the Distinction Between the Private and the Public’, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15, no. 1 (2007), p. 104. Lynch argues that the private/public separation is unnecessary and inconsistent with the rest of Rorty’s thought, since ‘without the brute application of equal, competing, and a priori claims about moral priority, Rorty’s moral problem will not arise.’ For a defence of Rorty’s distinction, see Günter Leypoldt, ‘Uses of Metaphor: Richard Rorty’s Literary Criticism and the Poetics of World-Making’, New Literary History 39, no. 1 (2008), p. 156. Leypoldt defends the distinction on the grounds that it is not a dichotomy. On the contrary, he claims, for Rorty, sublime ‘literary worldmaking’ and ‘the sort of empathetic identification that encourages human solidarity’ are ‘noncompetitive goods that should not be ranked within a single hierarchy of literary or narrative functions’. 102 Williams Truth, p. 91. Williams’ own proposed route out of this dilemma is by way of a genealogical method which acknowledges that ‘at a certain point philosophy needs to make way for history, or, as I prefer to say, to involve itself in it’ (p. 93). 103 Eagleton, Ideology, p. 48. As Eagleton sees it, this produces the contradiction that while ‘the philosopher is an anti-social monstrosity precisely because he reduces ideas to social practices’, society itself remains ‘remorselessly metaphysical, gullibly convinced that its opinions have some unimpeachable basis’. 104 Hume, Treatise, p. 7. 105 Hume, Enquiries, p. 162.

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breast a sympathetic movement of pleasure or uneasiness’, there is no possibility of abstracting rational thought from our affective habits of mind.106 As Annette Baier argues, because Hume considers the passions to be intrinsically reflective, reflection itself can only ever be immanent, a turning of sentiment upon sentiment.107 From a Humean point of view, Williams’ notion of reflection qua consistency is a chimera: fundamentally, reflective stability involves not logical uniformity, but emotional equilibrium. There is a more fundamental point here, however. Unlike Williams, Hume does not regard the maintenance of reflective stability as the prerogative of individual consciousness. Instead, one of the most important lessons of Hume is that the only ultimate benchmark for reflection is the reflective sentiment of a community. Consequently, the trust that underwrites sociability is as essential to philosophical reflection as it is to everyday reasoning. As Baier points out, for Hume there is no divine or ‘I’-centred perspective that trumps the virtuous circularity of reflection based upon dialogue between persons. Consequently, she asks when we ask [w]hy should we regard what we collectively, with as much information as we can get, prefer to prefer as our values!’ a fair answer seems to be ‘What else could they be?’ We have no resources other than our own evaluations and can do no more to revise lower-level evaluations than to repeat our evaluative operations at even higher, more informed, and more reflective levels.108

In this way, as Baier observes, in Hume’s hands epistemology ‘becomes subject to the test of moral and cultural reflection . . . . After Hume, the natural pairing becomes “passion and reflection,” or “the moral sentiment and reflection.” ’109 Indeed, one might go further and argue that Hume’s emphasis on the pragmatic, playful, and performative dimensions of human communication and his reliance upon trusting intersubjectivity as the transcendental condition of empirical knowledge raises the question of how meaningful the term ‘epistemology’ is when applied to his work.110 R E I D A N D S T E WA RT: P H I L O S O P H I Z I N G T RU S T For Hume, the need for trust in matters of knowledge and morality highlights the limitations of speculative philosophy in providing a guide to living a good life. By contrast, the pragmatics of communication and sociability constitute, in effect, a practical critique of reason. In Reid’s thought, however, philosophy seeks to incorporate the non-rational dynamics of trust within its proto-pragmatic explanatory framework, although for Reid this is possible only on the condition that philosophy abandons the language of passive representationalism and ‘ideas’ in favour of active and intuitive common sense. Reid’s argument regarding the principle of ‘prescience’ 106 Hume, Enquiries, p. 221. 107  Baier, ‘Hume’, p. 25. 108  Baier, ‘Hume’, p. 27. 109  Baier, ‘Hume’, p. 25. 110  See also Read, ‘In Closing’, p. 189: Read questions ‘the extent to which Hume is usefully regarded as an epistemologist of any hue’.

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in human thought is crucial in promoting the epistemological status of testimony in his work. The most decisive claim that Reid makes in connection with the relationship between trust and knowledge, however, occurs in Intellectual Powers, where he expands upon the Inquiry’s claim that perception is fundamentally interpretive by arguing that sense presupposes judgement, and that judgement, in turn, presupposes testimony. Both here and in Active Powers, Reid’s treatment of testimony, trust, and fidelity is informed by his conviction that human intellectual functioning is based upon ‘the social intercourse of mankind.’111 By inverting the priority between private and public acts of intellection, Reid, like Hume, suggests that the elementary presuppositions of knowledge are not rooted in consciousness, but developed through intersubjective relationships. Underpinning these relationships, once again, is trust. Reid argues that, since the ultimate basis of the human constitution is a mystery, our knowledge of the world and of other people must be taken on trust. Indeed, from an epistemological perspective, trust is even more fundamental than consciousness. Early in the Inquiry, he makes a connection between trusting behaviour and the principles of common sense. Given that no man can prove that his consciousness may not deceive him, he argues, every human being is ‘determined, by the constitution of his nature, to give implicit belief to it, and to laugh at, or pity the man who doubts its testimony.’ Indeed, he asks, ‘is not every man, in his wits, as much determined to take his existence upon trust as his consciousness?’112 As Keith Lehrer notes, by replacing a private and representational model of reason with a social and communicative one, Reid redraws the boundaries of knowledge, centralizing the issue of trust within a holistic conception of the human intellect. On Reid’s account, he continues, ‘[i]f we do not trust the first principles of our faculties, then we should not trust reason or consciousness . . . . Our faculties are, Reid admits, fallible, but we must trust all our faculties or none at all as our starting point in philosophy.’113 For Reid, moreover, trust in our consciousness and trust in others are both rooted in our faith in God. This conviction stems from Reid’s providential naturalism: we instinctively trust God for the same reason we instinctively trust our parents and friends. Indeed, the most obvious way of framing the differences between Hume and Reid on trust is to contrast Reid’s providential naturalism, which prioritizes faith, with Hume’s normative naturalism, which bases itself upon trust in other human beings. Tellingly, Reid declares in the Essays on the Active Powers of Man that the ‘genuine dictate of our natural faculties is the voice of God, no less than what he reveals from heaven; and to say that it is fallacious is to impute a lie to the God of truth.’114 He had already used this argument in the 111 Reid, Active Powers, p. 449. 112 Reid, Inquiry, p. 15. 113  Keith Lehrer, ‘Beyond Impressions and Ideas: Hume vs Reid’, The ‘Science of Man’ in the Scottish Enlightenment: Hume, Reid and their Contemporaries, ed. Peter Jones (1989), p. 122. Similarly, in another essay from this volume, ‘ “Pray What Language did your Wild Couple Speak, When First they Met?”—Language and the Science of Man in the Scottish Enlightenment’, p. 158, Rüdiger Schreyer claims that for Reid, ‘[s]ocial intercourse is based on the principles of fidelity on the one hand, and trust and reliance on the other.’ 114 Reid, Active Powers, p. 312.

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Inquiry when he claimed that the most basic principle of human knowledge must itself be beyond explanation: How or when I got such first principles, upon which I build all my reasoning, I know not . . . but I am sure they are parts of my constitution, and that I cannot throw them off. That our thoughts and sensations must have a subject, which we call ourself, is not therefore an opinion got by reasoning, but a natural principle . . . . The belief of it, and the very conception of it, are equally parts of our constitution. If we are deceived in it, we are deceived by Him that made us, and there is no remedy.115

Reid’s basic point here is that Hume’s sceptical doubt is not merely irreligious, it is also futile: we trust our experience ultimately because we are compelled to trust in ‘Him that made us.’ Reid raises the profile of social trust further in an important section later in the Inquiry, where, once again, he draws an analogy between the way in which we treat the testimony of our senses in perception and the credit we give to human testimony. For Reid, these two processes are analogous: accordingly, ‘[i]n the testimony of nature given by the senses, as well as in human testimony given by language, things are signified to us by signs: and in one as well as the other, the mind, either by original principles or by custom, passes from the sign to the conception and belief of the things signified.’116 Reid’s allusion to ‘original principles’ and ‘custom’ as the two means by which the mind arrives at belief derives from his distinction between, on one hand, ‘original’ perception and ‘natural’ language (in which the sign suggests the thing signified and creates the belief of it immediately and instinctively) and, on the other, ‘acquired’ perception and ‘artificial’ language (in which the same connection is discovered only through experience).117 In the case of the latter, however, Hume’s sceptical problem remains to be dealt with, since, as Reid concedes, ‘all experience is of the past, and can, of itself, give no notion or belief of what is future.’118 It is in attempting to block this doubt that Reid offers his account of ‘prescience’. The idea of prescience, already mentioned briefly in Chapter 2, plays a much greater role in Reid’s thought than its belated appearance in the Inquiry might suggest. In Section XXIV of Chapter 4, entitled ‘Of the Analogy between Perception, and the Credit We Give to Human Testimony’, Reid introduces the notion of prescience as a naturalistic way of accounting for our expectation that our experience of both nature’s laws and the uses of language by others will continue to follow law-like or at least comprehensible patterns. Thus, the very predisposition, ‘neither derived from experience, nor from reason, nor from any compact or promise’, to interpret other people and the world through signs becomes, for Reid, the basis of our linguistics of experience. As such, it is ‘an original principle of the human constitution, without which we should be incapable of language, and consequently incapable of instruction.’119 As Reid discovers, the principle of prescience is based upon two human instincts. The first of these is what Reid sees as the natural tendency to be truthful, reflecting ‘a propensity to speak truth, and to use the signs of 115 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 141–2. 117  See Reid, Inquiry, p. 421. 119 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 427–8.

116 Reid, Inquiry, p. 421. 118 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 426–7.

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language, so as to convey our real sentiments.’ ‘Truth’, he continues, ‘is always uppermost, and is the natural issue of the mind.’120 Being deceitful and dishonest, by contrast, ‘is doing violence to our nature.’121 The counterpart of the human propensity to be truthful is a natural tendency ‘to confide in the veracity of others, and to believe what they tell us.’122 These two instincts constitute respectively ‘the principle of veracity’ and ‘the principle of credulity.’123 Without them, Reid claims, we would barely be able to communicate with each other, since we could ‘take no man’s word until we had positive evidence that he spoke truth.’124 Indeed, as he later observes in Active Powers, ‘[w]ithout fidelity and trust, there can be no human society.’125 Moreover, it is not only in our dealings with other persons that we rely upon prescience. Reid agrees with Hume that ‘our belief of the continuance of nature’s laws is not derived from reason.’ However, rather than attributing this belief to custom and habit, as Hume does, Reid traces it to the same instinct that enables us to communicate: It is an instinctive prescience of the operations of nature, very like to that prescience of human actions which makes us rely upon the testimony of our fellow-creatures; and as, without the latter, we should be incapable of receiving information from men by language; so, without the former, we should be incapable of receiving the information of nature by means of experience.126

As Reid reminds his reader, since all our knowledge beyond bare, ‘original’ perception is gained via experience, and thus by ‘the interpretation of natural signs’, our reliance upon ‘the continuance of the connections which experience hath discovered’ is essential to forming and sustaining the web of belief.127 When applied to nature, our anticipatory instinct, which Reid dubs ‘the inductive principle’, forms the basis of our understanding of natural laws, and in particular ‘that axiom upon which all our knowledge of nature is built, That effects of the same kind must have the same cause.’128 In Reid’s hermeneutics of experience, then, sincerity and charity in interpretation become the mutually sustaining pragmatic preconditions not only of our ability to comprehend and communicate with other people, but also of our ability to understand the world around us.129 Reid adds further detail to his account of testimony and trust in Intellectual Powers. Once again, his discussion is informed by the assumption that the mind in the act of perception is interpretative rather than receptive, and that, consequently, sense itself presupposes an act of judgement. In Intellectual Powers, Reid emphatically rejects the passivity and neutrality of the Lockean intellect: ‘modern Philosophers’, he notes, ‘consider sense as a power that has nothing to do with judgement. Sense they consider as the power by which we receive certain ideas or impressions from 120 Reid, Inquiry, p. 428. 121 Reid, Inquiry, p. 429. 122 Reid, Inquiry, p. 430. 123 Reid, Inquiry, p. 431. 124 Reid, Inquiry, p. 431. 125 Reid, Active Powers, p. 453. 126 Reid, Inquiry, p. 441. 127 Reid, Inquiry, p. 441. 128 Reid, Inquiry, p. 442. 129  As Lehrer notes in Thomas Reid (1989), p. 73, however, while for Reid the analogy between the testimony of others and the testimony of sense is close, there remains an ‘important difference’ between the two. Whereas our trust in testimony is weakened as we grow older, our trust in natural signs is confirmed by ‘the uniformity and constancy of the laws of nature’.

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objects; and judgement as the power by which we compare those ideas.’ Against this picture, Reid argues that no sensory perception is judgement-free: ‘in common language, sense always implies judgement. A man of sense is a man of judgement . . . . Common sense is that degree of judgement which is common to men with whom we can converse and transact business.’130 This notion of conversing and transacting business is integral to Reid’s theory of judgement in Intellectual Powers. In the section ‘Of Social Operations of the Mind’, Reid distinguishes between the ‘social ’ and the ‘solitary’ functions of the mind and offers as examples of the former the acts of testifying and making a promise. Thus, when a man ‘asks information, or receives it; when he bears testimony, or receives the testimony of another . . . these are acts of social intercourse between intelligent beings, and can have no place in solitude.’ Such acts, Reid argues, presuppose ‘society with other intelligent beings.’131 It is worth noting again here that Reid’s common-sense critique of traditional views of this subject is informed by his providential naturalism. He criticizes philosophers for either ignoring the social intellect or attempting to reduce it to the workings of the solitary mind, noting that ‘in the divisions that have been made of the mind’s operations, the social have been omitted.’132 Against this tendency, he insists that ‘[t]he Author of our being intended us to be social beings, and has, for that end, given us social intellectual powers, as well as social affections. Both are original parts of our constitution, and the exertions of both are no less natural than the exertions of those powers that are solitary and selfish.’133 Crucial to Reid’s theory of the social intellect is his analysis of speech acts (I explore his theory of language in greater detail in Chapter 3). For Reid, language, like experience, is a form of social action. ‘All languages’, he claims, ‘are fitted to express the social as well as the solitary operations of mind. It may indeed be affirmed, that, to express the former, is the primary and direct intention of language.’134 By tracing testimony to the social powers of mind, Reid raises the question of whether a clear distinction between ‘private’ judgements and ‘public’ testimonies is always possible. In practice, he observes, such acts are linguistically indistinguishable, since ‘in all languages testimony and judgement are expressed by the same form of speech. A proposition affirmative or negative, with a verb in what is called the indicative mood, expresses both.’135 Indeed, Reid goes further by tracing the ­etymology of the word ‘judgement’ to a public tribunal and suggesting that judgement itself presupposes the social action of the mind, of which testimony constitutes an essential part: As a judge, after taking the proper evidence, passes sentence in a cause, and that ­sentence is called his judgement; so the mind, with regard to whatever is true or false, passes sentence, or determines according to the evidence that appears . . . . The analogy between a tribunal of justice and this inward tribunal of the mind, is too obvious to escape the notice of any man who ever appeared before a judge. And it is probable, that the word judgement, as well as many other words we use in speaking of this ­operation of mind, are grounded on this analogy.136 130 Reid, Intellectual Powers, pp. 519–20. 131 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 72. 132 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 74. 133 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 73. 134 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 73. 135 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 498. 136 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 499.

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Angela Esterhammer has insightfully compared Reid’s inversion of the priority of private judgements over public testimonies to J.L. Austin’s similar volte-face in his treatment of constatives and performatives at the end of How to Do Things with Words: thus, having initially assumed that judgement grounds testimony, Reid ‘goes on to imply that the social acts that take place in the conventional context of a courtroom are prior to the corresponding solitary acts.’137 In Esterhammer’s view, thought and perception are ‘solitary’ for Reid only in a derivative, metaphorical sense. Indeed, by suggesting that the solitary intellect presupposes the social intellect, Reid’s ostensibly realist appeal to common sense pulls him in the direction of what Peter Diamond aptly describes as ‘a socially constructed version of reality.’138 Sense presupposes judgement, and judgement in turn presupposes the public speech acts that require trust and testimony. As Reid declares in Active Powers, ‘[m]an would never acquire the use of reason if he were not brought up in the society of reasonable individuals.’139 This socialization of perception, according to C.A.J. Coady, challenges the traditional picture of testimony. According to this picture, ‘all knowledge by testimony is indirect or inferential. We know that p when reliably told that p because we make some inference about the reliability and sincerity of the witness.’ As Coady observes, Reid thinks that this is an inverted account of the true state of things, since normally we accept what we are told as reliable, ‘just as we accept “the testimony of our senses” or “the testimony of our memory” ’.140 Reid’s arguments did not go unnoticed in his own time, but nor did they generate the level of impact enjoyed by James Beattie’s celebrated An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth. This work presents many ideas that are similar to Reid’s, albeit with considerably less sophistication. In classifying our knowledge of ‘Things really existing’, Beattie distinguishes the act of judging existing states of affairs from our own experience (through sensation, memory, and inference) and that of judging ‘from the experience of other men’ through ‘the Evidence of  their Testimony’. Such interpersonal understanding, Beattie maintains, ‘is ­properly called Faith’, and its warrant, like that of personal experience, ranges in from ‘probable opinion’ to ‘absolute certainty.’141 Like Reid, Beattie sees no fundamental difference between trusting the testimony of one’s senses and the testimony of another individual. ‘To gain experience implies a belief in the evidence of sense, which reasoning cannot account for’, he observes, ‘and a propensity to credit testimony previous to experience of reasoning, is equally unaccountable.’142 The importance of ‘unaccountable’ trust within society appealed to many of Beattie’s contemporary reviewers, who were troubled by the morally corrosive effects of scepticism. In his review of Beattie’s Essay for the Scots Magazine in 1770, for example, Thomas Blacklock commends Beattie for observing that ‘if ultimate trust 137 Esterhammer, Romantic Performative, pp. 63–4. 138  Peter J. Diamond, ‘Rhetoric and Philosophy in the Social Thought of Thomas Reid’ Sociability and Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland, eds. John Dwyer and Richard B. Sher (1993), p. 59. 139 Reid, Active Powers, p. 114. 140 Coady, Testimony, pp. 122–3. 141 Beattie, Essay, p. 52. 142 Beattie, Essay, p. 66. On the same page, Beattie also rehashes Reid’s principle of veracity, claiming that ‘Man is naturally disposed to speak as he thinks.’

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in the suggestions of nature deserve the imputation of implicit faith, every doctrine is liable to the same objection; because it can be established only upon some intuitive principle.’143 What Blacklock does not acknowledge, however, is that here Beattie simply recycles Reid’s inductive principle, asserting that the ‘supposition’ or ‘presumption of continuance is the foundation of all our judgements concerning future events.’144 And yet, the problem with Beattie’s account is that he entirely eschews Reid’s hermeneutic account of experience, comparing common sense not to intuitive interpretation, but to ‘what the axioms of geometry are in respect to mathematics.’145 In doing so, he misses the main thrust and originality of Reid’s argument regarding the epistemological status of testimony. Underlying Reid’s vision of the grammar of experience is an anthropological account of human nature as naturally predisposed to interpret other people and the world through signs. As C.A.J. Coady notes, what makes Reid’s analogy between perception and testimony distinctive and suggestive is his claim that ‘both involve the operation of signs and that the signs operate in each case in similar ways.’146 Beattie’s ‘axiomatic’ model of common sense, by contrast, is more vulnerable to sceptical interrogation. For some modern critics, indeed, Reid’s treatment of trust and testimony casts doubt upon the standard view of his work as philosophically foundationalist. When read from the perspective of the operations of the ‘social’ intellect, Reid’s principles of knowledge are not just non-rational, they also dictate that experience consists in interpreting the world in ways that depend upon trusting relationships with other people. For Nicholas Wolterstorff, for instance, Reid is ‘a metaphysical realist who was also, in his own way, an antifoundationalist.’147 Indeed, Wolterstorff argues, because of the fundamental role in his thought of ungrounded trust, Reid is ‘one of the great antirationalists’; by comparison, Hume ‘was one of the great rationalists.’148 This is probably going too far. As I have argued, despite attacking some of the pretensions of philosophy, Reid remained equivocal about whether common-sense thinking represented the foundation or the termination of philosophy. Thus, at certain points in the Inquiry, Reid suggests that philosophy’s ills are so deeply rooted that it might be best to dispense with the discipline once and for all, as when he declares that ‘I despise Philosophy, and renounce its guidance: let my soul dwell with Common Sense.’149 At other times, however, he presents his work as an attempt to place philosophy on a surer footing, such as when he criticizes the ‘genius’ for disdaining ‘the mean offices of digging for a foundation’ and claims that ‘Philosophy . . . has no other root but the principles of Common Sense.’150 This ambivalence would later puzzle Stewart and Kant, who found Reid’s work lacking in logical rigour. As Daniel Robinson argues, Stewart probably overestimated the commitment to systematic philosophy in Reid, whose ‘lifelong inquiry 143 Thomas Blacklock, ‘Observations on Mr. Beattie’s Essay on Truth, lately published. In a ­letter to G.C. Esq.’, Scottish Common Sense Philosophy: Sources and Origins, ed. James Fieser, vol. 3 (2000), p. 123. 144 Beattie, Essay, pp. 124, 141. 145 Beattie, Essay, pp. 140, 148. 146 Coady, Testimony, p. 120. 147 Wolterstorff, Thomas Reid, p. x. 148 Wolterstorff, Thomas Reid, p. 260. 149 Reid, Inquiry, p. 18. 150 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 12, 20.

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culminated in his famous Essays, not in a theory, a school or, alas, a “system.” ’151 And yet, for all his later forays into essayism, Reid remained unwilling to forego scientific method in favour of literary improvisation. His adherence to a foundational model of human experience and thought meant that, in the face of philosophical scepticism, Reid was not prepared to settle, as Hume had done, for trusting communication as a basis for truth. Instead, he continued to maintain that the epistemologically constitutive role of testimony must be framed within an apodictic account of natural (that is, divinely ordained) human functioning, rather than Hume’s custom-based intercourse of sentiments. As Diamond observes, by identifying a specifically social faculty of mind, ‘Reid was able to invest our “social intellectual” faculties with a legitimacy that was lacking in Hume’s account of the “artificial” virtues.’152 It is this idea of truth as a natural social instinct, underpinned by the principles of veracity and credulity, that is later reformulated by Stewart in the Elements as an essential part of the ‘stamina’ of human reason.153 Stewart’s own position on testimony is very close to that of Reid. Like his mentor, he accepts the independent validity of testimony as a basis for rational thought. Indeed, in a footnote in the Elements he goes so far as to claim that ‘[b]y far the greater part . . . of what is commonly called experimental knowledge, will be found, when traced to its origin, to resolve entirely into our confidence in the judgment and the veracity of our fellow-creatures; nor . . . has this identification of the evidence of testimony with that of experience, the slightest tendency to affect the legitimacy of our inductive conclusions.’154

In addition, Stewart accepts Reid’s inductive principle as the axiomatic truth without which rational thought and communication would be impossible. For example, in writing of empirical reasoning in the Elements, Stewart cites with approval Reid’s establishment of ‘the inductive principle’ upon a constitutional ‘belief in the permanent uniformity of physical laws.’155 He agrees that the presumption of an orderly universe necessary for everyday thought is not itself a principle of reason but is instead an instinctive belief of human nature, or ‘that irresistible propensity to believe in the permanent order of physical events, which seems to form an original principle of the human constitution; a belief essential to our existence in the world which we inhabit, as well as the foundation of all physical science.’156 For Stewart, the roots of this propensity lie, once again, in our natural tendency to trust others. Touching on Reid’s establishment of a connection between the inductive principle and communication, he notes that ‘our expectation of the continuance of the laws of nature has a very close affinity to our faith in human testimony.’157 On this picture, without trust, communication and language are impossible, and without language, knowledge is inconceivable. Like Reid, Stewart believes that this account explains why children in the process of acquiring language rely so much upon testimony. In the ‘uniformity in the 151  Robinson, ‘Reid’s Critique’, p. 414. 153 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 44. 155 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 247. 157 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 176.

152 Diamond, Ideology, p. 302. 154 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 323. 156 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 169.

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laws which regulate the order of physical events’, he observes, ‘there is something extremely similar in the systematical regularity . . . which, in every language . . . runs through the different classes of its words, in respect of their inflections, forms of derivation, and other verbal filiations or affinities.’158 For both thinkers, indeed, the ‘prescience’ of our elementary presuppositions regarding order and coherence is an adult outgrowth of an infant’s trust in the world and in others. As Stewart cautions, however, this can lead to problems where such trust is unwarranted and overextended. Accordingly, the inductive principle in children is strongly evinced by their disposition to push it a great deal too far, in their first attempts towards speech. This disposition seems to be closely connected with that which leads them to repose faith in testimony; and it also bears a striking resemblance to that which prompts them to extend their past experience to those objects and events of which they have not hitherto had any means of acquiring a direct knowledge.159

Because of this, he notes, ‘the instinctive principle is in the first instance unlimited, and requires for its correction and regulation, the lessons of subsequent experience.’160 Without the guidance of experience, there remains a danger that the childish propensities of our linguistic behaviour will anticipate order where there is none, running into a maze of metaphor and fiction. Thus, while the inductive principle remains foundational in human reasoning we obviously extend [it] far beyond the bounds authorized by sound philosophy, when we apply it, without any limitation, to that moral system . . . for the accommodation of which so many reasons entitle us to presume, that the material universe, with all its constant and harmonious laws, was purposely arranged.161

Indeed, Stewart suggests, it is ‘a hasty and injudicious application of the same belief, in anticipating the future course of human affairs’ that has been the cause of ‘a variety of popular superstitions, which have prevailed, in a greater or less degree, in all nations and ages.’162 Nonetheless, like many childhood intuitions, such instincts are not necessarily ill-founded. As Stewart adds, ‘[i]t must not, however, be imagined, that, in instances of this sort, the instinctive principle always leads us astray; for the analogical anticipations which it disposes us to form, although they may not stand the test of a rigorous examination, may yet be sufficiently just for all the common purposes of life.’163 Moreover, as I discuss in Chapter 3, Stewart, in contrast to Reid, does not believe that the effects of metaphor can be uprooted entirely from human thought: since all thought is structured by language, he claims, it will inevitably be affected by ambiguous terms. Like Jeremy Bentham, Stewart sees metaphor as unavoidable; it is how we treat figurative language in scientific and everyday discourse that determines whether our beliefs are warranted. Even here, such treatment will vary with context; thus, while the philosopher should avoid ‘analogical thinking’ as much as possible, it remains the task of the artist to exploit and explore it. 158 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, pp. 177–8. 160 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 176. 162 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 169.

159 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 178. 161 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 169. 163 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 176–7.

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By the late eighteenth century, some were attempting to reverse the Lockean project to wean men off ‘trust’ and ‘opinion moulded up betweene custome and Interest’. Increasingly, the status of trust and testimony shifted from being epistemologically dubious to forming part of the natural conditions necessary for thought itself. Even Samuel Johnson (not known for harbouring excessive trust in humanity) asserts in The Rambler 79 that ‘[w]hoever commits a fraud is guilty not only of the particular injury to him whom he deceives, but of the diminution of that confidence which constitutes not only the ease but the existence of society.’164 By basing rationality upon the social a priori of trust and communication rather than the privatized individuality enshrined in the Lockean consciousness, Hume exchanged a model of knowledge based upon the closeted drama of the punctual self for one founded in a civic theatre in which intersubjective exchange was regulated by the performance of social virtues. In Hume, this activity is conceived in Ciceronian and metaphilosophical terms, according to which ‘experience’ as improvised experiment raises the epistemological profile of testimony in ways that have since been underestimated. By contrast, the commonsensism of Reid and the anthropological transcendentalism of Stewart attempt to codify the trusting relationships upon which empirical knowledge depends within a Newtonian framework of intuitive and axiomatic truths. Here, the idea of sensation as the ‘given’ in experience is discarded in favour of a view of human experience in which, by turns, perception presupposes judgement, judgement requires testimony, and testimony depends upon social trust. Consequently, the ‘testimony of sense’ in Reid and Stewart is enshrined within a foundationalist philosophy of human knowledge. What these different accounts of the epistemology of trust have in common, nonetheless, is a clear image of rationality as dependent upon intersubjectivity. On this picture, the language of pure reason is replaced by an understanding that, at the private as well as the social level, truth depends upon our own truthfulness and trustworthiness as well as that of others. Indeed, to the extent that the strategies of the Scottish Enlightenment increasingly stress the epistemological importance of testimony, they prefigure the theories of communicative rationality expounded by twentieth-century post-analytical thinkers such as Wittgenstein and Davidson. In this respect, Coady’s observation that, for Davidson, ‘the complex, relatively sophisticated communication characteristic of language-users is only possible where the communicants share a good deal of their outlooks’ applies equally to Hume, for whom truth, society, and an individual’s beliefs take shape only through

164  Samuel Johnson, The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss, vol. 4 (1969), p. 55 (emphasis added): Johnson adds that ‘as it is necessary not to invite robbery by supineness, so it is our duty not to suppress tenderness by suspicion; it is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.’ See also Scott D. Evans, Samuel Johnson’s ‘General Nature’: Tradition and Transition in Eighteenth-Century Discourse (1999), p. 99: Evans notes that Johnson’s renowned scepticism was ‘not a philosophical indisposition to believe facts per se, but a hesitancy to trust people’.

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triangular relationships of interdependence.165 As Origgi notes, such a position entails that ‘a stance of trust . . . is part of the interpretive competence that grounds our capacities to understand, to learn how to communicate, and to cope with the complex social networks of knowledge that make us humans.’166 This pragmatic empiricism, centred around the notion of a functioning civil society, contrasts with the abstract universalism of the Enlightenment, and in particular the civic virtue theory of Rousseau, whose notion of the volunté général implies a regime of sincerity and public transparency that was inimical to the risky and negotiable aspects of social role play upon which trust depends: as Hume argues, social contracts do not guarantee trust, they presuppose it. In the absence of a metaphysical foundation, maintaining the economy of truth upon which knowledge rests necessitates that all citizens, especially members of the republic of letters, actively practice the virtues of tact and truthfulness. 165 Coady, Testimony, p. 154.

166  Origgi, ‘Trust’, p. 69.

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3 The Conversable Intellect I N T RO D U C T I O N In the preceding chapters, I suggested that Hume’s writing signals a subtle shift in the basic paradigms of empiricism, indeed, in the character of ‘philosophy’ as practised in eighteenth-century Britain. By testing representational psychology and its epistemological counterpart, the correspondence theory of truth, to their limits, Hume’s scepticism abandons the subject-centred model of mind presupposed by both models. Locke’s memorable image of the human intellect as a solitary ‘camera obscura’ was one in which the dichotomy of subject and object is mediated through corpuscularian units of experience, or ‘ideas’. Hume replaces this subject/object dichotomy with the language of intersubjectivity. Locating the preconditions of human knowledge in custom and habit, he exchanges a correspondence between ideas and the world for a correspondence between persons. Accordingly, whereas in Locke ‘experience’ is figured as private, phenomenal, and ‘given’, in Hume, experience becomes increasingly public, conversational, and experimental. One result of this shift is the abandonment of philosophy’s apodictic status, its commitment to sound procedure and seriousness, in favour of a conception of reflective thought as the negotiation of adjustments in rhetoric and consensus-building. Above all, Hume’s philosophy suggests, the social intellect was a trusting intellect: there is no fundamental difference between the reports of other persons and the testimony of the senses. In this chapter, I examine the role played by theories of language and rhetoric within this new, socialized empiricism. After Hume, the intersubjective and trusting intellect is increasingly seen as a communicative intellect. As Engell indicates, Hume’s mitigated scepticism is ‘experimental, experiential, practical’, hence his ‘emphasis on social give and take, on dialogue, conversation, sympathy, and openness.’1 On this picture, rational norms are viewed as determined by the contexts and conventions that govern linguistic interaction, rather than vice versa. Crucial to this gradual reversal of priorities between the cognitive and the communicative spheres is Hume’s discovery of the sensory poverty of language. For Hume, the phenomenal contents of our experience are insufficient for validating the referential contents of our words and sentences. He came to see that reference occurs within a context of empirical indeterminacy, or (to put it another way) linguistic overdetermination: in the absence of an empirical foundation, what regulates meaning are the conventions of 1 Engell, Committed Word, p. 78.

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human language. For Hume then, ‘meaning’, like ‘truth’, must pass beyond the realm of objectivity, through uncertainty, into the domain of custom and social habit: in other words, into the public arena of communication, trust, and virtue. Following Hume, theories about the relationship between language and reason tend to follow one of two pathways. In one, common-sense philosophers such as Reid and Stewart incorporate the communicative act into thought itself, hypostatizing language as a constitutive part of reason. In the other, linguistic radicals such as Jeremy Bentham reverse this process by dispersing ‘thought’ into its various communicative acts. It is the latter tendency, subordinating cognition to communication and resolving philosophy into rhetoric, that most fully registers and extends the impact of Hume’s work. For Hume and the other Homines Rhetorici of the age, rationality emerges through the routines of behaviour that underpin trusting acts of communication between civilized persons. Such acts represent not the consummation of reason (in the way that Romantic writers would later view certain communicative acts as the embodiment and fulfilment of imaginative power) but instead its precondition. At the same time, style and manner in conversation and writing assume a significance analogous to that of Kant’s categories of understanding: tact, courteousness, and a healthy dose of philosophical indifference become, in practical terms, the conditions of possibility for (social) knowledge. As I argue below, the epistemological centrality of manner to Hume’s understanding of the relationship between reason and communication explains his strikingly conservative and Ciceronian views on rhetoric. Without the structured civilities of discourse, the holistic balance of the delicate ecosystems of conversation and cognition risk being undermined. T H E S O C I A L I N T E L L E C T: H U M E AND REID ON LANGUAGE Like Kant, Hume did not develop an explicit theory of language, although he made a number of remarks and observations on the subject. One of the more celebrated of these comments arrives at the end of Section 2 of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Here, Hume notes that one of the reasons why people are often hoodwinked by philosophical jargon is that they too readily assume that well-established and familiar terms have definite meanings attached to them in the form of determinate ideas. However, since ideas are, by their very nature, faint and languid, and impressions and sensations are strong and vivid, Hume proposes that ‘[w]hen we entertain . . . any suspicion that a philosophical term is employed without any meaning or idea (as is but too frequent), we need but enquire, from what impression is that supposed idea derived? And if it be impossible to assign any, this will serve to confirm our suspicion.’2 The semantic thesis implied by this statement is what M.A. Box, borrowing a term from Jonathan Bennett, classes as ‘meaningempiricism’, that is, the thesis ‘that meaning can be determined by demanding the 2 Hume, Enquiries, p. 22.

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birth certification in experience of an idea.’3 Hume’s suggestion that the meanings of terms must be cashed out into the currency of sense-experience, and that by ‘bringing ideas into so clear a light we may reasonably hope to remove all dispute’, would have far-reaching repercussions. It would ultimately inspire attempts by logical positivists in the early twentieth century to establish sensation (through various forms of verification principle) as the semantic index of all scientific and philosophical discourse, an ambition crystallized in A.J. Ayer’s declaration that ‘[i]t is the philosopher’s business to give a correct definition of material things in terms of sensations.’4 And yet, Hume himself remained doubtful about the possibility of providing ‘correct’ definitions of things purely in terms of sense-experience. Indeed, he finally denies that meaning must ultimately rests upon non-linguistic entities, regardless of whether these entities are understood to be intellectual essences or the raw data of sensation. For Hume, thought presupposes conventions, and language itself is best understood as a set of conventions determined by and within social contexts. To support this claim, Hume appeals to Berkeley’s argument regarding the formation of abstract ideas. One of the paradoxes thrown up by Locke’s corpuscularian epistemology was the notion of an idea that was simultaneously particular and general, encompassing the qualities of the members of the class it represents while being, in Locke’s words, ‘all and none of these at once’. Since general ideas lack corresponding particular objects, they remain ‘Fictions and Contrivances of the Mind’, and therefore, Locke acknowledges, ‘marks of our Imperfection.’5 Berkeley had attempted to overcome the empirical problem of how a single abstract idea can contain within itself all possible variants and instances of the thing conceived. For Berkeley, Locke’s paradox exposes the fact that all of our knowledge is of particular things. The error that leads Locke to view general ideas as epistemologically suspect is that of supposing that that world can be divided into ‘primary’ (inherent) and ‘secondary’ (mind-dependent) qualities. This dualism can be seen to be both unnecessary and unhelpful, Berkeley maintains, once one grasps the full implications of the principle that to conceive of something is to have a sensation of that thing. If the esse of objects is percepi, then there is no fundamental difference, ­epistemologically, between ideas of general things and ideas of particular things.6 Particular ideas become general ideas simply through a process of nomination;

3 Box, Suasive Style, p. 67. 4 A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic, 2nd ed. (1990), p. 36. It remains doubtful whether Hume’s own position on meaning can accurately be described as verificationist. As Walter Ott points out, ‘classical’ verficationism, or the theory that any meaningful statement is either analytic or capable of being verified by possible experience, is concerned with future utility of propositions, not (as Hume is) with the origins of ideas in impressions. See ‘Hume on Meaning’, Hume Studies 32, no. 2 (2006), pp. 243–4. 5 Locke, Essay, p. 596. 6  See George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, eds. A.A. Luce and T.E. Jessop (1949), p. 42: Berkeley declares of objects that ‘[t]heir esse is percepi, nor is it possible they should have any existence, out of the minds of thinking beings which perceive them.’

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in other words, ‘an idea, which considered in itself is particular, becomes general, by being made to represent or stand for all other particular ideas of the same sort.’7 Hume considers this claim, as he puts it, ‘that all general ideas are nothing but particular ones, annexed to a certain term’ to be ‘one of the greatest and most valuable discoveries that has been made of late years in the republic of letters.’8 Less palatable, however, was Berkeley’s idealism, underpinned as it was by the assumption that all human perception is providentially supported by a ‘spirit infinitely wise, good and powerful.’9 Uncoupling Berkeley’s theory of abstraction from theology, Hume argues instead that abstract ideas are constructed through communicative contexts. By being attached to a word, individual ideas acquire a new signification, whereby a ‘particular idea becomes general by being annex’d to a general term; that is, to a term, which from a customary conjunction has a relation to many other particular ideas, and readily recalls them in the imagination.’10 By forging a close connection between reference and custom, Hume offers a naturalistic account of the meaning of general terms that extends the nascent pragmatism of Berkeley’s nominalism: now it is habit and convention, rather than raw sensation, that determines the meaningfulness or otherwise of general terms.11 Linguistic customs become for Hume what Baier describes as the ‘social roots of reason, roots from which it draws its nourishment and its powers.’12 In this way, Hume effectively recalibrates the basic relationship between language, thought, and reality, abandoning the Lockean view of language as a system of signs arbitrarily assigned to individual ideas in favour of one in which the conventions of language constitute part of the fabric of social contexts that determine rational thought. Crucial to Locke’s conception of the arbitrariness of language is his claim in Book III of the Essay that, since each person’s thoughts occur ‘all within his own Breast, invisible, and hidden from others’, such that none ‘can of themselves be made to appear’, the communication of thought ‘through some external sensible Signs’ is rendered necessary for the ‘Comfort, and Advantage of Society.’13 Through this move, Lockean semiotics establishes a fundamental tension between thought as a sequence of organized representations and language as an arbitrary array of signs, one that would dominate debates on the subject in Britain and in parts of mainland Europe for much of the following century.14 The impact of Locke’s account upon the development of language theory in the eighteenth century has been charted extensively since Hans Aarsleff’s The Study of Language in England, 1780–1860 appeared in 1967, and further exploration of this field falls outside the

7 Berkeley, Principles, p. 32. 8 Hume, Treatise, p. 17. 9 Hume, Treatise, p. 72. 10 Hume, Treatise, p. 22. 11  See Lia Formigari, Signs, Science, and Politics: Philosophies of Language in Europe 1700–1830 (1993), p. 29: As Formigari notes, ‘[t]he emancipation of language from its single function of translating mental contents was made easier for Berkeley by his metaphysical immaterialism. It enabled him to see language as fairly autonomous from its ontological referents: so much so that he was led to stress the multiplicity of pragmatic, non-referential uses of speech.’ 12 Baier, Progress, p. 282. 13 Locke, Essay, p. 405. 14  For a discussion of the impact of Locke’s idea of the arbitrariness of signs upon Romantic literature, see William Keach, Arbitrary Power: Romanticism, Language, Politics (2004).

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scope of the present study.15 There are two areas, however, where the question of Locke’s influence upon linguistics intersects with the interests of the present study: Language Origins Theory and Universal Grammar. Interest in Language Origins Theory (LOT) was driven by the question of whether it is possible to identify the epistemological problem of the foundation of reason with the historical problem of the origins of language. This issue was raised by Condillac’s Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (1746), which turned Lockean semiotics upon its head by arguing that reflection could be derived from sensation, and thus, contra Locke, that the connection of ideas (indeed, the development of human reason itself ) depended on the use of signs. As David Paxman notes, Condillac’s intervention exposed the ambivalence of Lockean empiricism in its treatment of language, leaving it ‘stranded between a conception of knowledge as manipulation of signs and a conception of knowledge as about something for which signs are only representatives and to which the mind has some other access apart from signs.’16 In turn, this uncertainty gave rise to what Rüdiger Schreyer has called the ‘glottogonic question’, a blanket term for eighteenth-century attempts to resolve ‘chicken-and-egg type’ conundrums, such as: ‘No language without reflection, no reflection without language’ and ‘No language without society, no society without language.’17 Dugald Stewart would later classify this intersection of epistemological and historical problems as ‘Theoretical or Conjectural History’, a field that combined narratives of scientific and cognitive development with imagined models of past, present, and future communities.18 Indeed, the immediate context for Stewart’s remarks was his discussion of Adam Smith’s own foray into LOT, the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages (1795), in which Smith deploys various historical hypotheses in order to support his argument that human thought and language evolved together. Smith’s narrative of the growth of language is mediated through an account of humanity’s progress through different stages of mental development, from primitive impersonal verbs and proper names to numbers, pronouns, and prepositions. As human thought became more complex, Smith argues, so language grew more abstract, a process that he likens to technological improvements in the manufacture of machinery. Accordingly, ‘language becomes 15  See Hans Aarsleff, The Study of Language in England, 1780–1860 (1967) and From Locke to Saussure: Essays on the Study of Language and Intellectual History (1982). See also Murray Cohen, Sensible Words: Linguistic Practice in England 1640–1785 (1977); Nicholas Hudson, ‘EighteenthCentury Language Theory’, Eighteenth-Century Life 20, no. 3 (1996), pp. 81–91; Stephen K. Land, The Philosophy of Language in Britain: Major Theories from Hobbes to Thomas Reid (1986); Matthew Lauzon, Signs of Light: French and British Theories of Linguistic Communication, 1648–1789 (2010). 16 David  B.  Paxman, ‘Language and Difference: The Problem of Abstraction in EighteenthCentury Language Study’, Journal of the History of Ideas 54, no. 1 (1993), p. 31. 17 Rüdiger Schreyer, ‘ “Pray what Language Did Your Wild Couple Speak, When First They Met?”—Language and the Science of Man in the Scottish Enlightenment’; Jones, Hume, p. 150. 18  Stewart coins the term ‘Theoretical History’ in his ‘Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D.’, which was included in the 1795 edition of Smith’s Essays on Philosophical Subjects. As Stewart explains, ‘in examining the history of mankind, as well as in examining the phenomena of the material world, when we cannot trace the process by which an event has been produced, it is often of importance to be able to show how it may have been produced by natural causes.’ (Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects, eds. W. Wightman and J. Bryce [1982], p. 293).

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more simple in its rudiments and principles, just in proportion as it grows more complex in its composition’; in a similar way, with successive improvements, ‘the machine becomes gradually more and more simple, and produces its effects with fewer wheels, and fewer principles of motion.’19 Smith’s narrative of abstraction and language as co-evolutionary processes was in turn challenged by Monboddo’s account of language as the invention of already advanced societies. Monboddo argues in Of the Origin and Progress of Language that ‘no part of Language, neither matter nor form, is natural to man, but the effect of acquired habit’, and that ‘this habit could not have been acquired, except by men living in political society.’20 For Monboddo, the true answer to the ‘glottogonic question’ lies in the primacy of civilized society: the origins of language can be found, he maintains, in the creative activities of human beings inhabiting organized social structures. And yet, as Stephen Land notes, Smith’s own account of linguistic ‘origins’ is not concerned with the invention of language per se; rather, it seeks to establish the ‘genetic order in which various syntactic features of language might have appeared.’21 Smith’s real aim in the Dissertation is to explain how, by using language, civilized man came to generalize about the world. Nonetheless, Smith’s theory fails to adequately negotiate the conflicting legacies of Locke and Condillac. As Land argues, Smith remains vague on whether abstraction is fundamentally a ‘conceptual’ or a ‘formal’ principle, whether it occurs in the mind or as a form of language, and whether it affects the development of language from the start or constitutes a later outgrowth.22 An earlier attempt to settle these questions had coalesced into the idea of a Universal Grammar, a program that dated back to John Wilkins’ An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668), which sought to establish a purified taxonomy and a philosophical grammar suitable for the new discourse of scientific enquiry. By the middle of the eighteenth century, Enlightenment thought had witnessed several attempts, from a range of philosophical positions, to establish a logical and universal basis to human language. The rationalist tendency, stemming from the work of the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonists and, more recently, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury’s Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711), was robustly defended by Shaftesbury’s nephew, James Harris. In his Hermes or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Universal Grammar (1751), Harris deploys Platonic machinery to defend the a priori basis of a Universal Language. For Harris, language consists of form and matter: ‘the Sound is as the Matter, common (like other Matter) to many different things’, and ‘the Meaning [is] that peculiar and characteristic Form, by which the Nature or Essence of Language becomes complete.’23 Since the highest form is immutable, 19 Smith, Essays, p. 223. Smith adds, however, that while ‘the simplification of machines renders them more and more perfect’, simplification in language leads to ‘prolixity’ in language, which ‘is less agreeable to the ear’. (224). 20  James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, Of the Origin and Progress of Language, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (1774), p. 677. 21 Land, Philosophy of Language, p. 135. 22 Land, Philosophy of Language, p. 158. 23 James Harris, Hermes or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Universal Grammar, 3rd ed. (1771), p. 315.

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Harris claims, the same applies to the highest form of language, given that ‘it is of these comprehensive and permanent Ideas, the genuine Perceptions of pure Mind, that Words of all Languages, however different, are all Symbols.’24 And yet, rationalist claims that there was a fundamental congruence between language and reason faced many challenges: defenders of Universal Grammar, for instance, continued to grapple with the problem of whether linguistic differences signified mental differences. Moreover, theories that attributed a logical basis to language were dogged by problematic cases in which certain logical operations appeared to depend upon grammatical principles, such as transitions in tense. At the same time, such accounts struggled to deal with the spectre of linguistic relativism and untranslatability between natural languages. As David Paxman puts it, ‘beginning with Locke, the problem of language difference became one of the most important issues of the study of language even when those who undertook such studies did not consider it central.’ Indeed, he adds, ‘it became a sort of problem of problems, manifesting itself in studies of language origins, comparative linguistics, and even political legitimacy.’25 Conventionalist theorists, meanwhile, remained unperturbed by such cases. Due in large part to the growing influence of associationist psychology, by the middle of the eighteenth century conventionalist views of language were edging out naturalist accounts. The rise of conventionalism instigated a shift in attention away from word/thing relations to ideas of structure/mind relations and challenged the rationalists’ assumption that language was, at least in principle, the transparent medium of thought.26 Nonetheless, there remained the hope that there might be a  structure that was universal to all languages, even if that formation itself did not follow logical principles. James Beattie expresses this lingering optimism in The Theory of Language (1788) when he muses that ‘as human thoughts discover themselves by language, and as the thoughts of men in one age and nation are similar to those in another, is it not probable, that there may be in all human languages some general points of resemblance, in structure at least, if not in sound?’27 Even if this was true, it was widely recognized that new tools would be required in order to articulate a possible connection between language and rationality. Condillac, Smith, and Monboddo use varieties of genetic epistemology to construct speculative histories of the formation of human language on a universal scale. As Land details, Beattie was appalled by these methods (indeed, he found Monboddo’s account of humanity’s transition from natural to artificial signs particularly objectionable), and clung instead to the biblical idea of the divine origin of language.28 And yet, Monboddo himself insisted that any truly Christian theory of language 24 Harris, Hermes, p. 372. 25 David  B.  Paxman, ‘Language and Difference: The Problem of Abstraction in EighteenthCentury Language Study’, Journal of the History of Ideas 54, no. 1 (1993), p. 36. 26  For a more detailed account of this transition, see David B. Paxman, ‘The Genius of English: Eighteenth-Century Language Study and English Poetry’, Philological Quarterly 70, no. 1 (1991), pp. 27–46. 27  James Beattie, The Theory of Language (1788), p. 104. 28  See Stephen  K.  Land, ‘James Beattie on Language’, Philological Quarterly 51, no. 4 (1972), pp. 887–904.

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must acknowledge that, since the Adamic language was lost to humanity after the Fall, man must have been compelled to ‘acquire every thing by his own labour and industry’, a process of creation that included ‘language, together with the other arts of life.’29 I have presented only a very abridged account of some features of eighteenthcentury language theory in order to highlight the extent to which paradigms of meaning derived from Locke and Condillac fuelled an interest in Universal Grammar and Language Origins Theory. Nonetheless, it is easy to overplay the importance of this tradition. By focusing too much on Lockean semiotics, we risk overlooking the important role played by notions of intersubjectivity within conventionalist attempts to forge connections between language and sociability. Rationalist insistence on principles of clarity and transparency à la Wilkins throws into sharp relief the extent to which the semiotic tradition within empiricism remained at odds with the socialized epistemology of Hume and others. Since Locke conceived of communication as telementation, consisting in the transmission of the same idea from the mind of the speaker to that of the hearer, words are bound to interfere with this process to the extent that they ‘have no natural connexion with our Ideas, but have all their signification from the arbitrary imposition of Men.’30 And yet, even Locke was compelled to use metaphor where necessary or expedient. Thus, as Susan Manning has highlighted, we need to distinguish between linguistic theory and linguistic practice in Locke and his followers; that is, between the way they ‘disparaged figures of speech as obscuring meaning and the way in which their own prose and poetry employ these to enlighten: to articulate and gain assent for their intentions.’31 Although Lockean representationalism entrenched empiricism’s fundamental suspicion of language, other accounts increasingly emphasized the role of trust and communication as the prerequisites, rather than the achievements of reason. As Paxman observes, while the digging for foundations in Universal Grammar and Language Origins Theory responds to a felt need to tether language to something (such as an ideal Form or a primitive gesture), empiricist linguistics need not have started from this point. Fundamentally, he notes, [a]ny explanation of linguistic universality and difference will inevitably involve a  complex and elusive fourfold relationship among mind, language, the ‘other’ with whom a subject communicates, and the external world. Most theories place one element prior to the others in the chain of causes bringing about language’s development and traits.32

Thus, while the Locke–Condillac tradition in eighteenth-century linguistics stresses, in different ways, the relationship between mind and language, the line of thought inaugurated by Hume, by contrast, begins from interpersonal relationships and builds its understanding of language and of the world from there. For Hume, 29 Monboddo, Origin, p. viii. 30 Locke, Essay, p. 477. 31  Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, p. 599. 32  Paxman, ‘Language and Difference’, p. 21.

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instead of arbitrary signs being assigned to our thoughts for communication, our thoughts are themselves given coherence by the same human contexts and social conventions that structure language. Ultimately, it is public sentiment, not analytical precision, that determines meaning. As Box puts it, ‘[e]mpiricism was good sense, and good sense was good taste.’33 Viewing language as a convention casts doubt over the assumption that language represents thought. Accordingly, following the linguistic turn instigated by Locke and extended by Condillac, eighteenth-century empiricism undergoes a further, pragmatic turn, which itself draws upon insights from classical rhetorical theory as well as more recent philosophy.34 Of these, the most pertinent for the present purpose is an emerging awareness of the ‘non-correspondence between form and function or language and thought.’35 As Brigitte Nerlich and David  D.  Clarke have documented, these developments were in turn ‘fed by a slow trickle-down of novel ideas’, suggesting that language had functions other than the representation of thought; for example, the expression of emotion and the persuasion of other people.36 Such ideas would eventually culminate in the ‘the rejection of a reductionist notion of the sentence (as statement, affirmation, judgement, representation of thought or proposition . . .)’ by Reid and others.37 Indeed, this shift in paradigms becomes one of the main currents of ‘protopragmatics’ that would eventually lead to the emergence of pragmatics itself as an identifiable subdiscipline of linguistics in the twentieth century.38 Curiously, Hume’s role in the shift away from the ‘reductionist’ idea of the sentence as a representation of thought is downplayed by Nerlich and Clarke, who 33 Box, Suasive Style, p. 70. 34  For a detailed account of how transcendentalism in Germany underwent similar successive linguistic and pragmatic turns prior to the advent in the early nineteenth century of historicalcomparative linguistics, see Brigitte Nerlich and David  D.  Clarke, Language, Action, and Context: The  Early History of Pragmatics in Europe and America, 1780–1930 (1996), pp. 25–60. Here, the British common-sense and contextualist critique of Locke was replayed in Johann Gottfried Herder’s and Johann Georg Hamann’s linguistic critiques of Kant’s transcendental idealism. In turn, August Ferdinand Bernhardi and Wilhelm von Humboldt, rather than critiquing reason through language, began ‘analysing communication in context’ (16). For a similar, but more condensed discussion of this topic, see James  C.  McKusick, Coleridge’s Philosophy of Language (1986), pp. 132–3. Nerlich and Clarke note that while Romantic protopragmatics in Germany ‘shares many aspects in common with modern pragmatics, especially the exploration of communicative interaction and dialogue’ and a rejection of ‘a certain rationalist and logicistic [sic] view of language’, what it lacks is ‘an insight into the performativity of language. The view that language is the expression of thought still dominated.’ (60) It is just such an insight that I am attributing to certain aspects of British empirical thought after Hume. 35  Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 11. Nerlich and Clarke identify the three other main sources of ‘pragmatic insight’ as: (1) classical categories of mood; (2) a theory of deixis, particularly In Humboldt, ‘accounting for the linguistic anchoring of speech in the situation of discourse’; (3) rhetorical theories, particularly those of Aristotle, which focus upon an essentially ‘pragmatic model of communication’ (pp. 9–10). 36  Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 374. 37  Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 11. 38  Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 13. According to Nerlich and Clarke, modern pragmatics is the ‘topsoil’ under which lie three main historical strata: a form of ‘pragmatics avant la lettre’ between 1880–1935, the philosophy of pragmatism that emerged from the United States between 1860 and 1930, and the current of ‘protopragmatics’ that developed within European linguistics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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tend to see linguistic conventionalism as a mere outgrowth of representationalism. However, simply pigeonholing Hume as a linguistic conventionalist risks underestimating the vital role he plays in highlighting the referential poverty of certain sentences, a move that enables later thinkers such as Thomas Reid to construct a more comprehensively performative theory of language. The locus classicus for this shift in outlook is Hume’s analysis of the obligation of promises in the Treatise, in which he argues that only the necessity of custom and convention can explain the moral authority of something that is itself ontologically and epistemologically ‘unintelligible’, namely, an obligation that is created by a verbal utterance.39 By treating promises as the issuing of ‘a certain form of words . . . by which we bind ourselves to the performance of any action’, Hume identifies the promise with a communicative act that, while philosophically dubious, is nonetheless ‘requisite to beget mutual trust and confidence in the common offices of life.’40 He repeats this claim in the second Enquiry by arguing that the conventions of language are entangled with human activities, customs, and habits. Tellingly, this issue arises for Hume not in the context of discussing language per se, but amidst his considerations ­concerning ‘the social virtue of benevolence’ in the Appendix. What Hume seeks to underline here is the tacitly intersubjective basis of moral norms, which, he notes, ‘may be compared to the building of a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the ground; nor is the whole fabric supported but by the mutual assistance and combination of its corresponding parts.’41 Using the ‘rowing’ analogy (discussed in Chapter 2), Hume maintains that not all conventions depend upon the explicit performance upon which promises are based. The sense of justice, Hume explains, is a convention that ‘each man feels in his own breast, which he remarks in his fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general plan or system of actions, which tends to public utility.’ In the same way to the pace and rhythm of oarsmen, he continues, ‘speech and words and are fixed by human convention and agreement.’42 The virtues that keep morality afloat, then, depend upon the very same implicit conventions that make human communication possible. Above all, Hume emphasizes that it is the performance of these virtues that sustains both benevolence and meaning in the absence of an objective moral law and determining referents for words or sentences. Here, Hume’s position on language is broadly in line with his epistemology and his moral theory, insofar as he consistently claims that the inadequacy of our sensory input for the purposes of validating our cognitive, ethical, and communicative lives indicates the constitutive nature of human habits, customs, and behaviour in each of these spheres. What his Appendix to the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals makes clear is that human conventions do not form the foundation of these spheres, but exist in a circular relation of mutual dependence with them: only ‘if all perform their part’ do they persist. Nicholas Phillipson expresses the virtuously circular relationship envisaged by Hume in the 39 Hume, Treatise, p. 517. 41 Hume, Enquiries, p. 305.

40 Hume, Treatise, p. 522, 543. 42 Hume, Enquiries, pp. 306–7.

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following way: ‘the more stable a system of language was, the more reliable our understanding of the world would be and the better would be our power of judgement. But linguistic stability presupposed social stability.’43 Essential to maintaining the balance of this delicate ecosystem, once again, is trust. As Baier notes, for Hume ‘[s]peech is our cooperative and trust-facilitated activity par excellence.’44 From this standpoint, the interdependent relationships that exist between implicit conventions, the performance of social roles, and the maintenance of mutual trust form the conditions of possibility for human language and reason. Hume’s account of this finely balanced economy maintained by trust, language, and custom in sustaining the fictions of belief necessary for civilized human life would have powerful repercussions for late eighteenth-century empiricism. In different ways, both Thomas Reid and Jeremy Bentham would be led by its implications towards theories of language that prioritized social action rather than representations or mental states as their leading terms. On one hand, common-sense thinkers such as Reid and Stewart would seek to cement Hume’s pragmatic linking of truth and the (social) conventions behind language into apodictic philosophical first principles; on the other, linguistic materialists such as John Horne Tooke and utilitarians such as Bentham seized on the opportunity that Hume’s account appeared to offer both to detach meaning from mental contents and to understand the fictions of human belief as linguistically and socially constructed. Reid’s treatment of language, as noted earlier, is central to his epistemology. In the Inquiry, he argues that perception is fundamentally a question of actively interpreting natural and artificial signs suggested to us by custom, reason, and the original principle of our constitution as it is expressed through intuition. The only difference between artificial and natural language is that ‘in the first, the suggestion is the effect of habit and custom; in the second, it is not the effect of habit, but of the original constitution of our minds.’45 To this extent, Reid agrees with Berkeley that ‘the visible appearance of objects is a kind of language used by nature’, and with Bacon that the investigation of causes is aptly described as the ‘interpretation of nature.’46 However, the extent to which this alignment of language and perception carries Reid from common-sense realism into a kind of linguistic constructivism has been a contentious issue among Reid scholars. Peter Diamond argues that, although Reid ‘by no means intended to abandon his realist account of common sense principles, at a linguistic level his appeal to common sense carried him towards a socially constructed version of reality.’47 Against this reading, Daniel Robinson maintains that Reid does not depict language as epistemologically constitutive. ‘It is not and never has been Reid’s claim that the ontological standing of the objects of perception is provided by the (commonsense) language adopted to describe them’, Robinson avers, adding that for Reid ‘it is simply obvious that

43  Phillipson, ‘Polites’, p. 238. 44  Annette Baier, Moral Prejudices: Essays on Ethics (1994), p. 175. 45 Reid, Inquiry, p. 110. 46 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 163, 111. 47  Diamond, ‘Rhetoric and Philosophy’, p. 59.

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the externalized reference of every perceptual act indicates that the object is external . . . . Linguistic conventions honor, but do not create this state of affairs.’48 This question is further complicated by the shift in emphasis that occurs in Reid’s treatment of the relationship between language and common sense between his Inquiry and Intellectual Powers. In the former, Reid’s linguistic account of experience focuses on the semiotics of nature and man, such that, for example, ‘[w]hat we commonly call natural causes might, with more propriety, be called natural signs, and what we call effects, the things signified.’49 In Intellectual Powers, however, Reid’s attention turns to the structural homologies that exist between language and experience: There are certain common opinions of mankind, upon which the structure and grammar of all languages are founded. While these opinions are common to all men, there will be a great similarity in all languages that are to be found on the face of the earth. Such a similarity there really is; for we find in all languages the same parts of speech, the distinction of nouns and verbs . . . of verbs into active and passive. There are general rules of grammar, the same in all languages. This similarity of structure in all languages shows an uniformity among men in those opinions upon which the structure of language is founded.50

Behind this change in strategy lies Reid’s conviction, which runs like a backbone throughout the argument of the Essays, that ‘what is common in the structure of languages, indicates uniformity of opinion in those things upon which that structure is grounded.’51 Grounded in the premise that ‘[l]anguage is the express image and picture of human thoughts’, Reid’s argument displays notable similarities with contemporary theories of Universal Grammar.52 Indeed, Land maintains that the principles of common sense expounded in the Inquiry and in the Essay ‘are of the same kind as Harris’s intellectual universals.’53 While this is stretching Reid’s point too far (he would have had no time for the role of Platonic forms in Harris’s account of such ‘universals’), he certainly shares with Harris the belief that whatever is common to all languages must have a common cause. Thus, Reid sets great store by the fact that ‘[t]he operations of our minds are denoted, in all languages, by active transitive verbs, which, from their construction in grammar, require not only a person or agent, but likewise an object of the operation.’ Consequently, ‘to know, without having any object of knowledge, is an absurdity too gross to admit of reasoning.’54

48 Daniel  N.  Robinson, ‘Thomas Reid’s Critique of Dugald Stewart’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 27, no. 3 (1989), pp. 420–1. 49 Reid, Inquiry, p. 112. 50 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 32. See Land, Philosophy of Language, p. 217: Land notes that the Inquiry ‘attempts to define common sense in terms of the theory of signs, as a product of a certain kind of connection drawn by the mind between phenomena and certain conceptions, but the Essays ­presents the principles of common sense as reflected in certain universals of linguistic structure, either syntactic rules or semantic groupings.’ 51 Reid, Intellectual Powers, pp. 573–4. 52 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 44. 53 Land, Philosophy of Language, p. 197. 54 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 43.

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And yet, the a priori basis of Reid’s argument remains a social one. As he makes clear in the same chapter on ‘Principles Taken for Granted’, the foundation of any connection between grammar and thought is presumptive, not logical. ‘Where there is such universal consent in things’, he notes, ‘there is the greatest presumption that can be, that it is the natural result of the human faculties; and it must have great authority with every sober mind that loves truth.’55 We take such principles for granted, he admits, only because the ‘consent of ages and nations . . . ought, at least, to have great authority.’56 In passages such as these, Reid sounds more Humean and pragmatic than one might expect. The lure of universal language framework (as evidence for a common-sense foundation for human knowledge) certainly gives Reid, as he puts it, ‘frequent occasion’ in the Essays ‘to argue from the sense of mankind expressed in the structure of language.’57 Nonetheless, since Reid, like Hume, understands the structure of language to be socially determined, he recognizes that mankind’s ‘sense’ of the real ultimately depends upon the healthy functioning of intersubjective relationships. This brings us back to Chapter 2’s discussion of testimony and the question of Reid’s conception of the social intellect. I argued that it is in the eighth chapter of the ‘Preliminary’ essay, ‘Of Social Operations of the Mind’, that Reid supplements the Inquiry’s thesis that human perception is fundamentally active and interpretative (rather than passive and representational) with the further claim that rationality is itself socially based. While some acts of the mind appear to be solitary, he notes, others, such as offering testimony, requesting a favour, and pledging allegiance, ‘suppose something more, which is neither understanding nor will; that is, society with other intelligent beings.’58 Reid attributes the failure of philosophers to analyse such intellectual acts, despite the fact that they are ‘perfectly understood by every man of common understanding’, to their neglect of the fact that ‘social intellectual powers’ are ‘original parts of our constitution.’59 Indeed, to express the social operations of the mind is, he claims, ‘the primary and direct intention of language.’60 Replacing mental representations with mental acts thus enables Reid to develop a theory of communication that takes seriously the illocutionary dimension of language. This move in turn has led some commentators, including Formigari, Wolterstorff, Nerlich, and Clarke, to attribute to Reid an early ‘protopragmatic’ and performative conception of language as embedded in a social speech-act situation.61 Most notably, Angela Esterhammer has situated Reid at the vanguard

55 Reid, Intellectual Powers, pp. 43–4. Emphasis added. 56 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 43. Emphasis added. 57 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 45. 58 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 72. 59 Reid, Intellectual Powers, pp. 72–3. 60 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 73. 61  As Nerlich and Clarke indicate, ‘Reid’s a priori is linguistically grounded’ in common language, which discloses essential features of the mind (Language, p. 107). Formigari claims that Reid’s emphasis on ordinary language is ahead of its time and that his introduction of pragmatism and intersubjectivity to linguistic questions makes explicit the ‘primacy of praxis hinted at in Locke’s semiotics’ (Signs, p. 23). Wolterstorff notes that Reid seems to have ‘assumed something along the general lines of speech act theory’ (Thomas Reid, p. 170).

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of a group of thinkers who were developing ‘ground-breaking theories of language as an interactive, constructive, and pragmatic phenomenon.’62 Nonetheless, relatively little attention has been paid to the importance of Reid’s observations in Intellectual Powers on the underlying connections between communication, abstraction, and metaphor. In Essay V, ‘Of Abstraction’, for instance, Reid aims to rebut Hume’s nominalistic theory of general ideas by arguing that ‘[w]ords are empty sounds when they do not signify the thoughts of the speaker.’ Accordingly, he maintains, it is ‘impossible that words can have a general signification, unless there be conceptions in the mind of the speaker, and of the hearer, of things that are general.’63 How we come by such abstract conceptions, however, is not straightforward. Avoiding the potential paradoxes of the Lockean account of abstraction, Reid argues that the origins of abstraction lie in human conversation. Earlier, in Chapter IV, ‘Of Conception’, Reid had claimed that definition presupposes dialogue. ‘The meaning of most general words is not learned like that of mathematical terms, by an accurate definition’, he argues, ‘but by the experience we happen to have, by hearing them used in conversation.’64 Thus, the meaning of general terms is established through communication rather than by pure intellection. Moreover, it is through this process of abstraction that ‘the mind is furnished with its most simple, and most distinct notions’; indeed, ‘[w]ithout abstract and general notions there can be neither reasoning nor language.’65 Thus, although Reid dismisses Hume’s argument that abstract ideas are simply general terms, like Hume he traces the roots of rationality to communicability. For Reid, it is through ­conversation alone that we acquire our simplest and clearest conceptions: without conversation, there can be no abstraction, and in the absence of abstraction, reasoning is impossible. As Reid develops his theory of social reason, he encounters the issue of metaphor, which he links to the former through the pleasure human beings generally receive from observing similarities, or ‘agreements in things.’66 Such agreements, he notes, ‘not only please, when displayed by the Poet or Wit in works of taste, but they are highly useful in the ordinary communication of our thoughts and sentiments by language.’67 Indeed, the use of ‘similitudes and analogies [to] supply the want of proper words to express mens [sic] sentiments’ is not confined to ‘the rude languages of barbarous nations’. Even if ‘we examine the most copious and polished languages, we shall find that a great proportion of the words and phrases which are accounted the most proper, may be said to be the progeny of metaphor.’68 The abstract ideas upon which our rational knowledge depends frequently rest

62  Esterhammer, ‘Of Promises’, p. 56. 63 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 438. 64 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 369. 65 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 475. 66 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 449. 67 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 450. 68 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 450. For an illustration of the extent to which Reid is out of step with the Universal Grammarians, see Monboddo, Origins, vol. 3, pp. 40–1: Monboddo argues that metaphor is prevalent only in ‘barbarous languages’. By contrast, the ‘most perfect language is . . . that which has proper names for every thing, and uses figurative words only by way of ornament.’

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upon metaphors that have ‘by long use become denizens in the language, and los[t] the denomination of figures of speech’. He continues: When we speak of the extent of knowledge, the steadiness of virtue, the tenderness of affection, the perspicuity of expression, no man conceives these to be metaphorical expressions; they are as proper as any in the language: Yet it appears upon the very face of them, that they must have been metaphorical in those who used them first; and that it is by use and prescription that they have lost the denomination of figurative, and acquired a right to be considered as proper words.69

For Reid, literal reference is merely metaphorical language that has become familiar over time. When combined with his conversational theory of the origins of abstraction, this draws Reid towards a position whereby the most basic terms of human communication are seen to consist in the ‘similitudes and analogies’ deployed in everyday speech acts. Since, as he puts it, ‘[t]he labour of forming abstract notions, is the labour of learning to speak, and to understand what is spoken’, it follows that ‘most men have hardly any notions but those which are expressed by the general words they hear and use in conversation.’70 Reid’s common-sense realism ultimately acknowledges the pragmatic nature of the relationship between communicative rationality and figures of speech: human reason presupposes abstraction, which presupposes figuration, which, in turn, presupposes conversation. FICTIONS OF REASON: BENTHAM A N D S T E WA RT O N M E A N I N G The linguistic and pragmatic turns taken by mid-to-late eighteenth-century British empiricism drew many thinkers to consider the metaphorical background of thought and language, and to take seriously the proposition, in Leslie Stephen’s words, that ‘if reason is fiction, then fiction is reason.’71 The result is often an uneasy compromise between positivist epistemology and a recognition of the constitutive power of the rhetorical ‘fictions’ of reason. Two thinkers who negotiate this potential impasse in different and revealing ways at the turn of the century are Jeremy Bentham and Dugald Stewart. Although both Bentham and Stewart develop empiricism’s understanding of the relationship between language and thought by introducing the idea that meaning is generated not by individual words but by statements or propositions, they differ on the epistemological status of such linguistic entities. Approaching the problem from a purely utilitarian perspective, Bentham follows Hume’s suggestion that truth depends upon linguistic customs. However, where Hume had seen the word as the operative unit of linguistic 69 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 450. 70 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 487. 71 Stephen, English Thought, vol. 1 49. See also Greg Clingham, ‘Introduction: The Question of History in Eighteenth-Century Studies’, Questioning History: The Postmodern Turn to the Eighteenth Century, ed. Greg Clingham (1998), p. 14: Clingham argues that the eighteenth century is the ­crucible of postmodernism’s insight into ‘the place of the fictive in the production of the real.’ (14).

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convention, Bentham insists that meaning depends upon the context of the entire speech act. Accordingly, language becomes for Bentham the source of ‘logical fictions’ that are at once philosophically unjustifiable and indispensable for coherent thought. Stewart, by contrast, while acknowledging the ineluctably metaphorical basis of much human reasoning, attempts to obviate epistemological doubt by drawing a firm division between consciousness and language, thereby separating philosophy and philology. By defining meaning in terms of context, Stewart goes further than Reid in abandoning the representationalism that had bedevilled empiricist thinking about language since Locke. In his essay, ‘On the Tendency of Some Late Philological Speculations’ (1810), Stewart rejects the assumption that single words acquire meaning by corresponding to single ideas or sensations. Echoing Burke’s argument against the idea of language as representation, Stewart ridicules the notion that ‘in reading, for example, the enunciation of a proposition, we are apt to fancy that for every word contained in it there is an idea presented to the understanding.’72 As he puts it in the Elements: ‘I perfectly agree with Mr. Burke, in thinking that a very great proportion of the words which we habitually employ, have no effect to “raise ideas in the mind,” or to exercise the powers of conception and imagination.’73 It is rather the case, he argues, that ‘our words, when examined separately, are often as completely insignificant as the letters of which they are composed; deriving their meaning solely from the connexion, or relation, in which they stand to others.’74 In dismantling representationalism, however, Stewart is also fighting a rearguard action against the ‘Late Philological Speculations’ alluded to in this essay’s title. Foremost among these was John Horne Tooke’s Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley (1786–1805), in which Tooke had extended the materialism of David Hartley and Joseph Priestley into the arena of language and meaning, deconstructing the ideas-based epistemology of the Lockeans into the speculative grammar of etymology.75 For Tooke, the function of language is to communicate thoughts rather than to denote ideas or things; indeed, he maintains, the basic units of thought are words, not ideas. ‘Ideas’ themselves, he claims, are simply the product of the gradual corruption of nouns and verbs into abstract general terms and abbreviated particles (notoriously difficult linguistic entities to explain on the representational model), all of which are the products of the inevitable tension within any language between the competing desiderata of signification and abbreviation. Tooke shares with Stewart the objective of rolling back linguistic representationalism; accordingly, both respond to the problem of meaning determination posed by Hume’s scepticism by binding truth and interpretation more tightly together. 72 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 154. See also Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 2nd ed. (1759), p. 320: Burke argues that the general effect even of what he classes as simple abstract words such as ‘green’ and ‘hot’ ‘does not arise from their forming pictures of the several things they would represent in the imagination; because on a very diligent examination of my own mind, and getting others to consider theirs, I did not find that once in twenty times any such picture is formed.’ 73 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 446. 74 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 155. 75  John Horne Tooke, Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley, ed. Richard Taylor, vol. 1 (1829), p. 374.

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However, while Stewart insists that fundamental truth must be rendered in terms of the ‘stamina of intellect’, the necessary presuppositions of the conscious mind, for Tooke, truth has no fundament other than the etymological origins belonging to the word.76 Consequently, ‘true. . . means simply and merely—That which is trowed . . . . truth supposes mankind: for whom and by whom alone the word is formed, and to whom only it is applicable. If no man, no truth.’77 Stewart strongly objects to this reduction of truth to a form of grammatical ellipsis, which if accepted, he warns, ‘would completely undermine the foundations both of logic and of ethics.’78 Although he acknowledges that the brain itself might be material, he argues that ‘all our knowledge of it is to be obtained by the exercise of the powers of Consciousness and Reflexion.’79 For Stewart, the problem with language was that it remained a potentially ­disruptive force in knowledge formation. Given ‘the difficulty attending the origin of words expressive of things which do not fall under the cognisance of any of our senses’ and ‘the disposition of the Mind, on such occasions, to have recourse to metaphors borrowed from the Material World’, there remained the danger that such metaphors might metamorphose, via a bias of imagination, into groundless beliefs, such as superstitions.80 The contextual theory of definition in Stewart thus forms part of a broader effort to forestall Tooke’s appeal to etymology by abandoning the representational psychology of the Lockeans and securing safer ground for empiricism in the social a priori of a new epistemology. This helps to explain why Stewart does not develop Reid’s notion of a social operation for language.81 As Aarsleff points out, while contextual definition was in itself neither original nor startling, in this setting it had ‘revolutionary’ implications: it not only allowed Stewart to cut through the apparent paradox of meaningless speech particles, it also implied that ‘language cannot be the precise image of thought, as even Reid had asserted.’82 Since understanding and communication are possible only through the use of words ‘to suggest hints to our hearers’, leaving the bulk of ‘the process of interpretation to be performed by the Mind itself ’, the rules for the use of these signs could be fixed only by those users participating in the language game.83 Thus, as Nerlich and Clarke argue, for Stewart, linguistic meaning is ­fundamentally pragmatic: it is ‘use in context.’84 And yet, like Reid, Stewart remains ambivalent about the ways in which metaphor functions within human knowledge. Once again, the crux of the language/reason 76 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 44. 77 Tooke, Diversions, vol. 2, pp. 402–3. 78 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, pp. 162–3. 79 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 164. See Patrice Bergheaud, ‘Language, Ethics and Ideology: Dugald Stewart’s “Common Sense” Critique of Empiricist Historical and Genetic Linguistics’, Papers in the History of Linguistics: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences, eds. Hans Aarsleff, Louis G. Kelly, and Hans-Joseph Niederehe (1987), p. 404: Bergheaud reduces Stewart’s argument against Tooke’s case to two main claims: first, that ‘with regard to linguistic properties, one cannot project historical reconstructions onto later stages of language’, thereby proposing ‘a radical separation between “synchronie” and “diachronie” ’; and secondly, that ‘genetic accounts of mental properties cannot be inferred from accounts of language.’ 80 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 152. 81  See Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 112. 82 Aarsleff, Study of Language, p. 104. 83 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 153. 84  Nerlich and Clarke, Language, p. 113.

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problem centres on the question of abstraction. At first glance, Stewart’s position on this seems clear enough. He accuses Reid of having merely fudged the nominalist debate, claiming that on this subject ‘he has not expressed himself in a manner so completely satisfactory to my mind as on most other occasions.’85 Although Stewart allows that our practical relationships with particular objects and events do not presuppose the use of language, he maintains that words become necessary the moment that we begin to reflect on such things, since ‘without the use of language, our reasoning faculty (if it could have been at all exercised) must necessarily have been limited to particular conclusions alone.’86 Since reflective reasoning requires language, and intuition and reasoning are mutually dependent, it follows ‘that we think as well as speak by means of words.’87 As with his axiomatic conception of the ‘elements’ of reason, Stewart’s theory of language has a distinctly mathematical cast. Having equipped himself with a contextual theory of definition that enables him to conceive of meaning as fundamentally propositional rather than denotational, Stewart further aligns linguistic or abstract reasoning with logic. Thus, ‘in so far as our speculations consist of that process of the mind which is properly called reasoning, they may be carried on by words alone; or, which comes to the same thing, that every process of reasoning is perfectly analogous to an algebraical operation.’88 As Stewart acknowledges, the great enemies of ‘algebraical’ operation are metaphors and other figures of speech. In any philosophical disquisition, he cautions in the Conclusion to Part II of the Elements, ‘the imperfections of words constitute the principal obstacle to our progress; nor is it possible to advance a single step without struggling against the associations imposed by the illusions of metaphorical terms, and of analogical theories.’89 Indeed, as he comments earlier in that work, ‘[t]he effects . . . of ambiguous and indefinite terms are not confined to our communications with others, but extend to our private and solitary speculations.’90 This places a great responsibility upon the shoulders of the philosopher, who has a duty to shun figuration and embrace abstraction as much as possible, just as it is the artist’s task to do the opposite. As he writes in the Elements chapter, ‘Of Imagination’: [T]he perfection of philosophical style is to approach as nearly as possible to that species of language we employ in Algebra, and to exclude every expression which has a tendency to divert the attention by exciting the imagination, or to bias the judgment by casual associations. For this purpose the philosopher ought to be sparing in the employment of figurative words, and to convey his notions by general terms which have been accurately defined.91

In poetry, he notes, this priority is reversed: since there ‘truths and facts are introduced, not for the purpose of information, but to convey pleasure to the 85 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 191. Stewart adds: ‘That language is not an essential instrument of thought in our general reasonings, he [i.e. Reid] has nowhere positively asserted. At the same time, as he has not affirmed the contrary . . . his readers are naturally led to conclude that this is his real opinion on the subject.’ 86 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 98. 87 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 98. 88 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 178. Emphasis added. 89 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 360. 90 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 98. 91 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 447.

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mind, nothing offends more than those general expressions which form the great instrument of philosophical reasoning.’92 Despite this strategy, Stewart acknowledges that between philosophy and poetry there lies a continuum, not an abyss. Although he maintains that the philosopher, unlike the artist, has a duty to avoid analogical thinking, he expresses less confidence than one might expect about the prospect of figures being rooted out of language entirely. Indeed, he concedes, since it is structured by language, all reflective thought will inevitably be affected by ambiguous terms. Noting in Philosophical Essays that César Chesneau Du Marsais once proposed ‘the total proscription of figurative terms from all abstract discussions’, he claims that this would be ‘wholly impracticable’. The only remedy, he admits, is ‘to vary, from time to time, the metaphors we employ, so as to prevent any one of them from acquiring an undue ascendant over the others’ in a way that might seek to pass off ‘a simile or distant analogy for a legitimate theory.’93 In effect, Stewart sees metaphor as unavoidable; what is more important to him is how figuration is used. Thus, while the ‘illusions of metaphorical terms, and of analogical theories’ are harmful to philosophical thinking, they can never be rooted out entirely. Lying behind this concession, moreover, is a more radical admission. Given that (by definition) the elements of reason that form the basic ‘stamina’ of thought permit of no logical justification, there can be no formal principle according to which such elements might be distinguished from figures of speech. Imagination has the potential power to infect abstraction at any stage (hence the constant need for philosophical vigilance). In this way, by abandoning Locke’s correspondence between the mental and the real in favour of ‘axiomatic’ elements presupposed by reason, and by acknowledging the potential for semantic promiscuity in all abstract thought, Stewart introduces the possibility of a fictive basis for reason. In this way, both Reid and Stewart respond to Humean scepticism regarding the sensory determination of terms by rethinking the mechanisms by which meaning is established: Reid attempts this by prioritizing the social function of language, Stewart by abandoning the word as the basic semantic unit in favour of the relations between words in the context of a statement. And yet, neither Reid’s principles of intuitive common sense nor Stewart’s axiomatic elements of reason manage to insulate knowledge against the social habits, customs, and metaphors that make up Hume’s concourse of reason. There remained the concern (one that would persist until Kant’s transcendental method became more widely known in Britain) that intuitions and axioms might prove to be poor foundations for understanding if they themselves could be shown to rest upon little more than the fictions of truth presupposed by everyday thought. Consequently, more traditional thinkers such as Harris and Monboddo saw a Platonist theory of language as the only way of maintaining the foundations of discourse and the hierarchy of values to which this discourse appealed. Viewed in this way, the political impetus behind Tooke’s attempt to provide a philological basis for nominalism becomes more obvious. As Olivia Smith and Susan Manly have argued, Tooke seeks to expose the ‘mystification of 92 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 448.

93 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 173.

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authority’ that Harris’s account of language perpetuates.94 Moreover, Tooke’s claim that ideas such as the ‘self ’ and ‘truth’ are underpinned by grammatical rather than logical or metaphysical principles is one that moves in the same broad current of thought as Hume’s account of the rhetoric of reason, in that both install communication between persons as the precondition of rationality. Nonetheless, Tooke’s adherence to the particularistic semantics of the Lockeans, replacing the ‘idea’ with an unlimited number of sensible impressions, leads him to pursue a narrow strategy of etymological reduction rather than the HumeanReidian path of broadening the field of language theory into the social contexts of rhetoric, pragmatics, and speech actions. Tooke draws the notions of truth and meaning closer together, but at the cost of hypostatizing meaning in the form of the origins of single terms. Consequently, although Tooke’s materialistic theory of abstraction would come to exert considerable influence over utilitarianism via James Mill’s 1829 Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, it would be left to Jeremy Bentham to pursue the implications of Hume’s sceptical abandonment of any endeavour to identify the meanings of terms by tracing them to a determinate source, whether sensory or philological.95 Bentham turns to address some of the problems of knowledge and language relatively late in his career, and somewhat reluctantly. His impatience with metaphysical questions, however, is not simply a manifestation of the intolerance of the legal reformer for ‘theory’. Instead, it emerges from the conviction that any attempt to separate the ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ of human life is a mistake. Following Hume, Bentham weighs philosophical problems against the question of utility. As Mary P. Mack observes, like the manager’s office in the Panopticon, ‘the principle of utility sits at the centre of Bentham’s thought’ and is his ‘single initial axiom, the one extra-empirical assumption underlying the conditions or means of his new science.’96 Since no theoretical justification is possible for the transition between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ propositions, Bentham assumes that the basic attitude of philosophy itself needs to change. This in turn means that the epistemologist’s mission to abolish error from the grounds of knowledge must ultimately be subordinated to eudæmonics, the study of the good life. Thus, as he describes it in the Appendix to his 1815 pedagogical work, Chrestomathia: ‘Eudæmonics . . . may be said to be the object of every branch of art, and the subject of every branch of science.’97 Although Bentham sounds confident enough here, by the time he came to write Chrestomathia it had taken him three decades finally to overcome the philosophical 94  Susan Manly, Language, Custom and Nation in the 1790s: Locke, Tooke, Wordsworth, Edgeworth (2007), p. 32. Manly depicts the linguistic debates of the 1790s as a struggle between Lockeans, who sought through empirical analysis to expose the tyranny behind abstractions, and conservative Platonists, who questioned the linguistic competence (and therefore the rationality) of an uneducated public (pp. 185–7). See also Olivia Smith, The Politics of Language 1791–1819 (1984), p. 3: Smith details how, after 1790, theorists such as Tooke challenged the association of ‘ “[t]he vulgar and the refined,” [with] “the particular and the general” ’, respectively. 95  For a more detailed account of the competing influences of Stewart and Tooke on James Mill, see Aarsleff, Study of Language, pp. 93–5. 96 Mary P. Mack, Jeremy Bentham: An Odyssey of Ideas 1748–1792 (1962), p. 204. 97  Jeremy Bentham, Chrestomathia, eds. M.J. Smith and W.H. Burston (1983), p. 179.

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problems that had ambushed him while preparing his first major work on ­jurisprudence, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. In the Introduction’s Preface, he admits how surprised he was at the sudden intrusion of these difficulties: The body of the work had received its completion according to the then present extent of the author’s views, when . . . he found himself unexpectedly entangled in an unsuspected corner of the metaphysical maze. A suspension, at first not apprehended to be more than a temporary one, necessarily ensued.98

Bentham realizes that the Introduction is not the best place to work through these problems. Indeed, it wasn’t until the early 1810s that he finally turns to tackling the issues in which he had become entangled. He does so in a series of essays, which include ‘A Fragment on Ontology’, the ‘Essay on Logic’, the ‘Essay on Language’, and ‘Fragments on Universal Grammar.’99 The source of the ‘metaphysical maze’ that these belated exercises are intended to address emerges in the Introduction’s important chapter, ‘Of Motives’. Here, Bentham’s analysis of motivation quickly runs into difficulties because of his realization that the word ‘motive’ has two distinct meanings: one literal and legitimate, the other figurative and fictitious. The first denotes ‘any of those really existing incidents from whence the act in question is supposed to take its rise’; the second, ‘a certain fictitious entity, a passion, an affectation of the mind, an ideal being.’100 Logical fictions such as ‘motive’ differ importantly from poetical fictions like centaurs in that they are indispensable to thought. As Bentham later puts it in ‘Fragment on Ontology’, ‘[i]n the mind of all, fiction, in the logical sense, has been the coin of necessity;—in that of poets of amusement—in that of the priest and the lawyer of mischievous immorality.’101 Nonetheless, Bentham comes to see that legal fictions were linked to a web of figuration that stretch much deeper into human thought and language than he had anticipated. The language of reform and the reform of language cannot be separated: Confining himself to the language most in use, a man can scarce avoid running, in appearance, into perpetual contradictions . . . . To obviate this inconvenience, completely, he has but this one unpleasant remedy; to lay aside the old phraseology and invent a new one.102

Utilitarianism, it seems, cannot after all simply muddle through without a thoroughly worked-out ontology, an epistemology, and a theory of logic or language. The first 98 Jeremy Bentham, preface, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. J.H. Burns and H.L.A. Hart (1970), p. 1. 99  These four essays appear to have been intended as parts of a general study of logic and language but, as with much of his later writing, Bentham made little effort to prepare the material for the press. There is no authoritative modern edition of these works, though C.K. Ogden attempted to synthesize the manuscript sources in Bentham’s Theory of Fictions (1932). Consequently, all references to the above essays are based on John Bowring’s flawed but workable The Works of Jeremy Bentham, 11 vols. (1838–43). 101 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 199. 100 Bentham, Introduction, p. 97. 102 Bentham, Introduction, p. 102.

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two of these would jointly distinguish between real entities like physical bodies and ‘individual perceptions’ on one hand and fictitious entities such as ‘[f ]aculties, powers of the mind, dispositions’ on the other.103 The task of the third is to ‘give direction and assistance’ to human thought by translating the language of fictions as much as possible into that of real entities. For Bentham, this in turn means converting overtly figurative language into a less figurative language based in sensations of pleasure and pain. By doing this, Bentham reinforces his eudæmonics with the epistemological argument, as stated in A Table of the Springs of Action (1817), that ‘[p]leasures and pains [are] the basis of all other entities.’ Crucially, the same utilitarianism leads Bentham to deny that any psychological entity is epistemically privileged: all human awareness, regardless of immediacy, is mediated via the ‘receptacles’ of pleasure and pain.104 The denial of the value-neutral status of sensation is what underlies Bentham’s pragmatic insistence in the ‘Essay on Logic’ that ‘in no place is anything to be known, but in the same place there is something to be done.’105 It also forms the critical context for his attempt to invent a new ‘phraseology’—one based on the sound ontology of a hedonic register that would translate abstract statements into the lexicon of pleasure and pain—that would remain untroubled by the problem of whether the ‘mind’ corresponds to the ‘world’. At this point, however, another problem presents itself: that of the method of  analysis by which such a translation could take place. In a footnote to an earlier work, A Fragment on Government (1776), Bentham had discounted the traditional method of definition per genus et differentiam favoured by D’Alembert and the encyclopédistes. Fictional entities or abstractions, he observes, cannot have examples or instances, and so cannot be defined in terms of a superior genus. Thus, when Bentham asks, rhetorically, ‘what is a disposition?’ He imagines the reply: ‘ “A disposition is a . . . :” and there we stop. The fact is, a disposition has no superior genus: a disposition is not a . . ., any thing.’106 Conventional analysis will not work on fictions because the meaning of fictions is always overdetermined. As Bentham puts it in the ‘Essay on Logic’, unlike physical syntheses or aggregates like a bushel of apples, logical aggregates are radically indeterminate, in that they are open to ‘the unlimited powers, of decomposition and recomposition possessed by the human mind’. The conventional view of analysis and synthesis as ‘counterpart’ activities is a myth: one cannot simply ‘unpack’ an abstract idea in the same way that one would unpack a suitcase.107 Similarly, the Lockean method of explicating individual terms by tracing such units back to simple ideas or primitive perceptions rested upon the assumption of a field of neutral experiential data (ideas or impressions) to which Bentham does 103 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 196. 104  Jeremy Bentham, Deontology, A Table of the Springs of Action, and Article on Utilitarianism, ed. Amnon Goldworth (1983), p. 98. 105 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 218. 106 Jeremy Bentham, A Comment on the Commentaries and A Fragment on Government, eds. J.H. Burns and H.L.A. Hart (1977), p. 495. 107 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, pp. 256–7.

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not subscribe. Even Tookeian grammar, notwithstanding its deconstruction of ­so-called complex ideas, sees sensation or the simple idea as the foundation of linguistic reference.108 Bentham, however, with his utilitarian and pragmatic view of the already-evaluative status of sensation, holds no brief for the stable referent as a ‘given’ psychological entity. Because of this, he is prepared to take his theory of fictions a step further than Tooke, and suggest that language itself creates ideas, giving them a kind of ‘verbal reality, so to speak, . . . without which the matter of language could never have been formed.’109 By accepting that figuration goes all the way down to the referent, Bentham draws the sting from Tooke’s relativistic deconstruction of ‘truth’ into ‘[t]hat which is TROWED.’110 As Esterhammer observes, in this way ‘Bentham’s theory . . . embraces the principle that haunts Tooke’s system . . . : that language does in fact succeed in creating immaterial objects and endowing them with at least a form of reality.’111 Since meaning was not psychological and causal, but holistic and relational, Bentham can allow that it is perfectly possible for a word to be used correctly and successfully by a number of people who associate with it quite different ideas, or even no ideas at all. The meaning of a term is determined not by causation, but by its context. For Bentham, two important consequences immediately follow from this position. The first is that the basic units of meaning are not single terms, but whole statements, speech acts or propositions. Tooke had seen abbreviations and abstractions as degenerate language, but had failed to apply this observation to terms themselves. However, as Bentham argues in the ‘Essay on Language’: Every man who speaks, speaks in propositions, the rudest savage, not less than the most polished orator,—terms taken by themselves are the work of abstraction, the produce of a refined analysis:—ages after ages must have elapsed before any such analysis was ever made.112

Secondly, in order to create his ‘new phraseology’, Bentham now develops a method of contextual definition, which he calls paraphrasis. He provides many different accounts of this method, but one of the clearest is found in his ‘Essay on Logic’, in a passage that immediately follows the one cited at the beginning of this essay: By the word paraphrasis may be designated that sort of exposition which may be afforded by transmuting into a proposition, having for its subject some real entity, a proposition which has not for its subject any other than a fictitious entity.113 108  See Tooke, Diversions, vol. 1, p. 33–4: ‘H’ acknowledges that Locke was right at least that ‘the origin of Ideas [. . . is] the proper starting-post of a Grammarian who is to treat of their signs.’ See also H. Lewis Ulman, Things, Thoughts, and Actions: The Problem of Language in Late Eighteenth-Century British Rhetorical Theory (1994), p. 59: Ulman documents how the transition from atomism to formalism in late eighteenth-century language theory was spurred by the fact that the emphasis on discrete linguistic units proved to be inadequate for explaining the social functions of human speech. Thus, ‘[b]y the end of the eighteenth century, theorists began to view linguistic structure as the product of convention and the crucible of meaning.’ 109 Bentham, Chrestomathia, p. 271. 110 Tooke, Diversions, vol. 2, p. 402. 111  Esterhammer, ‘Of Promises’, p. 72. 112 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 321. 113 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 246.

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It is vital to realize here that as far as Bentham is concerned, paraphrasis, the non-foundational search for meaning, exhausts the metaphysical field of enquiry; as such, it is to be distinguished from ‘Archetypation’, or the tracing of an idea to its psychological origin.114 For Bentham, this new method obviates the ontological embarrassment encountered by empiricists such as Locke and Tooke: the very point of paraphrasis is that what counts as a ‘real entity’ is ultimately a matter of coherence within a linguistic community, not one of correspondence between word and object. As W.V. Quine notes of Bentham; ‘[h]e recognized that to explain a term we do not need to specify an object for it to refer to.’ Paraphrasis thus enables one ‘to explain talk of bodies in terms of talk of impressions by translating one’s whole sentences about bodies into whole sentences about impressions, without equating the bodies themselves to anything at all.’115 Bentham’s theory of fictions represents the culmination of two lines of thought: the linguistic materialism of Tooke, which identifies words rather than ideas as the bearers of meaning, and a propositional semantics, shared by Bentham and Stewart, which sees statements rather than words as the basic units of communication. However, Bentham’s method of contextual definition by paraphrasis further pragmatizes human linguistic activity by removing the psychological and the logical foundations to language presupposed respectively by the theories of Tooke and Stewart. For Bentham, neither sensation nor the elemental presuppositions of rational thought are necessary for the process of definition. Just as Hume came to see the principle of utility, in the form of the promotion of social consensus and well-being, as outweighing the avoidance of error, Bentham came to see eudaemonia as the fundamental principle against which the results of philosophical analysis must be evaluated. Consequently, he bypasses the ticklish subject of metaphor that had distracted Reid and Stewart. Common-sense philosophy had attempted to systematize Hume’s conventionalist account of the primacy of the social function of language. In doing so, however, it opened the door to the effects of logical fictions or metaphors—in other words, to customary and habitual figures of speech that could not be distinguished in principle from the supposedly more ‘literal’ words and statements through which common-sense principles and the elements of reason were articulated. In this way, Bentham’s utilitarian procedure for the contextual definition of logical fictions allows him to adopt a relaxed position about what Reid and Stewart acknowledged only with reluctance: the constitutive role played by figurative language in human speech acts.

114 Bentham, Works, vol. 8, p. 246. For further discussion of the relation between paraphrasis and archetypation in Bentham, see Ross Harrison, Bentham (1983), pp. 61–3 and Skorupski, EnglishLanguage Philosophy, p. 27. 115  W.V. Quine, ‘Epistemology Naturalized’, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (1969), p. 72. This is in marked to contrast to Elie Halévy, who dismissed the technique as vague and inferior to ‘genetic definition’ (Growth, p. 459). Halévy’s reading is in turn criticized by Ogden (Bentham’s Theory of Fictions, p. xxx).

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T H E R H E TO R I C O F P H I L O S O P H Y Up to this point, I have focused the attention of this book upon the theoretical ways in which new ideas of subjectivity, knowledge, and language emerge and develop in the philosophical works of some significant mid-to-late eighteenthcentury British empirical thinkers. What these new ideas suggest is that, under the pressure of scepticism, the epistemological centre of empiricism was being transferred from an ideal, neutral objectivity to a more practical, social intersubjectivity. In a process initiated by Hume himself, the modern, private notion of ‘experience’ (conceived as the reception of sensory particles that were taken, in various ways, to represent the world) is eclipsed by an older sense, in which ‘experience’ once again becomes a social activity, involving experiment and conversation. In turn, this development undermines an epistemological hierarchy in which trusting the verbal reports of other persons is subordinated to trusting the mute verdict of the ‘senses’. The affective condition known as ‘trust’, as all the writers above recognize, is not merely socially desirable, it is the social precondition of reason. As the prospect of grounding human knowledge in a neutral and rationally conceivable realm of ‘ideas’ or ‘sensations’ recedes, so the boundary between ‘truth’ and ‘meaning’ begins to blur. Rationality is increasingly seen by Hume, Reid, Tooke, Bentham, and even (at times) by Stewart not as a light that illuminates the interior space of the human mind, but as socially constructed. Accordingly, language (conceived not as an arbitrary system of signs for relatively ‘stable’ ideas, but as the practice of communicative acts shaped by the social conventions that determine belief ) becomes a pragmatic, world-changing business, and thus more politically urgent and contested. For Hume, Reid, and Bentham, the performance of certain virtues, instead of merely honouring the values of a rational, civilized society, becomes the condition of possibility for such a society. In the final two chapters of this book, I will examine the significance of this ‘performative’ ideal in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writing. This will involve shifting attention away from the changing epistemological landscape within empiricism to concentrate upon the genre of the familiar essay, which becomes the metaphor and literary embodiment of socialized ‘experience’, as well as the field in which the possibility of a hybrid form of literature/philosophy is most strenuously tested. Before doing so, however, I want briefly to consider the relationship between Hume’s concern with the rhetoric of philosophy, and the development, under his own influence, of the philosophy of rhetoric. That Hume’s own position in this relationship is an ambivalent one is down to the peculiar influence that the writings of Cicero had upon his thinking. As noted in Chapter 1, for Hume’s early thought, Cicero’s philosophy is the hand that heals where it wounds, offering him the prospect of a more ‘easy’, active, and social philosophy even as it propelled him into the intellectual paralysis and torpor that characterizes the ‘Disease of the Learned’. Thereafter, Hume considers the Cartesian model of philosophical reflection to be insufficient, (even dangerous) since, as he declares in

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the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ‘nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to human race.’116 The philosophy and rhetoric of Cicero, which considers man ‘chiefly as born for action; and as influenced in his measures by taste and sentiment’ offers a counterbalance to ‘abstruse’ Aristotelianism, which ‘vanishes when the philosopher leaves the shade, and comes into open day.’117 As Peter Jones observes, Hume’s new conception of reason as based in ­sentiment, probabilistic thought, sociability, and communication echoes four key tenets that he absorbed from the teachings of Cicero: ‘the social nature of man, the public nature of discourse, the requirement of truth or at least trust in communication, the nature of language.’118 These ideas, in turn, reinforced Hume’s conviction that man can only be properly judged in his ‘threefold aspect as a reasonable, social and active being.’119 This has important implications for how Hume’s work absorbs—and, more to the point, embodies—the implications of the performative function of language. In Chapter 1, I described Hume and Reid as offering respectively ‘rhetorical’ and ‘serious’ responses to the problem of how to combine Ciceronian ideals of virtue with a Newtonian understanding of how mind and nature work. Reid maintains a steadfast adherence to pneumatology, guided by his concern to further comprehend creation by extending the new science of Newton and Locke. His insistence that virtues are natural and constitutional dispositions in human nature is underpinned by his sense of the seriousness of philosophy as the foundation of scientific advancement and social improvement. By contrast, Hume’s historicist sense of the importance of communication, history, and society to rationality reflects an essentially pragmatic perspective that foregrounds the importance of practical wisdom and performed intersubjectivity as the preconditions of knowledge. Thus, while Reid appeals to foundations in an attempt to determine the relationship between knowledge as episteme or science and as doxa or everyday certainty, Hume looks to Ciceronian rhetoric, which offers a way of maintaining the playful dialectic between a solipsistic vita contemplativa and an unreflective vita activa. Accordingly, in the Enquiry Concerning Human Knowledge, Hume depicts himself as ‘reconciling profound enquiry with clearness, and truth with novelty’ by navigating judiciously between Aristotelian exactness and the ‘easier’ rhetoric of Cicero.120 Consequently, Reid’s pragmatization of speech acts such as promises is made within what he sees as the context of a deeper foundationalism. As noted in Chapter 2, in Intellectual Powers Reid classes making promises and bearing testimony as ‘social’ operations of the mind, in that such acts presuppose ‘society with other intelligent 116 Hume, Enquiries, p. 9. 117 Hume, Enquiries, pp. 2, 7. 118 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 163. 119 Jones, Hume’s Sentiments, p. 186. Baier, too, sees the final Humean version of reason as ‘Ciceronian’ in the importance it attributes to ‘the willingness to cooperate with others in a speech community, to try to create good conditions of life for one’s descendants, to track down the truth on specific matters, and to value sincerity and veracity’. (Progress, p. 322) See also Box, Suasive Style, p. 57: ‘Hume was pre-eminently a philosopher but, as a good Ciceronian, amidst all his philosophy he was still a benevolent and public-spirited citizen. In arguing for the tenets of his system, Hume was acting as a philosopher; in urging empiricism as an intellectual program he was acting as a rhetor.’ 120 Hume, Enquiries, p. 16.

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beings.’121 Accordingly, it could be argued that, by claiming that the promise is a social act whose meaning consists of its performance (rather than the expression of an obligation to which it cannot refer), Reid goes further than Hume in developing a proto-pragmatic conception of the speech act. And yet, while for Reid this power is one of the ‘original parts of our constitution’, Hume’s perspective on such acts is more clearly anti-essentialist, insofar as his Ciceronian concern with the role of the philosopher as a promoter of harmony and consensus through the ‘conversable world’ of polite dialogue is linked to his own sceptical undermining of philosophy’s ability to embody or represent truth.122 Thus, while Reid styles himself as an ‘anatomist of the mind’, claiming that ‘[a]ll that we know of the body, is owing to anatomical dissection and observation, and it must be by an anatomy of the mind that we can discover its powers and principles’, Hume tempers the apodictic imperative of the philosopher with the communicative skills of the artist.123 The relationship between the philosopher and the artist is one of mutual dependence. Indeed, ‘though a philosopher may live remote from business, the genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, must gradually diffuse itself throughout the whole society.’124 On a deeper level, this elevation of the status of the ‘artist’ reflects Hume’s conception of coherent subjectivity as something achieved rather than given. Thus, and in contrast to Reid, these notions inhabit Hume’s own practice of writing as a kind of performance that exemplifies (rather than demonstrates) the ways in which facts are imbricated with social conventions. Stylistically, what this position produces in the Treatise, for example, is the exhibition of a self-conscious and calculated rhetorical performance. As Richetti observes, even in an age in which the arts of rhetoric and philosophy were closely aligned, Hume’s work ‘is set apart by the awareness he displays of writing’s rhetorical and persuasive qualities.’125 Indeed, Hume’s scepticism in the Treatise creates the conditions for a new kind of writing, whereby philosophical doubt itself becomes a source of emotional productivity and insight. As Baier argues, the Treatise should be read not just as a philosophical tract but also as ‘a dramatic work which presents and does not merely describe a new turn in philosophy’ and which ‘presents not an argument but a dialectic of moods, performing an overcoming of reason by sentiment, and a deflation of truth away from correspondence and back into its etymological origins of trusting agreement.’126 The moods that Hume exhibits in this work are not incidental; they are central to the philosophical praxis it presents. 121 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 72. 122 Reid, Intellectual Powers, p. 73. 123 Reid, Inquiry, pp. 4–5. 124 Hume, Enquiries, p. 10. 125 Richetti, Philosophical Writing, p. 40. See also Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, p. 597: Manning claims that ‘Hume’s philosophy, like Diderot’s, is inseparable from his narrative style and analogical cast of mind.’ Similarly, in their Introduction to Theory and Practice in the Eighteenth Century: Writing Between Philosophy and Literature, eds. Alexander Dick and Christina Lupton (2008), pp. 2–3, Alexander Dick and Christina Lupton argue that the Treatise ‘performs the fictions of reality to which Hume ultimately refers’, exemplifying a facet of Hume’s work according to which ‘the rhetorical performance of empiricism is part of the condition described.’ 126 Baier, Progress, p. 27. See also Christensen, Practicing Enlightenment, p. 49: Christensen argues that Hume’s work ‘cannot be confuted by argument’ and should be ‘regarded not as a series of propositions but as a literary practice aimed at attaining a reputation exempt from contingency.’

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Nowhere is this exhibition more apparent than in the pivotal Conclusion to Book I, in which the philosopher initially recoils with ‘melancholy’ from his topic, admitting that ‘I cannot forbear feeding my despair, with all those desponding reflections, which the present subject furnishes me with in such abundance.’127 Hume’s narrator is confronted with the problem that careful reasoning has left him with no foundation upon which to believe in the existence of such things as other minds or the external world, other than ‘a strong propensity to consider objects strongly in that view, under which they appear to me.’128 Having established the sentimental basis of belief and discounted both dispassionate reason and unthinking activity as models for intelligent life, Hume guides the reader through his own emotional crisis, passing through despair, melancholy, and ease, before arriving at a state of philosophical indifference. Only by cultivating an ‘easy disposition’, he warns, will the reader be able to follow him in the speculations that make up the remainder of the Treatise: ‘If not, let him follow his inclination, and wait the returns of application and good humour.’129 Without such emotional attunement, neither the narrator nor the reader will be able to progress further. By deploying a logic of the passions in its struggles with epistemological obscurity, the Treatise offers readers a form of philosophical therapy in lieu of certainty. Consequently, as Parker notes, for Hume the problem of scepticism ‘cannot be answered with a proposition or an argument, but only with a manner.’130 Hume’s depiction of the human mind as ‘a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations’ enables him to refashion the dilemma of scepticism and natural ‘life’ as a question of affective ‘disposition.’131 It is this ludic quality in Hume’s thought—the ability to treat the state of being in two minds as equivalent to playing two language games at different times—that appalls his common-sense detractors. For example, Beattie’s ad hominem attack in the Introduction to An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth targets what he sees as a contradiction between Hume’s private and professional selves: But why is this author’s character so replete with inconsistency! Why should his principles and his talents extort at once our esteem and detestation, our applause and contempt! That he, whose manners in private life are said to be so agreeable to many of his acquaintance, should yet, in the public capacity of an author, have given so much cause of just offence to all the friends of virtue and mankind, is to me a matter of astonishment and sorrow, as well as of indignation.132

Beattie overlooks the nature of the arguments that had led Hume to cultivate a double life of reflection and activity, accusing him instead of merely ‘searching after paradoxes’ that are ‘all, without exception, on the side of licentiousness and scepticism.’133 And yet, by directing his attack at Hume’s character, Beattie unwittingly identifies the grounds that Hume himself had staked out as the most fundamental to philosophical thought: those that related to questions of virtue, 127 Hume, Treatise, p. 264. 128 Hume, Treatise, p. 265. 129 Hume, Treatise, p. 273. 130 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 150. 131 Hume, Treatise, p. 253. 132 Beattie, Essay, pp. 10–11. 133 Beattie, Essay, p. 12.

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psychological harmony, and community cohesion. But while Beattie and Reid insist that these values negate scepticism, Hume maintains that they merely counterbalance philosophical doubt. The lesson of Cicero’s Academic scepticism for Hume is that civic solidarity is supported not by foundational intuition, but by rhetoric and diplomacy. Common-sense thinkers revolted against the suggestion that the unity of the self and its connections with society depend upon manners and style rather than upon self-evident (albeit indemonstrable) principles. Accordingly, when Oswald criticizes the writers of antiquity for neglecting obvious and common-sense truths, he singles out Cicero for ignoring the testimony of nature and pursuing an abstruse form of reasoning that culminates in ‘rhetorical embellishments’ that would astonish any man of ‘common understanding.’134 This tension between performative action and constitutive intuition in Scottish thought persists into the Victorian era. Consequently, Hume and the young Carlyle, though very different thinkers, display a shared preoccupation with the complex relationship between action and essence, style and substance. Both come to stress the epistemological priority of the practical, arguing that the deep questions of philosophy cannot be deliberated in isolation from the vestments of life. In Sartor Resartus, for example, manners are seen to make man in the Life-Philosophy of Clothes, which in turn cannot ‘attain its significance till the Character itself [of Teufelsdröckh] is known and seen.’135 Like Hume, the young Carlyle addresses moral questions in terms of character, as part of what Baier (writing of Hume) calls a ‘moral style of life.’136 It is this thought that lies behind the ‘Everlasting Yea’ of Teufelsdröckh and the command to ‘ “Produce! Produce! . . . Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might.” ’137 Sartor Resartus’s peremptory injunctions are a philosophical world away from Hume’s soothing and reassuring ministrations to the brains of the philosophically perplexed. Nonetheless, neither Hume’s Treatise nor Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus offers itself to its readers as a text of contemplation. Both works are, first and foremost, narratives in which the character of the philosopher enacts the engaged, active philosophy described therein. None of this is to deny the obvious fact that, while the Treatise shares with Sartor Resartus a determination to engage with the relationship between meaning and truth at the level of textual performance, the philosophies practised in these works are, in most respects, worlds apart. Lying between the pacific, accommodating proto-pragmatism of Hume and the more assertive, self-actualizing proto-pragmatism of Carlyle is the philosophical gulf introduced by German idealism. While both Hume and Carlyle suggest that the self can only realize itself fully when engaged in moral action or practical reasoning, Carlyle conceives the latter in terms of a struggle for authenticity, not as Hume’s negotiation of intersubjective communication and community feeling. Moreover, at the heart of Carlyle’s vision of an authentic, self-fashioning intellect are two ideas that emerged in late eighteenth-century 134 Oswald, Appeal, p. 43. 135  Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh in Three Books, eds. Roger L. Tarr and Mark Engel (2000), p. 57. 136 Baier, Postures, p. ix. 137 Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, p. 146.

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German philosophy as part of a broader reaction against Humean scepticism and historicism. The first of these is identified by Kant in the Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) as the rational autonomy of every human individual presupposed by the ‘a priori synthetic practical proposition’ expressed in the categorical imperative to moral duty.138 For Kant, the autonomy of the will, divorced from all feeling and sentiment, is ‘the ground of the dignity of human nature and of every rational nature’, and as such is ‘the Supreme Principle of Morality.’139 The second (thoroughly un-Humean) idea at work in Sartor Resartus is that of ‘wonder’, or, as it is more commonly designated in post-Kantian philosophy, intellectual intuition. The latter was proscribed by Kant as a notion that violated the epistemological boundary between the cognitive understanding and the regulative but supersensible faculty of reason. Consequently, debates around intellectual intuition were channelled into questions of whether art (as the young Schelling argued) or practical reason (as Fichte maintained) might provide ways of reunifying the human intellect (and thus the self ) in the wake of the Kantian critique. For example, in ‘An Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre’ (1797–98), Fichte attempts to avoid disrupting Kant’s critical framework by identifying the (intellectually intuitive) act of self-apprehension presupposed by consciousness with the essentially ethical action of self-positing, since it is ‘only through the medium of the ethical law that I catch a glimpse of myself .’140 Consequently, ‘[t]he intellectual intuition of which the Wissenschaftslehre speaks is not directed toward any sort of being whatsoever; instead, it is directed at an acting.’141 I have offered this brief Humean reading of Carlyle and transcendentalism as a way of previewing a theme that will figure more prominently in the second part of this book: the different ways in which Neoclassical and Romantic familiar essays attempt to figure social knowledge. The possibility of intellectual intuition, however remote or evanescent, haunts the Romantic essay in similar ways to the philosophy of Sartor Resartus. For Teufelsdröckh, style is symbolic, embodying a deeper truth that can be perceived only through the dynamic form of reason, or ‘Fantasy’. There is in every symbol, then, ‘ “some embodyment and revelation of the Infinite; the Infinite is made to blend itself with the Finite, to stand visible, and as it were attainable, there”.’142 Teufelsdröckh also places a thoroughly Fichtean emphasis upon the achievement of belief in self-identity through practical activity. As he puts it: ‘ “Not what I Have” . . . “but what I Do is my Kingdom.” ’143 Carlyle locates the nexus of subjectivity in apperception and self-actualization rather than in socialization. Clothes maketh man, Teufelsdröckh suggests, but it is man rather than custom or habit that makes his clothes. Indeed, ‘ “what is Philosophy throughout but a continual battle against Custom; an ever-renewed effort to transcend the

138  Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, ed. and trans. Mary J. Gregor (1996), p. 72. 139 Kant, Practical Philosophy, pp. 85, 89. 140  Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre and Other Writings (1797–1800), ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale (1994), p. 49. 141 Fichte, Introductions, p. 55. 142 Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, p. 162. 143 Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, p. 92.

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sphere of blind Custom, and so become Transcendental?” ’144 For Hume, conversely, style can only ever be acquired and cultivated through custom and habit, the two materials that make up the mortar of human experience. By acting, one cannot expect to transcend an empirical reality; instead, one acts in order to participate in and facilitate the customs upon which one’s own selfhood depends. For this reason, Hume maintains that the psychology of the human mind presupposes the rhetoric of human communication. For Hume as a philosophical writer, what is finally at stake for the writing self is not the prospect of an intuitive, quasi-cognitive encounter with an Absolute, but its ability to achieve a fictional (rather than transcendental) stability and identity within an intellectual community. T H E P H I L O S O P H Y O F R H E TO R I C Hume’s rhetorical strategy for philosophy has interesting and unexpected implications for his thinking about the art of rhetoric itself. By combining a linguistic understanding of epistemic norms as fundamentally conventional with a Ciceronian view of philosophical writing as active and socially effective, Hume’s work positions itself ambivalently in relation to eighteenth-century rhetorical theory and practice. As Arthur Walzer notes, the philosophical status of rhetoric during the Enlightenment was undermined by developments within British logic. Rhetoric’s association with local, situational, and temporal issues affecting communication, as well as its concern with persuasion rather than the discovery of truth, meant that, in both theory and practice, it sat uneasily with many of the objectives of the new science, such as the attempt to establish a universal grammar.145 This pattern was confirmed by the end of the century, by which time the new logic of the Lockeans had broken decisively from Aristotelian models of coherence and consistency in favour of empirical standards of accuracy, a rupture that would culminate in the ‘inductive principle’ of Reid and Stewart.146 It was in response to these developments that the ‘New Rhetoric’ of George Campbell, Hugh Blair, Lord Kames, and Adam Smith aimed to rehabilitate the study of rhetoric by grounding it in the new sciences of empirical epistemology and associative psychology.147 Campbell, for example, sought to secure a place for rhetoric as a form of applied logic by underpinning ancient rhetorical principles with associationist and common-sense theories of psychology. As he argues in The Philosophy of Rhetoric, ‘[p]ure logic regards only the subject, which is examined solely for the sake of information. Truth, as such, is the proper aim of the examiner. Eloquence not only considers the subject, but also the speaker and the hearers, and both the subject and the speaker for the sake of the hearers.’148 Having incorporated 144 Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, p. 190. 145  See Walzer, George Campbell, p. 34. 146  See Wilbur Samuel Howell, Eighteenth-Century British Logic and Rhetoric (1971), p. 297. 147  See Arthur E. Walzer, George Campbell: Rhetoric in the Age of Enlightenment (2003), p. 128; H. Lewis Ulman, Things, Thoughts, and Actions: The Problem of Language in Late Eighteenth-Century British Rhetorical Theory (1994), pp. 4–5. 148  George Campbell, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, vol. 1 (1776), p. 97.

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the science of induction, rhetoric is reconstructed by Campbell as a subdiscipline of logic itself. ‘If then it is the business of logic to evince the truth’, he concludes, ‘to convince an auditory, which is the province of eloquence, is but a particular application of the logician’s art.’149 Hume’s thought exerts a mixed influence upon this New Rhetoric. On one level, for instance, Campbell’s concept of rhetorical vivacity appears to echo Hume’s identification of mental vivacity in ideas as one of the essential components in belief.150 Indeed, Campbell’s work on developing an empirical science of rhetoric might be read as revealing the rhetorical basis of Hume’s own epistemology. Accordingly, Adam Potkay argues that ‘the reason that Campbell could easily adopt the main concepts of Hume’s epistemology into his Philosophy of Rhetoric is that . . . those concepts originate in the discourse of rhetoric . . . . Campbell effectively uncovers the theory of oratory that informs Hume’s science of mind.’151 However, as Walzer notes, Campbell refuses to consider the possibility that vivacity might be a precondition of, rather than merely an aid to belief, and follows Hume’s account ‘only in so far as it conforms to Quintilian.’152 It is unthinkable for Campbell that philosophy might be a branch of rhetoric, rather than the reverse. Hume, on the other hand, having stripped thought of its metaphysical and epistemological foundations, finds it difficult to support any view of rhetoric as merely the ‘dress’ of thought. The only way to obviate concerns regarding the possible subordination of philosophy to rhetoric is through the ordering of rhetoric itself. Regulating the flow of mental association requires individuals to observe the norms of social association. Potkay has documented the political context of this linguistic turn—what he calls the ‘ “figurative revival” ’—in empiricism in the age of Hume. Hume’s contention ‘that any science of man is bound to be fabulous’, as Potkay puts it, drastically raises the epistemological and political stakes for rhetoric in Hanoverian Britain, triggering a struggle for control over public discourse that is manifested in a tension between a nostalgia for ancient republican ideals of eloquence and an emerging social ideology of politeness that challenges the former but never quite manages to replace it.153 Hume’s own conclusions regarding the groundlessness of human belief and the constitutive nature of figures, fictions, and linguistic conventions leads him to approach the roles of rhetoric and eloquence with some trepidation and ambivalence. As Potkay argues, Hume’s revisions to his essay ‘Of Eloquence’ reveal how, even as he laments the decline of commanding eloquence in British public life, he nonetheless ‘increasingly expressed his distrust of eloquence not in philosophic terms but rather in terms of the emerging discourse of manners or politeness.’154 Thus, although Hume opines that, when compared to the ancients, ‘if we be superior in philosophy, we are still . . . much inferior in eloquence’, he 149 Campbell, Rhetoric, vol. 1, p. 99. 150  For a discussion of these, see Walzer, George Campbell, p. 65. See also Hume, Treatise, pp. 98, 101: in the section ‘Of the Causes of Belief ’, Hume identifies the ‘force and vivacity’ communicated by an impression to an idea as giving rise to belief, although vivacity itself ‘super-adds nothing to the idea, but only changes our manner of conceiving it.’ 151 Potkay, Eloquence, p. 184. 152 Walzer, George Campbell, p. 71. 153 Potkay, Eloquence, p. 21. 154  Potkay, Eloquence, p. 4.

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­ ismisses the suggestion that this decline can be attributed to the ‘superior good d sense of the moderns, who reject with disdain all those rhetorical tricks, employed to seduce the judges, and will admit of nothing but solid argument in any debate or deliberation.’155 The issue, Hume claims, is not one of sense, but of technique and style. The problem with unrestrained figures of speech is not that they are false, but that they are in poor taste: they are impolite. The subtlety of Hume’s position on rhetoric is easily overlooked. For instance, Howell finds the views expressed in ‘Of Eloquence’ to be ‘curiously static, curiously unhistorical, and curiously antiquarian’ when placed in the context of eighteenth-century debates on rhetoric.156 In addition, he is perplexed by Hume’s rejection of the empiricist principle that ‘an audience is moved by discourse only when discourse makes truth visible.’157 And yet, Hume had every reason to be suspicious of an eloquence that based its power to move audiences upon its ability to reveal ‘objective’ truth, an aversion which is reflected in his own style, which— in striking contrast to the rhetorical values whose vanishing he ostensibly laments— is measured, cautious, and analytical. For Hume, far too much is at stake in our linguistic performances to allow the associative imagination to wander freely through the public sphere in search of ‘truth’. In this respect, Hume exhibits the values of Augustan philosophical writing, which, as Richetti observes, ‘needs the voice established by style as a way of stabilizing the disorderly possibilities and implications of thought.’158 Moreover, as Potkay indicates, such ‘disorderly possibilities’ in the mid-1700s were manifestly political and increasingly mediated by popular print culture. Any attempt at reviving ancient oratory in the modern world faced the problem that ‘the glory of the assembly had been translated into the merely figurative applause of a reading public.’159 Recognizing this, Hume attempts to construct an imagined community, one based instead on politeness and the fiction of conversational immediacy offered by print. The tension between eloquence and politeness in Hume is, then, a matter of both ideology and style. It also underlies his ambivalence about Cicero. As Howell notes, rhetoric was important to Cicero and the Roman Republic precisely because it ‘sought to make discourses effective with people who must act wisely in concert if civilization is to endure.’160 Hume shares this view—as has been seen, he augments the role of rhetoric by attributing to it the power of maintaining the bonds of intersubjective communication that keep reason (and ‘truth’) afloat. The elision of objective truth from human discourse meant reorienting rhetoric away from accuracy and towards coherence, which in turn raised the profile of the role played by the virtues within the republic of letters. In practice, however, Cicero’s eloquence made Hume uneasy. In this regard, he was not alone: in the eyes of the New Rhetoric, the embellished, formal qualities associated with Cicero’s writing were too artificial. Kames, Campbell, and Blair all rejected the Ciceronian style in favour of one that reflects the ‘natural’ flow of thoughts and the association of 155 Hume, Essays, pp. 98, 103–4. 157 Howell, Rhetoric, p. 615. 159 Potkay, Eloquence, p. 85.

156 Howell, Rhetoric, p. 616. 158 Richetti, Philosophical Writing, p. 30. 160 Howell, Rhetoric, p. 77.

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ideas. For Hume, however, clarity is less important than civility: what he objects to in Cicero is not his lack of authenticity, but his florid exhibitionism. As Potkay succinctly puts it, ‘Cicero’s figures may or may not be “instruments of error and deceit”—Hume faults them simply for being gross. They are “too striking and palpable”.’161 Rather than promoting polite conversation between citizens, Ciceronian flourishes threaten to quell dialogue by drowning out discussion with the voluble applause (real or imagined) of the masses. In contrast, Hume’s prose self-consciously performs the manners of restraint, moderation, orderliness, and ironic humility necessary to buttress effective communication and civic rationality. What Howell refers to as Hume’s ‘curiously antiquarian’ attitude to Cicero’s style is itself the product of this typically Humean knowingness and doubling. Ancient eloquence may be fine if appreciated with aesthetic sophistication and historical distance; consumed unreflectively, however, it is merely tacky. Hume warns of the dangers of such linguistic kitsch in his Introduction to the Treatise: Disputes are multiplied, as if everything was uncertain; and these disputes are ­managed with the greatest warmth, as if every thing was certain. Amidst all this bustle ’tis not reason, which carries the prize, but eloquence; and no man needs ever despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant hypothesis, who has art enough to represent it in any favourable colours.162

Tellingly, Hume forges a link in this passage between (on one hand) disputatiousness, extravagant hypotheses, and the lurid colouring of public dialogue, and (on the other hand) an enthusiastic appetite for certainty. For Hume, positivism (religious and philosophical) and eloquence are co-conspirators in fomenting disorder in public discourse. Against this, Hume stakes his Augustan conviction ‘that beauty, as well as virtue, always lies in a medium’, an idea reflected in his claim in ‘Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing’, that ‘we ought to be more on our guard against the excess of refinement than that of simplicity; and that because the former excess is both less beautiful, and more dangerous than the latter.’163 Once these comments are taken into consideration, both Hume’s wariness of ancient eloquence and his resistance to the modern, psychologized rhetoric of Campbell become more comprehensible. His own prose style, indeed, is designed to deter excess and confusion and to promote consensus, politeness, and civility. Accordingly, it avoids parataxis, repetition, parenthesis, and colloquialism, seeking instead to build balance and symmetry, as well as the sustained sequences of subordinated clauses that characterize the classical, periodic sentence. I have tried to show that, far from being an anomaly, this rhetorical conservatism stems directly from Hume’s protopragmatic, socialized empiricism. Stylistically, by striving for equipoise, his writing tries to eschew two equally unsatisfactory alternatives: the declamatory, inflammatory eloquence of the ancients and the supposedly ‘truthful’ and ‘natural’ imitation of 161 Potkay, Eloquence, p. 73. 163 Hume, Essays, p. 194.

162 Hume, Treatise, p. xiv.

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the rhythms of thought promoted by the new philosophy of rhetoric. Cutting across both tendencies, Hume’s irony and detachment attempts to enact the values of politeness, balance, and moderation enjoined by mitigated scepticism. C O N C LU S I O N In this chapter, I have outlined some of the ways in which the new, socialized empiricisms of Hume, Reid, and Bentham redraw the boundaries between linguistic and epistemic norms in mid-to-late eighteenth-century philosophy and philology. The pivotal point in this development is Hume’s identification of the sensory poverty of language and his removal of any putatively natural, empirical foundation to linguistic meaning. In Hume’s Academic scepticism, the mind-as-concourse replaces the mind-as-closet as the dominant metaphor for thinking about the relationship between truth and meaning. For Hume, this entails an end to ‘serious’ philosophizing, at least in the sense of attempting to underpin thought and discourse with epistemological or metaphysical foundations. While common-sense thinkers such as Reid and Stewart agree with this (to a point), they nonetheless continue to dig for linguistic foundations elsewhere. Conversely, utilitarians of a ‘rhetorical’ bent like Bentham forsake epistemological foundationalism and embrace a more pragmatic holism. For Hume, however, the linguistic roots of reason reveal the dependence of thought upon convention, custom, and social habit. Maintaining coherent thought is a task in which the experimental experience of ‘easy’ empiricism and the formal techniques of Ciceronian rhetoric work hand in hand. Accordingly, style and manner in conversation and writing in Hume assume a regulative function. By moderating the practices of discourse and knowledge, rhetorical qualities such as courtesy, politeness, and balanced, philosophical indifference ultimately form the conditions of possibility for rational intercourse. Indeed, in some respects, manners for Hume operate analogously to Kant’s non-legislative faculty of reason, with the caveat that the a priori principle proposed by Humean rhetoric is social and not transcendental. Instead of the self-actualization later prospected by Teufelsdröckh’s ‘fantasy’, Hume offers the social coherence of a thoroughly fictional (but no less actual) ‘self ’. This transition between eighteenth-century ‘rhetoric’ and Romantic ‘Literature’ brings us to the question of genre. I have suggested that Hume’s invention of an ‘easy’ form of empiricism relates to his abandonment of the serious, scientific treatise in favour of other literary forms, such as the dialogue and the essay. Nonetheless, with the eighteenth-century essay Hume finds himself swimming against the rhetorical current. The revolution in prose heralded by the essays of Montaigne and Bacon is associated not only with the emergence of modern empiricism, but also with a return to a plainer, Attic manner of writing. The latter eschews the artifice and symmetry of the periodical sentence favoured by Hume and Johnson, and embraces instead looser, more impressionistic, and ‘authentic’ ways of recording and expressing experience. Thus, in its occasionalism, improvisationalism, and informality, the

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familiar essay represents the antithesis of the balanced, moderate, and indifferent rhetoric adopted by Hume—indeed, it has been argued that the essay’s incompleteness and formlessness challenges the notion of ‘genre’ itself.164 It might appear curious, then, that Hume would choose to utilize this formlessness to advocate a rhetorical order of balance, moderation, and detachment. This is one of the issues that I will address in the following chapter. 164  See, for example, Réda Bensmaïa, The Barthes Effect: The Essay as Reflective Text, trans. Pat Fedkiew (1987), p. 90.

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4 Essays in Experience I N T RO D U C T I O N One of the principal claims of this book is that, between the middle of the ­eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century, the ‘socialization’ of British empiricism instigated by Hume combines with the development of the familiar essay in ways that produce a significant realignment in the relationship between philosophy and literature. The legacy of Hume’s philosophy is an epistemological paradigm that has at its heart a conception of intellect as social and intersubjective. Hume rejects a Lockean model of empiricism that based itself upon a metaphysical binary of self and world (subject and object); a representational theory of perception (in which ‘experience’ was configured as the reception of and reflection upon particles of sensory data by a punctual, private intellect), and a providential conception of rationality combined with an instrumental view of language (according to which the divine light of reason formed the foundation of communication through the use of arbitrary signs for ideas). In its place, he installs a picture of knowledge in which the testimony of the senses occupies the same continuum of cognition as the testimony of other people, in which experience is conceived as communicative and interactive rather than inductive, and in which rationality is itself seen as conventional—that is, as based upon the ability of members of a historical linguistic community to engage in communicative acts within a shared normative framework. ‘Easy’ empiricism downplays the scientific, procedural, and Newtonian model of the philosopher assumed by Locke in favour of the Ciceronian ideal of the thinker as an intellectual who actively engages in public life through exemplary performances of philosophical virtue. In this chapter, I suggest that this change is a literary development as much as a philosophical one. As Clifford Siskin has noted, the shift from an ancient knowledge based upon discourse, oral testimony, and persons, to a modern knowledge grounded upon the ‘epistemological visualism’ of observation, sight, and objects, manifests itself most obviously as a difference between genres.1 The paradigm shift mediated by the competing genres of ‘system’ and ‘essay’ in the eighteenth century reflects a division between fundamentally different epistemological worldviews, so that ‘[t]o choose one or another was not just to indicate a stylistic preference but to make a statement about what could and should be known, and how.’2 The present study seeks to complement Siskin’s account by detailing the essay’s challenge to 1 Siskin, System, p. 28.

2 Siskin, System, p. 33.

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modern knowledge as system. This contest emerges, I argue, because of the essay’s involvement with three of the principal features of socialized empiricism: scepticism, dialogue, and philosophical thought as performance. The first of this triad of concerns stems from the close connection between the activity of ‘essaying’ and philosophical doubt. As Leo Damrosch observes, in the familiar essay writers saw a medium that fitted the sceptical tenor of mid-century thought; indeed, ‘[i]n an empiricist age that was suspicious of grandiose literary aspirations, any reaching toward “truth” was almost compelled to be essayistic.’3 This relation is already implied in Johnson’s account of the verbal roots of ‘essay’, which, as he notes in the Dictionary, variously connote an ‘[a]ttempt; endeavour’, a ‘loose sally of the mind’, a ‘trial’ or ‘experiment.’4 And yet, the very link between ‘essaying’ and ‘experimenting’ highlights the genre’s epistemological ambivalence. Essaying experience from a sceptically empirical perspective divides essayists according to the view taken of what (or who) should be trusted in the absence of certainty. In Michel de Montaigne’s ‘Of Experience’, for example, the essayist confesses to having lost trust in everything—himself included. Indeed, ‘were it not that what I do for lack of memory’, he avers, ‘others do still more often for lack of good faith, I should always accept the truth in matters of fact from another man’s mouth rather than from my own.’5 Few eighteenth-century essayists in Britain would assent to this claim. Instead, they tended to emulate Bacon and Locke in placing their trust in either the light of reason or the Supreme Being.6 Even Hume, in the absence of alternatives, places epistemic trust in custom, habit, and convention. What this picture suggests, nonetheless, is that the flourishing of the essay ­during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is closely related to a heightened consciousness of the role played by trust in human life and thought. At this point, the second connection between empiricism and the essay emerges through the genre’s association with ideals of sociability, dialogue, and conversation. Since the days of The Spectator and The Tatler, the periodical essay had established itself as both medium and metaphor for the open, egalitarian, and polite discursiveness of the public sphere. Apparently spontaneous and random in its choice of subject matter, and with links to other paratextual or ‘secondary’ forms of literature such as commonplace books, reading manuals, and personal correspondence, the familiar essay seeks to establish common social ground with the reader through informal practices of conversation. With the emergence of socialized empiricism, however, the essay increasingly becomes a metaphor for experience itself, now conceived as playful, nonlinear, fragmentary, and foundationless. As Nicholas Phillipson observes, Hume’s innovation ‘was to transform the language of Addisonian politeness by 3 Damrosch, Fictions, p. 21. Siskin borrows this phrase from Walter Ong’s article, ‘System, Space, and Intellect in Renaissance Symbolism’, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance 18, no. 2 (1956), pp. 222–39. 4  Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., vol. 1 (1777). 5 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 822. 6 In Rambler, p. 184, for example, Johnson declares that ‘[i]n this state of universal uncertainty . . . nothing can afford any rational tranquillity, but the conviction . . . that the universe is under the perpetual superintendance of him who created it.’ (Rambler, vol. 5, p. 205).

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showing that it could be turned into a vehicle of science and used to derive an entirely new account of the principles of human nature.’7 In this way, Addison’s original attempt to bring philosophy and science out of the academies and into the coffee houses is radicalized by Hume’s endeavour to incorporate the language of sociability into the principles of philosophy itself. This, in turn, involved reintroducing dialogue to empiricism’s concept of ‘truth’. The return of philosophical dialogue highlights a broader tension in Enlightenment thought between play and system, between doxa and episteme, which is itself the product of a dialectic within empiricism. As ‘experience’ is increasingly abstracted and reified into the specialized language of ideas and impressions, the essay appears to keep alive the residue of an older, receding image of experience as something active and social. With its appeal to unsystematic communication, the rise of the familiar essay presents a reflex of instrumental rationality, a nostalgic abstraction of social life. Like the idea of ‘trust’, its emergence is both a reaction against, and a symptom of reification. This contradiction is reflected in the essay genre’s ability to morph between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ forms, and to lurch from conversation and polite scepticism into objectivity and didacticism. Accordingly, while the familiarity effect of the periodical essay offers the possibility of reuniting theory and practice in ways that return experimental knowledge to the realm of active, intersubjective communication, in its more systematic modes the essay shares with the formal treatise and dissertation a commitment to sound method, demonstrative reasoning, and argumentative conclusiveness.8 Ranging between its foundationalist and non-foundationalist modes, the essay presents itself to writers of the period both as a tool for scientific discovery and as a means of expressing subjectivity as process, for embodying the mind in its unpredictable motions and emotions.9 This tension within the essay genre can be traced to the competing conceptions of ‘experience’ and ‘experiment’ presented respectively by the ludic self-fashioning of Montaigne and the practical empiricism of Bacon. In the latter tradition, planned experience is proposed as a scientific method for arriving at truth, whether effected through the experimental method of Boyle, Newton, and the Royal Society, or through Leibniz’s deductive system of metaphysical logic.10 For instance, 7  Phillipson, ‘Polites’, p. 235. 8  See also Siskin, System, pp. 131–2. As Siskin notes, in its systematic mode the essay can manifest itself either as an ‘essay towards system’ (in which the essay functions as the first in a sequence of moves towards a scaled-up system) or as a system embedded within an essay (in which the scaling-up of the essay into a larger systematic whole is relinquished in favour of accumulating ‘systems in essays’). 9  It barely needs mentioning that the boundaries are not always clear between demonstration and dialogue, between conclusiveness and the urge to keep conversation going. As I discuss below, while Locke’s Essay exhibits this ambiguity to an unusual degree, it is exhibited in varying degrees by all the essays discussed in this book. Indeed, since it contains within itself the very problem of whether ‘resolution’ as such is either possible or desirable, the ‘contest’ between the familiar and the systematic cannot be formulated in ‘either/or’ terms. Consequently, the differences under discussion here are matters of degree rather than of kind. 10  See Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Philosophical Writings, ed. G.H.R. Parkinson (1973), p. 151: in his 1705 New Essays on the Human Understanding, Leibniz comments that experimentation serves merely ‘as a confirmation of reason, more or less as verifications serve in arithmetic to help us to avoid erroneous calculation when the reasoning is long’.

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although divergent in their methods, the essays of Locke and Leibniz share a commitment to securing knowledge and removing doubt through thought processes characterized by intellectually consistent methods. In the more ‘open’ essay tradition of Montaigne, by contrast, experience/experiment is rendered as personal, provisional, and protean. Accordingly, in the familiar essays of Addison, Hume, and Lamb, a self-consciously unmethodical empiricism experiments with the trust of the reader, playfully and ironically deploying different moods and manners as a means of enhancing intersubjective communication. The familiar essay thus tends to eschew the quest for certainty in order to cultivate ‘experience’ as an experimental activity in a very different sense, one in which the mind comes to reshape itself through a performance of fundamentally intersubjective validity. The question of performance brings us to the third link between empiricism and the essay in this period. In the familiar essay, writers like Hume and Johnson find a generic trope for an active and engaged (rather than a receptive and contemplative) empiricism, one which implies that the truth of any empirical statement ultimately depends upon the manner of its performance. In turn, one of the key issues that divides familiar essayists in this period is that of what is at stake (epistemologically or strategically) in the writer’s performance and the reader’s response, and in particular the question of whether the writer’s performance is grounded in a metaphysical foundation; in other words, whether the essay’s intersubjective negotiations are to be read in relation to a ‘truth’ that exists outside such conversations. Indeed, the persistent issue for Hume and Johnson as essayists is not the contest between literature and philosophy per se; instead, it is the tension between what I have described as fundamentally ‘unserious’ (rhetorical) and ‘serious’ (foundationalist) ways of conceptualizing the intersubjective basis of truth. What is at stake here then, is the fork that emerges between constative and performative models of philosophical language, a divergence originally prompted by Hume’s replacement of a private and pictorial with a public and grammatical conception of human reason, together with his move to undermine the truth/ performance binary.11 As a result, the boundary between performance as simulation and as accomplishment (one that, as will be seen, vexes Addison and Steele’s attempts to distinguish between the Gentleman and the ‘Fop’) breaks down in the absence of objective normative foundations. At the same time, by replacing Locke’s providential conception of reason with a probabilistic one, Hume dramatically raises the stakes for the essayist as stylist. As Damrosch puts it, the objective of Hume as an essayist ‘is to simulate or reenact [the] sharing of experience’, a method that ‘is both an appeal to social consensus and a contribution to it.’12 This has significant

11  This distinction is similar to the one made by James Chandler in England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romanticism (1998), p. xv: following the historian Dominic LaCapra, Chandler identifies ‘two modes of thinking about history and textuality. In one mode, the text has a “documentary” function; it refers and informs the historian about some state of affairs in the past. In the other mode, the text has an effective or . . . a “worklike” function, critically constructing or reconstructing the given in history.’ 12 Damrosch, Fictions, p. 21. Emphasis added.

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consequences for how the philosopher writes. Thanks to Hume, style becomes a philosophical issue. Accordingly, both Hume and Johnson use the performative resources of the familiar essay to grapple with the problem of how to regulate public discourse in the absence of apodictic rational norms. Their shared objective is to prevent the polyphony of dialogue and conversation tipping over into polysemy, a chaotic welter of meanings; where they diverge is in their conception of the relationship between practice and principles. For Hume, the moderation of public discourse involves the essayist policing polite culture via performances that reinforce and consolidate the conventions that ultimately underpin all norms (social and epistemological). Hume is prepared to use ‘easy’ philosophical writing for the end of cultivating consensus where objective truth is unreachable. For Johnson, by contrast, moral norms themselves fundamentally determine the legitimacy of human performances, including that of the essayist. Consequently, in Johnson’s eyes the success of any ‘trial’, including the essay, is determined by pre-established standards that transcend the social lifeworld. From this perspective, the incorrigible nature of epistemological doubt merely underscores the importance of the didactic and moral vocation of the essayist. As I discuss in Chapter 5, the same socio-epistemological issue that divides Hume and Johnson distinguishes the rhetorical performances of Lamb from the more ‘serious’ philosophical labours of Hazlitt. The second line along which conceptions of the essayist’s performance diverge, which will be considered in more detail in Chapter 5, corresponds to the familiar boundaries of Neoclassical and Romantic aesthetics. In the context of the familiar essay, I will argue, these boundaries correspond to the difference between ‘maintaining’ and ‘creating’ standards. Thus, for Hume and Johnson, epistemic and moral norms are essentially presupposed, either as social habits and conventions (in the case of Hume) or as timeless moral principles (in the case of Johnson): the task of the essayist is to preserve them. Accordingly, performed social virtue represents and enacts the social solidarity that either underpins epistemic norms (according to Hume) or reflects moral truths (as Johnson would have it). For reasons that are well known, however, the fiction of familiarity is both more tenuous and more urgent for the Romantic writer. Here, the establishment of norms is typically depicted as the achievement of the author through the exercise of imagination. For Lamb and Hazlitt, the performance of familiar conversation embodies an imaginative act in ways that are irreducible to intersubjective norms, producing a singularity that might be manifested, for instance, as the essayist’s inveterate whimsicality (in the case of Lamb) or as imaginative power (in the case of Hazlitt). To move from Enlightenment to Romantic essayistic prose then, is to move between two strategic models of exemplariness, that is, from an idea of performance as the consolidation of normativity, to one of performance as its production. In what remains of this chapter, I examine the essays of Hume and Johnson within the contexts of Enlightenment empiricism and the heyday of the periodical essay. I am particularly interested in the ways in which these writers attempt to navigate an increasingly abstract culture in which the practices of professional learning and everyday conversation are being pulled apart. There are few areas in

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which this emerging division between what Habermas terms ‘lifeworld’ and ‘system’ levels of thought are more apparent than in the withdrawal of the writer/ scientist/scholar from an increasingly specialized and commercialized public sphere. The social and epistemological status of the familiar essay lies at the crux of what Hume and Johnson see as a conflict between ‘thought’ and ‘life’. By embodying an unmethodical and dialogical ‘essayism’ in its very form, the familiar essay attempts, performatively, to overcome the division of doxa and episteme, the public sphere and the academy, even as its very existence attests to that estrangement. Before addressing this issue directly, however, it is necessary to take stock of some of the ways in which the essay genre has been theorized in relation to the epistemology of empiricism. THE GENRE OF EMPIRICISM Definitions are of limited use at the best of times, but they are especially unhelpful in the case of a literary form whose most salient characteristic is its lack of completeness, its deficiency of form. Réda Bensmaïa, for instance, criticizes traditional rhetorical and literary-theoretical studies of the essay for considering the essay ‘only as already empirically or formally imprisoned’ and thereby precluding ‘any consideration of the essay’s specificity as an a-generic text or as an anti-genre.’13 For Bensmaïa, this a-generic character of the essay stems from the ways in which the essayist disrupts literary and disciplinary boundaries by having no determinate or consistent role when writing. In rhetorical terms, then, what matters to the essayist is not ‘inventio—finding something to say—nor that of dispositio—putting in order what has been found’, but that of ‘complicatio’, of producing pleasure, criticism, difference.14 From this perspective, the difficulties surrounding any attempt to define the essay are rooted in fundamental problems of genre definition. Moreover, these very issues are bound up with the ways in which empiricism installs ‘complicatio’ at the centre of modern thought. The flourishing of this most protean of literary forms in eighteenth-century Britain—an age marked by an increasing appetite for classification and formalization—is bound up with tensions and contradictions within the dominant empiricist philosophy. As Burke discovered in his anatomy of the sublime and the beautiful, empirical method was poor at 13 Bensmaïa, The Barthes Effect, p. 90. For a contrary view, see Simon Peter Hull, The Familiar Essay, Romantic Affect and Metropolitan Culture: The Sweet Security of Streets (2018), pp. xiii–xiv: Hull claims that the ‘[f ]ailure to distinguish between the generic and terminological essay, or between investment in the genre and expedient use of the term, leads to the epithets of flexibility and adaptability making the concept of an essay almost meaninglessly diffuse.’ The generic or ‘true essay’, he argues, can easily be defined as ‘physically diminutive, ostensibly artless and highly idiosyncratic’; ‘it eschews scientific rigour and objective authority in favour of opinionated verve and self-undercutting subjectivity’. And yet, by simply overlooking the genre’s contradictory impulses, and dismissing Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Pope’s Essay on Man as merely ‘terminological’ essays, Hull’s distinction rests upon a petitio principii: there is, indeed, no obvious reason other than his proposed definition why the latter should not be counted as examples of the genre. 14 Bensmaïa, The Barthes Effect, p. 6.

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producing conceptual determinacy. Indeed, as he observes in the closing paragraph of his ‘Introduction on Taste’, since any subject might ‘branch out into infinity’, it remains merely up to ‘the nature of our particular scheme, and the single point of view in which we consider it . . . to put a stop to our researches.’15 The ‘essay’ embodies this outlook in its very form. This indeterminacy of the ‘essay’ as a genre highlights one of the most obvious features of the term’s etymological origins: its relation to the verb ‘to try’. The Oxford English Dictionary registers two main senses of the noun ‘essay’, namely, the ‘[t]he action or process of trying or testing’ (often with regard to the quality and composition of metals) and a ‘trying to do something’. Under the first sense, the OED documents various, now obsolete connotations, including ‘testing, proof, experiment’ as well as ‘an example, a rehearsal’ and ‘a first taste’; under the second, it registers, among other things, an ‘attempt, endeavour’ and a ‘first tentative effort’. It is also under the second sense of ‘essay’ (i.e. as an attempt rather than as a trial) that the literary essay itself is defined as a ‘composition of moderate length on any particular subject, or branch of a subject; originally implying want of finish, “an irregular undigested piece” (Johnson), but now said of a composition more or less elaborate in style, though limited in range.’ This account corresponds closely to Richard Blackmore’s 1716 definition of ‘[a]n Essay [as] an instructive Writing, either in Prose or Verse, distinguish’d from compleat Treatises and voluminous Works, by its shorter Extent and less accurate Method.’16 What these early attempts at clarification make clear is the etymological closeness of both the nominal and verbal forms of ‘essay’/‘assay’ to (1) experimentation and rehearsal and (2) the idea of the incompleteness and imperfection of a first attempt. More remarkable still is the proximity, in eighteenth-century usage, of both ‘essay’ and ‘experiment’ to ‘experience’ itself. These historical connections are evident in the OED’s entries for the noun ‘assay’, which, under the ‘action or process of trying’, registers ‘3. Experiment’ and ‘4. Experience’. Although these senses have now died out, Johnson’s own account of ‘essay’, briefly cited by the OED, suggests that they retained their currency in the eighteenth century. Thus, Johnson’s definition of the noun ‘Essay’ is: ‘1. Attempt; endeavour. 2. A loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition. 3. A trial; an experiment. 4. First taste of any thing; first experiment.’ The latter senses, stressing ‘experiment’, remind us once again that both ‘experience’ and ‘experiment’ have shared roots in the Latin ‘experiri’, or ‘to try, put to the test’, a propinquity in meaning that Johnson’s own definition of ‘experience’ further confirms. Just as ‘Experience’ is defined in the Dictionary as ‘1. Practice; frequent trial’ and ‘2. Knowledge gained by trial and practice’, so ‘Experiment’ is rendered as ‘Trial of any thing.’17 Unsurprisingly, then, Johnson’s low estimation of the essay as ‘loose’, 15 Burke, Enquiry, p. 40. 16  Richard Blackmore, Essays Upon Several Subjects (1716), p. iii. 17  Samuel Johnson, Dictionary. See also Steven Lynn, ‘Johnson, Samuel’, Encyclopedia of the Essay, p. 913: as Lynn notes, since he endorsed a culture that ‘values success (over endeavor), regularity and method (over loose sallies), accomplishment (over trials), and the final (over the initial)’, for Johnson the essay would ‘appear always to be an inferior genre’.

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‘irregular’, and disordered is echoed by his definition of empiricism as the general method of practice, trial, and experiment. Having defined ‘Empirical’ as ‘1. Versed in experiments. 2. Known only by experience; practiced only by rote, without rational grounds’, Johnson gives even shorter shrift to ‘Empiricism’ itself, which is briskly defined as ‘Dependence on experience without knowledge or art; quackery.’ For better or worse, the fates of the essay, experience, and experiment were closely entwined for much of the eighteenth century; indeed, one could go so far as to say that, conceptually, the essay is the genre of empiricism. This brings us back to the problem of vagueness. It is striking that, according to Johnson’s definition, just about any literary work might be considered as an ‘essay’ under the various senses of ‘attempt’, ‘trial’, or ‘experiment’. Stephen Lynn, for example, notes that the wide variety of works in the period published as ‘essays’ attest to the elasticity of the genre, since poems, plays, philosophical dialogues, and treatises could all be counted as examples. Lynn points out that, in addition to the periodical essays of Addison and Steele, Johnson would have been aware of works as diverse as ‘Dryden’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668; a dialogue), Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1694; an extended philosophical speculation), Pope’s poetic Essay on Man (1733–34) or Essay on Criticism (1711)’, all of which had little in common beyond the word that they shared in their titles.18 Even works that did not bear the term ‘essay’ could be referred to as such by their authors. For example, in dedicating his Inquiry to James Deskfoord, Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, Thomas Reid seeks the former’s ‘favourable acceptance of this essay, as the fruit of my industry.’19 Indeed, the term ‘essay’ floats freely in the literary discourse of the period, to the point where it almost becomes, as Alexander Butrym puts it, ‘a word that connotes without denoting.’20 This is particularly evident in the case of Hume. Like Locke (who described the second of his Two Treatises of Government on the title page as ‘An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government’), Hume is given to using the terms ‘essay’, ‘enquiry’, and ‘treatise’ interchangeably.21 Thus, in the singlevolume edition of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (1758), his Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1748) acquires the title ‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (presumably to distinguish them from the ‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’, which also appear in that volume). The Philosophical Essays themselves were conceived as attempts to address the weaknesses of the Treatise by combining its anatomical approach to its subject matter with the sociable manners and skills of the painter. And yet, even the latter work displays signs of the essayistic manner that Hume would later embrace more fully. According to Box, Hume’s decision to formulate the titles of each of the Treatise’s constituent three books (and many of their sections) with the preposition ‘Of’ (such as ‘Of the Understanding’; ‘Of the Passions’; ‘Of Morals’), reflects an early 18  Lynn, ‘Johnson, Samuel’, p. 913. 19 Reid, Inquiry, p. xii. 20 Alexander  J.  Butrym, introduction, Essays on the Essay: Redefining the Genre, ed. Alexander Butrym (1989), p. 2. 21  John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett, 2nd ed. (1967), p. 135.

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trait of the essay genre, in which ‘titles took the form of essai de or essay of, signifying that the contents were a test or a probing of some subject.’ It is therefore no coincidence, Box concludes, ‘that Hume’s treatise was a treatise of rather than on human nature.’22 The Treatise is intended to be a hybrid, a cross between Montaignian essai and formal treatise, blending anatomical precision with narrative. In achieving that goal, however, Hume acknowledges that he had not been entirely successful. Indeed, essayists in this period are conscious that they are dealing not so much with a literary genre as with what Claire de Obaldia, quoting Alastair Fowler, terms ‘literature in potentia’, a form of writing that flits between creativity and criticism, narrative and analysis.23 As de Obladia argues, while the essay shares family resemblances with contemporary forms such as the novel and biography, it retains a ‘minor’ or ‘proto-’status that most other genres of the period manage to shed. The novel, for instance, establishes its status as an independent genre precisely because of the ways in which it develops to their full potential narrative techniques initially deployed in the essay.24 However difficult it was (and is) to define, the novel’s primary status as a literary genre is based upon that achievement. The essay, on the other hand, remains ‘secondary’ precisely because it ‘develops’ nothing. Indeed, for de Obladia, the essay is inherently marginal; it ‘functions like a paratext when it has not been published literally as a paratext.’25 Johnson touches on this issue when, in Rambler 152, he comments that the only characteristic shared by epistolary writings is their formlessness: As letters are written on all subjects, in all states of mind, they cannot be properly reduced to settled rules, or described by any single characteristick; and we may safely disentangle our minds from critical embarrassments, by determining that a letter has no peculiarity but its form, and that nothing is to be refused admission, which would be proper in any other method of treating the same subject.26

For Johnson, the indeterminacy of the letter is justified by its utility—indeed, ‘scarcely any species of composition deserves more to be cultivated than the epistolary style, since none is of more various or frequent use through the whole subordination of human life.’27 Thus, although propriety must be observed regardless of the medium of communication, the characterlessness of the letter reveals the insufficiency of aesthetic and cultural principle in determining form. Adorno’s landmark essay, ‘The Essay as Form’ (1958), identifies this very ambiguity of form as a space in which the immanent critique of cultural norms occurs. For Adorno, the cultural significance of the essay lies in the fact that it does not set 22 Box, Suasive Style, p. 94. 23  Claire de Obaldia, The Essayistic Spirit: Literature, Modern Criticism, and the Essay (1995), p. 7. 24 See John Richetti, ‘Ideas and Voices: The New Novel in Eighteenth-Century England’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 12, nos. 2–3 (2000), p. 334: Richetti claims that the handling of character in periodical essays is more ‘dialogical’ (in Bahktin’s sense) than in the novel, arguing that ‘what separates the periodical essay from what we now think of as the novel in the eighteenth century is the relative integrity and independence granted to characters, who are allowed to speak, as it were, in their own distinctive voices and within their defining intellectual and moral positions.’ 25  De Obaldia, Essayistic Spirit, p. 20. 26 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 45. 27 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 43.

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out from first principles to arrive at scientific conclusions or logical deductions. Instead, since its subjects are usually chosen at random, and are never rounded off to completeness, the essay genre defies two of the main watchwords of early Enlightenment thought: Baconian ‘method’ and Cartesian ‘clarity’. Approaching science through culture, and artistic activity through reflection, the hybrid essay ‘proceeds, so to speak, methodically unmethodically.’28 Nor is this a case of literature triumphing over science, since, for Adorno, the essay also measures up poorly as a work of art. Borrowing aesthetic techniques for largely critical and conceptual ends, it neglects to create anything new. For Adorno, the essay does not produce artistically, but instead engages playfully with whatever material happens to be at hand. Johnson memorably makes a similar claim in Rambler 184, when he laments the obligation of the periodical essayist to meet readers’ ‘perpetual demand of novelty and change’. Thus, while ‘[t]he compiler of a system of science lays his invention at rest, and employs only his judgment . . . he that attempts to entertain his reader with unconnected pieces, finds the irksomeness of his task rather increased than lessened by every production.’ And so, as the hours pass and the deadline for completion nears, ‘necessity enforces the use of those thoughts which then happen to be at hand.’29 Despite Johnson’s protests, for Adorno it is precisely this freedom in the essay to choose its topic randomly that constitutes its critical effectiveness. By refusing the either/or binary of discovery/creation, the essay abandons any attempt to overcome alienation by positing wholeness. As Adorno puts it, [w]ith the objectification of the world in the course of progressing demythologization, science and art have separated from each other. A consciousness in which perception and concept, image and sign would be one is not, if it ever existed, to be recreated with a wave of the wand; its restitution would be a return to chaos.30

Instead, in its motley, episodic way, the essay both embodies and critiques the Enlightenment pursuit of abstraction and the unmediated—the very pursuit that ultimately alienates the technician from the dreamer, and Hume’s ‘anatomist’ from his ‘painter’. In this way, the essay conducts an immanent critique of Enlightenment ideology by combining an almost indiscriminate inclusiveness with a concern for the mediating logic of form itself. By these means, it achieves a kind of aesthetic autonomy: The essay is both more open and more closed than traditional thought would like. It is more open in so far as, through its inner nature, it negates anything systematic and satisfies itself all the better the more strictly it excludes the systematic; . . . . On the other hand, the essay is more closed in that it labors emphatically on the form of its presentation.31

For Adorno then, the essay exhibits the dialectic of Enlightenment in its very hybridity. As such, the ‘[t]he essay remains what it always was, the critical form par 28  Adorno, ‘Essay as Form’, p. 161. 30  Adorno, ‘Essay as Form’, p. 154.

29 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, pp. 201–2. 31  Adorno, ‘Essay as Form’, p. 165.

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excellence; specifically, it constructs the immanent criticism of cultural artifacts.’32 As  R.  Lane Kauffmann observes, the essay fits Adorno’s model of immanent ­critique perfectly: enacted rhetorically through paradox and irony, the essay is Adornian ‘negative dialectics, crystallized.’33 Indeed, perhaps the essay fits this model rather too neatly. Lurking within Adorno’s discussion of the essay is the further, more troublesome irony of a ludic literary form being pressed into the service of an aesthetic theory. According to Kauffmann, the lacunae in Adorno’s position lies in the way in which ‘the essay is subtly instrumentalized in the very critique of instrumentalization.’34 Indeed, Adorno’s own technique as an essayist could hardly be further removed from those that he lauds in others. ‘The Essay as Form’ is an essay that aims to defend a position, and in particular to rebut the criticisms of the genre by traditional literary historians and ‘Realist’ Marxist literary theorists, such as Georg Lukács, who in The Historical Novel (1937), elevate the novel over the essay as the paradigmatic literary form of socially and historically constituted modern experience. Both Adorno’s position and his method of defending it are themselves shaped by an established economy of knowledge, the major currency of which is the academic essay. As Kauffmann points out, far from being necessarily heterodox, ‘the fragmentary-essayistic mode championed by some critics harmonizes with the accelerating compartmentalization of knowledge in academic institutions and in society at large.’35 In a similar way, Denise Gigante has remarked on how much criticism of the essay tends to be un-essayistic, professional, and conclusive; and yet, she asks, ‘[d]id not English literary criticism, in its modern manifestation, begin with the self-consciously unprofessional—amateurish, belletristic—essayist of the eighteenth century?’36 It could be argued that Adorno anticipates this objection in his insistence that there can be no route back to original wholeness: any attempt to reunify the human intellect along these lines would simply be a return to ‘chaos’. From this perspective, Enlightenment science and abstraction create an abyss that can only be crossed once. Consequently, what separates early modern essayists such as Montaigne from later philosophers and theorists who return to the essay, such as Hume and Adorno, is that only for the latter is the choice between doxa and episteme a forced one. The impossibility of avoiding or circumventing this dichotomy is what motivates Kauffmann to encourage the development of ‘a kind of thought at once fragmentary and holistic, not governed by exclusive principles, whether systematic or unsystematic in nature’. Indeed, Kauffmann’s final assessment of the essay has a familiar ring to it: it is only by adopting a ‘qualified scepticism’, he concludes, that the essayist is able, through an ‘extradisciplinary mode of thought’, to ‘entertain systems . . . without

32  Adorno, ‘Essay as Form’, p. 166. 33  R. Lane Kauffmann, ‘The Skewed Path: Essaying as Unmethodical Method’, Butrym, Essays, p. 231. 34  Kauffmann, ‘Skewed Path’, p. 232. 35  Kauffmann, ‘Skewed Path’, p. 232. 36  Denise Gigante, ‘Sometimes a Stick is Just a Stick: The Essay as (Organic) Form’, European Romantic Review 21, no. 5 (2010), p. 554.

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entirely succumbing to them.’37 It is this kind of epistemological suspension that I have associated with Hume’s attempt, based upon the ‘qualified’ Academic scepticism he learnt from Cicero, to outmanoeuvre disciplinary boundaries and cultivate a philosophy of ‘ease’. More recent attempts to theorize the essay have absorbed many of Adorno’s ideas regarding the genre’s distinctly modern awareness of its own forms of mediation. Above all, the essay’s hybridity has made it a site of great interest for academic writers struggling with the division, now institutionalized within higher learning, between ‘professional’ or critical and ‘amateur’ or creative writing. This is roughly the condition that Adorno describes in ‘The Essay as Form’. And yet, essay theorists have generally abandoned the Hegelian confidence with which Adorno defends his theory of negative dialectics. Brian Lennon, for instance, has described the decline of theory in the humanities in the early years of the twenty-first century (the product, as he sees it, of ‘the programmatic suppression of rhetoricity’) as ‘really the death of a certain “essayism”: of a certain consensus . . . about our “research” as writing— in other words, as a sociality lived in time.’38 This concern with ‘essayism’ as distinct from ‘the essay’ highlights another feature of recent essay criticism: a declining interest in questions of definition and a heightened concern with modes of writing and communication. For de Obaldia, a distinction must be drawn between the essay as genre and essayism as mode. Essayism, she claims, is a style of writing that might appear in a variety of different genres, and one which generally ‘marks a shift . . . from the philosophical (the scientific) to the literary.’39 Consequently, the list of attributes often associated with the essay (non-foundational, non-hierarchical, unoriginal, sophistic, unsystematic, provisional, particular, protean, amphibious, ludic, improvisatory, allusive, digressive, mosaic-like, fragmentary, unfinished, inexhaustive) are characteristic of the mode, but not necessarily of the genre. D OX A A N D E P I S T E M E As I discuss in Chapter 5, there are problems with applying Obladia’s ‘philosophical/ literary’ model to eighteenth-century essayists such as Hume and Johnson. Nonetheless, De Obaldia’s distinction is revealing when applied to the familiar essay, which is simultaneously reinforced and undermined by the ‘literariness’ of the very mode with which it is most commonly associated. Tellingly, de Obladia claims that this tension between the essay and essayism is illustrated in Montaigne’s essays, in which ‘the genre is in fact defined predominantly in terms of the mode.’40 The challenge posed by Montaigne’s essayism to conceptual (and by extension, generic) closure manifests itself as a counterdiscourse to an emerging and increasingly dominant language of scientific neutrality and objectivity. One of the many 37  Kauffmann, ‘Skewed Path’, pp. 237, 238. 38  Brian Lennon, ‘The Essay, in Theory’, Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism 38, no. 3 (2008), p. 84. 39  De Obaldia, Essayistic Spirit, p. 57. 40  De Obaldia, Essayistic Spirit, p. 28.

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ways in which this essayistic counterdiscourse is expressed is through the language of embodiment. In ‘Of Experience’ for instance, Montaigne declares: ‘I, who operate only close to the ground, hate that unhuman wisdom that would make us disdainful enemies of the cultivation of the body.’41 This typifies, in Zahi Zalloua’s words, Montaigne’s ‘distrust for a philosophical life . . . that denigrates embodied existence (somatic concerns) while identifying . . . philosophy with the life of the mind, and virtue with rational thought.’42 Like the body, the essayistic essay remains, as Gigante puts it, ‘the particular, historical, ephemeral, factual . . . object that will not be satisfactorily abstracted.’43 This resistance to abstraction in the Montaignean familiar essay contrasts with a tradition of essay-writing stemming from Bacon, in which, in de Obladia’s words, ‘the sceptical element does not lead so insistently to the renewed questioning of the genre as a genre.’44 This is despite the fact that both Montaigne and Bacon consistently draw upon classical precedents in their essay writing, such as the epistolary writings of Cicero and Seneca and the collections of lectiones, exempla, and sententiae that Renaissance humanists revived from their ancient precursors.45 Indeed, Bacon cites classical works as forerunners of his own Essays. In a dedicatory letter to the Prince of Wales intended for the new, augmented 1597 edition of the Essays (but discarded after the Prince’s death), Bacon writes that ‘[t]he word is late, but the thing is ancient. For Seneca’s epistles to Lucilius, if one mark them well, are but Essays, that is, dispersed meditations, though conveyed in the form of epistles.’46 Despite this shared classical pedigree, however, the meditations of Montaigne and Bacon are ‘dispersed’ in different ways and to different ends. For Montaigne, the essay becomes a vehicle for an essayistic mode of writing inflected with informality, conversation, and humour. Seen this way, Montaigne’s essays can appear ‘empirical’ in quite a radical sense, insofar as they promote complexity and indeterminacy over certainty, cultivating style and pleasure over methodological correctness. In his essays on topics such as conversation, friendship, and experience, Montaigne challenges his reader to think of these subjects in non-reductive ways. In ‘Of the Art of Discussion’, for example, he writes that ‘[w]hat stings, touches and arouses us better than what pleases. These times are fit for improving us only backward, by disagreement more than agreement, by difference more than by similarity.’47 According to Zalloua, Montaigne here warns the reader 41 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 849. 42  Zahi Zalloua, ‘Montaigne, Skepticism and Immortality’, Philosophy and Literature 27, no. 1 (2003), p. 43. 43  See also Helen Deutsch, ‘The Body’s Moments: Visible Disability, the Essay and the Limits of Sympathy’, Prose Studies 27, no. 1/2 (2005), p. 14: according to Deutsch, the essay was the ideal genre for the representation of disability: ‘The essay form, with its affinity for open-ended ambiguity . . . and its historical ties to “authentic” and embodied self-expression . . . articulates disability as a vehicle for representative subjectivity that undermines the stability of the body as visual sign.’ 44  De Obaldia, Essayistic Spirit, p. 37. 45 See Floyd Gray, ‘The Essay as Criticism’, The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, ed. Glyn P. Norton, vol. 3 (1999), p. 271. 46  Francis Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, eds. J. Spedding, R.L. Ellis, and D.D. Heath, vol. 11 (1864–74), p. 340. 47 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 703.

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(and potential friend) against confusing communication with comprehension. Instead, Zalloua claims, Montaigne urges his reader ‘to learn to read differently, essayistically, recognizing that every act of communication runs the risk of semantic reification, of being reduced to a propositional statement . . . whose truth or falsity can be unambiguously determined.’48 And yet, while this reading certainly makes Montaigne sound rather postmodern, it neglects an important feature of his scepticism: civility, or ‘order’ in philosophical debate. In this respect, what Montaigne emphasizes above all is the importance of maintaining an attitude of indifference towards difference. Acknowledging Cicero’s dictum that there can be no discussion without contradiction, Montaigne nonetheless emphasizes that ‘opinions are all one to me, and I am almost indifferent about which opinion wins. I will argue peaceably a whole day if the debate is conducted with order.’49 As it would with Hume later, philosophical indifference in Montaigne draws the sting from scepticism by locating truth in friendly debate rather than in reflection or deduction. Montaigne’s epistemological stance, as Szabari argues, ‘consists in not a denial of truth but the refusal to locate it in any definite position.’50 Accordingly, Montaigne claims, ‘I give a warm welcome to truth in whatever hand I find it.’51 Bacon’s essays also exhibit a concern with the connections between discovery and dialogue. With Bacon, however, the essay becomes a tool for examining moral, political, and epistemological problems, an instrument for the invention or discovery of truth. As he puts it in Novum Organon (1620), ‘truth is to be sought for not in the felicity of any age, which is an unstable thing, but in the light of nature and experience, which is eternal.’52 In the Novum Organum, Bacon formalizes his attempts to replace syllogistic reasoning with induction and experiment (based upon deriving general axioms from the senses and particulars) as the only secure and sound procedures for the interpretation of nature. From this perspective, the importance of procedure and method is paramount. Accordingly, Bacon takes pains to distinguish mere ‘Anticipations of Nature (as a thing rash or premature)’ from the ‘Interpretation of Nature’, or ‘[t]hat reason which is elicited from facts by a just and methodical process.’53 The Essays prefigure this outlook, functioning in a similar way to the aphorisms of the Novum Organum. While they might not appear to be methodical to the modern reader, Bacon’s essays on topics such as truth, love, friendship, and suspicion are interpretive exercises that, by r­ elying upon observation and induction rather than terminological analysis, endeavour to separate the wheat from the chaff in human knowledge according to practical ­criteria. In this way, Bacon instrumentalizes the essay: conceived as a tool in knowledge

48 Zahi Zalloua, ‘Montaigne’s “De l’art de Conferer”: Conférence as an Act of Friendship’, Philological Quarterly 82, no. 1 (2003), p. 32. 49 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 706. 50  Antonia Szabari, ‘ “Parler seulement de moy”: The Disposition of the Subject in Montaigne’s Essay “De l’art de conferer” Modern Language Notes 116, no. 5 (2001), p. 1008. 51 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 705. 52 Bacon, Works, vol. 4, p. 60. 53 Bacon, Works, vol. 4, p. 51.

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formation, it converts awareness into use. For example, in ‘Of Friendship’, Bacon articulates the nature of companionship primarily in terms of its utility. Thus, the best way to represent to life the manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many things there are which a man cannot do himself; and then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients, to say, that a friend is another himself ; for that a friend is far more than himself.54

Bacon’s treatment of the essay as a form of planned experience, as a practical trial of useful knowledge, contrasts with Montaigne’s own experimentalism, which resists any kind of instrumentality. As Floyd Gray neatly puts it, ‘[w]hereas Montaigne multiplies and develops, Bacon selects and condenses.’55 The legacy of these competing models of empirical knowledge (unmethodical and methodical reason, play and system, doxa and episteme) is a tension within the essay that would continue to shape the genre throughout the Enlightenment. Particularly significant in this regard is the work of Robert Boyle, who would extend Bacon’s instrumental essayism while professing to emulate Montaigne. In his ‘Pröemial Essay’ (1661), Boyle protests against the continuing dominance of the bookish, systematic treatise, noting that ‘whilst this vanity of thinking men obliged to write either systems or nothing is in request, many excellent notions or experiments are, by sober and modest men, suppressed.’56 In its place, he recommends ‘that form of writing, which (in imitation of the French) we call essays’, adding that if he could engage philosophers to produce their research in the form of ‘experimental essays, I should thereby do real learning no trifling service, by bringing so useful a way of writing into the request it deserves.’57 And yet, as James Paradis observes, far from imitating the ‘French’ model of Montaigne, which in its ‘perspectivism’ treats every view or trial as ‘phenomenologically unique’, Boyle’s approach inscribes a presupposed objectivism, producing a ‘stylized elimination of personality.’58 Rather than introducing Montaignian essayism to experience, then, Boyle proposes making the essay the instrument of methodized experiment. Consequently, as Paradis puts it, Montaigne’s embodied and polymorphous subject is transformed ‘into a passive instrument of observation, reporting on self-demonstrated material truths’. The British experimental essay, in turn, becomes the ‘the literary expression, par excellence, of the motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba (On the word of no man)’—codifying the objectification of the self, the instrumentalization of experience, and the nullification of testimony within the new method of science.59 This ambiguous relationship between British empiricism and essayism is later echoed in the case of Locke’s Essay, which fires an eighteenth-century interest in 54 Bacon, Works, vol. 11, p. 442. 55  Gray, ‘The Essay’, p. 276. 56  Robert Boyle, ‘A Pröemial Essay . . . with Some Considerations Touching Experimental Essays in General’, The Works of the Honorable Robert Boyle, ed. Thomas Birch, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (1772), p. 301. 57  Boyle, ‘Pröemial Essay’, p. 303. 58  James Paradis, ‘Montaigne, Boyle, and the Essay of Experience’, One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature, eds. George Levine and Alan Raugh (1987), p. 86. 59  Paradis, ‘Montaigne’, pp. 60–1.

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‘philosophical’ literature while simultaneously stripping out figures of speech and other non-scientific, ‘literary’ uses of language from philosophical inquiry. The Essay can certainly seem essayistic in its approach, an impression that Locke himself does little to discourage. In his ‘Epistle to the Reader’, Locke stresses the unsystematic, unmethodical nature of the genesis and construction of the work (to which he refers, at different times, as ‘Essay’ or ‘Treatise’). He recounts the origins of the Essay’s epistemological focus in the meetings and conversations of ‘five of six Friends . . . on a Subject very remote from this’, which, encountering difficulties, necessitated an examination of ‘our own Abilities’ and ‘what Objects our Understandings were, or were not fitted to deal with’. Thereafter, ‘[s]ome hasty and undigested Thoughts, on a Subject I had never before considered . . . gave the first entrance into this Discourse, which having been thus begun by Chance, was continued by Intreaty; written by incoherent parcels; and . . . brought into that order, thou now seest it.’60 Indeed, on occasions the ‘Epistle’ exceeds the conventional gestures of authorial diffidence and apology in its determination to present the Essay as a tentative first step in the science of human knowledge. Particularly suggestive in this regard is Locke’s gibe at those critics who, ‘careful that none of their good thoughts should be lost, have publish’d their censures of my Essay, with this honour done to it, that they will not suffer it to be an Essay.’61 Locke’s principal and pre-emptive defence of his work is that, qua essay, it is not intended to be conclusive. For these reasons, some critics have argued that the Essay, with its loose, baggy structure and miscellaneous approach to its field of inquiry, belongs as much to the Montaignean tradition of essayism as it does to Bacon’s proto-scientific, inductive thought experiments. Hans Aarsleff, for instance, insists that the work was misunderstood by Leibniz as being ‘a metaphysical treatise’ rather than the ‘essentially practical’ essay that it essentially was. Like the sense of ‘understanding’ it deploys, ‘[t]he Essay is about process, not about the still center and the possible.’62 Similarly, Rosalie Colie locates the method and style of the Essay as lying somewhere between Montaigne and Bacon, arguing that ‘[o]n the whole, Locke adopted the apologetic pose, with its attendant false modesty . . . appropriate to the middle-style essayist, always casting his work to his readers before it had been polished to perfection.’63 And yet, while the Essay accommodates relatively ‘open’ techniques in the ways in which it treats certain topics, it adopts a more ‘closed’ approach to others, a quality that was not lost on Locke’s contemporaries. Blackmore, for instance, insists that despite its title, the Essay, ‘by its Extent, as well as accuracy and methodical Composure, it may justly be reckon’d among large and compleat Treatises.’64 This emphasis on ‘accuracy and methodical Composure’ is evident in the Baconian 60 Locke, Essay, p. 7. 61 Locke, Essay, p. 12. 62 Aarsleff, From Locke to Saussure, pp. 54–5. See also Richetti, who in Philosophical Writing, p. 34, argues that Locke’s Essay goes beyond ‘ironic literary control’ into the ‘enactment of difficulty and obscurity’. 63  Rosalie Colie, ‘The Essayist in his Essay’, John Locke: Problems and Perspectives, ed. John W. Yolton (1969), p. 239. 64 Blackmore, Essays, p. v.

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iconoclasm displayed in the ‘Epistle’ towards ‘the Rubbish, that lies in the way to Knowledge’, and specifically towards ‘Vague and insignificant Forms of Speech, and Abuse of Language, [which] have so long passed for Mysteries of Science.’65 Unlike Hume, Locke was unambiguous in his repudiation of style and rhetoric as legitimate means of persuasion. Nonetheless, the very appearance of ‘The Epistle to the Reader’ suggests that Locke conceived of the dialogue between author and reader as an extension of the discussions through which the Essay had originally taken shape, and, consequently, as an attempt to rehabilitate philosophy and introduce it ‘into well-bred Company, and polite Conversation.’66 As Scott Black argues, although Locke’s Essay ‘stretches the limits of the genre’, it does so in a way that ‘makes the participatory reading sponsored by the essay integral to its epistemology more generally.’67 Similarly, Colie points out that one of the reasons for the Essay’s huge success in the eighteenth century was the way in which it was seen by readers as ‘as a model for self-experiment, for self-assaying.’68 The growth of commonplace books and reading manuals at the beginning of the eighteenth century saw an expansion of the reading practices hinted at by Locke in ways that he could barely have envisaged.69 In turn, essayists such as Addison and Steele offered the prospect of a less hierarchical, more interactive relationship between writer and reader, one based upon what Black calls ‘a communicative dynamic of mutuality and a shared assumption of agency’ implicit in the format of the periodical essay.70 It is this culture of communicative, dialogical empiricism that shapes the rhetoric of the essays of Hume and Johnson. E S S AY I N G T H E P U B L I C S P H E R E This brings us to the connection between the rise of the periodical essay in the early eighteenth century and the emergence of a distinct ‘public sphere’ of communicative rationality, a relation first outlined in Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere in 1962.71 According to Habermas, changes in the political and social order of Western Europe, propelled largely by the emergence of finance and trade capital in the early modern period, led to the emergence of a newly self-conscious section of civil society. Triggered by the activity of a burgeoning press and the increasing differentiation between social life and political 65 Locke, Essay, p. 10. 66 Locke, Essay, p. 10. 67  Scott Black, Of Essays and Reading in Early Modern Britain (2006), p. 8. 68  Colie, ‘Essayist’, p. 261. 69  See David Allan, Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England, pp. 54–5: as Allan argues, while it is often assumed that the period of Enlightenment saw a decline in the use of commonplace books, the practice was widespread, driven by the popularity of the periodical essay. Addison and Steele, in particular, were ‘eloquent spokesmen for the textual practices and habits of mind that commonplacing promised to inculcate’. Consequently, ‘determined reading’ and ‘diligent note-taking and inward reflection . . . appeared to be the very road to politeness.’ 70 Black, Of Essays and Reading, p. 105. 71  Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence (1989).

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power created by the growth of capital, ‘the publicum, the abstract counterpart of public authority’, was propelled ‘into an awareness of itself as the latter’s opponent, that is, as the public of the now emerging public sphere of civil society.’72 Defined around the free use of reason, inclusivity, and a disregard for social status, this new public sphere did not instantly become operative in the political domain, but initially constituted itself as a critical authority in the ‘training ground’ of salons, coffee houses, and literary publications, particularly those that engaged with the new bourgeois sciences of political economy and psychological empiricism.73 Wresting philosophy and art criticism from schoolmen and elite circles of connoisseurs, the public sphere came to identify and shape itself around an ideal of critical reflection that was conducted in an inclusive environment among non-specialists. As Habermas notes, this meant that while, on one hand, ‘philosophy was no longer possible except as critical philosophy, literature and art no longer except in connection with literary and art criticism’, on the other hand, ‘it was only through the critical absorption of philosophy, literature, and art that the public attained enlightenment and realized itself as the latter’s living process.’74 At this point, the role of periodicals becomes crucial, in that the circulation of journals and weeklies provided a medium through which this critical self-identification could occur on a scale wider than that permitted by local coffee houses: What a little later would become specialized in the function of art critic, in these weeklies was still art and art criticism, literature and literary criticism all in one. In the Tatler, the Spectator, and the Guardian the public held up a mirror to itself; it did not yet come to a self-understanding through the detour of a reflection on works of philosophy and literature, art and science, but through entering itself into ‘literature’ as an object.75

It is not my purpose here to enter a detailed analysis or assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Habermas’s account of the growth of the public sphere; a great deal has been written on this topic over the past few decades by better-qualified commentators.76 However, there are two main points raised in his argument that 72 Habermas, Public Sphere, p. 23. 73 Habermas, Public Sphere, p. 29. 74 Habermas, Public Sphere, p. 42. 75 Habermas, Public Sphere, p. 43. 76  Only a selection of these works can be mentioned here. Early criticism of Habermas’s idea of the public sphere appeared in the essays included in Habermas: Critical Debates, eds. John B. Thompson and David Held (1982) and later in Habermas and the Public Sphere, ed. Craig Calhoun (1992). In his essay for the latter volume, ‘Was there Ever a Public Sphere? If So, When? Reflections on the American Case’, Michael Schudson, while finding the public sphere ‘indispensable as a model of what a good society should achieve’, questions whether it ever existed and suggests that it is the product of ‘retrospective wishful thinking’ (p. 160). More recent work within the area of literary studies has been undertaken by the contributors to Spheres of Influence: Intellectual and Cultural Publics from Shakespeare to Habermas, eds. Alex Benchimol and Willy Maley (2007) and in Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700–1830, eds. Elizabeth Eger, Charlotte Grant, CLíona Ó Gallchoir, and Penny Warburton (2001). Some of the contributors to the second collection seek to counter what they identify as Habermas’s neglect of the important role played by women in the public sphere during the long eighteenth century, criticizing his apparent assumption, in the words of the editors, that ‘only men were admitted to the coffee-house’ and that ‘female opinion was inconsequential’ (p. 7). Jon Mee in Conversable Worlds, p. 14, also notes widespread criticism of Habermas’s neglect of the ‘emergent “plebian public sphere” ’ and the fact that the public sphere itself ‘has little room for the distortions of the passions.’ In a similar vein, Nikolas Kompridis, in Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between

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have a significant bearing upon the current discussion. The first concerns Habermas’s claim that the British ‘public’ came into being ‘through entering itself into “literature” as an object’. This indicates what was at stake in the familiar essay in this period, a point that has been emphasized by more recent studies of how periodicals built upon and extended participatory reading practices. As Scott Black outlines, such practices were embedded in the circulation of letters and journals in the early eighteenth century, and they helped to shape the distinctively dialogical character of the familiar essay. The essay had already inherited from Montaigne a communicative structure that spanned the margin between the personal and subjective on one hand, and the mutual and intersubjective on the other. Thus, while Montaigne declares in his Preface to the 1580 edition of the Essais that ‘I am myself the matter of my book’, he admits in ‘Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions’ to being ‘moved and disturbed’ by his own whims and by the influence of others. Accordingly, he acknowledges, ‘I give my soul now one face, now another, according to which direction I turn in.’77 The ‘self ’ that is Montaigne’s overriding preoccupation has no fixed centre. And yet, the rapid growth of print culture in the eighteenth century, together with the emergence of the public sphere as a distinctly political-aesthetic formation, meant that Montaigne’s idea of subjectivity as diversely determined became a practical as well as a theoretical concern of the periodical essay. As Jon Mee observes, more than just the water-carriers of the public sphere, periodicals such as The Spectator and The Tatler contributed to the idea that ‘culture was the process of exchange between participants rather than the fulfilment of prior identities.’78 In effect, the periodical essay engaged its reader in an elaborate language game, foregrounding its spontaneous, unplanned subject matter and fictionalized contributors as part of a culture of carefully regulated mutuality. It is this game in which Hume engages following the failure of the Treatise, which, he ruefully notes in ‘My Own Life’, ‘fell dead-born from the press.’79 Seeking to emulate the Ciceronian model of the philosopher as a virtuous and active public communicator, he turns to the genre through which essayists such as Addison and Steele modelled and enabled a sociable public sphere that was avidly consuming periodicals, participatory commonplace books, epistolary writing, and reading manuals.80 Past and Future, p. 278, interrogates what he sees as Habermas’s attempt to ‘de-romanticize’ the discourse of modernity. 77 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 242. 78 Mee, Conversable Worlds, p. 21. 79 Hume, Essays, p. xxxiv. Hume had already attempted to engage his readers conversationally in the Treatise. For a persuasive account of why this failed, see Marina Frasca-Spada, ‘The Science and Conversation of Human Nature’, The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, eds. W. Clark, J. Golinski, and S.  Schaffer (1999), pp. 220, 243: Frasca-Spada argues that Hume mismanaged the ‘conversation forms’ of the Treatise, arriving at a mixture of ‘abstract reasoning, sentiment, and sociability’ that did not accord with his readers’ expectations. Fundamentally, ‘Hume’s Treatise embodied . . . a notion (or a projection) of how to combine deep abstract thought and lively conversation, enlightened solitude and enlightened sociability different from and at odds with the ideals, needs, and capacities of the polite and sentimental readers and conversationalists of his own time and place.’ 80  Black writes of how the essay provoked and responded to changing practices of reading between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by offering ‘[w]riting in the shape of reading’ and ‘first thoughts instead of final words’ (Of Essays and Reading, p. 2).

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The second salient point arising from Habermas’s account of the role played by literature in the self-objectification of the public sphere concerns the relationship between the essay and the effects of capital more generally. According to Habermas, the activities of debate, reading, and criticism in this period were crucial to the emergence of a self-consciousness ‘public’. Since commodification was the precondition for culture to emerge as an object of discussion, however, that awareness was bought at the price of the objectification of the very thing that enabled an inclusive public space to be defined. Qua readers, citizens of the republic of letters participated in the public sphere primarily through consumption—specifically, by accessing conversation, experience, and friendship in textual form. At once nostalgic and critical, the essay simultaneously feeds and reacts against these developments. On one hand, by utilizing everyday speech in unconventional ways, the essay offers to return the reader to the wholeness of a shared quotidian experience. On the other hand, as Adorno notes, the essay’s critical potency lies in formally resisting the abstractness of modernity by exhibiting the scars inflicted by instrumental reason; in this respect, the very term ‘essay’ signifies an attempt at recovery. Accordingly, the enormous success of the Spectator reflects an appetite for commoditized sociability that in turn testifies to an awareness of the erosion of traditional community structures and oral practices. Addison was conscious of this, and in Spectator 10 memorably describes his target audience as individuals who have abstracted themselves from society. Such persons are, in his words, ‘the Fraternity of Spectators who live in the World without having any thing to do in it; and . . . have no other Business with the rest of Mankind but to look upon them.’81 Seen from this perspective, Addison’s essayism and Hume’s socialized empiricism both react against and follow the abstracting cultural logic of early eighteenthcentury capitalism. As the verbal terms ‘essay’ and ‘experience’ are increasingly nominalized and formalized, they are transformed into objects of appreciation and consumption. Accordingly, communal ‘experience’, once abstracted, is privatized by psychological empiricism and commoditized by print culture. Romantic writers would later attempt to transcend abstraction though the power of imagination. However, as Adorno argues, abstraction is itself merely a symptom of a deeper problem within certain (though not, as I have maintained, all ) currents of Enlightenment thought, namely, an unacknowledged, a priori ‘assumption that the trial is prejudged’ in the relationship between thought and truth.82 Nonetheless, the idea of imagination was of little use epistemologically to Hume or Johnson, for whom alienation was experienced, in Habermas’s terms, as a feeling of disconnection between the regulative truth presupposed at the level of ‘system’ knowledge and the pragmatic communication of the ‘lifeworld.’83 For Hume and Johnson, 81  Joseph Addison, The Spectator, ed. Donald F. Bond, vol. 1 (1965), p. 45. 82  Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic, p. 18. 83  See Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, vol. 1 (1984), p. 82: Habermas distinguishes between two levels of human thought: the pre-given ‘lifeworld’ (which is ‘constitutive’, ‘already interpreted’, ‘intersubjectively shared’, and determined by the ­pragmatic considerations of speech acts) and a presupposed, regulative ‘system’ (determined by considerations of truth and falsity, in which thought itself is made the object of reflection).

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this rupture manifests itself as a disassociation of reflective thought and ‘life’, and it is this problem that they explore and attempt to resolve through the amphibious agency of the essay. LEARNING AND ‘LIFE’ By the middle of the eighteenth century, abstract speculation was increasingly viewed as a symptom of a deeper problem in human thought, rather than as a method for resolving them. Augustan confidence about the capacity of human reason to secure at least a reasonable degree of certainty in knowledge and banish superstition through the establishment of secure first principles of knowledge was ebbing, giving way to a suspicion that the search for epistemological foundations, universal systems, and apodictic methods presupposed a picture of human life that was fundamentally flawed. These doubts reflect an increasing awareness of an estrangement of reflective and everyday thought—an alienation, in Habermasian terms, between system and lifeworld levels of rationality. Among intellectuals in Britain, Hume and Johnson are prominent sceptics regarding the capacities of human reason as well as being the most trenchant critics of Enlightenment positivism. Both writers come to perceive that abstract philosophy wounded precisely where it healed, and that the resulting scars could not simply be removed by the application of more reasoning. The problem confronting empiricism, then, was one that concerned its own nature. For Hume and Johnson, the breach that philosophy had created between enlightened, scientific knowledge and quotidian thought meant that the problematic relationship between learning and study on one hand and ‘ordinary’ experience and communication on the other had obvious and pressing ramifications for the status of the intellectual working in the public sphere. In their essays (the medium through which they most urgently attempt to occupy and control the ground of the public intellectual), this concern manifests itself thematically in the shape of the recurring topic of ‘learning’ versus ‘life’. Hume’s observation in ‘The Sceptic’ that ‘[w]hile we are reasoning concerning life, life is gone’, and that ‘[t]o reduce life to exact rule and method, is commonly a painful, oft a fruitless occupation’ exemplifies this preoccupation.84 Similarly, Imlac’s abrupt intervention in one of the many unresolved debates in Rasselas (‘ “It seems to me . . . that while you are making the choice of life, you neglect to live” ’) conveys Johnson’s sense of the contradiction that lies within the modern philosophical method of analysis and self-examination.85 Such themes were not exactly new material for the essay. Indeed, Montaigne and Bacon had already pondered the relationship between learning and ‘life’ a century and a half earlier. In ‘Of the Art of Discussion’, for example, Montaigne complains that ‘[t]he study of books is a languishing and feeble activity that gives no heat, 84 Hume, Essays, p. 180. 85  Samuel Johnson, Rasselas and Other Tales, ed. Gwin J. Kolb (1990), p. 111.

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whereas discussion teaches and exercises us at the same time.’86 Bacon goes further than this, arguing in the essay ‘Of Friendship’ that friendship and communication are themselves essential to learning, ‘[f ]or friendship . . . maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of thoughts’; indeed, by means of communicating his thoughts, the thinker ‘waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation.’87 This connection between essaying in print and gaining knowledge through communicative (rather than solitary or reflective) forms of reasoning is revived in the early eighteenth century, where the inadequate performances of scholars in the sphere of public debate were submitted to scrutiny. In 1710, Steele notes in The Tatler 203 that it is natural for the Imaginations of Men who lead their Lives in too solitary a Manner, to prey upon themselves, and form from their own Conceptions Beings and Things which have no Place in Nature. This often makes an Adept as much at a Loss when he comes into the World as a meer Savage.88

Steele’s likening of the solitary ‘Adept’ to a ‘meer Savage’ in his relations with the wider sociable ‘World’ is suggestive on a number of levels, but in relation to the present discussion it underscores the extent to which the distancing of the intellectual sphere from the public arena is now perceived to be a social problem rather than (as it had been for Montaigne and Bacon) a practical concern for individual thinkers. As a scholar who divided much of his time between library and study, Johnson was particularly concerned with calibrating the relationship between cognition and social virtue, or between the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and the promotion of dialogue within an intellectual community. In The Rambler 137, he cites Bacon’s claim that ‘ “Books . . . can never teach the use of books” ’ to support his argument that ‘[h]e that can only converse upon questions, about which only a small part of mankind has knowledge sufficient to make them curious, must lose his days in unsocial silence, and live in the crowd of life without a companion.’ Instead, Johnson claims, ‘[t]he student must learn by commerce with mankind to reduce his speculations to practice, and accommodate his knowledge to the purposes of life.’89 Nonetheless, as he reflects in The Adventurer 85 a few years later, a life devoted entirely to debate and conversation has its own limitations. Considering the qualities required for intellectual accomplishment, he notes that the danger of devoting ourselves to discourse is that ‘we learn to satisfy ourselves with such ratiocination as silences others.’ What is required, he concludes, is a balance between ‘method’ in writing and ‘unconstraint’ in conversation. Consequently, ‘[t]o read, write, and converse in due proportions, is, therefore, the business of a man of letters.’90 The same metaphor of balance informs Hume’s treatment of the topic in 86 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 704. 87 Bacon, Works, vol. 6, p. 440. 88  Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, The Tatler, ed. Donald F. Bond, vol. 3 (1987), p. 81. 89 Johnson, Works, vol. 4 pp. 364–5. 90  Samuel Johnson, The Idler and The Adventurer, eds. W.J. Bate, John M. Bullitt, and L.F. Powell (1963), p. 416.

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‘Of Essay Writing’, in which he laments that ‘Learning has been . . . a Loser by being shut up in Colleges and Cells, and secluded from the World and good Company.’ Echoing Steele, he opines that one consequence of this seclusion is that ‘every Thing of what we call Belles Lettres became totally barbarous, being cultivated by Men without any Taste of Life or Manners, and without that Liberty and Facility of Thought and Expression, which can only be acquir’d by Conversation.’ In redressing this imbalance, Hume conceives of the relationship between the scholarly and conversable worlds as a ‘Balance of Trade’ in which the ‘Materials . . . must chiefly be furnish’d by Conversation and common Life’, and ‘manufacturing . . . belongs to Learning.’ His own role he styles as a mediator between the two, ‘a Kind of Resident or Ambassador from the Dominions of Learning to those of Conversation.’91 For Hume and Johnson then, the breakdown in communication and trust between the ‘Dominions of Learning’ and ‘those of Conversation’ highlights the need for intellectuals to act as cultural mediators. The essay provided both writers with the opportunity to test the boundaries between the private and professional world of the academic scholar and the public, amateur sphere of conversation. Moreover, Hume’s description of the essayist as a ‘Resident or Ambassador’, tempering the language of commerce with that of courtly diplomacy, suggests a further concern: the extent to which a decline in the ‘commerce’ of sociability is linked to the rise of ‘commerce’ and capital. Hume believes that what is required to maintain a correspondence between the ‘materials’ and the ‘manufacturing’ of knowledge is a figure who embodies a position of refined disinterest regarding both the nittygritty of the means of production and the value of the final product. In this way, the diplomatic essayist earns his status as the enabler of discourse by being located ambiguously outside and/or within this commercial structure. This amphibious status presents Hume and Johnson with an opportunity to resist the division of intellectual labour in modern life wrought by psychological empiricism (which objectifies the world through a logic of particularity) and commerce (which produces literary objects for consumption). And yet, as Johnson was aware from his own expertise and trade in ‘hard words’, such resistance could only ever be limited. Even the essayist could not isolate him or herself from the economic realities that made ‘life’ itself an object of reflection. Indeed, as he acknowledges in The Idler 70, knowledge as episteme inevitably advances hand in hand with intellectual specialization: since ‘[e]very hour produces instances of the necessity of terms of art’, he observes, ‘it is not but by necessity that every science and every trade has its peculiar language.’92 Johnson returns to this topic in Idler 91: The difficulty of obtaining knowledge is universally confessed. To fix deeply in the mind the principles of science, to settle their limitations, and deduce the long succession of their consequences; to comprehend the whole compass of complicated systems, with all the arguments, objections and solutions, and to reposite in the intellectual 91 Hume, Essays, p. 535.

92 Johnson, Works, vol. 2, p. 219.

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treasury the numberless facts, experiments, apophthegms and positions which must stand single in the memory, and of which none has any perceptible connexion with the rest, is a task which, tho’ undertaken with ardour and pursued with diligence, must at last be left unfinished by the frailty of our nature.93

In this striking passage, Johnson recognizes the disorienting expansion and fragmentation of the field of scientific knowledge and the consequent impossibility for any mind to comprehend both ‘the whole compass of complicated systems’ and ‘the numberless facts, experiments, apophthegms and positions which must stand single in the memory.’ Acting as a counterweight to this bewildering quantity and complexity of information, however, is the grand style of Johnson’s periodic sentence, which, in its masterful arrangement of subordinate clauses, effects the very act of intellectual containment that its logic cannot. By completing the sentence with a meditation on what ‘must at last be left unfinished’, Johnson grammatically concludes a thought which, due to the ‘frailty of our nature’, could never be settled epistemologically. In this regard, Johnson exhibits a Humean concern with circumscribing the conversational ‘commerce’ of the familiar essay through an easy but accomplished performance of philosophical essayism. Only through the exhibition of a friendly but formal style could the delicate balance of trade between the private/reflective and public/communicative spheres be maintained. It is this consciousness of the inescapably performative nature of the writer’s philosophical task that distinguishes mid-century essayists such as Hume and Johnson from their Augustan predecessors. Steele and Addison had already exploited the essay’s potential to move amphibiously across binaries, between philosophical and literary modes of expression, as well as between academic and public writing. Famously, in The Spectator 10, Addison declares his ambition, in the manner of Socrates, who ‘brought Philosophy down from Heaven, to inhabit among Men’, to bring ‘Philosophy out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-tables, and in Coffee-houses.’94 What one witnesses in the essays of Hume and Johnson, however, is a more radical socialization of empiricism in the face of an intolerable but incorrigible epistemological scepticism and a gathering apprehension that the exposed foundations of empirical reason were not sufficiently robust to regulate rational thought. After Hume, the problem of empiricism’s relation to public discourse is no longer simply one of how philosophical thoughts might be curated and transmitted to the reading public, it was also one of how an empirical concept of ‘experience’ might itself be shaped by the conventions and practices of communication. For Addison and Steele, the experimentalism of the familiar essay provided philosophy with a pathway from the cloisters of learning into the bright thoroughfare of the public sphere. And yet, neither writer considered the possibility that the customs, habits, and conventions that they depict in the pages of The Tatler and The Spectator might themselves be epistemologically constitutive. Hume’s insistence that conversation is an integral part of experience radicalizes Addison’s project to socialize philosophy by placing 93 Johnson, Works, vol. 2, p. 282.

94 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 1, p. 44.

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intersubjectivity at the core of human thought. Thus, while Addison and Steele’s essays bring philosophy to the coffee house, the essayism of Hume and (in a slightly different way) Johnson endeavours to bring the coffee house to philosophy.95 Some see this essayistic turn in Enlightenment empiricism as a loss of nerve, a form of intellectual retreat. Robin Valenza, for example, argues that the new essayism is a strategic error by defenders of the republic of letters who respond to the intellectual and disciplinary division of culture by attempting to combine a language of ‘perspicuity’ (associated with the new science) with a more literary register of ‘propriety’. Valenza’s identification of the transition in Hume’s writing between the Treatise and the Enquiry as a pivotal moment in eighteenth-century philosophy is broadly in line with the reading presented here, and contrasts with accounts that present Hume’s foray into essayism as barely significant—a hiatus, at most, between his phases as ‘philosopher’ and ‘historian’. Most notably, M.A. Stewart has downplayed the significance of Hume’s change of strategy, arguing that his venture into ‘popular journalism soon palled and the essays concerned were gradually withdrawn.’96 Valenza’s suggestion that the shift in Hume’s writing is part of something more fundamental counters this narrative. Nonetheless, she claims, the move represents a ‘loss’ to intellectual debate during this period, signalling ‘a decline in the rigor and depth of English moral philosophy in the eighteenth century.’97 This analysis continues a tradition of intellectual history which has struggled to find much of philosophical value in the period between Hume and John Stuart Mill: like Leslie Stephen and Élie Halévy before her, Valenza sees ‘the eighteenth century’s essayistic turn’ as a philosophical cul-de-sac, a pause between empiricism and Romanticism that ‘established the perception that moral philosophy should be  judged by literary standards.’98 By unsuccessfully attempting to bridge two increasingly discordant discourses, Valenza claims, Hume and other popularizers of learning fail to respond adequately to the stratification of eighteenth-century print culture. While the essay held some advantages for recreational readers, ‘it was not a particularly good form for advancing a field of study through a systematic analysis.’99 Stewart would probably agree with this, although he would likely deny the claim that Hume abandoned ‘systematic analysis.’100 Indeed, although Stewart 95  See also Sitter, Loneliness, p. 38: In turning to the essay, Sitter claims, ‘Hume is bringing to the problem a personal need that Addison did not share . . . for him the project is not so much how to philosophize society as how to socialize the philosopher.’ 96  M.A. Stewart, ‘Two Species’, p. 79. 97  Robin Valenza, Literature, Language, and the Rise of the Intellectual Disciplines in Britain, 1680–1820 (2009), p. 121. 98 Valenza, Literature, p. 137. See Halévy, Growth, p. 434. See also Stephen’s History of English Thought, p. 2, for his view of the ‘chiefly negative’ legacy of Hume’s philosophy. 99 Valenza, Literature, p. 121. 100  See Stewart, ‘Two Species’, pp. 81, 88: Stewart argues that Hume tended to systematize his essays, combining them, for example, so that they would acquire the ‘limited interdependence of the component parts of what would become the two Enquiries’. He dismisses the idea that Hume attempts to balance the roles of ‘anatomist’ and ‘painter’ in the latter work, claiming that he invariably ‘rallies to the side of metaphysics’. As for Hume’s injunction in ‘Of Essay Writing’, to ‘[b]e a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man’ (Essays, p. 535), Stewart insists that ‘[t]he irony in Hume’s depiction is clear’ (p. 91). Stewart’s argument is a helpful corrective to any tendency to overstate the extent of Hume’s disenchantment with epistemology, which, given his persistent and self-conscious

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portrays Hume’s essayism as a brief vacation from philosophy (taken in order to mollify Hutcheson’s allies in Edinburgh, where he was still seeking academic appointments), and Valenza depicts it as part of the development of eighteenthcentury disciplines, both portray the journalistic phase of his career as an intellectual blind alley. As I have argued, however, this ‘dead-end’ account of the philosophical essayism of British intellectual culture in the late nineteenth and early eighteenth centuries fails to register what is fundamentally at stake for essayists such as Hume, Johnson, Lamb, and Hazlitt: the possibility of exchanging an epistemological paradigm based upon objectivity for one constructed around intersubjectivity. From this perspective, the value of a ‘systematic analysis’ of any field of knowledge is the very thing cast into doubt by essayism. Accordingly, the trusting language of familiar conversation deployed by essayists presents a counterdiscourse to instrumental rationality and a site of resistance to disciplinary divisions introduced by a scientific experimentalism that was itself driven by the imperatives of commerce and technology. Valenza rightly observes that this essentially nostalgic attempt to socialize philosophical and scientific knowledge did not last. And yet, to observe that the effort enjoyed mixed success is not to say that it had no value—much less, that it has nothing instructive to offer modern thinking about (for instance) the relationship between the circulation of academic discourse and today’s mass media. At the core of this movement, moreover, are insights that carry resonance today, not least of which is the idea that representational empiricism, with its structure of objectification, is broadly homologous with the cultural logic of early capitalism. For Hume and Johnson, then, the division of the spheres of learning and conversation is a problem that cuts to the heart of empiricism itself. As sceptics, both writers come to see the human intellect as fundamentally social in its operations and to insist upon the historical character of thought, particularly the role played by traditional wisdom in establishing epistemic stability. For Johnson, the writer’s knowledge is based not in the procession of phenomena in the camera obscura of the mind, but in a practical ‘experience’ that involves an active engagement with other people, including the traditions and written testimonies of past writers.101 Accordingly, as he claims in The Rambler 4, the ‘task of our present writers . . . requires, together with that learning which is to be gained from books, that experience which can never be attained by solitary diligence, but must arise from general converse, and accurate observation of the living world.’102 Rethinking ‘experience’ in terms of social activity rather than private receptivity in turn highlights the epistemological importance of the essayist’s style. As Susan Manning notes, scepticism double-mindedness, could never be total or complete. However, it underestimates the significance of irony in Hume’s philosophical writings. Indeed, invoking irony in order to downplay the importance of irony in a writer’s work smacks of a further irony that would not, one suspects, have been lost on Hume himself. 101  See Evans, ‘General Nature’, p. 95: ‘[B]y the term “experience” Johnson does not mean a mere uncritical assimilation of sense perceptions; instead, his use of the term reflects its Latin root, meaning “to test” or “to take to court”.’ 102 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 20.

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in Hume and Johnson prompts a concern for the performative, since ‘writing itself had the ability to hold the claims of mind and world in a communicable tension, to preserve a vital common ground between the potentially solipsistic imagination and the unverifiable external.’103 Nonetheless, parallels between Hume and Johnson should not be exaggerated. Johnson would have bridled (to say the least) at the term ‘scepticism’ being connected in even the loosest of ways to his work. Fundamentally, as Manning observes, Johnson retains a faith in the metaphysical stability of the universe, believing ‘in a reality that lies beyond human discourse.’104 As a result, (unlike Hume) he adheres, in theory at least, to the distinction between doxa and episteme in human thought, maintaining in The Rambler 156 that ‘[i]t ought to be the first endeavour of a writer to distinguish nature from custom; or that which is established because it is right, from that which is right only because it is established.’105 Scott Evans has related Johnson’s thinking to a tradition of ‘rationalistic moral realism’, which postulates an ‘orderly metaphysical structure inherent in and behind mundane appearances’, while ‘appreciating the mutability and variety of nature’s appearances.’106 What one encounters in The Rambler essays then, is a conception of experience that is both fundamentally moral and morally fundamentalist, in which ethical imperatives precede epistemological principles. Contra Hume, nature trumps custom and habit for Johnson, but only because ‘nature’ is conceived, as Evans puts it, as ‘both metaphysical and meta-ethical.’107 Johnson’s scepticism regarding first principles, in other words, applies to epistemology, but not to the metaphysics of morals. In his essays, Johnson’s scepticism produces dramatic textual contrasts of doubt and dogmatism, driven by a suspicion of systematic philosophy and a simultaneous impatience with unmethodical experimentation that lacks either a secure anchoring in moral duty or a clear teleological structure. This lack of organization is what Johnson associates with a kind of ‘empiricism’ in knowledge, which (as he defines it in the Dictionary), with its dependence ‘on experience without knowledge or art’, amounts to ‘quackery’. In The Rambler, scientific quackery is represented by the virtuoso, whose miscellaneous activities become the focus of numbers 82 and 83. Indeed, as W.K. Wimsatt notes, ‘the lament for pedantic or fanatic science, the ridicule of mathematician, mechanist, inventor, empiric, and virtuoso’ is one of the persistent themes in the Rambler.108 Distinguished by his ‘unextinguishable ardour of curiosity’ and ‘taste for solid knowledge’, the virtuoso ransacks the old and the new world for objects of interest (such as ‘a turf with five daisies dug from the field of Pharsalia’).109 Without any direction or purpose in his researches, however, the outcome of the virtuoso’s collecting mania is merely the levelling of his finances. In his indiscriminateness, he encapsulates everything that troubles Johnson about an 103  Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, p. 605. 104  Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, p. 23. 105 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 70. 106 Evans, ‘General Nature’, p. 15. 107 Evans, ‘General Nature’, p. 78. 108  W.K. Wimsatt, Jr, Philosophic Words: A Study of Style and Meaning in the Rambler and Dictionary of Samuel Johnson (1948), p. 54. 109 Johnson, Works, vol. 4, pp. 65, 68.

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age of scientific discovery based upon empirical and inductive methods: without normative standards against which the influx of new data might be assessed and interpreted, the net product of the virtuoso’s object-obsessed activity is the diminishment, rather than the enrichment of the common good. Indeed, as Denise Gigante observes, Johnson shares with other essayists an awareness of the similarities between the periodical writer and the empiric. As she puts it, Johnson’s view is that, ‘[l]ike the virtuoso, the periodical essayist . . . would do well to steer a middle course through the seas of experience, providing practical information and insight and avoiding the treacherous region of abstruse research.’110 And yet, Johnson notes in the more reflective Rambler 83 that, unlike the essayist, whose writing is imbricated with the views and voices of other correspondents and commentators, the virtuoso ‘is inclined not only to promote his own study, but to exclude all others from regard, and having heated his imagination with some favourite pursuit, wonders that the rest of mankind are not seized with the same passion.’111 Thus, while Johnson admits that the empiric ‘cannot be said to be wholly useless’ (since it is ‘impossible to determine the limits of enquiry, or to foresee what consequences a new discovery may produce’), the latter remains a potentially disruptive figure within the sphere of learning. Having untethered himself from moral duty and social responsibility, the virtuoso falls prey too readily to his own ‘heated’ imagination. Johnson’s scepticism then, is directed towards the mundane rather than the extramundane; it is not concerned with reality conceived metaphysically, but with human cognitive abilities and their limitations. Like Hume, Johnson is sceptical about his own scepticism, but in contrast to the former’s mitigated scepticism, Johnson’s meta-scepticism is based upon a moral rather than a pragmatic conception of the exigencies of the human condition. One result of this, as Parker notes, is that Johnson’s scepticism manifests itself in the Rambler essays as adversarial and oppositional, challenging conventional terms and eschewing politeness. Accordingly, where Hume’s carefully calibrated sceptical prose is ‘most finely expressed in a work of dialogue form’, Johnson ‘repudiates the code of sociability’ which, for Hume, constitutes the historical-conventional basis of reasoning.112 The performance of Johnson’s essayist bridges the worlds of ‘learning’ and ‘life’ not by politely furthering sociable conversation, but by dutifully continuing to work and think in the face of uncertainty over everything but death and God’s final judgement. Johnson explores this topic further in some of the early Rambler numbers, in which he tackles one of his favourite philosophical themes: the superiority of design to performance, or why ‘a man writes much better than he lives.’ In Rambler 14, he observes that every man ‘proposes his schemes of life in a state of abstraction and disengagement, exempt from the enticements of hope, the solicitations of affection the importunities of appetite, or the depressions of fear.’113 In this respect, the writer is in a similar position to Rasselas, whose distance from ordinary life in the ‘Happy Valley’ fosters in him the vain hope that ‘the deficiencies of the present day 110  Denise Gigante, introduction, The Great Age of the English Essay: An Anthology (2008), p. xxii. 111 Johnson, Works, vol. 4, p. 71. 112 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 280. 113 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 75.

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will be supplied by the morrow.’114 It is our inevitable death, however, that ensures that conception always outpaces performance. As Johnson observes in Rambler 17: It is always pleasing to observe, how much more our minds can conceive, than our bodies can perform; yet it is our duty, while we continue in this complicated state, to regulate one part of our composition by some regard to the other . . . . The uncertainty of our duration ought at once to set bounds to our designs, and add incitements to our industry.115

As the imperative ‘ought’ suggests, for Johnson ‘duty’ always trumps uncertainty. Consequently, the priority taken by the morally regulative over the epistemologically constitutive in human life means that the value of any performance rests upon its intrinsic virtues rather than its achievements or outcomes. Indeed, as Evans argues, the performance of moral and spiritual duties is for Johnson a realization of ‘the very defining principles of nature.’116 In this way, Johnson’s scepticism, like Hume’s, leads him to a position where the performance of the essayist is essential in the task of holding the field of knowledge together in the face of the empiric’s abstracted search for (and relentless consumption of ) objects and facts. Both writers resist the fragmentation of the learned and conversable spheres by deflating the optimistic rationalism of an earlier age and tempering the voracious activities of empirical science. As Johnson observes soberly in Rambler 32, philosophy and literature can offer at best only a therapeutic solution to the problems of life: The cure for the greatest part of human miseries is not radical, but palliative. Infelicity is involved in corporeal nature, and interwoven with our being; all attempts therefore to decline it wholly are useless and vain . . . . The great remedy which heaven has put in our hands is patience, by which, though we cannot lessen the torments of the body, we can in a great measure preserve the peace of the mind.117

It is towards preserving this ‘peace of the mind’ that the energies of Hume and Johnson are directed. However, while Hume endeavours to maintain trust in intellectual discourse through a reassuring exposition of irony, politeness, and philosophical indifference, Johnson seeks to reground epistemological order in deontological principle. In practice, what this entails is a kind of deflationary exhibition of intellectual disenchantment in which the impossibility of achieving truth, beauty, and happiness is combined with a reminder to the reader of his or her obligation to pursue those very ideals. As Walter Jackson Bate notes in his introduction to the Yale edition of The Rambler, the result of this paradox is that in Johnson’s essayistic prose, any position, attitude, or mood, might be undermined or replaced, in turn, by an alternative position, attitude, or mood. Thus, ‘we have anger, protest, even ridicule, always in the process of turning into something else. This creates a distinctive form of writing . . . that we might describe as “satire manqué” or “satire foiled.” ’118 114 Johnson, Rasselas, p. 7. 115 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 97. 116 Evans, ‘General Nature’, p. 72. 117 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, pp. 175–6. 118  Walter Jackson Bate, introduction, The Rambler, Works, vol. 3, p. xxix.

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This foiling of satire—and by extension, critique itself—can make Johnson’s essays appear Montaignean, particularly in the way that they tend to frustrate the establishment of any consistent theory of ‘life’. As has been noted, the familiar essay shares with letters, notebooks, and journals the open-textured qualities of miscellaneous and paratextual forms of writing that encourage a constant switching between creation and criticism. The resulting effect is one of unmethodical improvisation and bricolage. Indeed, for Montaigne, this ‘motley’ writing is the only honest mode of composition, since ‘[t]he weakness of our condition makes it impossible for things to come into our experience in their natural simplicity and purity.’119 A similar note is struck by Steele in his choice of the following quotation from Juvenal’s Satires as the epigraph for the first number of The Tatler: ‘Quicquid agunt Homines nostri Farrago Libelli’ (‘All the doings of mankind shall form the motley subject of my page’).120 With this pedigree, the essay presents Johnson with the ideal format for The Rambler’s particular variety of satire manqué. Johnson, however, is less inclined than Hume to exploit the amphibious resources of the essay. While he adopts many of the playful and dialogical techniques of earlier essayists, these are carefully managed. Of the many numbers in the The Rambler that feature epistolary exchanges or imagined conversations, Johnson himself either wrote or collaborated on all but four. Similarly, even though The Rambler continually invites readers to write to the editor, Johnson avoided correspondence and collaboration. Even the simulation of polyphony that had typified the voice of Addison in The Spectator was curtailed. As Robert DeMaria Jr observes, Johnson wears only one mask in The Rambler, that of Mr Rambler himself, and even this relatively guarded ludic innovation is justified in the valedictory Rambler 208 on the grounds that anonymity is a traditional and necessary defence against accusations of vanity:121 The seeming vanity with which I have sometimes spoken of myself, would perhaps require an apology, were it not extenuated by the example of those who have published essays before me, and by the privilege which every nameless writer has been hitherto allowed. ‘A mask’, says Castiglione, ‘confers a right of acting and speaking with less restraint, even when the wearer happens to be known.’ He that is discovered without his own consent, may claim some indulgence, and cannot be rigorously called to justify those sallies or frolicks which his disguise must prove him desirous to conceal.122

Once again, Johnson here connects the performance of a fictional role with a moral norm, even where the writer’s identity is fully visible. Whereas Hume’s essayism is informed by a concern to balance rationalism and abstraction with sociability and the rhetoric of politeness, Johnson’s satire manqué is driven by a sense of critical modesty underpinned by moral duty and linguistic propriety. Consequently, rather 119  Montaigne, ‘We Taste Nothing Pure’, Complete Essays, pp. 510–11: he adds, ‘man, in all things and throughout, is but patchwork and motley.’ 120 Steele, The Tatler, vol. 1, p. 15. 121 Robert DeMaria, Jr, ‘The Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essay’, The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660–1780, ed. John Richetti (2005), p. 541. 122 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, pp. 317–18.

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than cultivating essayism as a Humean antidote to systematic philosophy, Johnson casts essay-writing as simply another branch, albeit an imperfect one, of human knowledge. This he makes clear in his avowal that throughout the writing of The Rambler, ‘[a]rbitrary decision . . . I have carefully avoided, by asserting nothing without a reason, and establishing all my principles of judgment on unalterable and evident truth.’123 This picture of the familiar essay is a world away from the dialogical and participatory model of Steele and Addison. It is also far removed from a Montaignean tradition that styles the essay as fragmentary rather than exhaustive (what Lamb would describe as ‘unlicked, incondite’) and as connotative rather than denotative.124 If there were any lingering doubt about this, it is dispelled by Johnson’s assessment of Montaigne in Rambler 158, accusing the latter of having, ‘by the vivacity of his essays, reconciled mankind to the same licentiousness in short dissertations’, so that now, whoever ‘wants skill to form a plan, or diligence to pursue it, needs only entitle his performance an essay, to acquire the right of heaping together the collections of half his life without order, coherence, or propriety.’125 For Johnson, the purpose of the essay is not to obviate the epistemological limitations of empirical method through the implementation of constitutive forms of social correspondence, but to reconcile readers to the limitations of the mundane intellect in ways that do not question the principles of inductive and deductive reasoning. Consequently, as he maintains, ‘[t]o proceed from one truth to another, and connect distant propositions by regular consequences, is the great prerogative of man.’ From this it follows that, while ‘unconnected sentiments’ might for a time ‘delight by their novelty . . . they differ from systematical reasoning, as single notes from harmony, as glances of lightning from the radiance of the sun.’126 Seen from this standpoint, the essayist’s performance appears as an instructive disappointment rather than as the triumph of conversation over scepticism. With its enforced deadlines and limited scope for originality or development, the periodical essay embodies the frailty of human aspirations. The Rambler embodies this strategy by repeatedly reflecting upon its own failure to live up to the conventions of variety, spontaneity, and originality demanded by a generation of readers accustomed to the lively sociability of The Spectator. In Rambler 23, for instance, Johnson declares that ‘he who endeavours to gain many readers must try various arts of invitation, essay every avenue of pleasure, and make frequent changes in his methods of approach.’127 By number 107, however, he is already admitting defeat, acknowledging that the ‘uniformity’ of his essays have disappointed many of his readers, who ‘remark the want of those changes of colours . . . and of that intermixture of subjects, or alternation of manner, by which other writers relieved weariness, and awakened expectation.’128 For Johnson, 123 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 319. 124  Charles Lamb, ‘Preface. By a Friend of the Late Elia’, The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. E.V. Lucas, vol. 2 (1903), p. 151. 125 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 77. 126 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 78. 127 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 129. 128 Johnson, Works, vol. 4, pp. 204–5.

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however, this frustration contains the very insight that The Rambler enacts, as is illustrated by the following comment in Rambler 122: There are many things which we every day see others unable to perform, and perhaps have even ourselves miscarried in attempting; and yet can hardly allow to be difficult; nor can we forbear to wonder afresh at every new failure, or to promise certainty of success to our next essay; but when we try, the same hindrances recur, the same inability is perceived, and the vexation of disappointment must again be suffered.129

Here, the term ‘essay’ is suggestively ambiguous, connoting both the practical effort involved in everyday exertions and the literary endeavours that burden the author. In constantly restarting, the essayist displays an edifying epistemological modesty: the ‘next essay’ enacts the chastening flight from hope, not to epiphany or despair, but to further hope. Through this narrative of moral resolution amidst inevitable disappointment, Johnson seeks to deflate the pretentions of the learned sphere and to regulate the activities of conversable world. What is for Hume a vehicle for the diplomatic socialization of empiricism, a welcome release from the quest for certainty into a dramatic interplay of sentiment, is for Johnson a testimony to the insufficiency of the intellect and a humbling reminder of the vanity of human wishes. E S S AY I N G A S P H I L O S O P H I C A L P E R F O R M A N C E Johnson’s practical scepticism and Hume’s mitigated scepticism trigger a turn in both writers towards a concern with the ways in which the performance of the writer itself becomes, in the absence of apodictic empirical standards, a constitutive factor in establishing social, and therefore moral and epistemic norms. In Johnson’s terms, the essayistic strategy of The Rambler is one whereby the ‘miscarriage of performance’ is transformed into the ‘performance of miscarriage’. In this way, the disappointments of Mr Rambler’s essayistic endeavours are as integral to their success as the philosophical indifference of Hume’s style is to his Academic scepticism. It might be argued that, in socializing empiricism in this way, Hume and Johnson are simply rehearsing the strategies of Addison and Steele before them. The Spectator and The Tatler had already popularized the idea that, in the new and more egalitarian public sphere, behaviour rather than breeding was the key to sociability. As Steele argues in Tatler 69, ‘[t]he Circumstance of Life should not be that which gives us Place, but our Behaviour in that Circumstance is what should be our solid Distinction.’130 Similarly, in Spectator 86, Addison underscores the importance of ‘Appearance’ by elevating it over verbal communication in the determination of character. Accordingly, he claims, ‘I think we may be better known by our Looks than by our Words; and that a Man's Speech is much more easily disguised than his Countenance.’131 Neither Addison nor Steele, however, 129 Johnson, Works, vol. 4, p. 287. 130 Steele, The Tatler, vol. 1, p. 477. 131 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 1, p. 366.

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are prepared to go so far as to make behaviour the sole criterion of quality. Instead, the outward appearance and social behaviour of an individual is seen as bearing an indexical relation to the substance of a person’s character. As Addison puts it, ‘[t]he Truth of it is, the Air is generally nothing else but the inward Disposition of the Mind made visible.’132 This in turn raises the possibility that such an ‘Air’ might be simulated or, conversely, misinterpreted. Addison warns the ‘Wise man’ to be ‘particularly cautious how he gives credit to a Man’s outward Appearance.’133 Steele, meanwhile, complains in Tatler 215 that ‘[i]t is a substantial Affliction, when Men govern themselves by the Rules of Good-Breeding, that by the very Force of them they are subjected to the Insolence of those who either never will, or never can, understand them.’ The risk incurred by men of substance in allowing their worth to be determined by their outward behaviour is that these appearances will be misinterpreted by the ‘superficial Part of Mankind [who] form to themselves little Measures of Behaviour from the Outside of Things.’134 Indeed, for this very reason, the interpretation of appearances becomes an important task for the periodical essayist. This equivocation over the value of appearances is rooted in a reluctance to question a basic principle in the ontology of empiricism. The priority attributed to behaviour, appearance, and manner in The Tatler and The Spectator does not fundamentally challenge the empiricist dichotomy between an interior, substantial subjectivity and its exterior manifestation: consequently, in the Lockean epistemology of Addison and Steele, the subject/object binary remains firmly in place. The result is a tension between performance and substance in The Tatler and The Spectator, both of which are dedicated to policing sociability through spectatorship and conversation. By prioritizing behaviour as an integral part of gentlemanly identity, Addison and Steele struggle to determine the boundaries between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ in a self that remains, epistemologically speaking, unsocialized. This problem appears most acutely in relation to the question of hypocrisy. As Jenny Davidson notes, the eighteenth-century identification of virtue with politeness ‘renders the ideal of sincerity increasingly problematic, with the effect of polarizing truth and civility.’135 Writers who saw manners as basic to human civilization and society, such as Swift, Hume, and Burke, sought to shake the charge that they were advocating hypocrisy in public life by developing ‘a powerful alternative to the language of subjectivity for describing the . . . concessions made by men and women in the quest for integration into . . . linguistic, cultural and political communities.’136 It is the philosophical and literary articulation of this ‘alternative’ language—one constructed around notions of custom, habit, performance, and ‘second nature’—that the present study has attempted to explore. Behind it, as Davidson observes, is a thought that challenges the picture of a stable and centred 132 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 1, p. 366. 133 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 1, p. 368. 134 Steele, The Tatler, vol. 3, pp. 128–9. 135  Jenny Davidson, Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness: Manners and Morals from Locke to Austen (2004), p. 2. 136 Davidson, Hypocrisy, p. 5.

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subjectivity: ‘[i]f hypocrisy simply means playing a part, might not the sufficient repetition of a given action allow the hypocrite a kind of functional sincerity?’137 Neither Addison nor Steele are prepared to answer this question—which implies a fundamentally social rethinking of the empirical basis of the self—in the affirmative. Steele, for example, adheres to the idea that there is a direct and causal relationship between intention and performance, despite the fact that, since the latter is the only available measure of the former, the ‘Talent of Pleasing either those above you or below you, seems to be wholly owing to the Opinion they have of your Sincerity.’138 The source of true sociability, he insists, is located within the gentlemanly breast: ‘[i]f your Concern for pleasing others arises from innate Benevolence, it never fails of Success; if from a Vanity to excell, its Disappointment is no less certain.’ Steele makes no allowance for the possibility that human nature might itself be cultivated by some form of ‘second’ nature. Instead, he maintains, ‘Hypocrites’ always betray themselves. In this respect, the character of the natural and ‘agreeable Man’ contrasts with the unconvincing ‘Affectation of that Character [which] is what constitutes a Fop.’139 While it remains tied to a punctual model of subjectivity, moreover, the language of sociability switches with remarkable ease into a discourse of suspicion, detection, and exclusion. Locating the boundary between natural politeness and civility on one hand and hypocrisy and artifice on the other demands keen powers of observation. As Addison notes in Spectator 119, polite society has ‘grown free and easie’, so that ‘our Manners sit more loose upon us [and] Nothing is so modish as an agreeable Negligence.’ And yet, while Addison narrows the margin between character and behaviour, such that ‘Good Breeding shews it self most, where to an ordinary Eye it appears the least’, this is not tightened to the point of suggesting a social conception of character and virtue.140 Thus, Addison treats an extreme instance of hypocrisy in Spectator 399—whereby an individual is convinced by his own manner of behaving that he possesses his assumed identity—as a form of selfdeception rather than self-fashioning. This he identifies as a kind of radical duplicity or falseness: ‘that Hypocrisie, by which a Man does not only deceive the World, but very often imposes on himself; That Hypocrisie, which conceals his own Heart from him.’141 Tethered to a Lockean, representational model of self-knowledge, the ways in which The Tatler and The Spectator treat the relationship between communication and normativity continue to be beset by an underlying uncertainty concerning the line between ‘appearing’ and ‘being’. By the middle of the century, however, the epistemological status of the essayist had shifted. The essays of Hume and Johnson, however reluctantly, incorporate on a more radical level the thought that, in Hume’s words, ‘there is nothing, in itself, valuable or despicable, desirable or hateful; but that these attributes arise from the particular constitution and fabric of human sentiment and affection.’142 Once custom, habit, and the cultivation of the sentiments are seen to play a constitutive role 137 Davidson, Hypocrisy, p. 5. 138 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 2, p. 592. Emphasis added. 139 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 2, p. 591. 140 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 1, p. 487. 141 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 3, p. 493. 142  Hume, ‘The Sceptic’, Essays, p. 162.

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in establishing the normative, the boundary between acting and being begins to soften, and the possibility emerges of positively answering Davidson’s question regarding the reality of ‘functional sincerity’. In this way, a more socialized form of empiricism brings the issue of performance to the very heart of verification, as the virtues of politeness and courtesy are translated from Steele’s actual (interior) ‘benevolence’ into what Johnson terms ‘fictitious benevolence.’143 As  M.A.  Box notes, this performed benevolence, ‘[f ]ar from being a fraud, . . . is a delicate aesthetic ceremony in which we willingly suspend our disbelief in each other’s show of deference.’144 For Hume and Johnson, the logical argument of any critical debate cannot be divorced from the manner in which it is carried out: consequently, the paradoxes encountered by Addison and Steele are addressed by reconstituting behaviour itself as an integral part of knowledge formation. The kind of ‘functional sincerity’ required for this process is illustrated by Hume’s brief autobiographical essay, ‘My Own Life’, in which the tenets of his philosophy are enacted through the persona of the philosophically indifferent man of letters: To conclude historically with my own character. I am, or rather was (for that is the style I must now use in speaking of myself, which emboldens me the more to speak my sentiments); I was, I say, a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.145

Here, the cardinal virtues of Academic scepticism, of ‘mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour’, are revealed to be those of the author himself. Indeed, by concluding ‘historically with my own character’, Hume arrives at the very cornerstone of his ‘easy’ empiricism: a temporal, virtuebased conception of the human condition. Above all, the ‘moderation’ of the philosopher’s passions, which is itself reflected in the modest length and scope of the self-representation Hume offers, typifies the philosophical attribute of ataraxia (detachment) required to live an enlightened life without epistemic grounds or foundations. This philosophical moderation lies at the heart of Hume’s essayism, insofar as the essay genre provides him with the ideal medium to curb the philosophical enthusiasm of systematic, rationalist philosophy. The familiar essay embodies Hume’s idea of reflection as an immanent turning of sentiment upon sentiment, enabling him to develop dialogical modes of expression in which the philosophical imperative of truth-seeking is matched (and often overruled) by the desideratum of cultivating friendship and sociability. In this way, the moderate, tentative, and probabilistic discourse of the essay effectively replaces the apodictic certainties of the treatise as a means of regulating the flow of polite conversation, association, and correspondence. 143  James Boswell, Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D., eds. F.A. Pottle and C.H. Bennett (1963), p. 57: Boswell records that Johnson, in conversation with Lord Mondobbo, ‘insisted that good breeding was of great consequence in society. “’Tis fictitious benevolence. It supplies the place of it among those who see each other in public, or little. Depend upon it, the want of it always produces something disagreeable to one or other.” ’ 144 Box, Suasive Style, p. 242. 145 Hume, Essays, p. xl.

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This regulation was of vital importance to Hume and Johnson, both of whom are concerned that the essayist’s polyphonic discourse should not be allowed to slip into interminable rhetoric and endless polysemy. While the plasticity of the essay offers a welcome release from doctrine, the shift towards dialogue in turn raises the problem of how divergent voices might be policed and the current of public opinion contained. Indeed, to the extent that it incorporates conversational exchange (whether actual or simulated), the essay presents the republic of letters with a set of problems similar to that of the genre of dialogue itself. As Michael Price argues, philosophical dialogue occupies a ‘liminal position’ in the early eighteenth century between one set of genres that promise ‘formal unity’ and truth, and another that engenders ‘formal variety’ and loss of certainty.146 Playing across the boundaries of episteme and doxa, the essay occupies a similar cultural location to dialogue, which was situated, as Prince puts it, ‘at the precarious divide between . . . rhetorical/ humanist and systematic approaches to the representation of knowledge.’147 Through the familiar essay, Hume and Johnson attempt to consolidate epistemic and moral standards by managing the relationship between communication and normativity, and by moderating the intersection of public ‘opinion’ and scientific ‘knowledge’. The ways in which they carry out this task, however, differ markedly, and reflect their diverging conceptions of the essay’s epistemological status as literary performance. For Johnson, form and performance depend upon precept; thus, the consolidation of social and epistemic norms is underwritten by sound moral and religious principles. For Hume, whose chief aim is to mediate between formal knowledge and pragmatic, everyday thought, epistemological form is itself determined by practice and performance. From the standpoint of Hume’s mitigated sceptic, then, both functional sincerity and fictitious benevolence presuppose the epoche or ‘suspension’ of judgement necessary to maintain a stable and diplomatic relationship between systematic knowledge and the communicative acts of the lifeworld. One corollary of this, as Hume argues in ‘Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences’, is that in an ideal state the scientific spirit which flourishes most naturally within republicanism is balanced by the kind of ‘polite’ arts associated with a system of monarchy. Only in the latter does one find the unwritten, tacit habits of courtesy and mutual deference that underpin the trust required for civilized conversation: Among the arts of conversation, no one pleases more than mutual deference or civility, which leads us to resign our own inclinations to those of our companion, and to curb and conceal that presumption and arrogance, so natural to the human mind. . . . [I]n a civilized monarchy, there is a long train of dependence from the prince to the peasant . . . sufficient to beget in every one an inclination to please his superiors, and to form himself upon those models, which are most acceptable to people of condition and education. Politeness of manners, therefore, arises most naturally in monarchies and courts; and where that flourishes, none of the liberal arts will be altogether ­neglected or despised.148 146 Prince, Philosophical Dialogue, p. 23. 148 Hume, Essays, p. 126.

147 Prince, Philosophical Dialogue, p. 6.

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The role of custom in forming the ‘inclination’ to please authority is crucial to Hume’s conception of how the norms of communication are shaped: without courtesy, the habit of civilized dialogue unravels into a sterile scientism that is vulnerable to scepticism. For Hume, the essayist’s task is to cultivate and maintain the habits, virtues, and inclinations that foster civilized, self-regulated discourse by exhibiting and exemplifying these qualities in prose. In contrast to Johnson’s account in Rambler 3 of the author’s duty as ‘either to teach what is not known, or to recommend known truths by his manner of adorning them’, Hume suggests that the essayist is instrumental in sustaining an economy of truth based upon social practice.149 Rather than performing a duty to moral truth, the performance of the essayist establishes and reinforces the normative basis of civilized conversation. With their ease, politeness, and attitude of ataraxia or philosophical indifference, Hume’s essays maintain the regulatory control over individual sentiment and expression necessary for promoting and maintaining epistemic solidarity. From this perspective, philosophy appears less apodictic than therapeutic. As Hume claims in ‘The Sceptic’, ‘the chief triumph of art and philosophy’ is that it ‘insensibly refines the temper, and it points out to us those dispositions which we should endeavour to attain, by a constant bent of mind, and by repeated habit.’150 For Johnson, by contrast, the performance of the essayist must answer at a fundamental level to self-evident moral principles. The ironies of human existence stem from human weakness and the ‘insufficiency of human enjoyments’ rather than philosophical paradox.151 Johnson shares Hume’s sense that reason is too frail to support epistemological and moral norms and that, consequently, the writer’s task is to enact virtue rather than to demonstrate its necessity. This, he acknowledges, can only be achieved experientially and experimentally, noting in Rambler 180 that ‘[i]t is only from the various essays of experimental industry, and the vague excursions of minds sent out upon discovery, that any advancement of knowledge can be expected.’152 And yet, while The Rambler itself engages in ‘essays of experimental industry’ and ‘vague excursions’ of the mind, Johnson, as has been seen, remains distrustful of the empiric’s (and, by extension, the essayist’s) neglect of traditional wisdom and teleological hermeneutics. As Evans notes, ‘[c]ollective experience counts for Johnson as data which no adequate account of reality can ignore.’ Indeed, for Johnson there is no experience without interpretation, since ‘experience is created for Johnson only by its interpretation within the context of a metaphysical nature as defined by the complex framework of philosophy and tradition.’153 Moreover, since Johnson maintains that this interpretive framework of philosophy and tradition is moral as well as metaphysical, he insists that all authors, including scientists, should encourage in their reader ‘the art of moderating the desires, of repressing the appetites, and of conciliating or retaining the favour of mankind.’154 Moral imperatives such as these override the epistemological problems that Hume’s 149 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 14. 150 Hume, Essays, p. 171. 151 Johnson, Rasselas, p. 119. 152 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 183. 153 Evans, ‘General Nature’, pp. 136–7. As a result of this ‘most “modern” attribute’ of his thought, Evans concludes, ‘Johnson cannot accurately be called an empiricist.’ 154 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 183.

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socialized empiricism and appeal to intersubjectivity attempt to circumvent. Thus, while scepticism drives both Hume and Johnson towards a more hermeneutical idea of ‘nature’ and a more communicative and practical concept of ‘experience’ (for which the methodically unmethodical periodical essay appears as the perfect literary analogue), Johnson eschews Hume’s turn to a truth-deflating conventionalism and instead attempts to trump epistemology with morality. Accordingly, he avers, if ‘instead of wandering after the meteors of philosophy . . . the candidates of learning fixed their eyes upon the permanent lustre of moral and religious truth, they would find a more certain direction to happiness.’155 Seen this way, ‘experience’ is reconstructed in The Rambler as a performance with a moral foundation. Johnson’s conception of the experimentalism of the essay format is such that the essayist’s success or otherwise is determined by the extent to which his dialogical performance discharges the moral obligations of authorship. At this point, the nuances of Johnson’s own conception of ‘performance’ assume a new significance. Among the different senses registered by the OED of the transitive and intransitive forms of the verb ‘perform’, two in particular, which were current during Johnson’s lifetime, have a bearing upon his use of the term. The first, ‘[t]o carry out in action, execute, or fulfil (a command, request, undertaking, threat, etc.); to carry into effect, discharge (a service, duty, etc.)’, bears the normative accent of an obligation being fulfilled, or of achieving a required task. The second, to ‘present (a play, ballet, opera, etc.) on stage or to an audience; to play or sing (a piece of music) for an audience’, suggests an enactment of a different kind, one in which the imperative to act, and the success of the performance, depends upon outward appearance and cannot be privately accomplished. In his Dictionary, Johnson places far greater stress on the ‘private’ sense of performance, defining it accordingly: ‘To execute; to do; to discharge; to achieve an undertaking; to accomplish.’ Indeed, the function of an audience in the success or otherwise of a performance is registered by Johnson only in his definition of the word ‘performer’, which, he notes, ‘is generally applied to one that makes a publick exhibition of his skill’ (even here, the agency of the audience is not essential to the completed action). And yet, Johnson’s own use of ‘perform’ is ambiguous, moving between the sense of actually discharging an obligation or duty and ‘presenting’ or acting out something for an audience—that is, between essentially private and public conceptions of enactment. Johnson’s reluctance to foreground the public dimension of performance stems from his concern that actions of any kind, but particularly literary performances, risked slipping into rhetorical exhibitionism. After all, in addition to fulfilling and executing, performances or enactments can represent, simulate, and mask. In the absence of virtue, Johnson insists, the art of conversation is hollow; it is ‘performance’ merely as the public simulation of virtuous behaviour. As he comments in Rambler 188, while ‘[n]one of the desires dictated by vanity is more general, or less blameable, than that of being distinguished for the arts of conversation’, nonetheless ‘every one’s experience will inform him, that the pleasure which men are able to give in conversation, holds no stated proportion to their knowledge or their 155  Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 186.

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virtue.’156 Underlying this uneasiness is the central tension within Johnson’s essayism. On one level, Johnson’s metaphysical seriousness regarding morals distances his understanding of the writer’s duty from Hume’s pragmatic concern for easy sociability: thus, unlike Hume, he remains unwilling to socialize the concept of truth. At the same time, however, Johnson does not accept the assumption held by earlier essayists such as Addison that empirical reason is sufficient for determining the boundary between reality and appearance. Juggling philosophical scepticism and moral realism was a difficult trick to perform. As John Richetti describes it, the Johnsonian performance is one in which ‘the performative elements in that writing point to—without ever quite stabilizing—the possibility of truth in some final or abstract sense.’157 The result of this is that Johnson’s essayist assumes the responsibility of communicating a moral truth, the performance of which can only be validated by a presence that is indemonstrable, indeed, inaccessible. This unresolved ambivalence between, on one hand, trusting in divine law and order and, on the other, being unwilling to allow this confidence to obviate sceptical concerns relating to the boundary between appearance and reality, runs throughout many of Johnson’s essays. At times, the writer’s voice veers between moral certainties and epistemological doubt—even within a single sentence, as when he declares in Rambler 203 that ‘[h]ope is the chief blessing of man, and that hope only is rational, of which we are certain that it cannot deceive us.’158 Here, the moral primacy of hope as ‘the chief blessing of man’ is immediately qualified by an appeal to its rationality, which in turn is underwritten by certainty; in this way, within the space of a short and deceptively assertive period, Johnson moves from moral confidence to the shadow of epistemological doubt harboured by the closing verb, ‘deceive’. As Parker observes, the antagonistic voice that typifies Johnson’s style in The Rambler, and which differs so markedly from the sociable mannerisms of Hume’s essay writing, is rooted in an ‘unresolved dialectic’ of hope and reason.159 By placing his trust in God rather than in communication, Johnson sets a limit to his pragmatism: scepticism entails exchanging the vita contemplativa for the vita activa, but only up to a point. Consequently, while he recognizes that ‘functional sincerity’ is vital to the economy of knowledge, and that ‘fictitious benevolence’ maintains civilized behaviour, Johnson still conceives of truth as a presence that transcends intersubjectivity. In contrast to Hume, he refuses to accept a philosophy in which functionality and fiction go, so to speak, ‘all the way down’; the essayist’s performance might compensate for loss of certainty, but it cannot construct it. Like Hume’s ‘easy’ essayist, then, Johnson’s periodical persona is ultimately Janus-faced, in that he acknowledges the necessity of a life lived between two irreconcilable but incontrovertible attitudes. But while Hume offers his reader a masterclass in living a life of irony through a performance of communicability that socializes the epistemological doubt of the solitary scholar, the wound between 156 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 220. 157 John Richetti, ‘Johnson’s Assertions and Concessions: Moral Irresolution and Rhetorical Performance’, Samuel Johnson: The Arc of the Pendulum, eds. Freya Johnston and Lynda Mugglestone (2012), p. 47. 158 Johnson, Works, vol. 5, p. 295. 159 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 238.

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doxa and episteme in Johnson’s prose lies much closer to the surface. From this perspective, the ‘experiment’ of the familiar essay is destined to remain stranded between success and failure, since its ‘performance’ as communicative act and its ‘performance’ as fulfilment of a moral duty or truth are never permitted by Johnson to coincide. One consequence of this is that hypocrisy, rather than being an avoidable evil (as it was for Addison), or a necessary evil (as it was for Hume), becomes in Johnson simply a brute fact, an unavoidable evil. As he writes in The Idler 27: It is not uncommon to charge the difference between promise and performance, between profession and reality, upon deep design and studied deceit; but the truth is, that there is very little hypocrisy in the world; we do not so often endeavour or wish to impose on others, as on ourselves; we resolve to do right . . . but at last habit prevails, and those whom we invited to our triumph laugh at our defeat.160

By concluding that ‘there is very little hypocrisy in the world’, rather than judging that hypocrisy is everywhere, even within the heart, this passage is strikingly unRambler-like in its attempt at emollience.161 And yet, in observing that ‘we do not so often endeavour or wish to impose on others, as on ourselves’, Johnson radicalizes the hypocrisy that Addison had already identified, namely that ‘by which a Man does not only deceive the World, but very often imposes on himself; That Hypocrisie, which conceals his own Heart from him.’162 For Johnson, this paradox within human behaviour cannot be escaped, least of all by the man of learning, since ‘[c]ustom is commonly too strong for the most resolute resolver, though furnished for the assault with all the weapons of philosophy.’163 In this way, Johnson’s writing embraces the contradiction within its own performance without further adjustment or accommodation. Here, then, the contrast between Johnsonian and Humean essaying is stark. For Hume, it is the customs and ‘habits’ of intellect that make knowledge possible by laying the groundwork for the performance of trusting communication; for Johnson, the same customs and habits guarantee that human wishes will always be vain by preventing any reconciliation between human resolution and the performance of moral duties. By refusing to conclude, by miscarrying every performance (even its own miscarriage), Johnson’s ironic essayism frustrates itself in the same arena where Hume’s easy indifference attempts to bring harmony: the performance of the sociable self. STYLING SOLIDARITY In attempting to regulate the philosophical discourse of the public sphere through the medium of the essay, Hume and Johnson situate themselves ambivalently with respect to the stylistic conventions of the genre. On one hand, they resist the separation of the learned and conversable worlds by making science and philosophy 160 Johnson, Works, vol. 2, p. 85. 161  This is particularly striking given that, as Parker notes (Scepticism and Literature, p. 271), the ‘gap between attempt and performance, between the ideas of the mind and realization in the world, is precisely what Johnson’s sceptical intelligence everywhere insists on’. 162 Addison, The Spectator, vol. 3, p. 493. 163 Johnson, Works, vol. 2, p. 85.

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less formal and abstract. Moreover, they extend and radicalize The Spectator’s attempt to bring Socrates to the coffee houses by incorporating the pragmatic and affective concerns of conversational and epistolary exchange within philosophical thought itself. On the other hand, both writers contribute significantly to the gradual formalization of written English during the middle and late eighteenth century. And yet, rather than being contradictory, these tendencies reinforce each other. As confidence in rationalist philosophies ebbed away, attention turned to the function of language as the moderator of social and epistemological norms. Thus, sceptics like Hume and Johnson are more preoccupied than Addison had been with the ways in which philosophical writing shapes thought through the style and manner of its mediation. Here, once again, Hume and Johnson share a common purpose in their search for balance and moderation, steering a course between the rationalist enthusiasm of systematic philosophy and the cacophony of the marketplace and coffee shop. Indeed, even Addison, who divided his own contributions into those ‘which are written with Regularity and Method, and others that run out into the Wildness of those Compositions which go by the Name of Essays’, complained in Spectator 476 of ‘Irregularity and want of Method’ in public discourse, adding that among the ‘Thousand Coffee-house Debates’ he hears daily, ‘[t]here is not one Dispute in Ten . . . where, after the three first Sentences, the Question is not entirely lost.’164 Around thirty years later, in his essay ‘Of Eloquence’, Hume notes with disapproval the decline of formal technique and order in modern oratory. Thus, the ‘material defect’ of modern orators, he claims, is that ‘[t]heir great affectation of extemporary discourses has made them reject all order and method, which seems so requisite to argument.’165 In response to this loosening of manner, Johnson’s Dictionary and Rambler attempt to revive ‘order and method’ in written English. In turn, Johnson’s efforts reflect and encourage tendencies in linguistic practice in the eighteenth century that are increasingly directed towards formality, nominalism, and the use of the periodical sentence. As Carey McIntosh has documented, this trend is driven to a large extent by the growth of print culture: while much early eighteenth-century prose remains oriented towards speech, in later writing the increasing rigidity and abstractness of written English reflects the ways in which printed material was affecting modes of expression. One simple but significant manifestation of this change is a broad preference for sentences based around nouns rather than verbs. McIntosh finds that, in this period, ‘[i]f some texts are “more written” than others, the chances are excellent that they will be “more nominal” (rather than verbal) as well.’166 This is certainly the case with Johnson, whose fondness for ‘hard’, general, and abstract words, parallelisms and antitheses typically achieves expression in the periodic sentence which takes as its subject a noun clause. The opening sentence of The Rambler’s second number typifies this technique: That the mind of man is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity; and that we forget the proper use of the time, now in our power, to 164 Addison, Spectator, vol. 4, pp. 185, 187. 166 McIntosh, Evolution, p. 117.

165 Hume, Essays, pp. 109–10.

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provide for the enjoyment of that which, perhaps, may never be granted us, has been ­frequently remarked.167

Johnson’s style here is the reverse of the chatty loquacity of Addison or Steele. As DeMaria notes, one of Johnson’s aims in The Rambler is ‘to establish a kind of reformed, scientific brand of English that would be more enduring than the shifting language of the coffee house and the exchange.’168 Opening sentences with nominal clauses such as ‘[t]hat the mind of man’ work towards this end by encouraging the reader to read the text of Johnson’s essay as a connected series of propositions with distinct truth-values. And yet, the elusiveness of ‘truth’ is itself one of Johnson’s central themes. The quest for certainty is one of the main causes behind both humanity’s dissatisfaction ‘with the objects immediately before it’ and its Rasselas-like pursuit of ‘schemes of future felicity’. Johnson’s closed sentences curb such speculation, thereby exerting at a rhetorical level a measure of control that it is beyond the resources of philosophy to supply. Seen this way, formal prose has a twofold purpose in Johnson’s essays: both to methodize the conversation of the lifeworld and to curb the philosophical enthusiasm of systematic thought. Like Johnson, Hume balances the philosophical informality of the essay with a carefully honed formality of style in his writing. Indeed, Hume’s practice as an essayist combines facets of different essay-writing traditions. Despite his commitment to Baconian experiment, his social and communicative rethinking of ‘experience’ leads him to resist the methodizing of experience into ‘system’ pursued by other philosophical essayists such as Reid. At one level, then, the Humean essay is unserious and playful, a rhetorical exercise in building consensus in the face of the challenge posed to civic humanist rhetoric by ebbing faith in a higher order and by modern commerce and mobility. Politely juggling seriousness and sophistry, the essay enables Hume to be by turns sceptical, ironic, reassuring, magisterial, and therapeutic. Hume’s emphasis on epoche as a philosophical strategy generates a continuous but shifting and unstable borderline in his writing between intolerable aporia and unreflective common sense.169 This enables him to explore a broad and more subtle palette of literary registers (including irony, self-deprecation, and ­sentiment) than that accommodated by the stoical irony of writers such as Shaftesbury.170 The overall effect of these techniques is dispersed across Hume’s writing in ways that are difficult to isolate and analyse. As John Valdimir Price points out, Hume’s is a ‘shotgun irony’ that operates at a very general level in his 167 Johnson, Works, vol. 3, p. 9. Following the semicolon, the sentence continues: ‘and as this practice is a commodious subject of raillery to the gay, and of declamation to the serious, it has been ridiculed with all the pleasantry of wit, and exaggerated with all the amplifications of rhetoric.’ 168  DeMaria, ‘Periodical’, p. 542. DeMaria notes that in this respect ‘Johnson . . . works against the grain of periodical writers, like Swift and Defoe, who wanted to reform English by simplifying it, and those, like Addison, Philips and Chesterfield, who wanted to make it more polite.’ 169 Richetti, Philosophical Writing, pp. 192–3. 170  See Richard Squibbs, ‘Civic Humorism and the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essay’, ELH 75, no. 2 (2008), 398, 402: Squibbs describes how writers used formal irony to respond to the challenge of commerce to civic virtue in the eighteenth century by replacing ‘the imperative to civic action with the symbolic community of the republic of letters’. Shaftesbury’s idea of ‘soft Irony’, for instance, enabled Stoicism to be expressed as ‘a state of bemusement, leavened with occasional, spirit-composing perceptions of beautiful order and harmony in everyday social experience’.

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work; accordingly, ‘a passage will be ironic, but the ironic features of the language cannot be excised and codified.’171 Describing Hume’s essayistic writing in these terms can make him sound almost Montaignean. Hume’s relationship to Montaigne, however, is complex. As Fred Parker has noted, Montaigne’s influence engendered two major literary trends in the eighteenth century: first, a turn towards introspection and nature that is most clearly evident in the writings of Rousseau; secondly, the development of a more ‘habitually self-conscious or ironic employment of public modes of discourse’, which Parker associates with the work of Hume.172 Nonetheless, Hume’s need to establish agreement through conversation sets his own urbane, ‘public’ irony apart from the unflinching self-examination of Montaigne. Indeed, it is difficult to think of anything less like Hume’s genteel depiction of his ‘mild dispositions’ and ‘open, social, and cheerful humour’, than Montaigne’s presentation of his self-portrait in ‘Of Practice’ as ‘a cadaver on which the veins, the muscles, and the tendons appear at a glance, each part in its place.’173 Hume’s writing never approaches this level of candour: even the unsent letter to Arbuthnot, which draws nearest, rediscovers its reassuring poise before ending. One reason for this, as I have maintained throughout this study, is that Hume’s scepticism does not allow him to accept the idea of a stable ‘self ’ as the basis of an authoritative, first-person perspective. Accordingly, his attempt to rebalance the skills of the anatomist with those of the painter entails abandoning the Treatise’s attempt to establish an authentic and punctual selfhood as the fulcrum of empirical thought and refocus philosophical attention upon the social and pragmatic constitution of the subject. As an active and public rather than contemplative or private thinker, Hume’s essayist exchanges the flesh-and-bones honesty of Montaigne for Addisonian manners and polite restraint. By deploying formal rhetorical and grammatical methods in order to regulate the unmethodical and improvisatory arguments of the familiar essay, Hume and Johnson break away from the traditions of Montaigne and Bacon, both of which cultivated the concise, epigrammatic styles of Tacitus and Seneca while rejecting more rigid classical models—in particular, what Montaigne dismissively refers to, in his essay ‘Of Books’, as the ‘boring’ and ‘long-winded preparations’ of Cicero.174 For Hume, this anti-oratorical, anti-rhetorical tendency in modern writing was to be lamented. In ‘Of Eloquence’, he likens modern rhetoric to ‘ATTIC eloquence, that is, calm, elegant, and subtile, which instructed the reason more than affected the passions, and never raised its tone above argument or common discourse.’ This discourse, however, was ‘eclipsed like a taper when set in the rays of a meridian sun’ when compared to the eloquence of Demosthenes and Cicero, who ‘possessed the same elegance, and subtilty, and force of argument, with the former’, but who also brought ‘that pathetic and sublime, which, on proper occasions, they threw into their discourse, and by which they commanded the resolution of their audience.’175 In this blending of social reason and sentiment, one can discern the blueprint of 171  John Valdimir Price, The Ironic Hume (1992), p. 37. 172 Parker, Scepticism and Literature, p. 50. 173 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 274. 174 Montaigne, Complete Essays, p. 301. 175 Hume, Essays, p. 108.

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Hume’s own essayistic style. For Hume, modern eloquence needs to temper the quotidian language of ‘argument or common discourse’ by discreetly steering public sentiment through the affective regions of the ‘pathetic and sublime’. As Gary Kelly notes, Hume’s idea of conversation attempts to mediate between ‘the formality and masquerade of courtly upper-class society and the supposed roughness and coarseness of male-only society or plebeian society.’176 It is by such means that his essays’ finely modulated exhibition of courtesy and congeniality seeks to consolidate the norms underpinning sociability, thereby cultivating in his reader a suitable attitude of epoche, or philosophical indifference. C O N C LU S I O N From the early eighteenth century, the essay follows two main epistemological pathways. In one direction, thanks to its association with ideas of experimentation and experience, it becomes an analogue for the kind of active, trusting, and communicative empiricism that develops in the wake of the sceptical critique of reason: consequently, in Hume and Johnson, the familiar essay introduces the decentred, dialogical selfhood of Montaigne to the bustling intellectual marketplace of the eighteenth-century public sphere. At the same time, however, in its more apodictic and systematic forms the essay also contributes to the expansion of abstract knowledge and the specialization of intellectual functions engendered by instrumental rationality: accordingly, in the writings of Reid, Stewart, and others, one witnesses the birth of the professional, ‘academic’ essay. Indeed, even the kind of conversable essay described by this chapter as ‘open’ or ‘performative’ does not escape the reach of abstraction, since the familiar essay resists the estrangement of ‘learning’ and ‘life’ in ways that already internalize the reification and polarization of what Habermas terms the ‘system’ and ‘lifeworld’. In this way, the systematic and the familiar essay are merely different sides of the same Enlightenment coin. The essays of Hume and Johnson register this contradiction, albeit in different ways, through their attempts to overcome the disassociation of intellect through philosophical performance rather than argument. By incorporating notions of functional sincerity and fictitious benevolence, and by prioritizing the performative over the constative in language, Hume and Johnson try to short circuit the paradoxes of hypocrisy encountered by Addison and Steele. Styling himself as a diplomat from the realm of learning to that of conversation, for example, Hume develops an ‘easy’, conversable empiricism that strives to reinforce solidarity rather than demonstrate logical certainty. And yet, as in his letter to Arbuthnot, Hume’s prose simultaneously asserts epistemic authority through its rhetoric of reasonableness and moderation, through its exemplary exhibition of easy-going, undogmatic detachment. While Hume uses the familiar discourse of the essay to relocate epistemological norms into the (rhetorically policed) territory of public discourse, 176  Gary Kelly, ‘Bluestocking Feminism’, Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700–1830, eds. Elizabeth Eger, et al. (2001), p. 165.

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custom, and opinion, Johnson rejects doxa entirely and instead transfers normative power from reason to deontology. The product of this strategy in The Rambler is a radicalized version of his own satire manqué, whereby the abstract truth-values of Johnson’s periodic sentences insist on the certainty of a moral truth that cannot itself be comprehended or performed. Between the guarantee of failure and the necessity of the endeavour, then, Johnson’s essaying consciously performs the ‘miscarriage’ of its own performance. Hume and Johnson engage in an essentially performative struggle to consolidate social and epistemological norms as confidence in rationalism and principle ebbs. As the century moves into its closing decades, however, the middle ground that they had sought to maintain was crumbling. This environment presents the essayist with new challenges: imagining a shared community of opinion and belief in 1745 or 1755 was one thing; imagining it in 1785 was a different proposition. For example, in the thirty-third number of Henry Mackenzie’s The Mirror, Colonel Caustic’s strictures upon the poor manners of Lord and Lady Grubwell lead him to reflect more broadly on the decay of a healthy, mixed, middle ground in public manners—or, as Caustic puts it, the decline of the ‘pit’: The world has been often called a theatre; now the theatre of your fashionable world seems to me to have lost the best part of its audience; it is all either the yawn of the side-boxes, or the roar of the upper gallery. There is no pit; (as I remember the pit); none of that mixture of good breeding, discernment, taste, and feeling, which constitutes an audience, such as a first-rate performer would wish to act his part to.177

Mackenzie’s depiction of British society as a theatre in which the absence of a suitable ‘mixture of good breeding, discernment, taste, and feeling’ effectively undermines any performance of sociability illustrates the rate at which the fragmentation of the public sphere had progressed since the days of The Rambler and Hume’s essays. This disintegration was driven in part by the economic transformation of the literary marketplace. As David Allan notes, Georgian England witnessed a substantial increase in book production and consumption. The number of printers in England, for instance, rose from 400 in 200 locations during the 1740s to 1,000 in 300 by the 1790s, while stock-carrying booksellers emerged in provincial towns beyond the main publishing hub of London. Similarly, the number of new books published rose from 500 per annum in 1700 to over 1,000 per annum by the 1820s. At the same time, readers were forming book clubs and reading associations and from 1750s onwards were discovering more opportunities to borrow books through subscription libraries.178 Consequently, the essayist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century writes in a culture in which the reading public has expanded and diversified, patronage and subscription has given way to contracts with booksellers, the magazine and the newspaper are eclipsing the periodical as the main medium of the 177  Henry Mackenzie, The Lounger. A Periodical Paper, Published at Edinburgh in the Years 1785 and 1786, vol. 1 (1787), p. 313. 178  David Allan, Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England (2010), pp. 12–14.

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essay, and an increasingly productive printing press is on the verge of undergoing its own mechanized, industrial revolution. As essayists are forced to become more professionalized to earn a living, some look back fondly to the Augustan heyday of the periodical essay. In 1759, in the eighth and final number of his ill-fated periodical The Bee, Oliver Goldsmith depicts the reign of Queen Anne as a literary golden age: At that period there seemed to be a just balance between patronage and the press. Before it, men were little esteemed whose only merit was genius; and since, men who can prudently be content to catch the public, are certain of living without dependence. But the writers of the period of which I am speaking, were sufficiently esteemed by the great, and not rewarded enough by booksellers, to set them above independence.179

With its wistful glance back towards an idealized, mixed constitution in the republic of letters, Goldsmith’s nostalgia for a ‘just balance between patronage and the press’ resembles Hume’s attempt to temper the language of the conversable world with courtly manners of gallantry and politeness. And yet, the increasing ability of ‘men who can prudently be content to catch the public’ to live independently was already changing the relationship between writer and reader, replacing the ties of sociability with those of commodity exchange and undermining confidence in the kind of commonalities presupposed by earlier essayists. Writing in 1783 as ‘The Hypochondriack’ for The London Magazine, for instance, James Boswell highlights the extent to which the literary marketplace had damaged essayistic sociability: I doubt if a writer has any such feeling towards those by whom he has been long known, but of whom he has no knowledge. His imagination does not settle upon any individuals of the number: but he has merely an idea of many in the abstract, which, although it may expand his pride or his ambition, cannot touch his heart.180

Indeed, even as they were being composed, Hume and Johnson’s attempts at normative consolidation through essayistic performance had already been undermined by both the logic of the book trade and the inflammatory writings of radical journalists, most notably John Wilkes in The North Briton. As Potkay observes, the decade of the 1760s, with its protests and ministerial instability, was ‘quite an eyeopener’ for essayists: ‘the final proof that London was not Athens and that popular English orators (or essayists) were not likely to form the taste of the people in any beneficial way.’181 The increasing sense of alienation and disassociation exhibited in the essays of Goldsmith, Mackenzie, and Boswell illustrate that confidence in sociability was attenuating well before the great upheavals of the 1790s. For later generations of writers, the epistemological function of the essayist would have to be rethought.

179  Oliver Goldsmith, Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Arthur Friedman, vol. 1 (1966), p. 499. 180  The London Magazine 52 (1783), pp. 123–4. 181 Potkay, Eloquence, p. 89.

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5 Romantic Essayism I N T RO D U C T I O N Recent studies in the philosophy of the Romantic familiar essay have situated the genre within the conventions of aesthetic theory. Uttara Natarajan, for instance, depicts the development of the familiar essay as part of the Romantic project to unify poetry and philosophy, arguing that ‘[t]he Romantic essay shares with Romantic poetry, an aesthetic founded upon the attempt, or . . . the failure, to represent the infinite through finite means.’1 In a similar vein, David Duff has drawn attention to the way in which the digressive, paratactic, and impressionistic epistemology of the familiar essay in this period models itself upon Romantic poetics. The essay’s performance of its ‘half-knowledge’, its reflexive self-theorization through practice, he finds, ‘only comes to full power, and full understanding of itself, through the stimulus of Romantic lyric.’2 Viewed from perspectives such as these, the Romantic familiar essay emerges as the product of a merging of British empiricism with a new, nascent idealism, what Natarajan calls a ‘symbiosis of the experiential and the ideal’, itself a ‘hallmark of British as distinct from German idealism.’3 According to this picture, the prosateur Romantic essayist, like his poetic counterpart, subordinates the senses to the mind as a means of exploring the ‘experiential’ through an aesthetics of sublimity. And yet, if not carefully qualified, attempts to outmanoeuvre the old dichotomy that pits eighteenth-century British empiricism against Romantic idealism by invoking notions of ‘British idealism’ or ‘Romantic empiricism’, are apt to raise further problems.4 The first of these is the tendency of such readings to deploy key terms such as ‘empiricism’ and ‘idealism’ with insufficient clarity. ‘Idealism’, for instance, 1  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 31. See also Hull, Familiar Essay, p. xxii. While Hull agrees with Natarajan that the Romantic essay can be defined, he disputes her claim that its qualities are congruent with those of Wordsworthian Romanticism, arguing instead that, by embodying a ‘blithe discourse of ­callousness or “un-affect”, which stands squarely opposed to the affective mode of writing’, the metropolitan essay stands opposed to the dominant models of Romantic sensibility. 2  David Duff, ‘Charles Lamb’s Art of Intimation’, Wordsworth Circle 43, no. 3 (2012), p. 133. 3  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 31. 4  See Gavin Budge, ‘introduction’, Romantic Empiricism: Poetics and the Philosophy of Common Sense, 1780–1830, ed. Gavin Budge (2007), p. 24: Budge argues that traditional ‘idealist’ readings of British intellectual thought ‘neglect the mutual imbrication of “empiricist” and “idealist” positions within British thought of the Romantic period’ and consequently overlook ‘the specifically Romantic version of empiricism represented by Common Sense Philosophy’. Budge does not consider the ­possibility that common-sense philosophy, by prioritizing intuition and interpretation over sensory representation, might constitute a rejection of empiricism.

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is a slippery term: Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Schelling, and Hegel are each, in their different ways, ‘idealists’. In this book, I have attempted to bypass this problem by distinguishing varieties of empiricism in line with a commitment or resistance to foundational models of knowledge—in other words, according to the extent to which they exhibit a ‘serious’ or ‘rhetorical’ attitude towards the question of truth. In previous chapters I described how the socialization of one strain of empirical thought gives rise to the ludic, trusting, and ‘essayistic’ strategies of Hume, as well as to the more serious, philosophically foundationalist theories of thinkers like Reid. I further argued that this tension is reinscribed within the essay itself, which since its inception has vacillated between two alternatives: whether pragmatically to accommodate modernity’s lost wholeness, or to recuperate it. The fundamental strain within the essay, I have maintained, is not between empiricism and idealism, nor even between the ‘philosophical’ and the ‘poetic’, but between serious and rhetorical ways of dealing with the problems and paradoxes of thought. While for Homo Seriosus, ‘first’ philosophy constitutes the basis of science and reason, for Homo Rhetoricus the value of philosophical inquiry is, at best, therapeutic. The danger in situating Romantic prose in relation to purely philosophical categories such as ‘empiricism’ and ‘idealism’, then, is that by doing so one risks overlooking the ways in which the essay as an aesthetic form contests the very status of philosophy and its role within life. My argument in this chapter is that this tension persists in the Romantic familiar essay as an unresolved dialectic within Romantic aesthetics between two models: the pragmatic/communicative and the nostalgic/recuperative. This will in turn involve challenging any suggestion that the Romantic essay’s unification of the poetic and the philosophical is somehow the fulfilment of an eighteenth-century quest for a form of cultural communication that bridged the worlds of the quotidian and the intellectual, an aspiration encapsulated by Hume’s call for philosophy to adopt that ‘Liberty and Facility of Thought and Expression, which can only be acquir’d by Conversation.’5 Some have argued that, while Addison and Hume endeavour to broaden intellectual culture by essayistically mediating between ‘study’ and ‘conversation’, the Romantic essay’s attempt to synthesize poetry and philosophy aims to achieve on a formal level the performance of familiarity and communicability that its eighteenth-century precursors could only describe. According to Natarajan, for instance, Hume’s model of the essayist as ambassador between the realms of learning and conversation is fully realized only by Hazlitt’s essayistic practice, by his Romantic incorporation of the conversability hypothesized in Hume’s essays into the very voice of the essayist. Admittedly, Hazlitt appears to have something like this in mind in his 1825 Advertisement to the Paris edition of Table Talk. Here, he claims that one of the aims of the volume is to embody at a stylistic level the conversational ideals of the eighteenth-century essay: It therefore occurred to me as possible to combine the advantages of these two styles, the literary and conversational . . . . This seemed to me to promise a greater variety and richness, and perhaps a greater sincerity, than could be attained by a more precise and 5  Hume, ‘Of Essay-Writing’, Essays, p. 535.

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scholastic method. The same consideration had an influence on the familiarity and conversational idiom of the style which I have used.6

As I detail below, however, Hazlitt’s conception of what is at stake (epistemologically and culturally) in the attempt to combine a ‘literary’ with a ‘conversational’ style differs significantly from that of Hume. Where the negotiations in Hume’s prose between rhetoric and seriousness (communication and truth) are manifested in the culturally and socially liminal figure of the essayist, in Hazlitt this liminality is elevated into an aesthetics of the sublime. This distinction has been helpfully illuminated by Ian Duncan’s account of two principal ways in which literary works of this period endeavour to negotiate the blurred boundary between fiction and reality. The first mode, which Duncan describes as Humean-empirical or novelistic, remains poised between truth and fiction, with no projected foundation beyond that of the goal of cultivating consensus though communication.7 On this model, the representational status of literature is deflated into that of ‘conversation’. Thus, for a rhetorically minded ironist such as Hume, literature simply helps to promote and regulate communication in the public sphere by mediating between different forms of life (primarily, the reflective and the quotidian). Such diplomacy is exemplified by the essay, which, as cultural mediator par excellence, moves harmoniously between the worlds of earnest philosophizing and polite conversation. Consequently, the essayistic imagination involves a performative doubling of personae and perspectives, a form of open-ended mediating between the systematic understanding of the philosopher and the pragmatic diplomacy of the conversationalist in the lifeworld. The goal of this liminal activity is the consolidation of social, and, consequently, epistemological norms. The second major aesthetic paradigm noted by Duncan, the Kantian-transcendental or lyrical, will be more familiar to students of Romanticism. On this model, aesthetic experience acquires a recuperative function, compensating for the loss of epistemic foundations and their replacement with transcendental conditions. In transcendental aesthetics, representations of the fragmented self offer a fleeting and indirect glimpse of an impossible unity. Accordingly, ‘Literature’ becomes (potentially, at least) sublime, which is another way of saying that literature assumes a unique, asymptotic relation to the Absolute. Thus, as Friedrich Schlegel writes of ‘transcendental poetry’ in Fragment 238 of the Athenäum Fragments, Literature ‘emerges as satire in the absolute difference of ideal and real, hovers in between as elegy, and ends as idyll with the absolute identity of the two.’8 Significantly, transcendental lyricism remains serious (albeit nostalgically so) about truth, offering the prospect of an aesthetic resolution of human division in the dark foundations of Schelling’s intellectual intuition, or in the form of an ineffable ‘Literary Absolute.’9 6 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 333. 7  See Ian Duncan, Scott’s Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (2007), p. 124. 8  Friedrich Schlegel, ‘From Athenäum Fragments’, The Origins of Modern Critical Thought: German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism from Lessing to Hegel, ed. David Simpson (1988), p. 195. 9 See F.W.J. Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism, trans. Peter Heath (1978), p. 228: answering the question of how the subjective is to become objective, i.e. how intuition can intuit itself, Schelling claims that ‘[t]his universally acknowledged and altogether incontestable objectivity of intellectual intuition is art itself. For the aesthetic intuition simply is the intellectual intuition become objective.’

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My suggestion then, is that Duncan’s distinction between transcendental and empirical (or what I term ‘sublime’ and ‘liminal’) aesthetics is also helpful for reflecting upon what is at stake, epistemologically and rhetorically, in the Romantic familiar essay. Seen this way, the ‘sublime’ Romantic familiar essay does not resolve a performative contradiction at the core of its eighteenth-century precursor; instead, it privatizes and idealizes the essay’s inherent epistemological ambiguity. For Addison, Hume, and Johnson, the essayist encourages and moderates communication at the borderline of systematic science and the public sphere. For Hazlitt and his contemporary Charles Lamb, however, the public sphere, which had already fragmented through the expansion of print media and a rapid increase in the dissemination of knowledge, could no longer function as the ground for epistemic solidarity. Once the social intellect of the Scottish Enlightenment moves indoors, into the private domain of consciousness and individual imagination, the essayist comes to mediate less between social formations and more between idealized phenomenological realms of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ experience. Consequently, the ludic indeterminacy of the Romantic imagination is oriented by a purely aesthetic purposiveness: its playfulness expresses not the pragmatic presuppositions of communication (as it had in Hume), but the dark foundations of experience. In aestheticizing the communicative intellect of the eighteenth-century essayists, the identity doublings and performances of the Romantic familiar essay acquire significance as the hypostatized others of a lost wholeness. When seen from this perspective, as I argue below, Hazlitt emerges as a ‘dark’ foundationalist who channels the intersubjective consensus of Hume and the intuitive common sense of Reid into the numinous territory of imagination, transforming Reid’s natural presuppositions into Burke’s supernatural, wise prejudices. In making this argument, it is not my intention to submit the Romantic essay to a critique of ‘ideology’. On the contrary, I argue that the essays of both Hazlitt (an anti-materialist who continues to use the language of empiricism) and Lamb (an avowed materialist who also professes an indifference to philosophy) play across the boundaries of sublime lyricism and quotidian liminality. Indeed, my interest in these works relates to the ways in which they generate a space between, on one hand, the pragmatic empiricism of Hume and Jeremy Bentham, and, on the other, the transcendental aesthetics of some of their poetic contemporaries. In this sense, the Romantic familiar essay takes hybridity to a new level: it becomes not merely a pragmatic intervention in the public sphere, nor a lyrical attempt to transcend it, but something intermediate. Nonetheless, as I argue below, the two writers discussed here typically occupy and exploit different positions on the spectrum of expressive liminality between the proto-pragmatic and the transcendentsublime. More specifically, I find that it is the deflationary irony and everyday bathos of Lamb rather than the metaphysical egoism of Hazlitt that more obviously continues the tradition of Hume’s essayistic, socialized empiricism. Thus, while Hazlitt depicts the self as irreducibly plural, he traces such difference to its source in an authentic, unfathomable consciousness. In contrast, Lamb treats subjectivity as exhaustively performative—to the point, indeed, of challenging the basis of critique itself. Like Hume, Lamb as an essayist is (to borrow Seamus Perry’s formulation)

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seriously unserious: profoundly sceptical about scepticism itself, he nonetheless cultivates an ambivalent attitude towards the impossibility of sustaining an indifference to ‘truth.’10 And yet, in contrast to Hume’s sociable praxis, Lamb responds to sceptical impasse with a dreamy refinement of empiricism: contemplative, nostalgic, and elegiac, producing an imagined solidarity, not through Hume’s consensualism or Hazlitt’s force of will, but through a sophisticated form of literary enchantment. P R I N T A N D P RO F E S S I O N A L I Z AT I O N This shift from a liminal aesthetics of mediation and consolidation to a sublime aesthetics of transcendence stems directly from the decline of the public sphere upon which the former depends. No less than other, more celebrated literary forms of the Romantic period, the epistemology of the Romantic familiar essay is moulded by circumstances associated with industrial and political revolution.11 Among these factors, two are particularly significant. The first is the experience of a dramatic increase in readily available information through an explosion in print media. Together with increasing scientific, technical, and professional specialization, this leads to the demise of the Enlightenment ideal of the Universal Intellect, a mind capable of encompassing all fields of knowledge. As Nathan Drake observes in 1814, knowledge had proliferated and diversified to such an extent that ‘[t]o comprehend the intricacies of speculative science, or to relish the elaborate productions of genius, requires not only the education of many years, but much subsequent leisure through life.’12 The demands of trade and business mean that even the leisured classes struggled to keep up: In a country just rising into consequence by commercial efforts, where, with the exception of a few individuals devoted to an academical or professional life, the higher and middle classes are but little acquainted with the pleasures and advantages of literature . . . it will be in vain that attention is called to philological enquiry or studied exhortation.13

Drake argues that, amidst the bewildering complexities of speculative science and the productions of genius, the ideal role for the essay is that of cultural aggregator. 10  See Seamus Perry, ‘Charles Lamb and the Cost of Seriousness’, Charles Lamb Bulletin 83 (1993), p. 85. Perry applies Stephen Spender’s description of Auden’s ‘serious non-seriousness’ to Lamb. For further discussion of Lamb’s philosophical ‘indifference’, see Tim Milnes, ‘Charles Lamb: Professor of Indifference’, Philosophy and Literature 28, no. 2 (2004): pp. 324–41. 11  See William Wordsworth, ‘Preface to Lyrical Ballads’, The Prose Works of William Wordsworth, eds. W.J.B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser, vol. 1, p. 128: Wordsworth’s 1800 manifesto for the lyrical ballad in response to the ‘great national events’ of the day (principally, war between Britain and France), as well as ‘a craving for extraordinary incident which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies’ remains the clearest account in this period of genre-shaping in response to contemporary political pressures. 12  Nathan Drake, Essays, Biographical, Critical and Historical, Illustrative of the Tatler, Spectator and Guardian, 2nd ed., vol. 1. (1814), p. 15. 13 Drake, Essays, vol. 1, p. 16.

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The essay genre, he suggests, is the perfect medium for an age of commercial and communicative surplus, providing the ‘higher and middle classes’ with a digest of information in a world in which it is no longer possible to be closely acquainted with every branch of knowledge. The problem with Drake’s vision was that it underestimated the extent to which changes in the early nineteenth-century economy would fundamentally reshape the inner structure of the essay itself. Clifford Siskin notes how the proliferation of knowledge and ‘the pressure of too many things’ cause the Monthly and the Critical to abandon their comprehensive editorial policies and prompt the rise of the Edinburgh, which specialized in longer articles on fewer texts.14 In the knowledge economy of the early nineteenth century, a new paradigm of essaying was required. Accordingly, in his 1823 essay ‘The Periodical Press’, Hazlitt calls for a reconsideration of the function of the periodical writer: To dig to the bottom of a subject through so many generations of authors, is now impossible: the concrete mass is too voluminous and vast to be contained in any single head; and therefore we must have essences and samples as substitutes for it. We have collected a superabundance of raw materials: the grand desideratum now is, to fashion and render them portable.15

The key word here is ‘essences’. In an era that was witnessing a superabundance of information, the point of the essay was no longer one of the extent to which it contributed to the progress of knowledge. Rather than aggregate information, the purpose of the periodical essay would be to distil the spirit of the age; instead of attempting to condense the whole, it would allow totality to speak through each of its parts. In this way, the genre acquires a new cultural autonomy and self-sufficiency, leading Hazlitt to observe that ‘periodical criticism is favourable—to periodical criticism. It contributes to its own improvement.’16 And yet, as the figure of the man of letters diversifies into the expert (the ‘natural philosopher’, for example, into the ‘scientist’ and the ‘philosopher’), the essay as literary or scientific tool increasingly fits no purpose in particular, an amphibian whose ability to move between environments seems maladapted to a milieu in which only the specialist thrives. Writing in 1923, George Marr attributes the periodical essay’s demise to a decline in the culture of consensus and to rapidly changing reading practices: It was not till the last decade or so of the eighteenth century, when new forces were being brought to bear on society and stirring it to its depths, that men were no longer satisfied with the little moral essay, the little didactic tale, the evergreen Eastern allegory, and the imaginary ‘characters’ drawn for their improvement, but called for a stronger and more varied literary diet. And then that particular form of the essay became extinct.17

Marr depicts the passing of the genre as a kind of cultural enclosure, with the essay’s common ground being broken up and repurposed by more dedicated literary 14 Siskin, System, p. 128. 15 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 16, pp. 219–20. 16 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 212. 17 George S. Marr, The Periodical Essayists of the Eighteenth Century (1923), p. 11.

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forms that borrow elements and rework them in ways that the original format could not. The first and most obvious of these genres is the novel, which, by expanding the ‘little didactic tale’ and ‘evergreen Eastern allegory’ into richer, longer, and more sophisticated narratives, ‘sucked the essay dry.’18 Secondly, the rise of criticism and heavyweight reviews such as the Edinburgh, the Quarterly and Blackwood’s in the early nineteenth century dwarf the relatively modest critical efforts of the eighteenth-century periodical essay. The third and most significant cause in the eclipse of the essay, however, is the rise of the magazine, which, with its greater size and wider range of interests offers an ‘infinitely varied dietary of story and article.’19 One significant consequence of the periodical essay’s perceived failure to be either sufficiently focused and serious (like the critical review) or satisfyingly varied and entertaining (like the magazine) is an increasing tendency for the genre to turn in on itself, evacuating ‘content’ in favour of self-conscious reflection. It is by restyling itself as a form of meta-media that the essay acquires its surplus value as a cultural commodity; as pure commentary, it is free to cover any subject with no unity of method other than an ever-present awareness of its own status as cultural mediator. ‘ “We are nothing, if not critical,” ’ Hazlitt writes: ‘Be it so: but then let us be critical, or we shall be nothing.’20 Accordingly, as Leigh Hunt muses in the Indicator, the essayist becomes a doubled figure, a purveyor of everything and ‘nothing’. The aim of the essay, he notes, is to be modest: it is to be expressive: it is to be new: it is to be striking: it is to have something in it equally intelligible to the man of plain understanding, and surprising for the man of imagination:—in a word, it is to be impossible. How far we have succeeded in the attainment of this happy nonentity, we leave others to judge.21

Hazlitt’s depiction of periodical writing as ‘nothing’ but criticism and Hunt’s image of a ‘happy nonentity’ invert Drake’s idea of the essay as cultural digest in reaction to what they perceive to be its ‘impossible’ task: to be all things to all people and still be something. They also reflect what Ian Duncan has identified as the abstracted nothingness at the heart of the contemporary notion of ‘common life’, which in turn becomes ‘a medium at once transparent and opaque’, an abstraction, a ‘ “nothing” .’22 As has been seen, this conception stems from Hume’s argument that there is no reality principle underpinning the quotidian. His realization that everyday belief had no metaphysical foundation moves him to situate thought at the unstable boundary of fiction and belief, where, as Duncan puts it, ‘[o]ur sentimental investment in common life’ and customs is ‘framed by the fitful, uneven knowledge of their fictiveness.’23 Duncan focuses most of his attention upon the ways in which Romantic fiction comes to embody and represent this ‘nothing’ at the heart of empirical reality. And yet, Hunt and Hazlitt’s ruminations 18 Marr, Essayists, p. 249. 19 Marr, Essayists, p. 253. 20 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 213. 21  Leigh Hunt, The Indicator and the Companion; A Miscellany for the Fields and the Fire-Side, vol. 1 (1834), pp. 1–2. 22 Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. 117. 23 Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. 123.

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suggest that the essay in this period is no less involved in exploring the doublings of consciousness required to maintain the reflective and the quotidian in productive dialogue, in an epistemological form of suspended animation. As I discuss below, while for Hume such doubling is largely a pragmatic matter, Romantic writers see in it a potential source of re-enchantment, a basis for transcending the conditions of a mechanized, alienated consciousness. The second change that was to have a significant effect upon the development of the essay was the fragmentation of the public sphere itself. As Damrosch notes, the polarization of political debate in the wake of the French Revolution meant rethinking ‘the imaginative status of private and social fictions.’24 This in turn had consequences for thinking about the social basis of knowledge. War and social upheaval added urgency to debates over the relationships between trust, truth, and a self that continued to be conceived in broadly Humean terms (that is, as contingent and intersubjectively fashioned). On one side, radicals such as William Godwin use Hume’s account of the self to argue for the need for epistemological reformation (rather than the consolidation promoted by Hume and Johnson). Having concluded that the subject was linguistically constituted, Hume had emphasized the need to reinforce conventions through trusting linguistic cooperation. Siding with Rousseau, however, Godwin insists that—since culture had trumped nature by (in Damrosch’s words) ‘insinuating beliefs and values that are pernicious and nevertheless are felt to be normal’—what was required was not renewed trust in conventions, but an entirely new social contract.25 Against this, Burke focuses his attention upon what he sees as the urgent need for renewal of epistemological and social fictions in the wake of the breakdown of the rational consensualism presupposed by Hume. And yet, in explicitly defending non-rational, habitual virtue (or ‘just prejudice’) against the rationalist contractarianism of the philosophers, Burke is compelled to abandon the very consensus upon which Hume had relied.26 By translating the latter’s account of tacit trust in linguistic conventions (and, by extension, Reid’s theory of natural, intuitive presuppositions) into an overt vindication of socially constructed ‘prejudices’, Burke exposes the extent to which intersubjective trust within everyday life has already collapsed. As political debate polarizes around different aspects of the legacy of Hume’s empiricism, print culture undergoes rapid expansion and diversification. Jon Klancher has demonstrated the ways in which the periodical plays a vital role in cultivating the idea of a public sphere by organizing audiences and evoking ‘a textual society unifying readers otherwise divided into hierarchic social ranks.’27 As this ‘textual society’ segments into political factions whose interests and worldviews appear unbridgeable, the figure of the sympathetic, neutral spectator prized by Addison and Smith suffers a fate similar to that of the generalist man of letters. Reviewing the reviews in 1824, James Mill identifies the very communicability of the modern periodicals as the source of modern partisanship. For Mill, the responsiveness of 24 Damrosch, Fictions, p. 5. 25 Damrosch, Fictions, p. 227. 26  Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), p. 130. 27 Jon P. Klancher, The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790–1832 (1987), p. 15.

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the periodical press to public debate lies behind its craven adherence to political ‘interests’ at the cost of objectivity. ‘Periodical literature depends upon immediate success’, he complains: ‘It must, therefore, patronise the opinions which are now in vogue, the opinions of those who are now in power.’28 As Lamb/Elia notes in his 1823 ‘Letter to Robert Southey’, the politicization of the periodicals produces partiality and party loyalty rather than balanced critique: ‘[i]t is an error’, Elia claims, ‘more particularly incident to persons of the correctest principles and habits, to seclude themselves from the rest of mankind, as from other species; and form into knots and clubs. The best people, herding thus exclusively, are in danger of contracting a narrowness.’ Lamb himself had experienced the sharp edge of ‘narrow’ criticism at the hands of publications such as the Quarterly: thus, in place of epistemological correctness, Elia offers a model of sociability based upon epistemic indifference. For his own part, he declares, ‘I could never think so considerably of myself as to decline the society of an agreeable or worthy man upon difference of opinion only.’29 Lamb and Hazlitt’s resistance to the expansion and instrumentalization of knowledge that powers the magazine marketplace involves a further interleaving of essayistic practice with political and epistemological problems. Both writers reject utilitarian rationalism, associating the latter with a Scottish philosophy of self-interest and with the commercialization of letters that they hold to be responsible for glutting the public appetite with cheap printed material. Hazlitt, for instance, depicts rational egoism as a form of mental commodification that fetishizes (as he puts in in ‘The Main-Chance’) a ‘certain form or outside appearance of utility’ in objects, while neglecting ‘the natural, pulpy, wholesome, nutritious substance, the principle of vitality’. Utilitarianism (itself, for Hazlitt, the philosophy of a purely aggregative, mechanical intellect) produces a ‘frigid habit of mind [in which] the real uses of things harden and crystallise; the pith and marrow are extracted out of them, leaving nothing but the husk or shell.’ Moreover, since it promotes a view of well-being in which ‘the idea of property is gradually abstracted from the advantage it may be of even to ourselves’, it is, he maintains, ultimately self-defeating.30 Against this perspective, Hazlitt pits his moral idealism, his belief that the mind forms experience, and hence its own moral objectives (self-interested and disinterested alike). This principle is in turn rooted in his conviction that the diversity and complexity of our experience always outstrips our conceptions, and that, as he declares in Characteristics (1823), ‘Truth is not one, but many.’31 Thus, the error of ‘people of sense’, such as Bentham and Shelley, is that by mistaking the abstract, rational forms that quantify experience for the ‘pith and marrow’ of the thing itself, they come to know only ‘the form, not the power of truth.’32 28  [ James Mill], ‘Periodical Literature’, Westminster Review 1, no. 1 (1824), p. 209. 29 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, pp. 230–1. 30 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, p. 277. See also: ‘On the Scotch Character’, [The Liberal, January 1823] Complete Works, vol. 17, p. 106: ‘a Scotchman is a machine, and should be constructed on sound moral, and philosophical principles, or should be put a stop to altogether.’ 31 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 9, p. 228. 32  Hazlitt, ‘On People of Sense’, Complete Works, vol. 12, p. 248.

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Like Hazlitt, Lamb views the reading public with suspicion, referring to it, in his essay ‘Newspapers Thirty-Five years Ago’ (1831) as a ‘craving Dragon’ that ‘must be fed.’33 In 1823, he warns Bernard Barton to ‘[t]rust not to the Public, you may hang, starve, drown yourself, for anything that worthy Personage cares.’34 Burdened with work and chained to his ledgers in the offices of the East India Company, it is unsurprising that Lamb had little time for the idea that social progress went hand-in-hand with sociability and commercial profit. In an 1815 letter to Wordsworth, he writes: ‘Confusion blast all mercantile transactions, all traffick, exchange of commodities, intercourse between nations, all the consequent civilization & wealth & amity & link of society, & getting rid of prejudices, & knowledge of the face of the globe.’35 Indeed, the model of the ‘perfect’ mind that Elia gently ­satirizes in ‘Imperfect Sympathies’ is very close to the rational, calculating, utilitarian intellect decried throughout Hazlitt’s writings, in that both are depicted as being steeped in the progressive commercialism of the Scottish Enlightenment. And yet, while he has nothing but contempt for Hume, Lamb effectively radicalizes the latter’s scepticism by stripping it of its intersubjective moderation and redirecting its fire against what he sees as the cant of philosophy, commerce and ‘progress’. As he declares in a late, undated letter: ‘The March of Intellect, in respect of Science, and encouragement of the highest Science, is a Dead March.’36 What emerges from this picture is a sense of the way in which Hazlitt and Lamb’s reactions to the Scottish Enlightenment ideal of a sociable ‘progress of sentiments’ stems, in large part, from their ambivalent relationship with the print culture upon which their journalistic careers depend. Struggling against the professionalization of the relationship between writer and reader and the commodification of the work of literature, the two essayists nonetheless rely upon that economy for their literary vocations. The product of this contradiction, as has been widely noted since Raymond Williams, is a ‘super-reality’ theory of art based upon imaginative truth and projected towards an ‘Ideal Reader’ who is capable of approaching literary works non-instrumentally.37 By idealizing the sympathetic function of the work of art and the audience that engaged with it, the Romantic essayist engages in what Klancher describes as a kind of ‘audience-making’ (itself a form of ‘cultural capitalism’), thereby producing a value-added commodity in which aesthetic experience is configured not as an ideological position but ‘a mode of reception and comprehension’, a ‘reading habit.’38 As literary quantity is refined into quality 33 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 223. 34  Charles Lamb, ‘To Bernard Barton’, 9 January 1823, letter 453 of The Letters of Charles Lamb, ed. E.V. Lucas, vol. 2 (1935), p. 364. 35  Charles Lamb, ‘To Wordsworth’, 28 April 1815, letter 292 of The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. Edwin W. Marrs, Jr, vol. 3 (1975), p. 149. 36  Lamb, ‘To Sir Anthony Carlisle’, [Undated], letter 857 of Letters of Charles Lamb, vol. 3, p. 287. 37  Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780–1950 (1967), p. 35. 38 Klancher, Making, p. 33. See also Mark Parker, Literary Magazines and British Romanticism (2001), p. 20: Parker argues that the commodity fundamentally at stake in this capital exchange is gentility, and that literary magazines of the 1820s and 1830s are ‘entangled in the struggle for gentility that is characteristic of the middle-class’. As I show below, however, Hazlitt’s comments on the behaviour and character of the ‘gentleman’ suggests that gentility is not the defining (or even the most significant) form of surplus value produced by periodical culture.

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(the sophisticated ‘nothing’ of the essay), general consensus is replaced by aesthetic activity as the ultimate foundation of cultural and epistemological norms. In embracing this strategy, Lamb and Hazlitt adopt a template that had already been pioneered by Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.39 Like Blackwood’s, the London Magazine (with which they were both closely associated) produces surplus epistemic value in the form of self-conscious intellectualism, redeeming, in Klancher’s words, ‘social and psychological fragmentation by recollectively bouncing back toward a fusion with the self ’s own ultimate ground’—a ground that is itself transcendental and putatively apolitical.40 In this way, by exploiting what Mark Schoenfield describes as the ‘institutionally heteroglossic’ character of the periodical article, an imagined reading community is projected onto the boundary of the private and the public spheres.41 As I argue below, by sophisticating the literary product (in Hazlitt’s case, with an ineffable aesthetics of ‘power’ and ‘common sense’, in Lamb’s, with ludic antiquarianism and irony) Hazlitt and Lamb endeavour to transcend its material conditions. Like Hume and Johnson before them, they present the essay and essaying as models for human experience. And yet, whilst Hume and Johnson attempt to consolidate the normative order that underpinned such experience (through sympathetic, intersubjective consensus in Hume, and through a form of moral metaphysics in Johnson), Hazlitt and Lamb seek to transcend that order through an aestheticized form of social empiricism. It is with this strategy—in which the communicative intellect of social empiricism is effectively hypostatized—that the remainder of this chapter will be concerned. H A Z L I T T ’ S ‘ T R E M B L I N G B O U N D A RY ’ Although the essays of Hazlitt and Lamb aestheticize the epistemology of empiricism, they do so in significantly different ways. Whilst Lamb cultivates an aesthetic space outside the territory of philosophy through the playful irony of Elia’s performances, Hazlitt reshapes the language of empiricism within a metaphysical framework by making the formative power of the mind fundamental to his philosophy of the self. This innovation has prompted interest among scholars in Hazlitt’s relation to a tradition of British empirical thought. The ambiguity of this connection is captured by Natarajan’s claim that Hazlitt’s own brand of ‘British idealism’ reveals 39  See Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. 56: Duncan notes that anti-Jacobin repression was stronger in Scotland than south of the border, to the extent that it ‘effectively shut down the so-called Scottish Enlightenment’ (24). Consequently, Scottish literary production after 1800 ‘combines a reorientation from the academy to the market with an elevation of the commercial genres of periodical and fiction to civic, indeed national, dignity.’ (26) Meanwhile, Lockhart’s interest in Friedrich Schlegel led him to the ‘figure of a transcendental subject—a “national mind”’, displacing political intent into purely aesthetic purposiveness’. 40 Klancher, Making, p. 58. 41 In British Periodicals and Romantic Identity: The ‘Literary Lower Empire’ (2009), pp. 19, 36: Schoenfield argues that the periodicals’ idealization of audience was both ‘a shared possession and a shared creation of the network of periodical circulation’. From this perspective, ‘the periodical article—the language of which was often borrowed from prior texts, quoted from contemporary ones under review, and echoed from one article to the next—was institutionally heteroglossic.’

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‘a commitment to that very empiricist tradition, the native tradition, that it seeks to critique’, a formulation that nicely encapsulates the conundrum that Hazlitt presents to intellectual history.42 Although the primary focus of the present study is directed towards the broader relationship between philosophy and the social self, it is worth initially considering to what extent, and in what ways, Hazlitt’s writing might be considered to be ‘empiricist’. Hazlitt’s epistemological vagueness is remarkable when considered in the light of the pains he took to articulate his philosophical vision before finally turning to a career in journalism. Initially, at least, his position appears unambiguous. In his philosophical manifesto, the Prospectus of a History of English Philosophy (1809), Hazlitt sets out a list of basic principles to his thinking that reads as a point-by-point rebuttal of the key tenets of British empiricism, which he labels as a ‘false system of philosophy.’43 The list includes the following axioms: (1) the mind is not material; (2) understanding, not sensation, is the source and matrix of simple ideas; (3) there is no fundamental difference between particular and general ideas, since (contra Locke and Hume) all ideas are general (a consequence of our limited comprehension of particulars). Hazlitt further insists (4) that reason is a distinct source of knowledge, and he denies (5) that the association of ideas can ever be sufficient as a basis for knowledge.44 Two things are immediately apparent from Hazlitt’s Prospectus. The first, evident in the priority accorded to principles (1) and (2), is the close connection in his thought between ontological and epistemological issues. Despite insisting on the primacy of experience in knowledge formation, Locke and Hume had marginalized the problem of the materiality/immateriality of consciousness. This discrimination between questions of knowing and being, which continues in Kant and Stewart, contrasts with an alternative tradition, beginning with Descartes and extending through Hobbes, Berkeley, and Priestley, which seeks to align or even unify the two fields of inquiry. In the Prospectus, and throughout his philosophical writings, Hazlitt positions himself steadfastly in the second camp. For Hazlitt, the problem with much English Philosophy is not merely that it is based in sensation, but also that it conceives of sensation as a material and mechanical process. Consequently, it trades upon ‘a wrong interpretation of the word experience, confining it to a knowledge of things without us; whereas it in fact includes all ­knowledge, relating to objects either within or out of the mind.’45 Only Bacon, Hazlitt argues, avoided 42  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 31. Early accounts of Hazlitt’s critical thought by Eizabeth Schneider (The Aesthetics of William Hazlitt [1933]) and W.P.  Albrecht (Hazlitt and the Creative Imagination [1965]) stress his qualified adherence to a broadly British, empirical tradition. The most influential study of Hazlitt as an ‘empiricist’ thinker, however, is David Bromwich’s Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic (1983), which depicts the essayist as a qualified, ‘thinking disciple of Hume’ (18). Similarly, John Kinnaird maintains in William Hazlitt: Critic of Power (1978) that Hazlitt’s treatment of perception betrays, despite his protestations to the contrary, his ‘fidelity to the Lockean belief . . . that a qualitative judgement of identity and contradiction between sense impressions is the only native logic that the mind knows . . . .’ (68) John Mahoney, meanwhile, describes Hazlitt’s work as ‘on one hand solidly grounded in . . . the British empirical tradition, and yet on the other a sharp rejoinder to that tradition’ (The Logic of Passion: The Literary Criticism of William Hazlitt [1978], p. 3). 43 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 114. 44 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 116–17. 45 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 114.

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eliding experience of the mind into experience by the mind; consequently, it is his work which corroborates the watchword of the Prospectus: that ‘[t]he mind has laws, powers, and principles of its own, and is not the mere puppet of matter.’46 The idea that there are fundamentally two kinds of experience—of the world, and of consciousness—in turn becomes the cornerstone of Hazlitt’s thinking. In one respect, there was little new in this position, which was already a commonplace in empirical thought—most obviously in Locke’s distinction between ideas of sensation and ideas of reflection.47 In his lecture on Locke’s Essay, however, Hazlitt dismisses Locke’s attempt to distinguish between sensation and reflection as ‘very awkwardly and artificially made’. Since ‘reflection’ in Locke’s account signifies merely ‘the repetition or recollection of the first conscious impression, the perception of a perception’, he finds, this account does not differ fundamentally from that of Hobbes and his followers, ‘who derive all our ideas from sensation.’48 Locke’s original error, according to Hazlitt, was that, in his zeal to eliminate the notion of innate ideas from philosophical discourse, he failed to distinguish between ‘an innate knowledge of principles, and innate principles of knowledge.’49 While Hazlitt accepts Locke’s denial of innate knowledge, he insists that without innate principles, empiricism remains vulnerable to the sceptical deconstruction of thought undertaken by Hume in ‘that completest of all metaphysical choke-pears, his Treatise on Human Nature.’50 For Hazlitt, this weakness demonstrates the need for ‘general principles or forms of thinking, something like the moulds in which every thing is cast.’51 In Locke, however, we find ‘all our ideas of every kind are represented as communicated to the mind by something foreign to it, instead of growing out of, and being part of its own nature and essence.’52 Hazlitt’s equation of ‘principles’ with ‘moulds’ reflects his concern with the ontological basis of knowledge rather than with its mode of verification, a feature of his thought that is further evident in his approving citation of Leibniz’s modification of Locke’s motto, ‘nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu’, with the clause, ‘NISI INTELLECTUS IPSE.’53 Hazlitt sees the real barrier to acknowledging the autonomy and productivity of the intellect to be not in the claim that all ­knowledge is based in experience, but in a picture of experience that was dominated by the bad simile of knowledge as the reception by the physical mind of outward objects

46 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 116. 47  See Locke, Essay, p. 105: ‘These two, I say, viz. External, Material things, as the Objects of SENSATION; and the Operations of our own Minds within, as the Objects of REFLECTION, are, to me, the only Originals, from whence all our Ideas take their beginnings.’ 48 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 149–50. This accords with Hazlitt’s general depiction of Locke as a mere ‘follower’ and modifier of Hobbes who added little of significance to the account of human knowledge presented in Leviathan. See Hazlitt’s earlier lecture, ‘On the Writings of Hobbes’, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 128. 49 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 165. 50 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, p. 113. 51 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 165. 52 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 150. 53  Hazlitt, ‘Madame De Stäel’s Account of German Philosophy and Literature’, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 16. Translation: ‘Nothing is in the mind that was not first in the senses—EXCEPT THE MIND ITSELF.’

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(and thus of the mind as a ‘puppet of matter’).54 Despite his attack on sensation-based knowledge, then, the primary target of Hazlitt’s critique is not empiricism per se, but a Priestleyan, materialist ontology that reduces consciousness to the status of a machine. This rejection of materialism undergirds some of the other principles enunciated in the Prospectus, most notably his arguments that the mind is voluntary, not mechanical; that the freedom of the mind is rooted in power, the only proof of which is active feeling; and that (as he had already maintained in An Essay on the Principles of Human Action [1805]), egoism and hedonism formed inadequate bases for explaining the springs of human action.55 Thus, although Hazlitt’s rejection of the Hobbesian tradition in British thought resounds throughout the Lectures on English Philosophy, the critique presented therein is based upon the assumption that empiricism is the epistemological corollary of materialism in ontology and of egoism and/or hedonism in ethics. As he declares in the opening of the Prospectus, ‘[a]ccording to this philosophy, as I understand it, the mind itself is nothing, and external impressions everything. All thought is to be resolved into sensation, all morality into the love of pleasure, and all action into mechanical impulse.’56 As has been seen, Hazlitt’s first antidote to these problems is a metaphysical thesis: the mind is immaterial. Moreover, by implying the freedom of the mind from material determination, he believes, this maxim entails a second, epistemological principle: the mind produces simple ideas; thus, ‘[i]deas are the offspring of the understanding, not of the senses.’57 Hazlitt accepts Hume’s conclusion that the exhaustive determination of belief by senseexperience (the perfect correspondence of idea and world) was not a viable model for ­knowledge. But while for Hume this means jettisoning the language of representation and deflating individual consciousness into an epistemology based upon the social sentiments, Hazlitt responds to the same crisis of representation by inflating the cognitive function of consciousness still further. Consequently, knowledge for Hazlitt comes to consist in the projection of concepts or ideas upon the world by a powerful mind. It is this proposition that presents the second striking element in Hazlitt’s exposition, expressed in principle (3) of the Prospectus. Here, Hazlitt claims that it is a corollary of the productive nature of the understanding that all knowledge is general. As he puts it in his lecture ‘On Abstract Ideas’, ‘[e]very 54  See Stephen Burley, Hazlitt the Dissenter: Religion, Philosophy, and Politics, 1766–1816 (2014): pp. 4, 7: Burley has recently detailed how Hazlitt’s resistance to materialism and determinism dates to his study of metaphysics, ethics, and logic at New College, Hackney from 1793 to 1795, where the central argument for his Essay first developed. It is within the culture of radical Protestant dissent, he argues, that the metaphysics of the ‘pre-journalistic, pre-essayistic Hazlitt’ evolved ‘in resistance to the dominant vein of necessarian thought espoused by Belsham and Priestley, whilst being heavily indebted to Richard Price’s idealist tendencies’. 55  Thus, for instance, in ‘On Liberty and Necessity’, one of the 1812 Lectures on English Philosophy, Hazlitt argues that Hume was right to claim that Locke’s notion of the simple idea of power (as derived from the perception of changes in matter) is vulnerable to a sceptical analysis of causation. Nonetheless, he insists, Hume failed to recognize that the issue of liberty is not one of freedom from causality, but freedom of mind. Consequently, he was unable or unwilling to identify the irreducible feeling of power as the ‘chief determining cause of our volitions’ (Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 269). 56  Hazlitt, ‘My First Acquaintance with Poets’, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 113–14. 57 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 117.

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idea of a sensible quality . . . implies the same power of generalization . . . as the most refined and abstracted idea of virtue and justice.’58 Cognition based in sensation for Hazlitt is fundamentally abstract because it is constructed; furthermore, since abstraction is the product of partial comprehension, all knowledge is fundamentally limited.59 And yet, while the writ of reason and understanding does not run beyond these limits, Hazlitt insists that mental powers like common sense and genius, by operating at the border between abstract comprehension and an incommensurable world of infinitely plural truths, have the capacity to transcend abstraction through feeling and intuition. Thus, despite maintaining that all knowledge is ultimately mind-formed, abstract, and restricted, Hazlitt also allows for a quasi-cognitive level of ‘experience’ that functions at the bounds of the knowable. In his 1807 ‘Preface’ to his 1807 Abridgement of the Light of Nature Pursued by Abraham Tucker, Hazlitt mocks ‘the grave professors of abstract reasoning’ for ‘attending only to one aspect of things’ and ‘leaving out always those minute differences and perplexing irregularities which disturb the sluggish uniformity of our ideas, and give life and motion to our being.’60 Fundamentally, he avers, abstraction is merely an environmental adaptation, ‘a trick to supply the defect of comprehension’, since the ‘moulds of the understanding may be said not to be large enough to contain the gross concrete objects of nature.’ Given this condition, anyone ‘who disdains the use of common sense . . . is like a person who should deprive himself of the use of his eye-sight, in order that he might be able to grope his way better in the dark!’61 This analogy forms, in turn, the basis for Hazlitt’s distinction between two sorts of philosophy; that of those who believe what they feel, and endeavour to account for it, and that of those who only believe what they understand, and have already accounted for. The one is the philosophy of consciousness, the other that of experiment; the one may be called the intellectual, the other the material philosophy . . . . The first of these is the only philosophy that is fit for men of sense, the other should be left to chymists and logicians.62

The ‘Preface’ to Tucker is significant for being the work in which Hazlitt first introduces the Kantian phrase, ‘the mind alone is formative’ to distinguish his 58 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 192. 59  Hazlitt agrees with John Horne Tooke’s materialist, linguistic critique of Locke’s account of abstraction, but only to the extent that is serves his purpose as a reductio ad absurdum of the latter. Tooke objects that Locke’s theory of how ‘Ideas taken from particular Beings, become general Representatives of all of the same kind.’ (Essay, p. 159) is unsatisfactory, in that it casts abstract ideas as strange entities that are simultaneously particular and general. Moreover, it fails to account for the epistemic status of grammatical particles, prepositions, and conjunctions. While accepting these ­criticisms, Hazlitt rejects Tooke’s positive argument that all ideas are produced by the corruption of language into easy abbreviations and abstractions or ‘subauditions’, (Diversions, vol. 2, p. 18). Instead, he argues that the solution to the problem of abstraction is that, since they are all formed by the mind, all ideas are abstract and general. 60  As Hazlitt’s portrait in The Spirit of the Age (1825) reveals, the main offender in this regard is Jeremy Bentham, whose work, Hazlitt claims, is devoted solely to ‘abstract and general truths’ (Complete Works, vol. 11, p. 5). 61 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, pp. 124–5. 62 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, p. 127.

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philosophy of ‘consciousness’ from that of ‘experiment.’63 And yet, by identifying the belief in ‘the immateriality of the soul’ (which Kant had identified as a paralogism of ‘transcendental psychology’) as a ‘fundamental article of the transcendental creed’, Hazlitt reveals the extent to which his own conflation of ontological and epistemological concerns coloured his reception of German idealism.64 Due to this emphasis, his view of Kant tends to vary according to which aspect of the latter’s thought he addresses. Indeed, one must distinguish between the quasi-Kantianism of some of Hazlitt’s epistemological claims, and his declared views on Kantian philosophy, which were ambiguous at best. Thus, although Hazlitt praises Kant’s opposition to the fundamental principles of ‘the empirical or mechanical philosophy’, he does not grasp the significance or originality of Kant’s transcendental method, which rejects both the rationalist attempt to map out the metaphysical consequences of reason and the empirical endeavour to understand the causal origins of experience, endeavouring instead to inquire into the fundamental conditions of experience.65 Hazlitt is not helped in this respect by his reliance upon A.F.M. Willich’s inaccurate translation of Kant in Elements of the Critical Philosophy (1798).66 By reducing the operation of Kant’s categories of understanding to the ‘possession of certain notions a priori’, Willich encouraged Hazlitt to categorize Kant as a mere embellisher of Leibniz. Among other things, this misleads Hazlitt into identifying Kant’s critical methods with Leibniz’s theory of pre-established harmony; consequently, it is unsurprising to find him declaring that the former’s ‘notions à priori seem little better than the innate ideas of the schools.’67 With these early doubts about Kant as a thinker already established by the 1814 review of Madame De Stäel, the more rigidly anti-Kantian review in 1817 of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, with its references to Kant’s system as ‘an enormous heap of 63  As Roy Park indicates in Hazlitt and the Spirit of the Age, p. 46, ‘[n]ot until 1807 did Hazlitt view the mind as creative when for the first time he referred to Kant’s view that “the mind alone is formative”.’ 64 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, p. 130. See also Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 453: Kant argues that the unity of consciousness attributed to an individual substance (by those who argue for the immateriality of the soul) ‘is only the unity of thinking, through which no object is given; and thus the category of substance, which always presupposes a given intuition, cannot be applied to it, and hence this subject cannot be cognized at all’. Hazlitt’s relation to Kant has been scrutinized since René Wellek’s Immanuel Kant in England 1793–1838 (1931). Wellek doubted that Hazlitt understood Kant, claiming that his reliance on Willich’s Neoplatonic translation ‘caused havoc’ with his understanding of the German philosopher, leading him to confuse the transcendental a priori with innatism (p. 167). This view is echoed by Elizabeth Schneider, who two years later in The Aesthetics of William Hazlitt, pp. 27–8 deems Hazlitt’s poor knowledge of Kant ‘unfortunate . . . for there is no doubt that a knowledge of Kant would have done much to deepen as well as to clarify for him the problems concerned with knowledge . . . .’ Only in 1971 is this picture challenged, when Roy Park identifies the structural similarities between Hazlitt’s conception of imagination and Kant’s theory of practical reason, in that ‘both were experiential [i.e. non-cognitive] accounts of the nature of moral freedom . . .’ (Hazlitt, p. 47). Uttara Natarajan argues in Hazlitt and the Reach of Sense (1998) that, while ‘[t]he language that Hazlitt uses is recognizably the language of the British empiricists; his concepts are startlingly close to those of their German adversaries’, revealing ‘his own sympathy with Kantian thought’ (p. 5). 65 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 20. 66 A.F.M. Willich, Elements of the Critical Philosophy (1798). 67 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 18.

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dogmatical and hardened assertions’ and the ‘most wilful and monstrous absurdity that ever was invented’ appears less like a change of heart and more like a hardening of earlier misgivings about transcendentalism.68 Hazlitt’s affirmation of the creative power of the mind in knowledge, when combined with his rejection of transcendental method, produces a theoretically opaque and (in Kantian terms) uncritical form of epistemology that I have elsewhere termed ‘immanent idealism.’69 Immanent idealism can be distinguished from Berkeleyan idealism in that it denies materiality to consciousness but not to the ‘external’ world. In turn, it can be differentiated from Kant’s transcendental idealism insofar as it sets limits to the mind through feeling, common sense, and the power of imagination—not, as in Kant, according to the conditions of possible experience. One striking feature of this theory is the pressure Hazlitt’s idealism places upon imagination, which is compelled to work in two contrary directions at once: determining the limits of knowledge while embodying and exercising a power that transcends the knowable. Once again, a comparison with Kant’s (superficially similar) account of imagination is instructive. Kant’s juridical demarcation of the provinces of reason, understanding, and imagination across the three Critiques allowed him to define a space of licensed aesthetic autonomy, within which reflective (aesthetic) judgement and its productive counterpart, creative genius, function at the ineffable boundary of feeling and cognition. From a transcendental perspective, the ambivalence of the imagination is legitimized within the architectonic of the human faculties. Thus, Kant can argue that ‘[o]nly in the use of the imagination for cognition, the imagination is under the constraint of the understanding . . . in an aesthetic respect, however, the imagination is free to provide . . . undeveloped material . . . for the animation of the cognitive powers.’70 Hazlitt’s imagination, in contrast, pulls in opposing directions in unaccountable ways. For instance, the Plain Speaker essay ‘On Reason and Imagination’ evinces conceptual strain in its attempt to account for how imagination can fulfil the role of epistemological foundation while offering a kind of remedy for knowledge. The main thrust of this essay is a defence of ‘natural feeling’ against Benthamite considerations of the ‘pros and cons . . . of utility and inutility’; to which end, Hazlitt introduces a range of quasi-epistemic concepts, including ‘sympathy’, ‘moral sense’, and ‘instinctive perception’, all of which are deployed to mediate between the estranged realms of bloodless calculation and passionate feeling.71 Expressing a hatred for ‘people who have no notion of any thing but generalities’ (even more 68 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 123. Although one can never rule out Jeffrey’s editorial hand in Hazlitt’s Edinburgh Review contributions (Howe [p. 425] notes that the former claimed the authorship of ‘Coleridge’s Literary Life’, although Hazlitt republished parts of it elsewhere), what these pieces illuminate, as Monika Class observes in Coleridge and Kantian Ideas in England, 1796–1817 (2012), p. 139, is how, for Hazlitt, Kant came to ‘epitomize’ the nature of Coleridge’s failings as a thinker and as a writer. 69  See Tim Milnes, ‘Seeing in the Dark: Hazlitt’s Immanent Idealism’, Studies in Romanticism 39, vol. 1 (2000). pp. 3–25. 70  Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgement, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews, ed. Paul Guyer (2000), p. 194. 71 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, pp. 45, 49, 51.

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than ‘those who cannot . . . arrive at the comprehension of an abstract idea’), Hazlitt argues that ‘Logic should enrich and invigorate its decisions by the use of imagination.’72 Simultaneously, however, he also maintains that, as the seat of non-cognitive power in human life, imagination offers a corrective (rather than a foundation) to a relationship with the world based solely on understanding. From this perspective, as he insists, ‘logical reason and practical truth are disparates.’73 Hazlitt worries that the Romantic aestheticization of the epistemological might produce an intellectual culture in which the boundary between reason and imagination, fact and fiction, dissolve into a form of indifference. Indeed, it is this very reduction of poetic imagination and prosaic fact that he decries in Coleridge, who has, ‘by an ambition to be every thing, become nothing. His metaphysics have been a dead weight on the wings of his imagination—while his imagination has run away with his reason and common sense.’ Thus, he muses, although ‘[r]eason and imagination are both excellent things . . . perhaps their provinces ought to be kept more distinct than they have lately been.’74 Without a clear method for determining epistemological boundaries, then, Hazlitt’s immanent idealism vacillates between the constraints of reason and the fictions of imagination. The underlying cause of this dilemma is his conflation of empiricism and materialism, and his consequent belief that the only way to defeat the latter is  to demonstrate that the mind is the sole producer of simple ideas. Stymying this otherwise proto-Kantian move, however, is that fact that, while he ostensibly rejects empiricism, Hazlitt continues a British tradition of thinking about the problems of knowledge and experience in psychological terms. For example, in his 1829 essay ‘Logic’, he presents a psychological-empiricist account of syllogistic logic as based in the ‘power of contemplating different propositions together’ and the ‘comprehensive power of the mind’, whereby ‘reason is the end or band that ties the bundle of our separate ideas, or the logical fasciculus together.’75 Unlike Kant and Stewart, Hazlitt does not consider the possibility that the bearers of truth are propositions, or statements, rather than ideas, or that knowledge might be based in necessary conditions (the debunked ‘notions a priori’). Instead, what keeps experience afloat, according to Hazlitt, is power. As a result, although Hazlitt argues that abstraction sets limits to cognition, he offers no principle according to which this process might critically assess its own limits. Instead, he paints a picture of human experience that pits one form of power (abstraction) against another (imagination). Since Hume, what had been at stake in the relationship between reason and imagination was the epistemological status of the ‘fictions’ of reason. Viewed this way, Hazlitt’s theory of abstraction incorporates at a radical level Hume’s conclusion that such fictions are properly basic to knowledge. Indeed, the most fundamental fiction uncovered by Hume, the self, is vital to the principle of disinterestedness that sits at the heart of Hazlitt’s philosophy of human action as expounded in his Essay on the Principles of Human Action (1805), and later elaborated in journal 72 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, pp. 44–5. 74 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 137.

73 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, p. 46. 75 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 229.

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articles such as those on ‘Self-Love and Benevolence’. According to this principle, the ‘mechanical’ model of practical reason, whereby moral deliberations are determined primarily according to self-interest, cannot account for the way in which all deliberations (self-interested or not) are determined by the purely imaginary (nonempirical, non-mechanical) status of the future self. As Hazlitt summarizes his argument in the Essay, ‘[t]he imagination, by means of which alone I can anticipate future objects . . . must carry me out of myself into the feelings of others by one and the same process by which I am thrown forward as it were into my future being.’ Thus, ‘I could not love myself, if I were not capable of loving others.’76 For Hazlitt, the known self, like any other category, is an abstraction, a projection or construction of the mind. In the absence of formative consciousness and ‘reasoning imagination’, the unity of personal identity breaks down into innumerable individual sensations. As he concludes in ‘Self-Love and Benevolence’, ‘[t]he world of action . . . is essentially a void, an unreal mockery . . . except as it is filled up, animated, and sent in motion by human thoughts and purposes.’ Thus, without the imaginative fiction of future personhood, ‘I am not the same thing, but many different things.’77 To the extent that he installs a projected self as constitutive for practical reason, then, Hazlitt incorporates Hume’s argument regarding the fictionality of personal identity into the centre of his theory of the self. As James Vigus argues, this response to a sceptical impasse in the empirical analysis of consciousness echoes Hume’s own approach ‘in first sceptically questioning personal identity and then nevertheless adopting it as a necessary assumption.’78 Indeed, some have argued that Hazlitt adopts and further develops the socialization of intellect begun by Hume, Smith, and Reid. John Savarese, for example, has proposed that Hazlitt’s installation of the sympathetic imagination as ‘the engine not only of all interpersonal relations, but of any action whatsoever’ indicates a conception of ‘social cognition [as] woven fine with less explicitly social acts like remembering one’s own past, or imagining one’s own future’. Thus, ‘working at the limits of the empiricist tradition’, Hazlitt emerges as ‘a theorist not just of the attenuated self, but of the self situated in a social field.’79 This claim is supported by Hazlitt’s observation, in ‘Self-Love and Benevolence’, that the ‘operation of sympathy or social feeling, though it has its seat certainly in the mind of the individual . . . is not in any sense selfish.’80 And yet, it is not obvious from this comment, or others like it, that he envisages the ‘attenuated’ self as constituted within a social matrix. On the contrary, the implication of Hazlitt’s remark can be read backwards as well as forwards, indicating that while 76 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, pp. 1–2. 77 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, p. 35. See also David Bromwich, ‘Disinterested Imagining and Impersonal Feeling’, Natarajan, Metaphysical Hazlitt, p. 23: as Bromwich notes, for Hazlitt ‘[t]he mind acts from the immediate stimulus of attraction or aversion, and it thinks about its choice by means of the fiction of continuous identity.’ 78 James Vigus, ‘Hazlitt and Hume: Personal Identity as Imaginative Narration’, Romantic Explorations, ed. Michael Meyer (2011), p. 204. 79  John Savarese, ‘Reading One’s Own Mind: Hazlitt, Cognition, Fiction’, European Romantic Review 24, no. 4 (2013), pp. 438, 441. 80 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 169.

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social feeling is ‘not in any sense selfish’, it nonetheless ‘has its seat certainly in the mind of the individual.’81 As such, it suggests a quite different conception of intellect to that outlined by Hume, Smith, and Reid. Despite these differences, Hazlitt’s investment in ‘common sense’ sheds light on the extent to which the naturalistic intellectual currents of the Scottish Enlightenment share with facets of Romanticism a concern with the intuitive, non-rational foundations of knowledge. Indeed, from some angles, Reid’s defence of common sense appears proto-Romantic in its insistence on the primacy of ‘simple and original, and therefore inexplicable acts of the mind.’82 This emphasis on the unfathomable, incommunicable basis of perception, as I noted in Chapter 2, distinguishes Reid’s vision of the theatre of the mind as a miraculous deus ex machina, from that of Hume and Smith, in which the performances of both players and spectators constitute social knowledge. In this respect, Reid’s non-intellectual, instinctive image of the mind is echoed by Hazlitt’s otherwise very different conception of ‘common sense’ in ‘Paragraphs on Prejudice’ as synonymous with ‘natural feeling, which . . . lies between the two extremes of absolute proof and the grossest ignorance.’83 Hazlitt’s invocation of common sense to describe the active but inchoate realm of ‘urgent, but undefined impressions of things upon us’, indicates how integral the vocabulary of empiricism is to his intellectual vision, not least because it provides him with a way of conceptualizing the new aura of aesthetic autonomy surrounding Literature.84 Against this picture, however, must be weighed Hazlitt’s low estimation of the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment. In the 1829 essay, ‘Common Sense’, for instance, he decries the reductive, ‘Scotch . . . matter-of-fact understanding’. People dominated by this faculty, he notes, ‘are the slaves of minute details and matters of fact . . . and are proportionably deficient in common sense. Their ideas are local and literal.’ Attributing a lack of ‘common sense’ to the culture of a country that had developed a school of thought around this very idea was a mischievous move by Hazlitt, who was quite aware of just how influential this movement remained, both north and south of the border. Nonetheless, it also reflects the extent to which his own conception of common sense diverges from that of his eighteenth-century predecessors. Thus, while Hazlitt agrees with Reid that common sense is ‘a kind of mental instinct’, he does not see this as an a priori basis for knowledge, but as a 81  Even Savarese admits that Hazlitt’s insistence ‘on the validity of introspection, what he calls “a consciousness of what passes in our own minds” . . . will muddy the waters’ for his argument (‘Reading’, p. 442). 82 Reid, Inquiry, p. 39. Emphasis added. 83 Hazlitt, Works, vol. 20, p. 327. 84  In some Romantic writers, this concern produces an indifference to knowledge that rejects both empirical rationalism and the metaphysics of imagination. This perspective is most memorably expressed by Keats’s defence of ‘Negative Capability’ as the poetic capacity for existing ‘in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.’ (‘To George and Tom Keats’, 21, 27 [?] December 1817, letter 45 of The Letters of John Keats 1814–1821, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, vol. 1 [1958], p. 193). In its elevation of emotional paradox, indeterminacy, and the unparaphrasable quickness of experience over cognition, Keats’s ‘negative capability’, like Lamb’s ‘imperfect’ sympathy, suggests a deeper suspicion of reflective thought. For further discussion, see Tim Milnes, Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose (2003), pp. 1–24.

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feeling for the liminal space ‘between the definite and the indefinite.’85 Rather than installing common sense at the very foundation of experience, then, Hazlitt sees it as an ally of the sympathetic imagination and a counterweight to reason/ understanding in what he describes in his lecture on Tooke as a tension between ‘the synthetical and analytical faculties, between generalization and abstraction . . . between common sense or feeling and understanding or reason.’86 The persistence of this dialogue between the faculties is a vital element in Hazlitt’s metaphysics; thus, while common sense corrects reason/understanding, it does not (as it does in Reid) supersede it. As he cautions in ‘The Spirit of Philosophy’ (1836), ‘[w]e may indulge our fancy or prejudices to a certain extent, so long as we do not mistake prejudices for reasoning.’87 Hazlitt develops this thought by using the ­analogy of the truffle-hunter: I conceive that the mind, in the search after knowledge, very much resembles the truffle-hunter: the dog finds out, and is led to the spot where the object of his pursuit lies by the smell, but it is by his teeth and claws that he is able to remove the rubbish that hides it. So there is an air of truth which hovers over particular conclusions, and directs our attention towards them, but it is only the acuteness and strength of the reasoning faculty that digs down to the roots of things. In this way common sense or a certain tact may be said to be the foundation of truest philosophy; for there is always a certain number of facts with a general impression from them treasured up in the memory, which it is the business of the understanding to examine, and not to cavil at or contradict.88

In providing a feeling for truth’s indeterminacy, ‘common sense’ works independently from, but also in collaboration with reason/understanding as the latter faculty forms experience through ideas. This perceived need for both reason and common sense to operate symbiotically is one of the reasons why, unlike Reid, Hazlitt does not downgrade ‘metaphysics’: since he does not see the fictions of reason as socially constituted, but as produced by individual consciousness, he is content to leave the introspective, subject-centered model of philosophy intact. Underling this persistence is Hazlitt’s lack of interest in transcendental methods of philosophical argument. As his review of Biographia Literaria makes clear, unlike Coleridge and some of the Scottish philosophers, he rejects the idea that the logical structure of thought might be considered separately from empirical considerations of human psychology. Thus, in a note to the fourth of The Morning Chronicle a­rticles on Madame De Staël, Hazlitt expresses dismay ‘that even Professor Stewart, the great champion of the intellectual philosophy’, rejects the ‘principle of the unity of thought and consciousness.’89 Consequently, in Hazlitt’s hands, Reid’s socially pragmatic ‘predisposition’ to interpret the world in certain ways and Stewart’s ‘stamina’ of intellect are idealized into a mental instinct for the instable, indeterminate border between the mind’s productivity and its receptivity.

85 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 290. 87 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 369. 89 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 30.

86 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 283. 88 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 371.

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This determination not to collapse the boundary between imagination and reason, fiction and truth, highlights the parallels between Hazlitt’s epistemology, with its concern for the twilight territories of knowledge, and his aesthetics of the sublime. In the essay, ‘Why Distant Objects Please’, for instance, the gap between the two drives of human nature is invoked to explain the enchanting effects of spatial and temporal distance. Thus, as Hazlitt notes, [i]t is not the little, glimmering, almost annihilated speck in the distance that rivets our attention and ‘hangs upon the beatings of our hearts’: it is the interval that separates us from it, and of which it is the trembling boundary . . . . Into that great gap in our being ‘come thronging soft desires’ and infinite regrets.90

And yet, sublimity has a more general function in Hazlitt’s thought. By arguing that knowledge rests upon mind-formed fictions of abstraction and imagination, Hazlitt metaphysically inflates the status of Hume’s fictions by relocating them from the sphere of tacit social conventions to that of mental constructions. In a similar way, intuition, which Reid had understood as anthropologically foundational to knowledge, is privatized and sublimed by Hazlitt into the noumenal, indeterminate territory of a hypostatized ‘common sense.’91 Thus, the aesthetics of the ‘trembling boundary’ are not merely the product of his philosophy of k­ nowledge and identity, they are also an integral part of his metaphysics. Many will recognize this aestheticization of knowledge, whereby the paraepistemological agencies of creative imagination and ineffable common sense are established as the moderators of reason, as a characteristically Romantic response to the epistemological challenge of Hume. Accordingly, Natarajan observes that ‘[f ]ollowing Hume, Hazlitt recognizes the sensory constraint upon imaginative capacity. But this theory, unlike Hume’s, allows for such constraints to be altogether surpassed by the cultivation of the imagination.’92 Natarajan is right to contrast Hume’s deflationary account of the ‘faint and languid’ perceptions of imagination (as thought recedes from sensation and memory) with the dynamic faculty, which, in Hazlitt’s Essay, ‘creates the object’ of perception and ‘pushes . . . ideas beyond the bounds of . . . memory and sense.’93 Seen this way, Hazlitt’s argument follows a familiar pattern of Romantic logic, whereby, as imagination is elevated and reason subordinated, philosophy’s loss becomes art’s gain. While Hume sought merely to counterbalance the philosophical perspective of the anatomist with the civilizing, aesthetic skills of the painter, Hazlitt elevates the latter to a new level of precedence. Accordingly, ‘the poet and painter of imagination are superior to the mere philosopher or man of science, because they exercise the powers of reason and intellect combined with nature and passion.’94 90 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 257. 91  See Marcus Tomalin, Romanticism and Linguistic Theory: William Hazlitt, Language and Literature (2009), pp. 90–1: Tomalin argues that Hazlitt’s account of ‘a feeling, an inarticulable non-rational hunch’ presents ‘a creakingly precarious account of common sense’. 92  Uttara Natarajan, ‘Circle of Sympathy: Shelley’s Hazlitt’, Metaphysical Hazlitt, p. 118. 93 Hume, Treatise, p. 7; Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, pp. 26–7. 94 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 76.

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And yet, what is lost from Hume’s picture in Hazlitt’s new arrangement of philosophy and art is a constitutive role for intersubjectivity in human intellectual life. The ‘internal principle’ of Hazlitt’s immanent idealism secures for the imagination a projective power that is won at the cost of sociability.95 As Hazlitt describes it in his 1816 Examiner article, ‘Coriolanus’, the poetic imagination, by reversing the process of abstraction, ‘presents no immediate or distinct images to the mind’. Instead, in so far as it ‘puts the individual for the species, the one above the infinite many, might before right’, the ‘language of poetry naturally falls in with the language of power.’96 At the same time, the indeterminacy of experience, which for Hume is the result of the social intellect’s dependence upon dialogue and conversation, is reinterpreted by Hazlitt as the sublime horizon of knowledge produced by the power of abstraction, a ‘trembling boundary’, navigable only by the quasicognitive faculty of common sense. This exchange of the pragmatics of conversation for aesthetic enchantment reflects a fundamental shift from communication to power as the precondition of thought. What, then, are the implications of Hazlitt’s numinous empiricism for the development of that most sociable and empirical of genres, the familiar essay? As I discuss below, the aestheticization of knowledge in Hazlitt’s metaphysics has important ramifications for his practice as a professional essayist. The most significant of these is the withdrawal of the ‘conversational’ character of the essay and its replacement by the affective and auratic. As noted earlier, changing practices of reading, and their effect upon the relationship between writer and public, play a crucial role in this development. Tellingly, Hazlitt takes care to distinguish between the ‘[n]atural prejudices’, which, lying at the boundary of the knowable, form the intuitive, instinctive territory of imagination and common sense, and the merely ‘[v]ulgar prejudices’ of the general public.97 Similarly, imagination, working in its productive mode as the power behind genius, resists the consumption of the vulgar marketplace by producing an incommunicable poetic truth that is beyond commodification.98 It is this arche-knowledge, or—as he puts it in his 1818 introductory lecture on poetry—‘conscious power’ that Hazlitt’s prose attempts to embody and exemplify.99 Seen this way, the muscular and combative elements of Hazlitt’s familiar essayistic style radicalize and aestheticize Hume’s attempt to cultivate an ‘easier’ literary manner for philosophy. At the same time, however, Hazlittian plain speaking puts this project into reverse, rejecting Hume’s intersubjective, universalist conception of the normative, and seeking instead to transcend the quotidian with an experience of depth and authenticity. Striving for the incommunicable and inconsumable, Hazlitt’s essays transform Hume’s communicative intellect into the impression of a powerful mind.

95 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, p. 147. 96 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 5, pp. 347–8. 97 Hazlitt, Characteristics, Complete Works, vol. 9, p. 189. 98  See, for example, William Hazlitt, ‘Miss O’Neill’s Belvidera’, Complete Works, vol. 5, p. 261: the ‘excellencies of genius are not communicable.’ 99 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 5, p. 8.

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Although Hazlitt’s aestheticization of cognition challenges what he describes, in the Essay, as the ‘dry romance’ of metaphysics, he does not disavow philosophy as a discipline.100 Instead, by identifying an affective common sense as foundational, he seeks to tackle the ‘want of the true spirit of philosophy’ in modern thought, which he traces in turn to ‘an impatience of inquiring into the real causes of things, and a determination to substitute a positive and tangible idea for an obscure and remote one, whether right or wrong.’101 This determination to attack the ills of modern philosophy spans Hazlitt’s entire career, from the closed, systematizing approach of the Essay to the more open, free-ranging style of later pieces such as ‘The Spirit of Philosophy’. As Burley points out, Hazlitt ‘renounced his metaphysical apprenticeship’ when he failed to publish the History of English Philosophy. Nonetheless, although financial insecurity forced him to accept a position as a parliamentary reporter for the Morning Chronicle, philosophy remained the master term of his cultural analysis. Indeed, according to Burley, ‘[i]n his later years he simply adopted the more popular form of the periodical essay to publicise his “new system of metaphysics”.’102 Hazlitt’s fellow essayist and occasional collaborator, Charles Lamb, displays a similarly complex relationship to the empirical traditions of British thought, but his attitude to philosophy differs radically from that of his contemporary.103 For Lamb, the very activity of philosophizing is suspect. In the article, ‘Of Two Disputants, the Warmest is Generally in the Wrong’ (one of a series of ‘Popular Fallacies’ written for the New Monthly Magazine), he notes that, far from being a sign of truthfulness, a cool, moderate temper ‘is as often the result of an unprincipled indifference to truth or falsehood, as of a sober confidence in a man’s own side in a dispute. Nothing is more insulting sometimes than the appearance of this philosophic temper.’104 The embodiment of this philosophic rudeness was Hume, whose name appears in ‘Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading’ as one of the few authors Elia cannot bring himself to read.105 In his letters, meanwhile, Lamb alternates between gently ribbing professors of philosophy (mainly Godwin, to whom he persistently refers as ‘Professor’) and decrying the ‘Damned Philosophical Humeian indifference, so cold & unnatural & inhuman’ that he found in Hume’s 100 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 1, p. 37. 101 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 375. 102 Burley, Hazlitt, p. 123. 103  Hazlitt and Lamb were both contributors to (and Hazlitt was briefly the editor of ) the London Magazine in the early 1820s. See Heather B Stone, ‘William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb and the London Magazine, 1821’, Wordsworth Circle 44, no. 1 (2013): pp. 41–4. Stone explores the ways in which the London contributions of both writers experiment with ‘two opposing views of human nature—one Benthamite, one Burkean . . . .’ 104 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 256. Emphasis added. 105 See Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 172: ‘I have no repugnances . . . Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Beattie . . . and Paley’s Moral Philosophy. With these exceptions, I can read almost any thing.’ In his editorial notes, Lucas reports that ‘[i]t is stated in Moore’s diary, according to Proctor, that Lamb “excluded from his library Robertson, Gibbon and Hume, and made instead a collection of the works of the heroes of The Dunciad” ’ (p. 415).

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writings.106 One of the few Enlightenment thinkers to escape this anti-philosophical bent of Lamb’s is Joseph Priestley. In a 1797 letter to Coleridge, he records relishing Priestley’s attacks on Reid, Beattie, and Oswald in his Examination: ‘how the Rogue strings ‘em up, three together! You have no doubt read that clear, strong, humorous, most entertain’g piece of reasoning. If not, procure it, & be exquisitely amused.’107 Even here, however, Lamb’s recommendation is based not so much upon the logic of materialism as upon the fun to be had in Priestley’s brusque rejection of what the latter refers to as the ‘panic fear of scepticism’ in the Scottish common-sense school, an unnecessary anxiety that had been induced by ‘the dangerous sophisms of Mr. Hume.’108 Thus, while Priestley’s dismissive response to the Scottish preoccupation with Hume’s sceptical doubts appealed to Lamb, what he particularly savoured about the rebuttal was its refusal even to entertain the premise that epistemological doubt could ever threaten everyday belief. This no-nonsense attitude has, nonetheless, led some commentators to situate Lamb himself within a long line of sceptical empiricists. Bertram Jessup, for instance, identifies Lamb as a ‘tough-minded’ philosopher, one who ‘stands firmly in the tradition of British empiricism, a relativist and anti-absolutist’. Indeed, he adds, Lamb goes further than many sceptics in even rejecting the ‘regular increase in probability of particular beliefs’ as a basis for relatively secure knowledge; for Lamb, instead, ‘[p]rogress in thinking . . . consists often in an exchange of superstitions.’109 Jessup was not the first to make this observation: Coleridge also identified the leading principle of Lamb’s thought as a form of meta-scepticism: in other words, not scepticism per se, but scepticism about scepticism (and by extension, about theories and philosophies more generally). As Coleridge insists, ‘Lamb’s scepticism has not come lightly, nor is he a sceptic.’ Instead, he claims, Lamb was ‘disgusted with hollow pretences, the false reasonings and absurdities of the rogues and fools with which all establishments, and all creeds seeking to become established abound.’110 It could be countered that attempts to categorize Lamb philosophically, even in relation to a kind of doubled or meta-scepticism, invariably fall back into the language of theories and ‘isms’ that he scorned. And yet, while this consideration serves to emphasize the distance between Lamb and Hazlitt on the question of the role played by philosophy in human life, it also suggests a surprising parallel between Lamb and Hume. Thus, despite Lamb’s rejection of Hume’s ‘unnatural’ philosophical indifference, his own suspicion of philosophy’s ambition to determine 106  Lamb, ‘To Manning’, 1 March 1800, letter 60 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 188. Writing to Manning about the poor reception of Godwin’s play Antonio, for which Lamb had provided an Epilogue, he exclaims: ‘We are damned!— . . . ‘Professor, thy glories wax dim . . .’ (p. 258). 107  Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 2 January 1797, letter 18 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 84. 108 Priestley, Examination, p. 62. 109  Bertram Jessup, ‘The Mind of Elia’, Journal of the History of Ideas 15 (1954): pp. 247, 254. See also Gerald Monsman, Confessions of a Prosaic Dreamer: Charles Lamb’s Art of Autobiography (1984), p. 17: ‘[t]he predominant note of Lamb’s view of life and of the imagination . . . is a scepticism built on the notion that any wholly straightforward correspondence between the self and ultimate reality is a hoax.’ 110  Edmund Blunden, ed., Charles Lamb: His Life Recorded by his Contemporaries (1934), pp. 248–9.

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what Priestley refers to as ‘plenary’ judgements relating to truth and morals resembles Hume’s own position in significant ways.111 As discussed in Chapter 2, Hume’s Academic scepticism was the product of doubts about his own doubtfulness; as such, it can be seen as an attempt to turn the sceptical perspective back upon scepticism itself. Since it offered not so much a scientific model of human nature based upon truth, as a guide to the virtues required to live a good life, its conclusions were not plenary or apodictic, but tentative and pragmatic. In this respect, the attitudes of Lamb and Hume differ strikingly from those of Hazlitt and Reid, both of whom (albeit, as has been seen, in different ways) see it as the task of a philosophical system reconstructed upon intuition, feeling, and common sense, to obviate sceptical doubt. In contrast to these attempts at metaphysical recovery, Lamb and Hume respond to the challenge of scepticism by turning philosophical doubt against philosophy itself. To this end, both writers portray systematic thinking not as invalid or unwarranted, but as foolish, deluded, or pathological. Like Hume, whose letter to Arbuthnot details his adolescent struggles with the maladies of reflection, Lamb depicts philosophical abstraction as a kind of illness. Writing to John Rickman in 1801, he humorously records the condition of George Burnett, with whom he had dined the previous evening. Recounting Burnett’s monologue defending utilitarianism, Lamb observes that ‘[h]e is not quite well of the metaphyz, I hope & trust that last night’s paroxysm will be the last, and that his disorder has come to its crisis’, before adding that ‘saving his metaphyz (which goes off after the first heats of youth like the green Sickness) George the 2d has good parts.’112 In a similarly wry vein, and writing as ‘Democritus Junior’ in his ‘Curious Fragments, Extracted from a Common-place Book, which Belonged to Robert Burton’ (1802), Lamb complains of ‘Philosophy running mad, madness philosophising, much idlelearned enquiries, what truth is?’ Not only is the philosophical pursuit of truth futile, he suggests, it is injurious to health: ‘Truth is the game all these hunt after, to the extreme perturbacyon and drying up of the moistures, humidum radicale exsiccant, as Galen, in his counsels to one of those wear-wits, brain-moppers, spunges, saith.’113 Care should be taken not to overstate these similarities. Unlike Hume’s moderated doubt, which was developed through an early career devoted to sustained work on philosophical problems, Lamb’s own sceptical anti-scepticism emerges through conversation and correspondence, and is expressed not in formal philosophical compositions, but in essays and other writings. Moreover, while it was Hume’s ‘easy’ epistemology that drew him to the essay as the prototypical genre of empiricism, Lamb’s essaying is underpinned by Unitarian ethics, which subordinate philosophical inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge to other spheres of value, such as friendship and the pleasures of conversation. As Felicity James observes, the ‘ideal of 111 Priestley, Examination, p. 64. 112  Charles Lamb, ‘To Rickman’, 9 October [1801], letter 114 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 2, p. 27. 113 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, pp. 33–4.

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friendship and sympathetic feeling . . . lies at the very centre of Lamb’s creative and social identity.’114 Indeed, it is Lamb’s misgivings about Coleridge’s tendency to idealize and depersonalize intersubjective relationships that prompt him to caution his friend against philosophical detachment and ‘the pride of metaphysics.’115 This warning in turn initiates a sequence of letters with philosophical themes sent between 1796 and 1798. While Lamb’s tone in these letters modulates between that of the cheerful philosophical novice and that of the aggrieved satirist, he consistently focuses upon the differences (and potential conflict) between genuine friendship and academic intellectualism. Thus, while he playfully begs Coleridge to make him a ‘Berkleyan’, Lamb likens his enjoyment of reading Priestley to ‘kind of Communion, a kind of friendship even, with the great & good’, adding that ‘Books are to me instead of friends,—I wish they did not resemble the latter in their scarceness.’116 The hint in this last remark at Lamb’s wounded feelings at having been abandoned by his friend appears to have been lost on Coleridge. Accordingly, the last letter in this sequence, sent while Coleridge was touring Germany with William and Dorothy Wordsworth, presents a list of metaphysical ‘Theses Quædam Theologicæ’, which include pointed conundrums, such as: ‘Whether the higher order of Seraphim Illuminati ever sneer?’ and ‘Whether the Vision Beatific be anything more or less than a perpetual representment to each individual Angel of his own present attainments & future capabilities, somehow in the manner of mortal looking-glasses, reflecting a perpetual complacency & self-satisfaction?’ An acerbic rejoinder to Coleridge’s frosty invitation (as Lamb recalls, with barely concealed bitterness) ‘to avail myself of your correspondence, in case I want any knowledge’, this letter initiates a two-year silence between the two.117 And yet, much like his later protest at his friend’s depiction of him in ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’ as ‘gentle-hearted Charles’, Lamb’s reaction is not the mere cavil of wounded pride, but stems directly from his disquiet over Coleridge’s tendency to diminish the personal in favour of the metaphysical.118 As James details, Lamb came to see his friend’s abstraction of mutuality as signalling a retreat from the values of ‘home-born-Feeling’ that had formed the bedrock of their conversations in ‘the little smoky room at the Salutation & Cat, where we have sat together thro’ the winter nights, beguiling the cares of life with Poesy.’119 In response, Lamb’s parodying of Coleridge’s cold philosophizing reflects his own prioritization of the intersubjective and communicative over the subjective and epistemic. 114  Felicity James, Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s (2008), p. 3. 115  Charles Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 23 October 1796, letter 10 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 56. 116  Charles Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 7–10 January 1797, letter 19 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 89. 117  Charles Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 23 May-6 June 1798, letter 33 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 128. Emphasis added. 118  See Charles Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, August 1800, letter 76 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 217: ‘For God’s sake (I never was more serious), don’t make me ridiculous any more by terming me gentle-hearted in print, or do it in better verses.’ 119  Charles Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 8–10 June 1796, letter 3 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 18. See also James, Reading Friendship, pp. 62–72.

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Consequently, many of Lamb’s essays appear remarkably Humean in their portrayal of philosophical abstraction as a kind of malady. In the essay ‘The Old and the New Schoolmaster’, for example, Elia deploys a form of epistemological counterpoint to depict as dysfunctional the modern obsession with accumulating knowledge. The essay begins, in a typically Elian manner, with a disarming confession about the ‘lamentably desultory and immethodical’ state of his own reading: consequently, he admits, ‘[i]n every thing that relates to science, I am a whole Encyclopædia behind the rest of the world.’ While one can conceal this apparent deficiency in large gatherings of friends and acquaintances, Elia notes, ‘in a ­tête-à-tête there is no such shuffling. The truth will out.’120 To illustrate this point, he recalls an exchange on the coach between Bishopsgate and Shacklewell with a highly inquisitive fellow traveller, who, having probed Elia’s knowledge on certain subjects, is disappointed by his ‘desultory and immethodical’ mind. Indeed, as Elia recalls, ‘finding me rather dimly impressed with some glimmering notions from old poetic associations, than strongly fortified with any speculations reducible to calculation on the subject, he gave the matter up.’ On reflection, however, Elia considers that any fault for the failure of the conversation lies less with his own inadequate grasp of factual knowledge, than with the interrogative attitude of his travelling companion, whom he identifies as one of the new order of utilitarian pedagogues: The truth now flashed upon me, that my companion was a schoolmaster . . . who did not seem so much desirous of provoking discussion by the questions which he put, as of obtaining information at any rate. It did not appear that he took any interest, either, in such kind of enquiries, for their own sake, but that he was in some way bound to seek for knowledge.121

Following an extended elegy for the teachers of the past, ‘the ‘Lilys, and the Linacres’, who ‘dreamed away all their days as in a grammar-school’, Elia decries the standards of the modern educator, who, since he ‘is expected to know a little of every thing, because his pupil is required not to be entirely ignorant of any thing’, ends up being ‘superficially . . . omniscient.’122 And yet, behind this verdict lies the same division that had precipitated the rift between Lamb and Coleridge years earlier: that is, between dialogue pursued as its own end and as a means to accumulate knowledge. Viewed from this perspective, the alienating preoccupation with method, calculation, and abstraction embodied by the modern teacher threatens the mutuality that is essential to all true conversation. Elia’s critique of the mentality of the ‘New Schoolmaster’ goes further than the charge of engaging in dialogue merely to gather facts. What he laments in his ill-fated exchange with the teacher is not just that the latter is bent on ‘obtaining information at any rate’, it is also that in doing so the latter remains detached even from his object of study, taking no real interest in the matter, but nonetheless being ‘in some way bound to seek for knowledge’. The New Schoolmaster’s obsession 120 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 49–50. 122 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 51–2.

121 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 51.

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with information originates not from a disinterested spirit of enlightened inquiry, but from a pathological fixation on the factual, an epistemic compulsion over which he has no control. Unable to regulate his addiction, the educator is immune to aesthetic experience as well as the pleasures of friendly dialogue: consequently, as Elia observes, ‘[h]e can receive no pleasure from a casual glimpse of Nature, but must catch at it as an object of instruction.’123 In some respects, then, Lamb’s preoccupation with the scientism and compulsive knowledge consumption of his contemporaries echoes and updates Hume’s concern with mitigating the ‘Disease of the Learned’. Significantly, both writers see the ‘unmethodical’ essay genre as an important tool in countering the tendency of systematic philosophy to transform human experience and communication into a language of abstractions. For Lamb, however, this issue is complicated by a further problem. By the early nineteenth century, Hume’s ‘commerce’ of intellect had become a marketplace of knowledge, making it increasingly difficult to separate philosophical reflection from commercial enterprise. This connection between curiosity and consumption is reflected in the epistemological case studies that feature in Lamb’s ‘Tom Pry’ and ‘Tom Pry’s Wife’, articles he wrote under the name ‘Lepus’ for The New Times in 1825. Like the Schoolmaster, Tom Pry struggles to master his ‘inordinate appetite of knowing every thing’—he cannot, for instance, resist inquiring after the identities of strangers in the park, or poring over the addresses on envelopes at his work in the post office.124 Nonetheless, Tom’s craving for information, while entertainingly dysfunctional, remains largely benign and disinterested. His ‘passion for knowledge in the pursuit is intense and restless, but when satisfied it sits down and seeks no further. He must know all about every thing, but his desires terminate in mere science.’ In contrast, his wife’s interest is marked by a ‘gnawing, mercenary . . . inquisitiveness.’125 What Mrs Pry adds to her husband’s habitual curiosity is the self-interest that marks her out as a truly modern consumer of knowledge: Mrs. Priscilla Pry must not only know all about your private concerns, but be as deeply concerned herself for them: she will pluck at the very heart of your mystery. She must anatomise and skin you, absolutely lay your feelings bare . . . . He is a philosopher who loves knowledge for its own sake; she is not content with a lumen siccum (dry knowledge, says Bacon, is best); the success of her researches is nothing, but as it feeds the two main springs between which her soul is kept in perpetual conflict— Pity, and Envy.126

The continuum between Tom Pry’s appetite for knowledge and that of Mrs Pry highlights one of the principal dangers of good-natured curiosity about facts: the philosopher’s love of knowledge ‘for its own sake’ is apt to slide towards a reduction of human experience into a consumable form (in this instance, sentimental gratification). At this point, the parenthetical allusion to Bacon’s ‘dry knowledge’ acquires added piquancy. The comment relates to a passage in the essay 123 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 52. 125 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, p. 278.

124 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, p. 276–7. 126 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, pp. 278–9.

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‘Of Friendship’, in which Bacon mounts an epistemological defence of friendship as beneficial to the human intellect. As he puts it, ‘friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tempests; but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of thoughts.’ Expanding upon this point, Bacon goes so far as to recommend trusting the testimony of friends over that of one’s perceptions. To this end, he quotes Heraclitus, who saith well in one of his enigmas, Dry light is ever the best. And certain it is, that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs.127

In ‘Tom Pry’s Wife’, this sociable knowledge forms an epistemological counterweight to the detached and self-interested fact-hunting of Mrs Pry. Thus, by invoking a social knowledge based in trusting the testimony of others rather than relying upon the evidence of one’s own senses, Bacon’s ‘Dry light’ presents Lamb with a counter-Coleridgean model of knowledge, according to which, rather than abstracting itself from sociability, philosophy subordinates itself to friendship. For Lamb, the pathological inquisitiveness shared by the Prys and the New Schoolmaster can be traced to the intellectual culture of the north. The connection of curiosity with ‘mercenary’ instincts suggests that behind the modern malady of disenchanted knowledge lurks a specifically Scottish cultural model, in which experience, measured according to a scale of utility, is reduced to a register of profit and loss. Indeed, in their subordination of tact and sociability to the self-interested search for knowledge, the Prys and the Schoolmaster have a distinctly Scottish air about them. Their minds are similar to ‘[t]he brain of a true Caledonian’, which, as Elia describes it in ‘Imperfect Sympathies’, has no falterings of self-suspicion. Surmises, guesses, misgivings, half-intuitions, semi-consciousnesses, partial illuminations, dim instincts, embryo conceptions, have no place in his brain, or vocabulary. The twilight of dubiety never falls upon him . . . . Between the affirmative and the negative there is no border-land with him . . . . Persons of this nation . . . do indeed appear to have such a love of truth (as if, like virtue, it were valuable for itself ) that all truth becomes equally valuable, whether the proposition that contains it be new or old, disputed, or such as is impossible to become a subject of disputation.128

One of the most striking features of this passage is the way in which Lamb sets friendly conversation against an epistemology that reduces human experience to a single ‘truth’ value. Elia distinguishes the ‘suggestive’ from the ‘comprehensive’ intellect on the grounds that only the first allows for a distinction between ‘two kinds of truth—the one applicable to the solemn affairs of justice, and the other to the common proceedings of daily intercourse.’ To the anti-Caledonian mind, he notes, ‘a kind of secondary or laic-truth is tolerated, where clergy-truth—oath-truth, by the nature of the circumstances, is not required.’129 And yet, as has been seen, 127 Bacon, Works, vol. 6, pp. 440–1. 129 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 59, 63.

128 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 60–1.

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this very notion of ‘laic-truth’, with its origins in the pragmatics of everyday conversation, continues a tradition of social empiricism that runs from Addison to Hume and throughout the Scottish Enlightenment. It shares with Hume’s concept of the social knowledge of the lifeworld, in which we are ‘absolutely and necessarily determin’d to live, and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of life’, a concern to preserve a space in which the considerations of systematic knowledge and objective truth do not apply.130 That this comparison would undoubtedly have appalled Lamb does not diminish the point being made here, which is that, as an essayist, he shares Hume’s interest in elevating the epistemological status of sociability. Nonetheless, Lambian objections to Humean parallels highlight important differences between the ways in which the two writers configure the intersubjective. As has been discussed in previous chapters, Hume’s deflationary strategy replaces metaphysical and subject-centred conceptions of knowledge with conventional and linguistic accounts: seen this way, Elia’s ‘laic’ truth is itself the foundation of ‘clergy-truth’. In ‘Imperfect Sympathies’, however, Lamb presents a different picture of social knowledge. Like Hazlitt’s immanent idealism, Lamb’s sceptical anti-scepticism aestheticizes Hume’s sociable principles of knowledge: rather than functioning as the condition of knowledge, sentiment (now sublimed into private feeling) replaces truth as the telos of thought. Thus, while Hume sees the intersubjective as the precondition of organized perception, Elia’s ‘suggestive’ intellect hovers between dialogue and cognition, inhabiting a ‘twilight of dubiety’ made up of ‘half-intuitions, semi-consciousnesses, partial illuminations’. Between ‘laic-truth’ and ‘clergy-truth’ lies an enchanted terra quasi-cognita, an affective ‘border-land’ of uncertainty. Appreciating this difference, in turn, helps in understanding the contrasting ways in which Hume and Lamb bring a reconditioned, socialized empiricism to bear upon the malady of the modern intellect. In Lamb’s essays, the quotidian is deployed not as a means of correcting the abstractions of philosophy, but as a way of transcending them. Conversation, pragmatized in Hume as the basis of thought, in Lamb becomes the hypostatized other of ‘clergy-truth’. Thus, while Hume’s essaying seeks to temper philosophy with sociability, Lamb’s looks to trump philosophy with ‘[h]ints and glimpses, germs and crude essays at a system.’131 Lamb’s essays suggest that, rather than naturalizing thought, aesthetic experience might gain access to a level of experience that, however waveringly, escapes it. Accordingly, instead of bringing philosophy down to earth, Lamb looks forward to a time in which, as he puts it in Specimens of English Dramatic Poets (1808), the aesthetic representations of poets and dramatists might embody truth, so that ‘the relative duties might be safely trusted to themselves, and moral philosophy lose the name of a science.’132 While similar to Hazlitt’s immanent idealism in its noumenalization of empiricism, then, Lamb’s aesthetic strategy for knowledge differs from the former by seeking to replace rather than reform philosophy. Consequently, although truth is not to be found by direct, systematic inquiry, it 130 Hume, Treatise, p. 269. 132 Lamb, Works, vol. 4, p. 126.

131 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 59.

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might yet be indirectly encountered by the unmethodical muddlings of an ordinary understanding. As Lamb muses in ‘Curious Fragments’, ‘Truth is no Doctoresse . . . but oftentimes to such an one as myself, an Idiota or common person . . . on a sudden the goddesse herself Truth has appeared, with a shyning lyghte, and a sparklyng countenance.’133 Situated ambiguously between the quotidian and the luminously transcendent, truth in Lamb is not so much pragmatized as romanticized, affectively preserved in the shadow of its absence. What this reveals, in turn, is that Lamb’s sceptical anti-scepticism, his commitment to mutuality and conversation over philosophical inquiry, manifests itself as a kind of enchantment through unknowing. Like the ‘half knowledge’ that underpins Keat’s ‘negative capability’, the signature gesture of Lamb’s prose hovers between full cognition and its negation.134 This charming ambiguity between the real and the fictional provides the epistemological structure for Elia’s narratives, which are described in ‘The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple’ as ‘in truth, but shadows of fact—verisimilitudes, not verities.’ Indeed, the allure in Lamb’s essays of such ‘[f ]antastic forms’ and ‘inexplicable, half-understood appearances’ ultimately takes precedence over even the pressures of communication.135 In the essay ‘Distant Correspondents’, for example, Elia initially worries about the ways in which the exigencies of time and space involved in long-distance epistolary exchanges expose the limitations of written communication: [I]t is no easy effort to set about a correspondence at our distance. The weary world of waters between us oppresses the imagination. It is difficult to conceive how a scrawl of mine should ever stretch across it. It is a sort of presumption to expect that one’s thoughts should live so far. It is like writing for posterity.

The effects of geography and history upon letter-writing are such that the boundaries between the true and the fictional soon dissolve. Thus, Elia wonders, ‘what security can I have that what I now send you for truth shall not before you get it unaccountably turn into a lie?’136 Moreover, just as facts can transform into falsehoods in the period between the time and place in which they are inscribed and the point at which they are read, so too can non-truths acquire reality. Thus, ‘[n]ot only does truth, in these long intervals, un-essence herself, but (what is harder) one cannot venture a crude fiction for the fear that it may ripen into a truth upon the voyage.’137 Implicit in Elia’s musings are problems that extend to human communication more generally. ‘Distant Correspondents’ foregrounds the fact that, in an important sense, all writing is for ‘posterity’, and as such, is subject to the vicissitudes of time and space. These issues were heightened by a literary culture in which the increasing distance between author and reading public means that writers like Lamb and Hazlitt increasingly see themselves as writing not for a ‘present’ audience, but for a projected future one. The question raised by Lamb’s essay, then, is upon what do 133 Lamb, Works, vol. 1, p. 34. 134  John Keats, ‘To George and Tom Keats’, 21, 27 (?) December 1817, letter 45 of Letters, vol. 1, p. 194. 135 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 90. 136 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 104. 137 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 105.

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we base our confidence that our thoughts should ever stretch across the ‘weary world of waters’ between us and our readers? What, as Christopher Nield observes, ‘is this “presumption”?’138 Naturalistic explanations favoured by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as Reid, based as they were upon anthropological notions of an instinctive ‘prescience’ in the social intellect, cut little ice with Lamb. In ‘Distant Correspondents’, by contrast, the status of the assumption that communication with others is possible remains vague. And yet, it is this very ambiguity that Lamb exploits, vacillating between a pragmatic suspension of disbelief, what Nield calls ‘a way of maintaining communicative face despite one’s doubts’, and an attempt to recuperate by other means a sense of wholeness, presence, and connection that has been lost. Thus, regretting the inability of puns to survive inscription, Elia notes that ‘[t]heir vigour is as the instant of their birth . . . . A pun, and its recognitory laugh, must be co-instantaneous . . . . A pun is reflected from a friend’s face as from a mirror.’139 In this description, Elia’s eulogy for the pun compensates aesthetically for the loss of immediacy that it describes, substituting a sentiment of mourning for one of recognition. As David Stewart observes, Elia’s response to the estrangement of writer and reader is elegiac rather than recuperative: finely balanced between the pragmatic conversationalist and the restorative self-consciousness of his Romantic contemporaries, Elia’s attitude remains carefully poised between familiarity and ironic transcendence.140 This ambivalence in Lamb’s prose reflects the complexity of his response to a growing awareness, post-Hume, of the constitutive role played by epistemological fictions (the ‘presumption[s]’ of communication) in thought. As has been seen, the most developed theoretical account of this phenomenon, Bentham’s theory of logical fictions, takes its cue from Hume by reducing epistemological problems to hedonic considerations of human well-being: on this analysis, those fictions that are least likely to promote human happiness are those that we are under the strongest moral obligation to discard. Like Bentham’s theory, Lamb’s ludic treatment of the truth/fiction boundary abandons what David Russell calls an ‘insistence on an ontological truth.’141 And yet, as Russell notes, while Bentham’s management of fictions is determinedly progressive in the way that it anticipates the removal of residual fictions from social life through the systematic proliferation of information, the elegiac posture of Lamb’s essays endeavour instead to find ‘more consciously rich uses for the fictional’ by ‘evoking shadows, ruins and fragments’ of lost certainties.142 When Lamb praises the poetic impulse responsible for ‘those wise 138  Christopher S. Nield, ‘Distant Correspondents: Charles Lamb, Exploration and the Writing of Letters.’ Romanticism 10, no.1 (2004): p. 85. 139 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 107. 140  David G. Stewart, ‘Charles Lamb’s “Distant Correspondents”: Speech, Writing and Readers in Regency Magazine Writing’, Keats-Shelley Journal 57 (2008): p. 106: ‘Rather than attempting, as many magazine writers in the period did, to revive the lost contact between writer and reader, Lamb’s writing, more adept, more knowing, elegizes the distance between them.’ 141  David  J.  Russell, ‘ “Our Debt to Lamb”: The Romantic Essay and the Emergence of Tact’, English Literary History 79, no.1 (2012): p. 203. 142  Russell, “ ‘Our Debt” ’, pp. 203, 205. As I noted in Chapter 3, despite this progressiveness, Bentham maintains that the comprehensive removal of fictions by a process of linguistic reform based upon ‘paraphrasis’ is not possible.

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prejudices with which nature has guarded our innocence’, or acclaims the ‘wise falsification, [by which] the great masters of painting got at their true conclusions’, he memorializes rather than pragmatizes a truth lost to consciousness. In this way, Lamb’s refinement of empiricism produces what Walter Pater once identified as his ‘delicate intellectual epicureanism’, which ‘hints of the innermost reason in things, the full knowledge of which is held in reserve.’143 The value of this ‘reserve’ for Lamb consists in the fact that it can neither be paraphrased into concrete experience à la Bentham, nor be philosophically consecrated in a supersensory faculty of ‘common sense’, à la Hazlitt. Thus, while Lamb’s ‘twilight of dubiety’ resembles Hazlitt’s ‘trembling boundary’ in its development of a potent aesthetic space between the poetry of imagination and the prose of everyday, friendly conversation, his refusal to entertain an epistemological basis for the unification of these forces means that, in his essays, any reaching for the infinite is swiftly transformed into a kind of sublimity manqué. B E T W E E N P H I L O S O P H Y A N D L I T E R AT U R E The differences between Lamb and Hazlitt over whether this new, numinous territory of aesthetic experience requires a philosophical foundation highlights the ways in which the changing relationship between ‘literature’ and ‘philosophy’ in the early nineteenth century influences their practice as essayists. And yet, the nature of this relationship is often unclear. One of the principal problems with examining such issues from a purely philosophical perspective is that, just as Hume’s strategy of socializing empiricism involves critiquing the limits of philosophy, and just as Reid’s hermeneutics of common sense imply a limit to philosophy’s role in critical thinking, so the distinctly Romantic invocation of the aesthetic imagination contains the potential to outflank all philosophical terms of analysis, including ‘idealism’ and ‘empiricism’. The debate between Park and Natarajan over Hazlitt’s metaphysics illustrates this point nicely. Park argues that Hazlitt’s essays represent a broader critique of the philosophical attitude itself: Hazlitt’s fundamental quarrel, he maintains, is not with a specific theory, such as empiricism, but with the general tendency of his age to indulge in philosophical abstractions. Consequently, he maintains, Hazlitt rejects as self-defeating the attempts by contemporaries such as Coleridge and Wordsworth to rescue the aesthetic from the machine of logic by redefining it, and denies the validity of their assumption ‘that poetry was in any sense definable.’144 Park’s claim is, in turn, disputed by Natarajan on the grounds that it ‘does less than justice to a key tenet of Romantic poetics, the one-ness of poetry and philosophy.’145 This principle, she claims, forms part of a broader philosophy of Romantic idealism, of which Hazlitt is one of the ablest defenders. What Natarajan presumably has in mind here is the kind of comment that Hazlitt makes, for instance, in ‘My First Acquaintance with 143  Walter Pater, Appreciations (1895), pp. 114, 119. 145  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 41.

144 Park, Hazlitt, p. 29.

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Poets’, where he recalls the effect upon his younger self of hearing Coleridge preach for the first time: ‘I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the music of the spheres. Poetry and Philosophy had met together. Truth and Genius had embraced.’146 And yet, as has been seen, in later life Hazlitt would voice dissatisfaction with the way in which Coleridge’s unification turned out, as he saw it, to be a mere muddling of reason and imagination. What this indicates is not necessarily that Park is correct in his characterization of the non-cognitive basis of Hazlitt’s aesthetics, but that the process by which poetry and art acquire autonomy in the Romantic period itself raises questions regarding the (poetical or philosophical) terms according to which that independence should be expressed. From this perspective, the application of philosophical labels risks underestimating the extent to which the ‘one-ness’ or ‘symbiosis’ of poetry and philosophy is always pressurized by the problem of whether this relationship resists philosophical articulation. Consequently, the fundamental significance of the Romantic familiar essay stems not from its philosophical ‘tenets’ (idealist or empiricist), but from the light it casts upon the relationship between literature and philosophy. This picture is complicated by the fact that, as any student of intellectual history knows, the modern distinction between ‘literature’ and ‘philosophy’ is itself an invention of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The idea that philosophy’s problems might be addressed by a more ‘poetic’ approach to experience would have made little sense to Hume and Johnson, for whom the assumption that ‘literature’ and ‘philosophy’ occupy commensurable, even homogenous fields of intellectual inquiry was fundamental to their practice as writers. In ‘My Own Life’, for example, Hume writes of his youthful ‘passion for literature, which has been the ruling passion of my life, and the great source of my enjoyments’ in a way that suggests that, for him, the provinces of literature and philosophy are continuous.147 A similar conviction lies behind Johnson’s claim in Rambler 137 that ‘[i]t is the proper ambition of the heroes in literature to enlarge the boundaries of ­knowledge by discovering and conquering new regions of the intellectual world.’148 For much of the century, the view remained that literature and philosophy shared common cognitive and cultural ground, part of a unified commonwealth of human knowledge. This assumption informed the founding of institutions such as the Lunar Society in 1765 and the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1781, both of which were dedicated to the advancement of education through the joint pursuit of literary and philosophical research. As Susan Manning notes, there is a strong argument that philosophy itself did not become a specialist discipline until the publication of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Before then, ‘scientists (natural philosophers), epistemological and ethical philosophers, theologians and literary critics all in an important sense described human experience in similar ways, and their language was, in the full contemporary sense of the word, a literary one.’149

146 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, p. 108. 147 Hume, Essays, p. xxxiii. Emphasis added. 148 Johnson, Works, vol. 4, p. 362. Emphasis added. 149  Manning, ‘Literature and Philosophy’, p. 587.

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With the advent of transcendentalism, however, the relationship between literature and philosophy is fundamentally restructured. For Kant, the dignity accorded to the mind in constructing its own reality is purchased against the loss of any certainty other than the transcendental guarantee that such productivity is itself a precondition of coherent experience. After Kant, the idea that literature qua ‘Literature’ might succeed where philosophy’s pursuit of adequate representation had failed involved adopting an aesthetics in which absolute Truth is figured through irony, fragmentation, or sublimity as simultaneously the necessary but impossible (i.e. non-representable) object of knowledge. Seen this way, one consequence of transcendentalism is the inauguration of ‘Literature’ itself, distinguished from its lower-case predecessor by its reflexive power to embody intellectual intuition and unify subject and object. Rather than seeing poetry as the dress of thought, the ornamentation of just representations of philosophical truths, post-Kantian aesthetics postulates a ‘Literary Absolute’ through which art and literature alone can produce representations that accommodate the philosophical impossibility of mirroring Absolute Truth.150 This elevation of ‘Literature’ instigates a shift in thinking whereby the neoclassical model of literature as an exemplum whose meaning might be paraphrased into the language of reason and general truth is supplanted by one of Literature as autotelism, in which the relationship between a work’s form and content are dictated by ideas of essence and growth rather than by convention. In this way, ‘Literature’ becomes not just a genre itself, but also (since it escapes all attempts at formal classification and determination) the genre of Romantic writing. These considerations underscore the need to focus critical attention not upon which philosophical doctrine underpins the Romantic familiar essay, but upon the ways in which the genre reflects the shifting power balance in the relationship between philosophy and literature. In Germany, arguments over the terms on which any ‘unification’ of philosophy and literature were an established part of the cultural landscape, with transcendental ironists such as Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel on one side facing revanchist philosophers, most notably Schelling and Hegel, on the other.151 For Hegel, the final dependence of art upon representation means that even Romantic poetry, which in its abandonment of external sensuous matter in favour of an interiorized domain of feeling presents the most spiritual mode of embodying the Absolute, ‘ends by transcending itself . . . and passes from the poetry of imagination into the prose of thought.’152 Hegel’s attempt to reassert the primacy of philosophy is in part a response to ironists such as Schlegel, who argue that philosophy’s representational limitations necessitate the emergence of a 150  Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, Literary Absolute, p. 11. 151  Schelling’s career, indeed, spans the entire spectrum of this debate, from his position in the 1800 System that ‘art is at once the only true and eternal organ and document of philosophy’ (p. 230), to the assertion in the 1833–7 lectures On the History of Modern Philosophy, ed. Andrew Bowie (1994), p. 191, that the artistic expression of the absolute itself presupposed a more fundamental consideration of being in its ‘absolute positivity.’ 152 G.W.F. Hegel, On Art, Religion, and the History of Philosophy. Introductory Lectures, ed. J. Glenn Gray (1997), p. 126.

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kind of irony that transcends philosophy. As Schlegel puts it in his ‘Critical Fragments’ (1797), irony contains and arouses a feeling of indissoluble antagonism between the absolute and the relative, between the impossibility and the necessity of complete communication. It is the freest of all licences, for by its means one transcends oneself; and yet it is also the most lawful, for it is absolutely necessary.153

Human life is philosophically ironic for Schlegel due to the way in which the self is perpetually caught between ‘the impossibility and necessity’ of self-identification, of complete communication with itself. Romantic or ‘transcendental’ poetry, he argues, expresses this condition more effectively than philosophy because of its resistance to closure and determination and its self-conscious engagement with our absurd but unavoidable quest for Absolute Truth. Accordingly, in his ‘Athenäum Fragments’ (1798), he describes Romantic poetry (and by extension, poetry in general) not as a product, but as a process that is still in the state of becoming; that, in fact, is its real essence: that by no theory and only a divinatory criticism would dare try to characterize its ideal . . . . The Romantic kind of poetry is the only one that is more than a kind, that is, as it were, poetry itself: for in a certain sense all poetry is or should be romantic.154

In Britain, however, this Kantian conception of aesthetic autonomy struggled to take root.155 Except for a few significant figures like Coleridge, De Quincey, and Crabb Robinson, transcendental argument largely fell on deaf ears. Consequently, it appeared to many that literature’s emerging independence from philosophy could only be won at the cost of utilitarian redundancy. Stewart, for instance, claims in the Elements that truth in poetry is ‘not for the purpose of information, but to convey pleasure to the mind’, a position that challenges the ancient idea that poetry’s cognitive status rests upon its granting access to general truths about human nature, while simultaneously downgrading the epistemic content of such poetic ‘truth.’156 Viewed in this way, Hazlitt’s ‘trembling boundary’ of knowledge and Lamb’s ‘twilight of dubiety’ look like attempts to avoid such a reduction in the absence of the limited securities won by the post-Kantian epistemological bargain. What they presuppose instead, as Ian Duncan demonstrates, is the Humean image of a life doubled between ‘a sceptical disillusionment from reality and a sentimental attachment to reality as illusion.’157 Recognizing the constitutive role played by fictions of reason in thought and life leads, in turn, to the acceptance that ‘[t]ruth arises neither in alienated reflection nor in forgetful habituation, nor in some cognitive synthesis of the two, but in the temporal oscillation between them.’158 153 Simpson, Origins, p. 183. 154 Simpson, Origins, p. 193. 155  See the fourth chapter of David Simpson, Romanticism, Nationalism, and the Revolt against Theory (University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 100, for a discussion of the cultural and political factors behind this, and in particular an account of how the reception of German idealism in Britain came to associate Kant’s work with ‘French proclivities toward both system and theory and libertine self-indulgence.’ 156 Stewart, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 448. 157 Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. xiv. 158 Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. 122.

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The boundary between ‘cognitive synthesis’ and ‘temporal oscillation’ identified by Duncan is often subtle and difficult to determine, but it remains crucial. To distinguish between the two is to differentiate between the endeavour to lay new foundations for thought and the pragmatic acknowledgement of dividedness as a condition of human life. These two strategies broadly match what I have identified as the ‘serious’ and the ‘rhetorical’ responses to alienated cognition; and yet, both might broadly be described as ‘imaginative’ in that they insist upon the indispensable role of imagination in thought and action. For this reason, as Duncan observes, it is important to differentiate between the pragmatic imagination of Humean empiricism, which maintains an ironic oscillation between belief and the consciousness of necessary fictions, and ‘the Kantian-Coleridgean “lyric” model . . . which casts the imagination as trace of an alienated transcendental cognition.’159 For Duncan, this tension between the Humean-empirical and the Kantiantranscendental manifests itself at the level of genre as a contest between the novel and the lyric poem. As I have argued, however, the significance of the Romantic familiar essay lies in its ambiguous location between these two modes. Thus, while Lamb and Hazlitt’s adventures in idealism, imagination, and poetic truth seek to transform the epistemic insufficiency of poetry into a power capable of redeeming philosophy itself, such endeavours are undertaken from a critical position that is strictly aligned neither with a language of sociability and intersubjectivity, nor with one in which communicative norms are underwritten by ineffable, transcendental ideals. It is then, between the liminal and the sublime (the ‘rhetorical’ and the ‘serious’), and not the epistemological categories of ‘empiricism’ and ‘idealism’, that the most telling performances of the Romantic familiar essay occur. EXPRESSIVE LIMINALITY Situated between Humean and Kantian paradigms of knowledge, the Romantic familiar essay operates at the boundary between two different conceptions of the threshold between the fictional and the real. Consequently, the genre is doubly ambiguous: located between utilitarian and transcendental visions of aesthetic marginality, its activity is, in a sense, hyper-marginal. On one hand, it abandons the ideals of intersubjective consolidation in favour of more interiorized and idealized forms of mediation, modelling itself less upon the practices of sociability and fiction-sustaining conversation and more upon the mind itself. As ‘Literature’ itself becomes more idealized, and the social intellect of the Scottish Enlightenment is brought indoors, the intersubjectivity prized by Hume and Johnson is hypostatized into the interior space of feeling. Correspondingly, the essayist is seen as mediating less between people and more between phenomenological realms of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ experience in order to express the ineffable ‘power of truth’. Thus, as Joel Haefner argues, the Romantics turn the experimentalism of the 159 Duncan, Scott’s Shadow, p. 124.

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eighteenth-century essay inwards, so that ‘[t]he Romantic essay, in contrast to essays of the preceding century, is a kind of phenomenological “experiment”.’160 On the other hand, the Romantic essay’s rejection of the purely poetic impulse simultaneously produces a resistance to transcendence and sublimity. Thus, for Hazlitt, the essay’s proper work lies somewhere between that of poetry and philosophy. As he argues in ‘On the Periodical Essayists’, it ‘does not meddle with forms of belief, or systems of philosophy, nor launch into the world of spiritual existences; but it makes familiar with the world of men and women.’ Entering human life in media res, the essay engages in a conversation with the reader, but not with a view to proving a point or advancing a thesis; instead, ‘[i]t makes up its general accounts from details, its few theories from many facts. It does not try to prove all black or all white as it wishes, but lays on the intermediate colours . . . as it finds them blended with the web of our life, which is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.’ In this way, Hazlitt claims (quoting Henry V ), in the essay ‘ “[t]he act and practic part of life is thus made the mistress of our theorique.” ’161 In the familiar essay, Hazlitt identifies a potential critique of the idealism shared by poets and philosophers. Thus, as he notes in ‘On the Prose-Style of Poets’, poets are like winged animals, who ‘when they light upon the ground of prose and matterof-fact . . . seem not to have the same use of their feet.’ Coleridge’s weakness as a prose writer, for instance, is attributable to the fact that he is forever ‘looking for beauty, when he should be seeking for truth.’162 Similarly, philosophers (particularly French philosophers) who indulge too freely in abstract speculation are apt to become fanatics of reason. As Hazlitt observes in ‘On People of Sense’, by disdaining feeling and imagination, the metaphysician merely becomes their unwitting victim: The race of alchemists and visionaries is not yet extinct; and, what is remarkable, we find them existing in the shape of deep logicians and enlightened legislators . . . . the truth is, that persons of the most precise and formal understandings are persons of the loosest and most extravagant imaginations . . . . People who are accustomed to trust to their imaginations or feelings, know how far to go, and how to keep within certain limits: those who seldom exert these faculties are all abroad, in a wide sea of speculation without rudder or compass, the instant they leave the shore of matter-of-fact or dry reasoning, and never stop short of the last absurdity. They go all lengths, or none. They laugh at poets, and are themselves lunatics.163

Seen in this context, the essay’s literary and cultural importance stems from the ways in which it curbs the excesses of both imagination and reason. Thus, when, in an 1822 letter to his son, Hazlitt attributes the drawbacks of a scholarly life to the fact that the ‘ideal is always at variance with the practical ’, so that ‘[t]he habit of fixing the attention on the imaginary and abstracted deprives the mind equally of energy and fortitude’, he adds that ‘[t]he best qualifier of this theoretical mania and of the dreams of poets and moralists . . . is in one sense to be found in our 160  Joel Haefner, ‘ “Incondite Things”: Experimentation and the Romantic Essay’, Prose Studies 10, no. 2 (1987): p. 197. 161 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 91–2. 162 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, pp. 5, 9. 163 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, p. 251.

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own . . . periodical Essayists.’164 By taking as the departure point of its reflections the ‘mingled yarn’ and ‘intermediate colours’ of the actual lives of men and women, essayistic reflection avoids the pitfalls of banality on one hand and abstracted irrelevance on the other. This line of thought is also evident in Hazlitt’s Spirit of the Age portrait of Lamb, in which he praises the latter’s prose style for eschewing both the ‘commonplace’ and the ‘grand swelling theories’ of ‘the visionary and the enthusiast.’165 Travelling by a different philosophical route, then, Hazlitt arrives at a similar conclusion to Hume about the essay genre, presenting it as an unmethodical, practical antidote to the maladies of modern metaphysical thinking. ‘It is’, he notes, ‘the best and most natural course of study’ constituting ‘in morals and manners what the experimental is in natural philosophy, as opposed to the dogmatical method.’166 Once again, however, this apparent echoing of Hume conceals significant differences between the two writers. While Hume saw the essay a moderator between private intellect and public conversation, Hazlitt’s essaying implies the existence of an autonomous aesthetic sphere that becomes the repository of authentic experience. Instead of consolidating the public domain with advances in intellect, aesthetic culture occupies the ‘trembling boundary’ of common sense, the basis of which lies in what he describes in ‘Paragraphs on Prejudice’ as ‘all that mass of knowledge and perception which . . . is made up of the strong and urgent, but undefined impressions of things upon us, and lies between the two extremes of absolute proof and the grossest ignorance.’167 As he argues in ‘On Genius and Common Sense’, not only does this mass of common sense and natural feeling underpin the operations of reason, it also provides a basis for taste and artistic genius, which ‘depend much upon the same principle exercised on loftier ground and in more unusual combinations.’168 Hazlitt defines genius itself as originality in perception, or ‘some strong quality in the mind, answering to and bringing out some new striking quality in nature.’ Although it shares with reason a basis in common sense, genius moves in the opposite direction: where reason and understanding abstract experience into knowledge, genius, working according to no rule other than sympathy and feeling, particularizes perception. Indeed, in its expressiveness and inventiveness, genius is the reverse of the knowing, the moral, and the abstract. Consequently, as Hazlitt puts it, ‘[t]here is no place for genius but in the indefinite and unknown.’169

164 William Hazlitt, ‘To William Hazlitt, Jr.’, [February or early March 1822], letter 99 of The  Letters of William Hazlitt, ed. Herschel Moreland Sikes, William Hallam Bonner and Gerald Lahey (1978), pp. 225–6. 165 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 11, pp. 179–80. 166 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 6, p. 91. See also Uttara Natarajan, ‘Hazlitt’s Common Sense’, Nineteenth Century Prose, 36, no. 1 (2009): pp. 21–2. As Natarajan registers, Hazlitt’s career trajectory also resembles Hume’s in its transition from the formal philosophical treatises and lectures of his earliest work to the familiar, conversational style of his mature essays. 167 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 327. 168 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 32. Without common sense, Hazlitt argues, reason is ‘a building without a foundation’ (p. 36). 169 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 46.

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Seen this way, Hazlitt’s aesthetics appear closer to Kant than Hume. Kant argues that the four main criteria of artistic genius are that 1) it is original, in the sense that it produces ‘that for which no determinate rule can be given’; 2) its products are ‘exemplary’ i.e. models for emulation; 3) it does not proceed ‘scientifically’, but instead ‘gives the rule as nature’, i.e. unconsciously; and 4) it prescribes norms not to science but to art.170 And yet, while it is striking that all but the fourth and final criterion can also be found in Hazlitt’s account of genius, once again, this single difference is critical. When Hazlitt asserts that ‘[r]ules are applicable to abstractions, but expression is concrete and particular’, he bases this argument upon his own experience and observation.171 Kant’s defence of the particularity of genius, by contrast, is framed by his defence of the transcendental validity of the ‘reflecting’ or aesthetic power of judgement, according to which (and in opposition to ‘determining’ or cognitive judgement), ‘only the particular is given, for which the universal is to be found.’172 Accordingly, aesthetic judgement provides no ­knowledge, but instead forms a middle term between reason’s desired but unknowable final end of freedom and the understanding’s knowledge of lawful nature by regulating feelings of pleasure according to the formal purposiveness of art. The same framework applies to genius, whose ineffable (indeterminate) aesthetic ideas playfully harmonize the activities of imagination and understanding only on the basis that such activity provides a feeling for a purposiveness that is the transcendental principle of the power of judgement itself. Thus, while for Kant ‘purposiveness’ operates at the aesthetic borderline between desire and cognition, freedom, and lawfulness, for Hazlitt genius, like common sense, is unfettered by transcendental limitations. Indeed, as he writes in ‘Genius and Common Sense’, aesthetic feeling provides the intuitive basis for all thought and action, since ‘[i]n art, in taste, in life, in speech, you decide from feeling, and not from reason.’173 Similarly, in ‘On Novelty and Familiarity’, he claims that ‘feeling is in fact the scale that weighs the truth of all original conceptions’, adding the Humean observation that ‘[o]ur existence is a tissue of passion, and our successive years only present us with fainter and fainter copies of the first proof-impressions.’174 While for Hume private passion is regulated by social sentiment, for Hazlitt it possesses not just autonomy but also legislative force: indeed, as he explains in ‘On Gusto’, it can make truth, insofar as it possesses the power to define an object affectively.175 As has been seen, the status of this ‘truth’ remains epistemologically obscure. Not only does it fall outside the verities of fact and logic, it also lies beyond Hume’s framework of tacitly convergent linguistic conventions, Reid’s foundations of prescient common sense, and Kant’s critical apparatus of transcendental principles. At times, indeed, Hazlitt appears to have more than one sense of ‘truth’ 170 Kant, Power of Judgement, pp. 186–7. 171 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 39–40. 172 Kant, Power of Judgement, p. 67. 173 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 31. 174 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, pp. 298, 302. 175  See Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 77: ‘Gusto in art is power or passion defining any object . . . . [T]here is hardly any object entirely devoid of expression, without some character of power belonging to it . . . and it is in giving this truth of character from the truth of feeling . . . that gusto consists.’

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in mind: on one hand, the abstract truth of understanding, reason, and cognition; on the other, a distinctly poetic, opaque ‘truth’, a truth of feeling and imagination, accessible only to genius in its search for intensified impressions across ‘the indefinite and unknown’. As he notes in ‘The Spirit of Controversy’, this indefinable, incommunicable, and irreducible power of truth is ‘not one thing, but has many aspects and many shades of difference; it is neither all black nor all white; sees something wrong on its own side, something right in others.’176 In this way, once again, Hume’s projecting imagination is magnified and made numinous. As Hazlitt declares in his 1818 Lectures on the English Poets, the ‘excess of imagination beyond the actual or ordinary impression’ conveys that uneasy, exquisite sense of beauty or power that cannot be contained within itself; that is impatient of all limit . . . . This language is not the less true to nature, because it is false in point of fact; but so much the more true and natural, if it conveys the impression which the object under the influence of passion makes on the mind.177

At the borderline of truth and fiction, then, lies an aesthetic truth that transcends both the factual and the merely fabricated. As he claims in his essay, ‘Poetry’, this ‘truth of feeling’ vindicates the poet’s flight from the actual: A literal description goes for nothing in poetry, a pure fiction is of as little worth; but it is the extreme beauty and power of an impression with all its accompaniments, or the very intensity and truth of feeling, that pushes the poet over the verge of matter-of-fact, and justifies him in resorting to the licence of fiction to express what without his ‘winged words’ must have remained ever untold.178

Hazlitt’s sublime, aesthetic domain of feeling replaces Hume’s socialized reason as the mediator of the reflective and the everyday, system and lifeworld. Impatient of limit in its restless flight from the finite to the infinite, the ‘logic of imagination and the passions’, as Hazlitt describes it in ‘Coriolanus’, naturally falls in with the language of power. Indeed, Poetry’s ‘right royal’ preference for particularity, gusto, and power over general rule, judgement, and communicability reflects the nonprogressive nature of the arts more generally.179 Thus, in the fragment, ‘Why the Arts are not Progressive?’ Hazlitt notes that ‘[t]hose arts, which depend on individual genius and incommunicable power, have always leaped at once from infancy to manhood.’180 This depiction of a monarchical faculty of imagination that surpasses social sentiment and scientific knowledge privatizes and noumenalizes Hume’s account of how ‘civilized monarchy’, in its promotion of the courtly virtues of conversation and ‘mutual deference’, is indispensable to the flourishing of the liberal arts.181 Hazlitt’s idea of a culture underwritten by a logic of the imagination and the passions brings us back to what I earlier described as the ‘hyper-marginality’ of the Romantic familiar essay. To the extent that it seeks to balance poetic sublimity and 176 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 306. 177 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 5, p. 3–4. 178 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 20, p. 211. Emphasis added. 179 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 5, pp. 347–9. 180 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 161. 181 Hume, Essays, p. 126.

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the ‘truth of feeling’ against an engagement ‘with the world of men and women’, Hazlitt’s essayism does not just mediate between two forms of knowledge, as Hume’s had done; by bridging the liminal and the sublime, it also spans two distinct conceptions of what is at stake in the marginality of literature/Literature. Consequently, even as Hazlitt’s essays continue to patrol the Humean boundary between conversation and philosophical reflection, they address another level of ambiguity at the sublime border between the cognitive per se and an aesthetics of incommunicable feeling. In doing so, Hazlitt unsettles the balance struck by Hume’s ‘easy’ familiar essayist between the roles of the anatomist and the artist. For Hazlitt, the genius of the true creative artist elevates him above the philosopher. As he argues in ‘On Imitation’, since feeling always prevails over reason, ‘the poet and painter of imagination are superior to the mere philosopher or man of science, because they exercise the powers of reason and intellect combined with nature and passion.’182 Accordingly, as I show in the final section of this chapter, in Hazlitt’s essays Humean diplomacy between polite and learned worlds is subordinated to the goal of evoking the endless complexity and contingency of an authentic selfhood. This Romantic topos of authenticity is, in contrast, conspicuously absent from Lamb’s essaying. Given the many commonalities between Hazlitt and Lamb as essayists, this might seem surprising. As has been seen, Lamb’s epistemological ‘twilight of dubiety’ parallels Hazlitt’s ‘trembling boundary’ in the way that it associates twilight states of consciousness and knowledge with the expressive liminality, and possible sublimity, of the essay genre.183 Similarly, Hazlitt’s search for a truth of ‘feeling’ through the expression of an endlessly particular self finds its counterpart in the ‘double singleness’ of Lamb’s essayistic personae.184 Indeed, this refusal of a single, definable identity is not limited to Lamb’s essays; his letters, too, playfully enact the duplicity of always being between things. For example, in an 1830 letter to Mary Shelley, he describes his new home town of Enfield as ‘seated most indifferently upon the borders of Middlesex, Essex, and Hertfordshire, partaking of the quiet dullness of the first, & the total want of interest pervading the two latter Counties.’185 Enfield’s bathetic marginality in turn becomes the backdrop to Lamb’s own cultural border-crossings: from this location, as he promises Thomas 182 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 76. See also ‘On the Pleasure of Painting’, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 7: for Hazlitt, essay writing and painting, while both fundamentally imaginative, proceed in opposite phenomenological directions. Thus, ‘[i]n the former case you translate feelings into words; in the latter, names into things.’ 183  For further discussion, see Roy Park, ‘introduction’, Lamb as Critic (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 10: ‘For Lamb, the poet lives between divided worlds . . . [in] oscillation between the abstract and the poetic . . . .’ Park likens this condition to Keats’s ‘negative capability’, as does Nicola Trott, who, in ‘ “The Old Margate Hoy” and Other Depths of Elian Credulity’, Charles Lamb Bulletin 82 (1993): p. 57, sees Lamb’s ‘waverings between fictionality and credulity, between the knowing and the oblivious’ as ‘at once the most sophisticated and regressive of Romanticisms . . . .’ See also Daniel J. Mulcahy, ‘Charles Lamb: The Antithetical Manner and the Two Planes’, Studies in English Literature 3 (1963): 518: ‘. . . Elia’s chosen ground is the twilight borderland from which he can see the affirmative and the negative, the real and the imaginary, without the necessity of taking his stand in one or the other exclusively . . . .’ 184  See Charles Lamb, ‘Machery End, in Hertfordshire’, Works, vol. 2, p. 75: Elia describes his life with Bridget as ‘a sort of double singleness.’ 185  Lamb, ‘To Mary Shelley’, [c. 18 January 1830], letter 816 of Letters of Charles Lamb, vol. 3, p. 239.

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Hood, they can be ‘Courtiers for a spurt, then philosophers. Old homely tell-truths and learn-truths in the virtuous shades of Enfield, Liars again and mocking gibers in the coffee houses & resorts of London. What can a mortal desire more for his bi-parted nature?’186 This social amphibiousness, itself the manifestation of the ambivalence of Lamb’s unmethodical, ‘incondite’ and fragmentary intellect, finds its optimal outlet in the familiar essay, and above all in his London Magazine alter ego, Elia.187 Like his creator, with whom he is never fully identified, Elia is at home neither wholly within the public sphere nor entirely outside it. In ‘A Quaker’s Meeting’, for example, Elia ponders the phenomenon of ‘perfect solitude’ in modern, urban society—the ability to take comfort in being alone in the company of other human beings. This uncommunicative mutuality experienced in crowds, which he describes as ‘sympathetic solitude’, becomes a template for a characteristically Elian strategy whereby social sentiment and communication are refined into an aesthetic activity whose sophisticated mastery of duality transcends the pragmatics of everyday conversation.188 Thus, Lamb’s reader, like Hazlitt’s, is invited to experience the enchantment of an ‘indefinite and unknown’ terrain. In Lamb’s essays, however, the aesthetic encounter is accessed by way of what Elia characterizes in ‘On the Artificial Comedy of the Last Century’ as the moral and epistemological ‘neutral ground’ of literature, or ‘that happy breathing-place from the burthen of perpetual moral questioning.’ For Lamb, it is this ‘sanctuary and quiet Alsatia of hunted casuistry’ that modern literature, preoccupied by ‘the exclusive and all devouring drama of common life; where the moral point is everything’, has abandoned. Accordingly, Elia’s ‘neutral ground’ forms a marginal refuge from modern rationalization, utilitarianism, and commodification, into which the writer and reader can escape ‘now and then, for a dream-while or so, to imagine a world with no meddling restrictions.’189 In the face of the tendency of modern life to quantify and instrumentalize artistic and literary value, Lamb allows the imagination to indulge its fascination with the liminal, such as the ‘confused hints and shadows’ of wonder that haunt the imagination of the boy about to encounter the sea for the first time in ‘The Old Margate Hoy’; the lawless, yet purposeful figures depicted in ‘Old China’ that ‘float about’ on porcelain, ‘uncircumscribed by any element, in that world before perspective’; and the enchantment of childhood visits to the theatre, which, as he argues in ‘On the Tragedies of Shakespeare’, the adult mind can only partially recover through the ‘sublime images, the poetry . . . which is present to our 186  Lamb, ‘To [Thomas] Hood’, [18 September 1827], letter 698 of Letters of Charles Lamb, vol. 3, p. 132. 187  See Lamb, ‘Preface. By a Friend of the Late Elia’, Works, vol. 2, p. 151: writing as the ‘Friend’, Lamb describes Elia’s essays as ‘a sort of unlicked, incondite things—villainously pranked in an affected array of antique modes and phrases.’ 188 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 46. Similarly, in an 1813 ‘Table Talk’ piece for The Examiner entitled ‘Street Conversation’, Lamb ponders how amusing it would be ‘to register the sentences, and scraps of sentences, which one catches up in a day’s walk about the town . . . . From these flying words, with the help of a little imagination, one might often piece out a long conversation forgone . . .’ (Works, vol. 1, p. 154). 189 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 142.

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minds in the reading.’190 The aim of these experiments in expressive marginality is not merely an escape from the real, but through a form of naturalized supernaturalism to blur the borderline between the quotidian and the ideal. As Elia notes in ‘Sanity of True Genius’, for instance, the problem with the fantastical narratives of the novels produced by William Lane’s Minerva Press is that they forgo reality in its entirety in favour of pure abstraction. The resulting fictions, he claims, are merely ‘lawless; their visions nightmares. They do not create, which implies shaping and consistency. For the super-natural, or something super-added to what we know of nature, they give you the plainly non-natural.’ By contrast, the ‘true poet’, like Spenser, lends ‘to the wildest dreams gives the sobrieties of every day occurrences’, and in doing so, ‘dreams being awake.’191 This fascination with boundaries (spatial, temporal, intellectual, cultural) in Lamb’s prose has led some commentators, such as McFarland and Natarajan, to connect his interest in ‘twilight, border or liminal conditions, half-and-half states’ with the Romantic sublime, and to claim that the form of Lamb’s familiar essay ‘was benign to one of Romanticism’s chief insistences, that of the essential oneness of poetry and prose.’192 As Natarajan argues, ‘Elia describes himself as an occupant of a twilight realm of uncertain or half-knowledge, and in so doing, claims implicitly a sublimity of vision: a vision that is partial or fragmented because what it grasps is infinite.’193 This visionary side to Lamb is apparent in his depiction of dreaming in ‘Witches, and Other Night-Fears’. In this essay, Elia recounts how his youthful reading of Thomas Stackhouse’s New History of the Holy Bible, with its strained ‘solution[s]’ to biblical mysteries, deprived him of his childhood credulity, rendering him ‘staggered and perplexed, a sceptic in long-coats’. Having accidentally (but symbolically) made ‘a breach in its ingenious fabric’ by tearing a hole in one of its pages, the book is locked away and young Elia is deprived of the source of his doubts. This relief is short-lived, however, as he continues to be haunted by ‘[t]hat detestable picture’ of the Witch of Endor raising the soul of Samuel. As Elia recounts, ‘I dreamed waking over this delineation, and at night (if I may use so bold an expression) awoke into sleep, and found the vision true.’194 Framing the essay’s circular journey from innocent belief to doubtful knowledge, and from knowledge to sublime imagination, is a meditation on dreams, which, he observes, are apt to cross the threshold from the supernatural to the natural, thereby allowing the subject ‘a peep at least into the shadow-land of pre-existence’. Indeed, by further suggesting that ‘[t]he degree of the soul’s creativeness in sleep might furnish no whimsical criterion of the quantum of poetical faculty resident in the same soul waking’, 190 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 181, 248, 106. See also Jonathan Arac, ‘The Media of Sublimity: Johnson and Lamb on King Lear, Studies in Romanticism 26 (1987), p. 219: ‘Lamb’s rejection of judging in favor of reading’, Arac claims, ‘makes sense as a reaction against the rise in the previous decade of the great quarterly reviews and the consequent popularisation of cultural debate along the lines of partisan politics.’ 191 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 188–9. 192  Thomas McFarland, Romantic Cruxes: The English Essayists and the Spirit of the Age (1987), p. 49; Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 39. 193  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 40. 194 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 67.

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Elia engages an established Romantic technique of using liminal psychological states such as dreams to naturalize the topoi of apocalyptic revelation.195 Nonetheless, if, as I have suggested, ‘sublimity of vision’ does not adequately describe the ambiguous expressive liminality of Hazlitt’s essaying, it applies even less so to Lamb’s. Whereas Hazlitt maintains at least an air of philosophical seriousness in his consideration of the profound consequences (epistemological, moral, and political) of the contingent selfhood of the essayist, Lamb is determinedly whimsical in his deflation of the Romantic sublime. Thus, in ‘Witches’, Elia intimates his mischievous intent by characterizing the visionary moment of sublime insight into the ‘shadow-land of pre-existence’ as ‘a peep at least’. This impression is heightened by the appearance towards the end of the essay of Coleridge, whose poetic visions contrast starkly with the ‘poverty’ of Elia’s own ‘tame and prosaic’ dreams. As Elia wistfully notes, Coleridge at his will can conjure up icy domes, and pleasure-houses for Kubla Khan, and Abyssinian maids, and songs of Abara, and caverns Where Alph, the sacred river, runs, To solace his night solitudes—when I cannot muster a fiddle.196

One senses here that the joke is as much on cloudy-headed Coleridge as it is on Elia. The emotional current of ‘Witches’ adeptly steers the reader towards sympathetic feeling for Elia’s imaginative limitations rather than admiration for Coleridge’s limitless imaginings.197 As has been seen, Lamb’s own disapproval of his friend’s flights into metaphysics was long-standing, and not always goodhumoured. As he tersely writes to Coleridge in 1800 in response to a ‘dismal homily’ from the latter upon truth, ‘[w]e know, quite as well as you do, what are shadows and what are realities.’198 What matters to Lamb, above all, is not whether the ‘shadows’ and ‘realities’ of experience can be firmly distinguished (unlike Coleridge and Hazlitt, he rejects metaphysical attempts to resolve this issue), but what the implications of their convergence are for human relationships. Consequently, instead of attempting to unify the poetry of imagination with the prose of thought, he encourages his reader to join him in an ironic game of knowing not-knowing, of playing among shadows, in which the permeable boundary between truth and fiction comes to constitute a social practice rather than an epistemological problem. Thus, in ‘Witches’, Elia’s ‘peep’ into the ‘shadowland of pre-existence’ is already mediated by the knowledge that his narratives are themselves ‘shadows of fact—verisimilitudes, not verities’. In this way, it becomes evident that Lamb’s essayism is not based upon the ability of ‘twilight’ states of consciousness to intimate sublime unity; instead, it rests upon the way in 195 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 68–9. See also M.H. Abrams’ seminal study, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (1971), p. 68, for extended discussions of the many ramifications of the Romantic tendency ‘to naturalise the supernatural and to humanize the divine.’ 196 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 69. 197  This suspicion is reinforced by the later essay ‘Old China’, in which Elia teasingly substitutes the oriental mysticism of Coleridge’s sublime ‘icy domes’ with an aesthetic appreciation of the bathetic liminality of ‘a chine tea-cup.’ See Works, vol. 2, p. 248. 198  Lamb, ‘To Coleridge’, 16 or 17 April, 1800, letter 66 of Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 1, p. 198.

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which his prosaic deflation of the totems of the Romantic imagination is used to establish a knowing relationship with his audience. Indeed, the cumulative effect of Lamb’s prosaic dreaming is neither to exalt nor to rubbish the visionary per se, but to invite readers to participate in the sophisticated pleasure of sober enchantment, in which they oscillate, like Elia, between bathos and a possible (but unlikely) sublimity. Another way (a simpler one) of putting this is that Lamb’s aesthetics are fundamentally dramatic. As such, they reject the ideal of poetic truth developed by Hazlitt and echoed by Keats’s declaration regarding the authenticity of the imagination: The Imagination may be compared to Adam’s dream—he awoke and found it truth. I am the more zealous in this affair, because I have never yet been able to perceive how any thing can be known for truth by consequitive reasoning—and yet it must be—Can it be that even the greatest Philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections—However it may be, O for a Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts! It is ‘a Vision in the form of Youth’ a Shadow of reality to come.199

In contrast to Keats’s visionary interpretation of Adam’s dream, the valences of dreaming/waking and imagining/perceiving remain playfully undetermined in ‘Witches’; similarly, the hallowing of authentic ‘sensation’ over ‘Thoughts’ as a ‘Shadow of reality to come’ is overtaken in Lamb by the ironies of half-knowledge, whereby, rather than hypostatizing shadowy sensation as the other of reason, Lamb uses marginal states as part of an authenticity game played between Elia and his readers. Instead of being epistemologically constructed, Lamb’s twilight, neutral ground for art and literature depends almost entirely upon his performance as an essayist. What Lamb/Elia offers his reader, then, is not numinously authenticated experience à la Hazlitt and Keats, but a pleasurable refinement of attitude through the self-conscious enactment of a ‘double singleness’, characterized by qualities such as ambivalence and eccentricity.200 Nowhere is the contrast between Hazlitt’s ‘metaphysical’ and Lamb’s ‘dramatic’ essayism more evident than in Lamb’s own reflections upon Hazlitt’s writing. In his unpublished 1821 review of Hazlitt’s Table Talk, Lamb identifies three types of essayist: the autobiographical, the didactic, and the dramatic—categories he bases upon the models of Montaigne, Johnson, and Steele respectively. Thus, while Montaigne and Plutarch ‘imparted their own personal peculiarities to their themes’, and Johnson ‘is perpetually obtruding his own particular views of life for universal truths’, essayists like Steele, ‘substituted for themselves an ideal character’. Although Lamb initially claims that Hazlitt falls into the first class of essayist, in that he ‘attracts, or repels, by strong realities of individual observation, humour, and feeling’, he also implies that he fits the third category, because he ‘almost every where adopts the style of a discontented man. This assumption of a character, if it 199  John Keats, ‘To Benjamin Bailey’, 22 November 1817, letter 43 of The Letters of John Keats 1814–1821, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, vol. 1 (1958), p. 185. 200  See Brent L. Russo, ‘Charles Lamb’s Beloved Liberalism: Eccentricity in the Familiar Essays’, Studies in Romanticism 52, no. 3 (2013): p. 443: ‘[e]ccentricity as Lamb authors it is about transgressing boundaries, unshaping audiences, and allowing norms to unravel.’

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be not truly (as we are inclined to believe) his own, is that which gives force & life to his writing.’201 By observing that Hazlitt constructs an identity in order to write autobiographically, Lamb implies that Hazlitt’s persona is both assumed and genuine. What is immediately striking about this analysis is that Lamb registers the apparent contradiction between the communication of ‘strong realities’ and the ‘assumption of a character’ not as a fault, but as a necessity, even a virtue. Behind the ‘singular’ and ‘delightful’ effects of Hazlitt’s authentic style lies the necessary fiction of a dramatic convention. Nonetheless, as Lamb was aware, the potential subversiveness of this reading resides in its potential to expose the aura of genuine feeling as the effect of stagecraft. In this respect, Lamb’s insistence on Elia’s authorial genuineness only serves to cloud further the distinction between the subjectivity and the ‘character’ of the essayist. Carl H. Klaus notes that Lamb was so determined to endow Elia with the effect of authenticity that he replied ‘in character’ to letters to the London Magazine.202 In refusing to acknowledge himself as the subject matter of his essays, Lamb swerves away from the essayistic tradition of Montaigne, which, as Marc Porée argues, ‘demands that the writer’s true self be the self-proclaimed subject of the essay, for the sake of and on behalf of truth.’203 The paradoxical product of this peculiarly Elian form of expressive marginality is a literary commodity dedicated to resisting its own consumption by the reading public. Suspended indefinably between the quotidian and the enchanted, the pleasures of Elia’s prosaic dreaming are accessed only through a mode of reading in which the bathetic negation of enchantment enhances rather than diminishes affect. On one level, this strategy is scarcely novel. To the extent that it interpellates its reader as a discerning intellect capable of engaging in the double-mindedness enjoined by Elia’s imperfect intellect, Lamb’s ironizing resembles that of the German Romantic writers who would inspire the authorial role-playing of the contributors to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, most notably by John Wilson, John Gibson Lockhart, and James Hogg in the ‘Noctes Ambrosianae’ colloquies. And yet, as has been seen, Lamb’s own essaying accommodates no hypostatized and ineffable transcendental consciousness (individual or national), no sublime foundation for the playful doublings of the self. In its absence, Lamb/Elia’s game of authenticity is played out as a pragmatic exchange between writer and reader, in which the preconditions of mutuality are affective rather than metaphysical. MANNERS AND CHARACTER The different ways in which Hazlitt and Lamb make use of the marginality of the essay genre reflects a fundamental tension between the rhetoric of expression and that of performance in early nineteenth-century periodicals. Situated between, on 201  Charles Lamb, ‘Hazlitt’, Lamb as Critic, pp. 300–3. 202 Carl H. Klaus, The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay (2010), p. 69. 203 Marc Porée, ‘The Essay; or, Charles Lamb’s “Proper Element” ’, Études Anglaises 66, no. 1 (2013): p. 75.

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one hand, pragmatic acceptance of the fictions of communication and, on the other, poetic transcendence of the speech-act situation, the self-conscious marginality of the familiar essay transforms Hume’s image of the divided self into a vehicle through which writers and readers can enjoy the ineffable ‘doubleness’ that constitutes Romantic cultural capital.204 As Jason Camlot has demonstrated, periodicals were quick to navigate and exploit the shift, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, ‘from a socially implicated, rhetorically informed discourse of sincerity, towards the idea of an immediately transparent, self-evident being, manifest as autonomous and authentic’. Both Blackwood’s and the London Magazine encourage a form of reading that vacillates between the performative sincerity of Smith and Hume and the ‘self-evident’, intuitive authenticity of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets.205 For Camlot, such journals function in an intermediate zone between a ‘Pragmatic theory’ of rhetoric, in which ‘[f ]igurative language is not an enemy to truth, but the only possible means of communicating truth’, and a ‘Romantic reading theory’, which ‘treats reading as a passive activity modeled after the taking of Biblical truth.’206 Style, then, remains as important to Hazlitt and Lamb as it did to Addison, Hume, and Johnson, for whom the outward behaviour of individuals was crucial to social knowledge in that it regulated the very norms upon which this knowledge ultimately rested. For Hazlitt, questions of manner arise due to the constitutive role in knowledge played by the fictions of abstract understanding and the creative imagination. Tellingly, for the second (1824) edition of Table-Talk, Hazlitt changes his subtitle from Original Essays to Original Essays on Men and Manners. Behind this alteration is the conviction registered in the Round Table essay, ‘On Manner’ that ‘[a]n author’s style is not less a criterion of his understanding than his sentiments.’207 And yet, as has been seen, the function of style in the Romantic familiar essay is not to consolidate polite consensus as the basis of epistemic and moral norms, but to produce a form of cultural authority which, in Kantian terms, exhibits an ineffable exemplarity (whether through the performance of a ‘bi-parted nature’, as in Lamb/Elia, or the expression of metaphysically profound feeling, as in Hazlitt). The persona of Hazlitt’s essayist is essentially autoproductive, generating legitimacy from consciousness and the power of imagination. He addresses his reader through a form of aestheticized intersubjectivity, the normative force of which, unlike its eighteenth-century antecedents, is figured as noumenal and aesthetic rather than as consensual (à la Hume) or sceptically didactic (à la Johnson). Consequently, ‘manner’ and outward behaviour is for Hazlitt always expressive of inner consciousness and individual identity: it is ‘that which marks the degree and force of our internal impressions . . . it is that which stamps its life and character on 204  See Budge, Romantic Empiricism, pp. 18–19: as Budge notes, the maintenance of ‘[e]pistemologically incommensurable modes of explanation’ lies behind ‘the uncanny theme of the double’ in literature of the period. 205  Jason Camlot, Style and the Nineteenth-Century British Critic: Sincere Mannerisms (2008), p. 3. See also chapter two of Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1969–1970 (1974). 206 Camlot, Style, p. 31. 207 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 42.

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any action; the rest may be performed by an automaton.’208 As this final remark suggests, manner is essential to individual flourishing to the extent that it remains free from the rigid automation of public conventions, a freedom suggested by Table-Talk’s substitution of the contemplative ‘I’ for the Addisonian ‘we’ that Hazlitt had deployed in The Round Table. This struggle by the self to stamp the authority of its own experience upon its outward behaviour is, as he maintains in ‘On Living to One’s-self ’, in perpetual conflict with an unwholesome desire to engage in the arena of public opinion. The goal of ‘living to one’s-self ’ is thus the antithesis of Hume’s idea of the social existence of the subject: it is ‘living in the world, as in it, not of it . . . it is to be a silent spectator of the mighty scene of things, not an object of attention or curiosity in it.’ Against Hume and Smith’s ‘theatre’ of the mind, Hazlitt vaunts the autonomy that is experienced when ‘a man is contented with himself and his own resources.’ In contrast, ‘[w]hen he undertakes to play a part on the stage, and to persuade the world to think more about him than they do about themselves, he . . . will find nothing but briars and thorns, vexation and disappointment.’ The socialized intellect is, indeed, merely the slave of opinion. He is a tool, a part of a machine that never stands still, and is sick and giddy with the ceaseless motion. He has no satisfaction but in the reflection of his own image in the public gaze, but in the repetition of his own name in the public ear.209

Hazlitt’s distrust of ‘the Public’, which he characterizes as a ‘mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal’, is doubtless in part attributable to the brutal treatment that he had received at the hands of Tory periodicals such as the Quarterly and Blackwood’s. Similarly, one can detect the effects of romantic disappointment (especially estrangement from his wife, Sarah) and his own tendency to alienate even his closest friends in his reflection that ‘in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!’ Nonetheless, it is first and foremost Hazlitt’s belief in the primacy of consciousness in all human action that lies behind his suspicion that intersubjective behavioural norms encourage vulgar prejudice and ‘mechanical sympathy.’210 One of the products of Hazlitt’s rejection of the public voice of ‘mechanical sympathy’ is his conception of the voice of the essayist as expressive and subjectcentred. In ‘On Familiar Style’, for example, he denies that the literary manner of the essayist can be characterized simply in terms of an absence of ‘affectation’ and a propensity ‘to write at random’. Instead, he insists, a truly familiar style must be grounded in genuine feeling: To write a genuine familiar or truly English style is to write as any one would speak in common conversation who had a thorough command and choice of words, or who could discourse with ease, force, and perspicuity, setting aside all pedantic and oratorical flourishes. Or, to give another illustration, to write naturally is the same thing in regard to common conversation as to read naturally is in regard to common speech.211 208 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 42. 210 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, pp. 95–8.

209 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, pp. 91–3. 211 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 242.

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The familiar essayist must ‘steer a middle course’ between formal prose on one hand, with its ‘pedantic and oratorical flourishes’, and, on the other, the ‘quaintness and vulgarity’ of everyday chit-chat. The peculiarities and colloquialisms of ordinary conversation alone could never be a model for the familiar style, Hazlitt claims, ‘for this reason, that [the latter] is of universal force and applicability.’212 By the same token, a florid and affected manner in writing is the reverse of the familiar. Thus, where a vulgar style fails the test of universalizability, a pompous and sententious one loses its substance in abstraction. ‘It is not pomp or pretension’, Hazlitt, avers, ‘but the adaptation of the expression to the idea, that clenches a writer’s meaning.’ Thus, for Hazlitt, the eccentricities of Lamb’s style, although apparently affected, are justified as the natural expressions of his very ‘marked and individual’ ideas. In this way, by enlisting his friend as an exponent of his own essayistic ideals, Hazlitt appropriates Lamb’s prose in much the same way as Lamb does his. Thus, just as Lamb’s apologia for Hazlitt’s style involves interpreting the latter’s autobiographical authenticity as psychological stagecraft, so Hazlitt’s defence of Lamb’s imitation of ‘old English style’ appeals to its groundwork of genuine feeling and the essayist’s imaginative control of his subject. In Lamb’s writing, Hazlitt claims, ‘[t]here is an inward unction, a marrowy vein, both in the thought and feeling, an intuition, deep and lively, of his subject, that carries off any quaintness or awkwardness arising from an antiquated style and dress. The matter is completely his own, though the manner is assumed.’213 Hazlitt’s claim that Lamb’s prose ‘carries off ’ any awkwardness or possible affectation stems from his determination to locate the social authority of the essayist in the authentic expression of the imagination. As Natarajan notes, for Hazlitt ‘[t]he aesthetic unity of the essay is based on the identity (continuity or singularity) of the authorial presence.’214 Lurking behind this bold assertion of independence, however, is a fear that this presence was being devalued by a literary marketplace whose preoccupation with the conventional, the polite, and the fashionable threatened to subordinate the voice of genuine feeling to social mannerism. For example, in the Plain Speaker essay ‘On the Look of a Gentleman’, Hazlitt identifies the ineffable ‘look of the gentleman, “the nobleman-look”’, as a hollow social surplus, and ‘little else than the reflection of the looks of the world. We smile at those who smile upon us.’ In Hazlitt’s eyes, the ‘gentleman’ is eighteenth-century politeness made flesh, and thus the worst kind of social conformist. In contrast to ‘the heroic and philosophical  look’, which naturally expresses ‘an intense unity of purpose, wound up to some great occasion’, the manner of the gentleman ‘is dissipated and frittered down into a number of evanescent expressions, fitted for every variety of

212 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 243. 213 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, pp. 244–5. 214  Natarajan, ‘Veil’, p. 34. See also Jillian M. Hess, ‘Reframing Poetry: The Romantic Essay and The Prospects of Verse’, European Romantic Review 24, no. 3 (2013): 346: Hess links Hazlitt’s projection of a powerful, unifying self to his ‘disdain for the commonplace book: it seemed to him to be a lazy writer’s tool, ossifying literary production into a string of lifeless quotations.’ Hazlitt challenges his readers, Hess claims, to emulate the active, formative intellect without which the essay would ‘crumble into so many incongruous extracts’ (p. 349).

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unimportant occurrences.’215 By these means, gentlemanly and polite behaviour debases the currency of communication into deceit and mendacity. Accordingly, he notes, in polite society ‘[y]ou must compliment your bitterest foe to his face, and may slander your dearest friend behind his back. The last may be immoral, but it is not unmannerly.’ Moreover, dissent, scepticism, and philosophical inquiry are forbidden, since ‘[a] habit of plain speaking is totally contrary to the tone of good breeding. You must prefer the opinion of the company to your own, and even to truth.’216 Instead of disinterested philosophical knowledge, then, the mannered life rests upon what Hazlitt (in a late essay for The London Weekly Review) terms ‘knowledge of the world’, or self-interested knowledge, based on calculations of what might prove to be most socially beneficial to an individual. Indeed, he claims, ‘[t]here may be said to be two classes of people in the world, which remain for ever distinct: those who consider things in the abstract, or with a reference to the truth, and those who consider them only with a reference to themselves, or to the main chance.’ In his preference of social self-advancement through social harmony over the philosopher’s self-education through abstract contemplation, ‘[t]he man of the world is to the man of science very much what the chamelion is to the armadillo.’217 Hazlitt directs his attacks on corrupted manners and the excesses of politeness towards the hypocrisy and ‘fictitious benevolence’ defended by Hume and Johnson as necessary for the self-regulating stability of modern society. Such conventionalism, Hazlitt insists, is built on nothing more substantial than ‘a shifting circle of local prejudices and gratuitous assumptions, a successful conformity to which is best insured by a negation of all other qualities that might interfere with it: solid reason and virtue are out of the question.’218 In the case of fashion, moreover, one witnesses the contradiction that emerges from within this practice when it is pushed to extremes. In ‘On Fashion’, published in an 1818 number of The Edinburgh Magazine, Hazlitt argues that the relentless modern appetite for conformity and harmony inevitably slides into forms of singularity and/or vulgarity. Fashion, he claims, ‘is not any thing in itself, nor the sign of any thing but the folly and vanity of those who rely upon it as their greatest pride and ornament’; at most, it is ‘a sort of conventional badge, or understood passport into select circles, which must still be varying (like the water-mark in banknotes) not to be counterfeited.’219 Remarks like these reveal the extent to which Hazlitt is prepared to go to divorce the familiar essay from its eighteenth-century purposes of promoting trust and consolidating intersubjective norms. As Gregory Dart argues, in Hazlitt’s attacks upon fashionable society, one ‘can see evidence of a troubling self-consciousness regarding the periodical essay as a genre.’220 One particularly unsettling implication of Hume’s metaphor of the essay as cultural mediator is that, like the banknote, it bears no intrinsic value other than what it acquires through circulation and exchange: like 215 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, p. 216. 216 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 12, p. 218. 217 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, pp. 290–1. 218 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, p. 301. 219 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 52–3. 220  Gregory Dart, ‘Romantic Cockneyism: Hazlitt and the Periodical Press’, Romanticism 6, no. 2 (2000): p. 150: as Dart points out, Hazlitt’s work exhibits a concern that ‘[f ]rom being active and reflective, essay writing had become passive and thoughtless, the literary equivalent of a reflex action . . . .’

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the value of any fashionable commodity, it is ‘not any thing in itself, nor the sign of any thing’. In response, Hazlitt’s notion of the critical essay as a ‘nothing’, like Hunt’s ‘happy nonentity’, inflates and interiorizes the essay’s nothingness, transforming Hume’s pragmatic, sentimental investment in the fictions of common life into the Romantic, imaginative creation of an expressive liminality that transcends the quotidian. In doing so, Hazlitt affirms one of the watchwords of his thought: the priority of the expressive over the performative. Thus, in ‘A Farewell to EssayWriting’, he wonders why Hunt should find it ‘odd that I am a close reasoner and a loose dresser’. Rejecting the assumption that manner determines substance, Hazlitt counters that ‘[p]eople in real life are not like players on a stage, who put on a certain look or costume, merely for effect . . . . Why should everything be construed into air and affectation? With Hamlet, I may say, “I know not seems.” ’221 Rejecting social behaviour as the basis of the normative, Hazlitt interiorizes and idealizes Hume and Johnson’s fictions of sociability into those created by strong impressions; in doing so, he transfers epistemic trust from the moderating agency of enlightened conversation to the power of authentic feeling. This theoretical transition, in turn, is manifested at the level of style in the signature traits of Hazlitt’s prose. In criticizing Johnson’s style in the ‘On the Periodical Essayists’, for instance, Hazlitt’s own mode of expression is driven by compound sentences that acquire power cumulatively through a gradually intensified rhythm of commas and semi-colons: The structure of his sentences, which was his own invention, and which has been generally imitated since his time, is a species of rhyming in prose, where one clause answers to another in measure and quantity, like the tagging of syllables at the end of a verse; the close of the period follows as mechanically as the oscillation of a pendulum, the sense is balanced with the sound; each sentence, revolving round its centre of gravity, is contained with itself like a couplet, and each paragraph forms itself into a stanza. Dr. Johnson is also a complete balance-master in the topics of morality. He never encourages hope, but he counteracts it by fear; he never elicits a truth, but he suggests some objection in answer to it.222

Whereas the ‘oscillating pendulum’ of Johnson’s prose reflects the formal mechanisms of balance in his thinking, Hazlitt’s ascending sequence of clauses enacts the dynamic principle that he sees as the seat of imaginative activity. Many critics have described this aspect of Hazlitt’s writing in dialectical terms. Terry Eagleton, for example, calls it an ‘antithetical style’, which, rather than endeavouring to stabilize or harmonize thought, attempts to embody and express ‘a dialectical concept of the imagination.’223 Similarly, Tom Paulin argues that the radicalism of Hazlitt’s style lies in its resistance to rigidity and inflexibility: although Hazlitt’s essayist often takes a strong position, ‘it is not entrenched, obdurate, or rigid; rather, it is based on an active and flexible way of knowing that is essentially dialogic.’224 In a 221 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 17, pp. 317–18. 222 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 6, p. 102. 223  Terry Eagleton, ‘William Hazlitt: An Empiricist Radical’, New Blackfriars 54 (1973): pp. 117, 111. 224  Tom Paulin, The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style (1998), p. 69.

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slightly different way, Thomas McFarland labels this facet of Hazlitt’s imagination ‘coarctive’, meaning a tendency ‘to express his sympathy or antipathy with the claims or merits of others in two different and discrete ways rather than in one unified way.’225 And yet, this dialogical or ‘coarctive’ quality in Hazlitt’s writing in turn reflects his ambivalence about style itself, which, while legitimate as the form language naturally assumes as it is shaped by a powerful intellect, could easily ossify into singularity and mannerism. Thus, in ‘On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority’, Hazlitt complains of readers who claim to be able to identify his work by reading a single sentence, retorting that ‘I hate my style to be known, as I hate all idiosyncrasy. These obsequious flatterers could not pay me a worse compliment.’226 The danger in ‘idiosyncrasy’ for Hazlitt is that, by rendering feeling and identity a mere epiphenomenon of ‘manner’, it signifies the subjugation of an authentic, endlessly plural, and unknowable self to a conventional, performative and ‘known’ one. For Hazlitt, then, the performative dimension of identity (the construction of ‘character’ that Lamb had lauded in his work) is practically enabling but theoretically troubling. To the extent that the social manner of the essayist forms the condition of possibility for the expression of real feeling, it threatens Hazlitt’s efforts to preserve and venerate an authentic, affective selfhood as the basis of the familiar essay’s expressive liminality. The root causes of this problem, as Mark Schoenfield argues, lie in the way in which Hume’s fundamentally performative account of identity ‘provided the framework for writers such as Hazlitt to confront their own vexed relation to their public selves’. Seen from this perspective, the inescapable epistemological legacy of Hume for the essayist is not doctrinal or theoretical, but the ‘performed reiterative practice’ necessitated by the activity of periodical essaying.227 Moreover, in seeking to establish a new reading audience as well as a new class of professional writers, the performative utterance of the essayist had to carry (in Tom Mole’s words) ‘a double illocutionary force that both performed an action and performed the authority to execute that action’. Thus, the ‘self-authorizing’ style of the Romantic essayist was ‘tailor-made for periodical writing because it enforced its illocutionary acts of cultural definition by periodical iteration.’228 Authenticity in Hazlitt depends upon not just appearances, but also upon the repetition of those appearances. What emerges from this picture is the way in which the doubleness that characterizes the rhetoric of Romantic prose is manifested within Hazlitt’s familiar 225  Thomas McFarland, Romantic Cruxes: The English Essayists and the Spirit of the Age (1987), p. 65. McFarland attributes this technique to the tensions between vision and work: it is ‘generated by the presence, on the one hand, of the extreme clarity of Hazlitt’s vision allied to the immediate demands of the topics addressed by his journalistic commitments, and, on the other, by the presence of all the reservations, ambiguities, second thoughts, and recognitions of subsidiary or alternative possibilities . . . .’ 226 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 285. 227  Mark Schoenfield, British Periodicals and Romantic Identity: The ‘Literary Lower Empire’ (2009), pp. 112, 121. 228 Tom Mole, ‘ “We Solemnly Proscribe this Poem”: Performative Utterances in the Romantic Periodicals’, European Romantic Review 24, no. 3 (2013): p. 357. See also Esterhammer, Romantic Performative, p. xi: ‘[t]he understanding of language as a form of action is . . . the prevailing way of thinking and using language during this period.’

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essaying at the threshold between the pragmatic, everyday entanglements of the public sphere and the sublime, ‘trembling boundary’ of the self. This ambivalence between two experiential domains—one public-empirical, the other privatenormative—forms the basis of Hazlitt’s tendency to distinguish between factual and ideal dimensions of experience. The most obvious example of this, discussed earlier in this chapter, is his discrimination between ‘common sense’ as mere popular opinion and ‘common sense’ as the ineffable, aestheticized basis of reason: thus, as Hazlitt puts it in Characteristics, ‘[v]ulgar prejudices are those which arise out of accident, ignorance, or authority. Natural prejudices are those which arise out of the constitution of the human mind itself.’229 Staking everything upon the authenticity of his experience, Hazlitt’s essayist abandons the eighteenth-century air of polite consensuality in favour of what Kevin Gilmartin calls more ‘negative and even contradictory forms of expression.’230 By exchanging a model of the essay as a mediator of communication for one in which its expressive liminality is based in the numinous authenticity of feeling, Hazlitt privatizes the sphere of the ‘ordinary’ upon which essayists after Hume had hoped to build a new commonality. His own doubts about such aspirations are made clear in the 1825 ‘Advertisement’ to TableTalk, in which he admits to fears that his experiment at combining the ‘literary’ with the ‘conversational’ might fail because the gap between the two is fundamentally unbridgeable: ‘so that I shall be considered as too metaphysical by the careless reader, while by the more severe and scrupulous inquirer my style will be complained of as too light and desultory.’231 Indeed, the Humean paradigm of the essayist as an ambassador from the learned to the ‘conversable’ world is all but abandoned in Table-Talk. As the essay ‘On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority’ reveals, everyday talk and essaying are now considered to be conflicting, rather than complementary spheres. As Hazlitt admits, the reason an intellectual in company is usually ineffectual is that, while ‘[a]ll that you take most pride and pleasure in is lost upon the vulgar eye . . . [w]hat they are pleased with is a matter of indifference or of distaste to you.’ Indeed, Hazlitt views sociability not as a constitutive part of essaying, but as a temporary respite from it: Civility is with me a jewel. I like a little comfortable cheer, and careless, indolent chat, I hate to be always wise, or aiming at wisdom. I have enough to do with literary cabals, questions, critics, actors, essay-writing, without taking them out with me for recreation, and into all companies. I wish at these times to pass for a good-humoured fellow; and good-will is all I ask in return to make good company . . . . I must occasionally lie fallow. The kind of conversation that I affect most is what sort of a day it is, and whether it is likely to rain or hold up fine for to-morrow.232

With this separation of conversation and reflection, Hazlitt effects the final estrangement of ‘careless, indolent’ social ‘chat’ from the numinous ‘nothing’ of private feeling. In doing so, his aestheticization of the essay genre’s marginality 229 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 9, p. 189. 230  Kevin Gilmartin, William Hazlitt: Political Essayist (2015), p. 26. 231 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, p. 333. 232 Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 8, pp. 282–3.

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returns the essayist to the condition of Hume’s philosopher at the end of Book 1 of the Treatise: divided between a sociable and a thoughtful self. In the case of Lamb, however, the Romantic aestheticization of the essay’s liminality is produced on different terms. As his own critique of Hazlitt implies, ‘character’ for Lamb is the precondition, not the manifestation of identity. Accordingly, while Hazlitt conceives the manner of the essayist to be based in the expression of an individual mind and its impressionistic feeling for imaginative truth, the creative act of imagination that underlies selfhood in Lamb is the product of a thoroughly artistic performance. Accordingly, the blurring of the fiction/truth boundary in the marginal space of Lamb’s prosaic dreaming is not inscribed into a phenomenological realm (such as Hazlitt’s ‘common sense’) but is instead performed in print. Indeed, the activities that dominate Lamb’s rhetoric of self and knowledge are not psychological, but dramatic and hermeneutic. In reluctantly reflecting upon his own mortality in the essay ‘New Year’s Eve’, for example, Elia expresses dismay that knowledge in any ‘new state of being’ might not come through the charm of books (‘my midnight darlings, my Folios!’) but in the form of apocalyptic understanding. Addressing his companionable volumes, Elia rejects sublime immediacy in favour of mundane intersubjectivity, and asks: ‘must I part with the intense delight of having you (huge armfuls) in my embraces? Must knowledge come to me, if it come at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no longer by this familiar process of reading?’233 In resisting the prospect of unmediated vision, Lamb’s prose embraces an alternative form of imaginative activity, one that is constructed around the mutuality implied in the ‘familiar process of reading’. This wariness of immediacy runs throughout Lamb’s work, extending even to written communication, where mutuality and genuineness are distinct, and often opposed goals. Even an autograph possesses the ability to unsettle Lamb. Thus, in a footnote to ‘Oxford in the Vacation’, Elia complains that ‘[t]here is something to me repugnant, at any time, in written hand. The text never seems determinate. Print settles it.’234 Similarly, writing to Wordsworth in 1815, Lamb admits that ‘[a]ll things read raw to me in MS.—to compare magna parvis, I cannot endure my own writings in that state.’235 In contrast to the authenticity of script or the plain speaking voice—what Lamb refers to as the ‘strong realities of individual observation, humour, and feeling’ in Hazlitt’s prose—Lamb’s playfulness exploits the fictional world of print to heighten (rather than reduce) the reader’s awareness of the mediatedness of communication. As David J. Russell observes, for Lamb, ‘Hazlitt’s “strong realities” can be too pungent.’236 What Lamb presents instead is a theory of sociability in which ‘Elia insists that social intercourse must be the interaction of a number of virtual realities.’237 Accordingly, the sphere of sociability 233 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 30. 234 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 311. 235 Lamb, Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, vol. 3, p. 148. 236  Russell, ‘ “Our Debt”’, p. 184. 237  Russell, ‘ “Our Debt”’, p. 188. Russell links this ‘practice of a generous sociability’ to the emergence of tact in the early nineteenth century. Unlike the social conventions of the eighteenth century, tact is wilfully ‘unknowing’, involving ‘the tactful refusal of certain kinds of knowledge of others’ (p. 192). In this light, Lamb’s essays display ‘a tactful sociability that prefers relations of play to those of power and knowledge’ (p. 193).

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in which Lamb’s essay operates is based in the ‘secondary or laic-truth’ of ‘Imperfect Sympathies’, through which Quakerish concerns with the genuine and the truthful are abandoned in favour of ‘books, pictures, theatres, chit-chat, scandal, jokes, ambiguities, and a thousand whim-whams.’238 Lamb’s essayism, in other words, grounds itself not in truthfulness but in the enchantment of a performance that exhibits irony, charm, and the ‘antithetical’ manner of Elia. The success of this performance requires the reader not to accept that the essays contain anything ‘real’, but to play along with the author’s language game. Revealingly, Lamb claims in the unpublished ‘Dedication’ for the volume that the Essays of Elia are intended for the ‘Friendly and Judicious Reader’, whom he hopes ‘will take these Papers, as they were meant; not understanding every thing perversely in its absolute and literal sense, but giving fair construction, as to an after-dinner conversation.’239 Rejecting sincere and direct communication due to its association with the burgeoning, anonymous readership of the modern literary marketplace, while also eschewing the phenomenological transcendence of this sphere promised by Hazlitt’s model of a powerful authorial consciousness, the ‘antithetical manner’ of Elia manifests itself through paradoxes, curiosities, and antiquities. In this way, as Simon Hull argues, the ‘essayistic figure’ of Elia translates Lamb’s suspicions of mass culture into an indirect form of public performance. Writing (so to speak) with his back to his audience, Lamb exhibits ‘the belief that the crowd can, and should, be educated, or turned into sympathetic readers.’240 As noted previously, this strategy brings its own risks. Without the transcendental assurances of the German ironists or the psychological plenitude of Hazlitt’s immanent idealism, Lamb’s ironizing has little to fall back on if its performance fails to find favour with ‘friendly and judicious’ readers. As Lamb writes of Elia in the ‘Preface’ to The Last Essays of Elia, ‘[h]e too much affected that dangerous figure—irony. He sowed doubtful speeches, and reaped plain, unequivocal hatred.— He would interrupt the gravest discussion with a light jest; and yet, perhaps, not quite irrelevant in ears that could understand it.’ In this respect, Elia’s is a thoroughly Humean form of performativity: it models its experimental approach to life entirely upon the trials of communication. The presentation of thoughts and experiences is (in the words of Elia’s ‘Friend’) always a ‘hit or miss’ affair, an essay in conversation in which the possibility of linguistic misfire lurks in every line. Thus, his ‘conceptions rose kindlier than his utterance, and his happiest impromptus had the appearance of effort. He has been accused of trying to be witty, when in truth he was but struggling to give his poor thoughts articulation.’241 At the extremity of this scale of infelicity lies the danger of being too clever by half, of outwitting and alienating one’s reader with an excess of twists and turns. Elia’s term 238 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 63. 239 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 299. 240 Simon Peter Hull, ‘The Ideology of the Unspectacular: Theatricality and Charles Lamb’s Essayistic Figure.’ Romanticism on the Net (46) 2007 20. For Hull, ‘. . . Elia represents Lamb’s attempt at managing theatre on his own terms: by appropriating theatre’s illusory, emancipative qualities to the unspectacular figure of the periodical essayist’ (22). 241 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 152.

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for this communicative hazard, which he applies to a tendency to overload puns, is ‘superfœtation’. The reason that ‘this sort of wit is dangerous’, he notes in ‘Popular Fallacies’, is that ‘[w]e do not care to be cheated a second time; or, perhaps, the mind of man . . . is not capacious enough to lodge two puns at a time.’242 In the absence of a transcendental signifier, Elia’s linguistic surplus always teeters on the brink of solecism. Lamb’s policy for coping with these dangers is one of constant mobility. Lamb/ Elia perpetually shifts between states and attitudes, criss-crossing between ironic deflation and the sentimental recuperation of affect. At stake in this traversive exercise is the sanity of the writer’s genius, which has no option but to vacillate between dreary reason and deluded fantasy: without such light-footedness, as characters such as Captain Jackson reveal, one can easily end up outfoxing oneself. Jackson, Elia recalls, was a good-natured and hospitable ‘retired half-pay officer’ whose ‘revelling imagination’ presented his penurious circumstances to his friends (and, more troublingly, to himself ) in exaggeratedly luxurious terms.243 And yet, while Jackson is depicted by Elia as ‘a juggler, who threw mists before your eyes’, so that ‘you had no time to detect his fallacies’, he also becomes, in the superfœtation of his fantasy, the embodiment of a mind incapable of steering a judicious course between the fictive and the real. Overwhelmed by its own surplus, the ‘wealth in his mind . . . was not to be contained at all, but overflowed all bounds by the force of a magnificent self-delusion.’ Indeed, even Jackson’s wife, ‘a sober native of North Britain, who generally saw things more as they were, was not proof against the continual collision of his credulity.’244 Between them, the couple represent the intellectual poles between which Elia attempts to steer his imagination: thus, while the Captain’s wife embodies the kind of Caledonian intellect that ‘always keeps the path’, Jackson himself represents an ‘imperfect intellect’ gone rogue; one that has wandered into the ‘twilight of dubiety’ and become lost. While similar in some respects to Ben Jonson’s Bobadil, the Captain’s deceit is not confined to the public sphere, but extends inwardly into his home and even his own consciousness. As Elia sorrowfully notes, ‘for a man to put the cheat upon himself, to play the Bobadil at home . . . is a strain of constitutional philosophy, and a mastery over fortune, which was reserved for my old friend Captain Jackson.’245 In contrast, Lamb’s subtle art of prosaic dreaming endeavours to outmanoeuvre, on one hand, the reductively factual, and, on the other, the delusional ‘self-enchantment’ of his friend.246 The principal strategy of this enterprise is the admission of defeat. Having established the impossibility of reconciling truth and fiction, the failure to navigate this contradiction becomes the enabling principle of Lamb’s essayism. Thus, even as essays such as ‘Distant Correspondents’ lament the power of time and space to ­‘un-essence’ language of its truth, they also capitalize upon this disappointment, inviting the reader to enjoy the resulting interplay between communicative defeat and sentimental reflection. This ironic surplus often appears in Lamb’s prose in 242 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 259. 244 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 191–2. 246 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 190.

243 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, p. 190. 245 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 192–3.

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the form of what, in ‘Stage Illusion’, he calls ‘the exquisite art of . . . a perpetual sub-sinuation.’ Accordingly, by subtly implying familiarity, a comedic actor, ‘without absolutely appealing to an audience . . . keeps up a tacit understanding with them; and makes them, unconsciously to themselves, a party in the scene.’ In this regard he is benefited by the medium of comedy itself, in which (unlike tragedy) ‘[w]e are content with less than absolute truth.’247 Lamb uses this method throughout his essays, deflating both literal truth and the pretensions of imagination in order to generate a tertium quid of ironic affect, as when, in ‘Distant Correspondents’, Elia writes a letter lamenting the inability of epistolary prose to convey sentiment. As Frederick Burwick argues, this ‘dance of creating a new illusion out of the act of temporarily disrupting a previous illusion is what prompted the German critic Friedrich Schlegel to define irony as a “permanent parabasis.” ’248 And yet, as I have argued in this chapter, Schlegel’s transcendental irony was alien to Lamb, whose border crossings between truth and fiction owe far more to Hume’s insistence that, in the absence of absolute certainty, epistemic norms depend upon the relationships between attitudes, habits, and behaviours. Where Hume and Johnson sought to shore up those norms through the reassuring guidance of a ‘polite’ or commanding authorial character, however, Lamb/Elia’s double singleness frustrates any deployment of persona as a surrogate for philosophical certainty. Instead, by pursuing ironic ‘sub-sinuation’ to its very limit, Lamb’s essayism presents itself as a kind of knowing enchantment. Thus, as William Flesch argues, Lamb’s dualism is invoked ‘not . . . to prefer a dream world, but rather in order to evoke the affect that comes out of insisting that the dream world no longer exists, can’t exist, even though it is preferable.’249 By raising enchantment through bathos and the ‘inauspicious inland landing’ of his prosaic imagination, Elia converts epistemic disappointment into affective profit. With Lamb, then, there is no escaping paradox. His embracement of contradiction as one of the preconditions for the ‘antithetical’ role of the essayist sets his writing at odds with the philosophically foundational instincts of Hazlitt, while it also remains distinct, in its purely practical treatment of division, from the philosophical irony of transcendentalists such as Schlegel. Instead, it is to Hume that one must turn if the philosophical character of Lamb’s writing is to be understood. Indeed, if Hazlitt is the inheritor of Hume’s epistemology of the essay, Lamb’s purely performative attempt to live with and write through a ‘bi-parted nature’ represents the extension of a Humean tradition of essaying as a pragmatic critique of philosophy. Moreover, like Hume’s scheme to cultivate dialogue between Aristotelian abstractness and Ciceronian rhetoric through ‘easy and humane’ essaying, the ultimate goal of Lamb’s antithetical manner is conciliation. The net effect of Lamb’s irony, as readers and critics have long noted, is, ironically, a kind of philosophical tranquillity. Hunt’s comment (first made in The Examiner in 1819) is apposite here in that it registers ‘a spirit in Mr. Lamb’s productions, which is in itself anti-critical, 247 Lamb, Works, vol. 2, pp. 163, 165. 248  Frederick Burwick, ‘Lamb’s Art of Subinsinuation’, Charles Lamb Bulletin 158 (2013): p. 109. 249  William Flesch, ‘ “Friendly and Judicious” Reading: Affect and Irony in the Works of Charles Lamb’, Studies in Romanticism 23 (1984): p. 166.

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and tends so much to reconcile us to all that is in the world, that the effect is almost neutralizing to every thing but complacency and a quiet admiration.’250 Similarly, Thomas Hood notes that Lamb’s contrarianism is so sweeping that it finally becomes conciliatory: thus, Lamb ‘set his face and his wit against all Ultraism, Transcendentalism, Sentimentalism, Conventional Mannerism, and above all, Separatism. In opposition to the Exclusives, he was emphatically an Inclusive.’251 Nonetheless, the well-worn image of an ‘anti-critical’, philosophically indifferent Lamb should be resisted. For example, while William Zeiger is on reasonably firm ground in his claim that Lamb is unique among English Romantic essayists in removing any ‘thesis’ from his essay, his inference that, consequently, ‘the English essay becomes not a vehicle for ideas, but a plaything, a divertissement’, misses the deeper significance of Lamb’s insistently ludic prose.252 Like Hazlitt, Lamb responds to the demands of the modern marketplace for print and ideas by propelling the essay into an aesthetic sphere, which, in its expression of borderline, twilight states of being, transcends rather than complements the mechanical debates of reason. And yet, while Hazlitt’s essaying is underwritten by a Humean consciousness turbo-charged with numinous feeling, Lamb follows Hume in imagining a community of readers whose norms and truths are defined not by a powerful ego, but by shared behaviours. Thus, where Hume had championed the harmonizing powers of ease and politeness, Lamb’s antithetical mode of conciliation is instead based in an essayistic performance of tactful whimsicality. C O N C LU S I O N In this final chapter, I have suggested that recent attempts to characterize the Romantic familiar essay around reconstructed notions of ‘British idealism’ or ‘Romantic empiricism’ are hamstrung by their tendency to identify ‘empiricism’ with a model dominated by Lockean, subject-centred psychology. Alternatively, distinguishing different varieties of empiricism according to their relation to foundational paradigms of knowledge enables us to access more revealing and productive ways of reading philosophical Romanticism, ways in which the familiar essay is brought to the foreground. In its generic amphibiousness and ambiguity, the Romantic essay challenges the dominance of science and philosophy in civil society. Rather than effecting the unification of philosophy and poetry, however, it internalizes the modern writer’s dilemma over whether, in the spirit of consensualism, to accommodate division or, in an attempt to recover modernity’s lost wholeness, to transcend it. This impasse between the ‘rhetorical’ and ‘serious’ impulses in the Romantic familiar essay in turn manifests itself as a tension between everyday liminality and sublime transcendence; between pragmatic, active communication 250  Edmund Blunden, ed., Charles Lamb: His Life Recorded by his Contemporaries (1934), p. 81. 251  Thomas Hood, Literary Reminiscences, The Works of Thomas Hood, eds. Tom Hood and Frances Broderip, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (1870), p. 371. 252  William Zeiger, ‘Lamb, Charles’, Encyclopedia of the Essay, p. 965.

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and incommensurable power, in which the performative contradiction of the eighteenth-century essay is reinscribed at the level of ‘aesthetic’ experience. Accordingly, the essays of Hazlitt and Lamb exhibit a form of expressive liminality that is itself ambiguous, traversing the boundaries of the pragmatic, publicly engaged empiricism of the eighteenth-century essay and the individualized, transcendental aesthetics of some of their poetic contemporaries. Behind this strategy lies a complex network of political and epistemological issues and a deep concern over the growth of the reading public. Both writers attempt to resist the expansion and instrumentalization of knowledge that was being powered by new technologies and reading practices in modern print culture, developments they associate with the utilitarian and economic theories of Scottish intellectuals. In response, they refine the value of the essay into a sophisticated ‘nothing’ that replaces intersubjective consensus with aesthetic activity as the basis of cultural norms. Thus, the constitutive status of Hume’s ‘fictions’ of reason is inflated by Hazlitt’s metaphysics, which relocates authority from the sphere of social conventions and merely ‘mechanical sympathy’ to that of an ideal productivity. And yet, with no clear epistemological boundaries à la the Kantian critique of reason and judgement, Hazlitt’s immanent idealism fluctuates unpredictably between the demands of reason and the power of imagination. Embedding his speculations in the ‘mingled yarn’ and ‘intermediate colours’ of human life, the essayist attempts to steer between the cognitive per se and an aesthetics of incommunicable but authentic feeling, the condition of possibility for which, troublingly for Hazlitt, turns out to be the performance of literary character that Lamb applauds in his work. Like Hazlitt, Lamb aestheticizes Hume’s sociable principles of knowledge into a hazy, twilight domain lying between ‘laic-truth’ and ‘clergy-truth’, through which the familiar essay evades both rational knowledge and quotidian experience. And yet, for Lamb, the question of ‘character’ is prior to that of expression: like Hume, he sees the ‘unmethodical’ essay genre as curbing the pride of systematic philosophy by subordinating the goal of certainty to that of communicability. Rather than being hypostatized into a phenomenological sphere of authentic feeling à la Hazlitt, the Humean margin between truth and fiction in Lamb’s work is produced by a dramatic enactment of selfhood in which the sober enchantment of the ‘sane’ genius hovers, sub-sinuatingly, between bathos and possible sublimity. Nonetheless, Lamb writes in an era of mass public reading, one in which communication can no longer be based upon Humean values of politeness and civility. Instead, Lamb’s dialogue with his reader depends upon the enchantments of ‘antithetical’ irony and whimsicality. This form of temporizing is riskier than that practised by some of Lamb’s German Romantic contemporaries, since its possible gains are entirely dependent upon the reader agreeing to play the language game of its author. Seen this way, Lamb’s sceptical anti-scepticism, his trust in the pragmatics of mutuality and conversation over truth and philosophical inquiry, is remarkable for the purely performative way in which it seeks to generate the auratic tertium quid that characterizes the Romantic literary work. In trusting such performativity, moreover, Elia’s ‘prosaic dreaming’ continues the essayistic, ‘experimental’ exploration of human experience originally revived by Hume’s socialization of empiricism.

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Conclusion What, if anything, does the fate of the essay in its ‘Golden Age’ tell us about the condition of the genre today? There is little doubt that interest in the essay is flourishing in the twenty-first century.1 Two factors have contributed to this resurgence. The first is the genre’s traditional status as ‘secondary’ form of literature. This meant that, while for a long time the essay was confined to the footnotes of literary history, it attracted the attention of approaches concerned with identifying marginal forms of writing, a tendency that can be traced from Adorno’s landmark essay, the ‘Essay as Form’, to the postmodern essayism of Barthes and Derrida.2 The second reason is the growth of social media and the proliferation of visual and online technologies: in addition to the twentieth-century genres of the photographic essay and the cinematic essay, more recently, blogging, vlogging, and even tweeting have emerged as varieties of essaying, and as the distant descendants of earlier forays into the public sphere. Moreover, as Simon Hull observes, generic parallels are often tied to recurring anxieties: current concerns over the prevalence of social media and of the handheld communication devices by which to access it—such as a diminishing attention span, the substitution of meaningful, communal conversation with superficial connection, decline in ‘proper,’ intensive reading habits . . . are not entirely dissimilar to the Romantic anxieties we have looked at.3

Consequently, he concludes, although the Romantic period has ‘the strongest claim’ to be considered as the great age of the essay, ‘the present age also has a claim to be considered an essayistic one.’ Such echoes notwithstanding, attempts to draw tight connections between the modern culture of essaying and those of the Enlightenment and Romantic periods should be treated with caution and—much in the spirit of the genre itself—a dose of scepticism. There is, however, one facet of eighteenth-century and Romantic essaying that might be worth momentarily revisiting, and that is the close connection that this study has endeavoured to highlight between essaying and trust. 1  This is reflected in the recent conferences ‘Taking Ideas for a Walk: The 2018 Essay Conference’ (University of Dundee, 19–20 June 2018) and ‘The Essay: Present Histories, Present Futures’ (University of Malta, 11–13 April 2019). 2 See, for instance, Bensmaïa, The Barthes Effect, p. 18: Bensmaïa claims that ‘the form of the Barthesian essay can be neither monumental nor finished.’ This is because ‘the essayist writes from pure difference.’ 3 Hull, Familiar Essay, pp. 221–3.

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254 Conclusion I have argued that ‘trust’, like the ‘essay’, is an essentially nostalgic reflex, a reaction to the dissolution of shared forms of life: the product of an abstracting modernity, it depends for its existence upon the absence of that which it signifies. This book has tried to identify and examine two phases in the way in which writers attempt to overcome this contradiction. In the period between Hume and Hazlitt, one witnesses, first, the Enlightenment attempt to construct a literary genre around a trusting relationship between writer and audience by deploying an essayistic, conversational style (thereby reinforcing a presupposed normative consensus) and, secondly, the Romantic endeavour to restructure that arrangement (when the perception of consensus and trust has broken down) by styling the figure of the essayist as an exemplary model of consciousness worthy of emulation. Both strategies are, in different ways, radical and conservative: the first responds to a loss of shared habitus by postulating a social a priori as a condition of ­knowledge, based upon friendship and communicability; by doing so, however, it invokes a socialized epistemology in which the concept of truth is deflated into an understanding of the limits (courtesy and philosophical indifference for Hume; fidelity for Johnson) under which human communication is possible. The second, while far-reaching in its refusal of intersubjective consensus as a placeholder for objectivity, also remains fundamentally nostalgic in its attempt to recover lost immediacy with a form of aesthetic affect through which the essay’s amphibious capacity for mediation is internalized and idealized as the gesture of an active and reconciling imagination (powerful and disaggregating in Hazlitt; performative and ironic in Lamb). Indeed, it is the essay’s protean character and its association with ideas of experience, experiment, and social trust that encourages all the writers covered by this volume to pioneer it as a tool for overcoming contradiction, and, more specifically, for countering the increasing tendency of capitalism to subdivide intellectual labour. Thus, while in Hume and Johnson essaying becomes a metaphor for a thinking process that spans (or vacillates between) the private realm of systematic philosophical doubt and the public arena of quotidian discourse, in Hazlitt and Lamb, it becomes synonymous with the exploration of an empirical sublime: an enchanted territory between empirical fact and transcendental experience. Rather than considering the present era to be an ‘essayistic’ one, then, it might be more accurate to propose that the notion of the essay and of essaying, like ideas of ‘experience’, ‘trust’, and ‘life’, are products of the dialectic of Enlightenment, attempts to recover a sense of connectedness and wholeness that modernity has lost. The poignancy of this condition lies in the fact that the instrument of recovery, the act of naming, is simultaneously the mode whereby presence is cancelled. Viewed this way, ‘essaying’ is a modern hypostatization, and the ‘essay’ is the genre which, by naming that which it attempts to recover, simultaneously negates it. This is not to imply that essaying is a forlorn or deluded activity: on the contrary, in an age in which social trust has plumbed new depths, not least because of the proliferation of online essaying through social media, the need for a revivification of the genre has never been greater.

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264 Bibliography King, Preston, editor. Trusting in Reason: Martin Hollis and the Philosophy of Social Action (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2003). Kinnaird, John. William Hazlitt: Critic of Power (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1978). Klancher, Jon P. The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790–1832 (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1987). Klaus, Carl H. The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2010). Klaus, Carl H. and Ned Stuckey-French, editors. Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2012). Klemme, Heiner F. ‘Scepticism and Common Sense’. In Broadie, Cambridge Companion, pp. 117–35. Kohn, Marek. Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Kompridis, Nikolas. Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006). Korshin, Paul J. ‘Johnson, the Essay, and The Rambler’. In The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson, edited by Greg Clingham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 51–66. Korshin, Paul J. ‘Johnson’s Rambler and its Audiences’. In Butrym, Essays, pp. 92–105. Kuehn, Manfred. Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768–1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987). Kuehn, Manfred. ‘Reid’s Contribution to “Hume’s Problem” ’. In Jones, ‘Science of Man’, pp. 124–48. Lacoue-Labarth, Philippe, and Thomas Trezise, editors. The Subject of Philosophy (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, and Jean-Luc Nancy. The Literary Absolute, translated by Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988). Lamb, Charles. Lamb as Critic, edited by Roy Park (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980). Lamb, Charles, and Mary Lamb. The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, edited by E.V. Lucas, 3 vols. (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd and Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1935). Lamb, Charles, and Mary Lamb. The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, edited by Edwin W. Marrs, Jr, 3 vols. to date (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975–). Lamb, Charles, and Mary Lamb. The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, edited by E.V. Lucas, 7 vols. (London, Methuen & Co., 1903). Land, Stephen K. ‘James Beattie on Language’. Philological Quarterly 51 (1972): pp. 887–904. Land, Stephen K. The Philosophy of Language in Britain: Major Theories from Hobbes to Thomas Reid (New York, NY: AMS, 1986). Lane, Christel, and Reinhard Bachmann, editors. Trust Within and Between Organisations: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Applications (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Lauzon, Matthew. Signs of Light: French and British Theories of Linguistic Communication, 1648–1789 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010). Law, Jules David. The Rhetoric of Empiricism: Language and Perception from Locke to I.A. Richards (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993). Lehrer, Keith. ‘Beyond Impressions and Ideas: Hume vs Reid’. In Jones, ‘Science of Man’, pp. 108–23.

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266 Bibliography Manning, Susan. ‘Literature and Philosophy’. The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, edited by H.B. Nisbet and Claude Rawson, vol. 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 585–613. Marin, Raymond, and John Barresi. ‘Hazlitt on the Future of the Self ’. Journal of the History of Ideas 56, no. 3 (1995): pp. 463–81. Marr, George S. The Periodical Essayists of the Eighteenth Century (London: James Clark & Co., Ltd, 1923). Marshall, David. ‘Adam Smith and the Theatricality of Moral Sentiments’. Critical Inquiry 10 (1984): pp. 592–613. Marzluf, Phillip P. ‘Originating Difference in Rhetorical Theory: Lord Monboddo’s Obsession with Language Origins Theory’. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 38, no. 4 (2008): pp. 385–407. McCarthy, John A. ‘The Philosopher as Essayist: Leibniz and Kant’. In Ginsberg, Philosopher, pp. 48–L. McCosh, James. The Scottish Philosophy, Biographical, Expository, Critical, from Hutcheson to Hamilton (London, 1875). McFarland, Thomas. Romantic Cruxes: The English Essayists and the Spirit of the Age (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). McIntosh, Carey. The Evolution of English Prose, 1700–1800: Style, Politeness, and Print Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). McKenna, Stephen J. Adam Smith: The Rhetoric of Propriety (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006). McKusick, James C. Coleridge’s Philosophy of Language (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986). Mee, Jon. Conversable Worlds: Literature, Contention, and Community 1762 to 1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). [Mill. James]. ‘Periodical Literature’. Westminster Review 1, no. 1 (1824): pp. 206–49. [Mill. James]. ‘Periodical Literature’. Westminster Review 2, no. 4 (1824): pp. 463–503. Mill, John Stuart. Mill on Bentham and Coleridge, edited by F.R. Leavis (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959). Milnes, Tim. ‘Seeing in the Dark: Hazlitt’s Immanent Idealism’. Studies in Romanticism 39, no. 1 (2000): pp. 3–25. Milnes, Tim. Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Milnes, Tim. ‘Charles Lamb: Professor of Indifference’. Philosophy and Literature 28, no. 2 (2004): pp. 324–41. Mole, Tom. ‘ “We Solemnly Proscribe this Poem”: Performative Utterances in the Romantic Periodicals’. European Romantic Review 24, no. 3 (2013): pp. 353–62. Möllering, Guido. Trust: Reason, Routine, Reflexivity (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006). Monsman, Gerald. Confessions of a Prosaic Dreamer: Charles Lamb’s Art of Autobiography (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1984). Monsman, Gerald. ‘Charles Lamb’s Elia and the Fallen Angel’. Studies in Romanticism 38 (1999): pp. 51–62. Montaigne, Michel de. The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne, edited by Donald M. Frame (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 1958). Moore, George Edward. Philosophical Papers (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1959). Mounce, H.O. Hume’s Naturalism (London: Routledge, 1999). Mulcahy, Daniel J. ‘Charles Lamb: The Antithetical Manner and the Two Planes’. Studies in English Literature 3 (1963): pp. 517–42.

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Bibliography 267 Mulvihill, James. ‘Hazlitt and “First Principles” ’. Studies in Romanticism 29 (1990): pp. 241–55. Nabholtz, John R. ‘Drama and Rhetoric in Lamb’s Essays of the Imagination’. Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 12 (1972): pp. 683–703. Natarajan, Uttara. ‘Hazlitt and the Real Language of Poetry’. Philological Quarterly 75, no. 3 (1996): pp. 215–30. Natarajan, Uttara. Hazlitt and the Reach of Sense: Criticism, Morals and the Metaphysics of Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). Natarajan, Uttara. ‘The Veil of Familiarity: Romantic Philosophy and the Familiar Essay’. Studies in Romanticism 42, no. 1 (2003): pp. 27–44. Natarajan, Uttara. ‘Hazlitt’s Common Sense’. Nineteenth Century Prose 36, no. 1 (2009): pp. 13–26. Natarajan, Uttara. ‘The Spirit of his Age: Hazlitt and Pater on Lamb’. Nineteenth-Century Literature 66, no. 4 (2012): pp. 449–65. Natarajan, Uttara. ‘Circle of Sympathy: Shelley’s Hazlitt’. In Natarajan et al., Metaphysical Hazlitt, pp. 112–22. Natarajan, Uttara, Tom Paulin, and Duncan Wu, editors. Metaphysical Hazlitt: Bicentenary Essays (London: Routledge, 2005). Nerlich, Brigitte, and David D. Clarke, editors. Language, Action, and Context: The Early History of Pragmatics in Europe and America, 1780–1930 (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1996). Nield, Christopher S. ‘Distant Correspondents: Charles Lamb, Exploration and the Writing of Letters’. Romanticism 10, no. 1 (2004): 79–94. Norton, David Fate. David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982). Nussbaum, Felicity. The Autobiographical Subject: Gender and Ideology in Eighteenth-Century England (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). Ogden, C.K. Bentham’s Theory of Fictions (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1932). Ong, Walter. ‘System, Space, and Intellect in Renaissance Symbolism’. Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance 18, no. 2 (1956): pp. 222–39. Origgi, Gloria. ‘Is Trust an Epistemological Notion?’ Episteme 1, no. 1 (2004): pp. 61–72. Oswald, James. An Appeal to Common Sense in Behalf of Religion (London, 1768). Ott, Walter. ‘Hume on Meaning’. Hume Studies 32, no. 2 (2006): pp. 233–52. Otteson, James. Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Ideas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Paradis, James. ‘Montaigne, Boyle, and the Essay of Experience’. In One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature, edited by George Levine and Alan Raugh (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), pp. 59–91. Park, Roy. Hazlitt and the Spirit of the Age: Abstraction and Critical Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971). Park, Roy, editor. Lamb as Critic (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980). Parker, Fred. Scepticism and Literature: An Essay on Pope, Hume, Sterne, and Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Parker, Mark. Literary Magazines and British Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Pater, Walter. Plato and Platonism: A Series of Lectures (London, 1893). Pater, Walter. Appreciations (London, 1895). Paulin, Tom. The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt’s Radical Style (London: Faber and Faber, 1998).

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Bibliography 271 Stewart, Michael Alexander. ‘Hume’s Intellectual Development, 1711–1752’. In Impressions of Hume, edited by Marina Frasca-Spada and Peter J.E. Kail (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 11–55. Stewart, Michael Alexander. ‘Hume’s Historical View of Miracles’. In Stewart and Wright, Hume, pp. 171–200. Stewart, Michael Alexander, and John  P.  Wright, editors. Hume and Hume’s Connexions (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994). Stone, Heather B. ‘William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb and the London Magazine, 1821’. Wordsworth Circle 44, no. 1 (2013): pp. 41–4. Strawson, P.F. Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties. The Woodbridge Lectures 1983 (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1985). Stroud, Barry. Hume (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977). Suderman, Jeffrey M. Orthodoxy and Enlightenment: George Campbell in the Eighteenth Century (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001). Szabari, Antonia. ‘ “Parler seulement de moy”: The Disposition of the Subject in Montaigne’s Essay “De l’art de conferer” ’ MLN 116, no. 5 (2001): pp. 1001–24. Sztompka, Piotr. Trust: A Sociological Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Talfourd, Thomas Noon. Memoirs of Charles Lamb, edited by Percy Fitzgerald (London, 1892). Taylor, Charles. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Taylor, Charles. Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995). Taylor, Jacqueline. ‘Hume and the Reality of Value’. Feminist Interpretations of David Hume, edited by Anne Jaap Jacobsen (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), pp. 107–36. Thompson, Denys. ‘Our Debt to Lamb’. In Determinations, edited by F.R. Leavis (London: Chatto & Windus, 1934). Thompson, John B., and David Held, editors. Habermas: Critical Debates (Basingstoke: MacMillan, 1982). Tillotson, Geoffrey. ‘The Historical Importance of Certain “Essays of Elia” ’. In Some British Romantics: A Collection of Essays, edited by James Logan, John Jordan, and Northrop Frye (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1966). Tomalin, Marcus. Romanticism and Linguistic Theory: William Hazlitt, Language and Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Tooke, John Horne. ΕΠΕΑ ΠΤΕΡΟΕΝΤΑ, or the Diversions of Purley, edited by Richard Taylor, rev. ed., 2 vols. (London, 1829). Treadwell, James. ‘Impersonation and Autobiography in Lamb’s Christ Hospital Essays’. Studies in Romanticism 37 (1998): pp. 499–521. Trilling, Lionel. Sincerity and Authenticity: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1969–1970 (London: Oxford University Press, 1974). Trott, Nicola. ‘ “The Old Margate Hoy” and Other Depths of Elian Credulity’. Charles Lamb Bulletin 82 (1993): pp. 47–59. [Tucker, Abraham]. The Light of Nature Pursued, 7 vols. (London, 1768–78). Ulman, H. Lewis. Things, Thoughts, and Actions: The Problem of Language in Late EighteenthCentury British Rhetorical Theory (Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois Press, 1994). Valenza, Robin. Literature, Language, and the Rise of the Intellectual Disciplines in Britain, 1680–1820 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

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272 Bibliography Vigus, James. ‘Hazlitt and Hume: Personal Identity as Imaginative Narration’. In Romantic Explorations: Selected Papers from the Koblenz Conference of the German Society for English Romanticism, edited by Michael Meyer (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011), pp. 199–208. Walker, William. Locke, Literary Criticism, and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Walzer, Arthur E. George Campbell: Rhetoric in the Age of Enlightenment (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2003). Warburton, Penny. ‘Theorising Public Opinion: Elizabeth Hamilton’s Model of Self, Sympathy and Society’. Eger et al., Women pp. 257–73. Waxman, Wayne. Kant and the Empiricists: Understanding Understanding (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Wedd, Mary R. ‘ “That Dangerous Figure—Irony” ’. Charles Lamb Bulletin 73 (1991): pp. 1–12. Wellek, René. Immanuel Kant in England 1793–1838 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1931). Whalley, George. ‘Coleridge’s Debt to Charles Lamb’. Essays and Studies 11 (1958): pp. 68–85. Wheeler, Kathleen. Romanticism, Pragmatism and Deconstruction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Whitney, Charles. Francis Bacon and Modernity (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986). Wierzbicka, Anna. Experience, Evidence, and Sense: The Hidden Cultural Legacy of English (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). Williams, Bernard. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2002). Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society 1780–1950 (London: Chatto & Windus Ltd, 1967). Willich, A.F.M. Elements of the Critical Philosophy (London, 1798). Wilson, Fred. ‘Hume and Derrida on Language and Meaning’. Hume Studies 12, no. 2 (1986): pp. 99–121. Wimsatt, W.K.  Jr. Philosophic Words: A Study of Style and Meaning in the Rambler and Dictionary of Samuel Johnson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1948). Wittgenstein, Ludwig. On Certainty, translated by Denis Paul and G.E.M.  Anscombe, edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969). Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Wood, P.B. ‘Hume, Reid and the Science of Mind’. In Stewart and Wright, Hume, pp. 119–39. Wordsworth, William. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth, edited by W.J.B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974). Wright, John P. ‘Dr. George Cheyne, Chevalier Ramsay, and Hume’s Letter to Physician’. Hume Studies 29, no.1 (2003): pp. 125–41. Yousef, Nancy. ‘Can Julie be Trusted? Rousseau and the Crisis of Constancy in EighteenthCentury Philosophy’. In Dick and Lupton, Theory, pp. 193–210. Zalloua, Zahi. ‘Montaigne’s “De l’art de Conferer”: Conférence as an Act of Friendship’. Philological Quarterly 82, no. 1 (2003): pp. 24–37. Zalloua, Zahi. ‘Montaigne, Skepticism and Immortality’. Philosophy and Literature 27, no. 1 (2003): pp. 40–61.

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Index Aarsleff, Hans  112–13, 125 Aberdeen Philosophical Society  91–2 abstraction  122–3, 128 Active Powers (Reid)  99–100, 102 Addison, Joseph  vii–viii, 48, 63, 65–6, 146–8 Adorno, Theodor  5–6, 19–21 ‘A Fragment on Government’ (Bentham)  130 algebraical operation  125–6 Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind (Mill) 128 An Appeal to Common Sense in Behalf of Religion (Oswald) 46 An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Hume)  96–7, 110–11 An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Hume) 49–50 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Locke)  75, 112–13 An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth (Beattie)  46–7, 102–3, 136 An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (Wilkins)  114–15 An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (Bentham)  128–9 Anscombe, Elizabeth  94 Arbuthnot, Dr.  7–10, 20 Archetypation 132 Aristotle  1–3, 41, 90, 133–4, 139–40 associationism 67–8 A Table of the Springs of Action (Bentham) 129–30 atheism 91–2 Athenaeum (Schlegel/Schlegel)  6–7 attention 53–4 Austin, J. L.  88, 94, 102 Ayer, A. J.  110–11 Bacon, Francis  11, 17, 45–6, 62, 119–20, 143–4, 146–8 Baier, Annette  14–15, 79–80, 88–9, 93–4, 96–7, 112–13, 118–19, 134–5, 137 Battersby, Christine  83–4 Beattie, James  46–7, 55–6, 102–3, 115–16, 136–7 belief  54–5, 71–2 Bell, Jeffrey A.  66–8 Bender, John  11 Bennett, Jonathan  110–11 Bense, Max  16–17 Bentham, Jeremy  5, 15–16, 105, 110, 119, 123, 133–4, 143 Bergson, Henri  67–8

Berkeley, George  111–12, 119–20 Blacklock, Thomas  102–3 Blair, Hugh  139–42 Box, M.A.  110–11 Boyle, Robert  147–8 Broadie, Alexander  87 Brown, Thomas  60–1 Bruni, Luigino  82–3 Burke, Edmund  49–50, 124 Business and Diversion  10 Campbell, George  91–3, 139–43 Capaldi, Nicholas  11–12 Carlyle, Thomas  137–9 Cassirer, Ernst  50 Characteristics of Men Manners, Opinions, Times (Shaftesbury) 114–15 Chrestomathia (Bentham)  128–9 Christensen, Jerome  8–9, 136 Cicero  1–2, 4–7, 12–13, 43–4, 48, 62–3, 110, 133–7, 139, 141–3, 145 civic virtue  84 Clarke, David  15–16, 117–18, 121–2, 125 Coady, C.A.J.  78, 90–3, 102–3, 106–7 coherentism 78 commercial humanism  13 common sense experience and experiment  10–11 nature and standard of taste  31 and Reid  45–6, 48–9, 51–5 and Scottish philosophers  59–61 self and intersubjectivity  25–6 social a priori  13–14 and Stewart  54–5 and trust  102–3 communication  15, 64 Condillac, Étienne Bonnot de  113–17 consciousness  54–5, 67–8, 124–5 Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Rorty)  70–1, 95–6 conventionalism 115–16 conversation  61, 65–6 counter discourse  61–2 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant)  55, 68–9 d’Alembert, Jean le Rond  130 Damrosch, Leo  71, 146 Darwin, Charles  88 David Hume on Faith or Idealism and Realism: A Dialogue (Jacobi)  51 Davidson, Donald  64–5, 72–3, 106–7 Dawson, Hannah  75 Deleuze, Gilles  66–71

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274 Index Descartes, René  vii–viii, 11–12, 45, 82–3, 90, 133–4 Dewey, John  71 dialectical 87–8 dialogue 63–6 Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hume) 44 Diamond Peter  48–9, 63, 102–4, 119–20 Dick, Alexander  16 Dictionary (Johnson)  4, 11, 146 disenchantment 19 disposition 130 Dissertation on the Origin of Languages (Smith) 114 Diversions (Tooke)  130–1 Du Marsais, César Chesneau  127 Eagleton, Terry  19–20, 95–7 Edmundson, Mark  2 egotism 9–10 Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (Stewart)  53–5, 57, 103–4, 124, 126 elenchus 65 Elliot, Gilbert  66 empiricism and conversation  61 and essays  145, 147–8 ironic and radical  66–71 nature and standard of taste  12–13, 15–18 and reason  123–4 and Reid  44–6, 49–50 and rhetoric  133–4, 138–9, 142–4 Scottish philosophers  59 self and intersubjectivity  4 and Smith  20–1 and testimony and experiment  85–6, 93 and trust  75, 78, 106–7 and truth  147 Empiricism and Subjectivity (Deleuze) 67 enactment 42 encyclopédistes 130 Engell, James  51, 66–7, 109 Engish psychologists  58 Enlightenment and communication  19–21 and empiricism  61–2, 70–2 and essays  147 introduction 2 and language  114–15 and Reid  52–3 and rhetoric  139 and Smith  43–4 and trust  75–80, 85, 106–7 Enquiry Concerning Human Knowledge (Hume) 134 Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Hume)  1, 14, 89–90, 133–4 Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Hume)  1, 37–8, 43–4, 48, 66, 118–19

Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley (Tooke) 124–5 epistemological decorum 14 epistemology  69, 76–7, 82, 84–5, 90–1, 97, 116, 139–40, 145 ‘Essay on Language’ (Bentham)  131 ‘Essay on Logic’ (Bentham)  129–31 Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (Condillac) 113–14 essays vii–viii classification attempts  5–6 consolidation 17 and essaying  16 introduction 145 method 19 Essays on the Active Powers of Man (Reid)  47–8, 98–9, 120–1 Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid) 47–8 Esterhammer, Angela  16, 78–9, 102, 121–2, 130–1 eudaimonia  12–13, 62, 128, 132 experience  4, 10–11, 17, 75–6, 87–8, 93, 105, 109, 133, 147 experiment  10, 84 Fable of the Bees (Mandeville)  41 faith  81, 102–3 Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume, The (Potkay) 2–3 Faulkner, Paul  80–2 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb  50–1, 138–9 fiction  123–4, 130 Fish, Stanley  2–3 Foley, Richard  82 Formigari, Lia  112 Foucault, Michel  88 foundationalism  71–2, 134–5, 143, 147 ‘Fragment on Ontology’ (Bentham)  129 Freud, Sigmund  88 friendship 66 Fukuyama, Francis  81–2 fundamentalism 90 God 98–9 Goldman, Alan  84–5 Grave, S. A.  58–9 Griswold, Charles  41, 43–4 Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (Kant) 137–8 Guattari, Félix  67–9 Habermas, Jürgen  13–14, 20–1, 61–2, 70, 72–3 ‘Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity’ (Rorty) 70 habit 62–3 Halévy, Élie  vii, 59–60 Hamann, Johann Georg  50–1

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Index Hanley, Ryan  41 Hardwig, John  14–15, 82, 93–4 Harris, James  114–15, 120, 127–8 Hartley, David  vii, 58–9, 72–3, 124–5 Hazlitt, William  viii, 6–7, 17–21 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm  50–1 Herder, J. G.  50–1 Hermes or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Universal Grammar (Harris)  114–15 historicism 137–8 Hollis, Martin  14–15, 77, 80–3 homo rhetoricus 2 homo seriosus 2 Horkheimer, Max  19–21 Howell, Wilbur Samuel  141–2 How to Do Things with Words (Austin)  102 Hume, David communication 16–21 conversable intellect  109–10 disease of the learned  7 empiricism 61–73 and essays  145–9 experience and experiment  10–12 intersubjectivity 3–7 introduction  vii–viii, 1–3 language 110 and reason  123–5, 127–8 and Reid  44–52 and rhetoric  133–4, 136–44 and Scottish philosophers  58–61 and Smith  39–44 social a priori  12–14 and Stewart  52–4, 58 testimony and experiment  84 and trust  75–8, 81–2, 84, 97–8, 100, 103–4, 106–7 trust and testimony  14–15 Hutcheson, Francis  37–8 hypostatization  20–1, 49, 70 idealism 137–8 ideas 124–5 imagination 127 immanence  68–71, 96–7 indifference 68–9 inductive principle  100, 104 infinite 138–9 Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense (Reid)  45, 47, 97–100, 103, 120 Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid)  91–2, 97–8, 100–1, 120, 122, 134–5 interpretation 45–6 intersubjectivity  3, 11–12, 15–16, 39–41, 44, 49, 64, 66, 71–2, 84, 88 intuition 138–9 intuitive evidence  54 irony  2, 26, 35, 70–1 Israel, Jonathan  2–3

275

Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich  50–2 James, William  67–8, 71, 88 Johnson, Samuel  viii, 4, 6–7, 17–19, 106, 143–4, 146, 148–9 Jones, Peter  62, 93, 133–4 judgment  44, 49–50, 53–4, 68, 72–3, 100–1, 118–19 Kames, Lord  139–42 Kant, Immanuel  13–14, 18, 49–52, 55–6, 58–9, 68–70, 103–4, 109–11, 127–8, 137–8, 143 Kay, Carol  66 Kelsall, Malcolm  63 Kemp Smith, Norman  4 knowledge  11, 43, 68, 75–6, 78, 82, 93, 103–5, 120, 123, 128, 133 Knowledge in a Social World (Goldman)  84–5 Kuehn, Manfred  13–14, 50–1, 55 Lacoue–Labarthe, Philippe  18 Lamb, Charles  viii, 6–7, 17–19, 147–8 Land, Stephen  114–16, 120 language  57, 64, 104–5, 109–10, 123–30, 132–4, 145 Language Origins Theory (LOT)  113–14, 116 Lanham, Richard  2–3 ‘Late Philological Speculations’(Stewart)  124–5 Lehrer, Keith  98, 100 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm  147–8 lifeworld  13–14, 61–2 linguistics  5, 99–100, 112–17 Livingston, Donald  51–2, 87–8 Locke, John conversable intellect  109 and empiricism  62, 72–3, 145 and essays  147–8 and language  111–17, 122 nature and standard of taste  11, 13 and reason  124–5, 128, 130–2 and Reid  44–5, 47–9 and rhetoric  134, 139–40 and Scottish philosophers  59, 61 self and intersubjectivity  4–5 and Smith  41, 43–4 and testimony and experiment  85, 87, 93, 95 and trust  75–7, 100–1, 106 logic 140 logical fictions  123–4, 129, 132, 223–4 MacKenzie, Iain  68–9 Mack, Mary P.  128 Malherbe, Michael  65–6 Mandeville, Bernard  41 Manly, Susan  127–8 Manning, Susan  116, 135 meaning 123 Mee, Jon  65–6

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276 Index Mendelssohn, Moses  68–9 Metaphilosophy of Commonsense, The (Madden) 45–6 metaphors  122–3, 127 Mill, James  vii, 128 modernity 79 Möllering, Guido  14–15, 81–2 Monboddo, James Burnett  114–16, 127–8 Montaigne, Michel de  17, 70, 93, 143–4, 146–8 moral consciousness  42 Moralists, The: A Philosophical Rhapsody (Shaftesbury) 44 morality 118–19 moral judgement  44 Mossner, Ernest  9–10 Mounce, H.O.  50 Nancy, Jean–Luc  18 Natarajan, Uttara  vii naturalism  4, 61, 71–2, 76–9 natural transcendentalism  52 Neoclassicalism 18 Nerlich, Brigitte  15–16, 117–18, 121–2, 125 new rhetoric  139–40 Newton, Isaac  5–6, 43–4, 48, 63, 71–2, 106, 134, 145, 147–8 Nietzsche, Friedrich  2–3, 70 nominalism  112, 122 Norton, David  92 objectivity  4, 64 ‘Of Essay–Writing’ (Hume)  1 ‘Of Experience’ (Montaigne)  146–7 ‘Of Miracles’ (Hume)  14 Of the Origin and Progress of Language (Monboddo) 114 ‘Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing’ (Hume) 142–3 Of the Standard of Taste (Hume)  13 O’Neill, Onora  79 ‘On the Tendency of Some Late Philological Speculations’ (Locke)  124 Origgi, Gloria  81–2, 106–7 Oswald, James  46–9, 55–6, 136–7 ‘Other Minds’ (Austin)  94 Otteson, James  42 Outlines of Moral Philosophy (Stewart)  53–6 paraphrasis 131–2 Parker, Fred  63–4, 70–1, 93, 95–6, 136 Paxman, David  113–16 perception  87–8, 99–100, 102–3 performance  118–19, 147–9 phenomenalism  11–12, 86–7 Phillipson, Nicholas  5, 118–19, 146–7 Philosophical Enquiry (Burke)  49–50

Philosophical Essays (Stewart)  56–7, 127 Philosophy of the Enlightenment, The (Cassirer) 50 Philosophy of Rhetoric, The (Campbell)  139–40 Plato  2, 63–4, 70, 90, 127–8 ‘Plato’s Philosopher’ (Davidson)  65 pneumatology 48 Pocock, J.G.A.  12–13, 77–8 positivism 142–3 postmodernism 70 Potkay, Adam  2–3, 140–2 pragmatism  112, 117–18, 125, 130–2, 134–5, 137–8 prescience  47, 97–9 Priestley, Joseph  58–61, 72–3, 124–5 Prince, Michael  5–6, 63–4 Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (Kant)  33–4, 51 propriety 39 public sphere  13, 18–19 Puritan attitude  90 Pyrrhus 63–4 Quine, W. V.  132 Rambler, The (Johnson)  106 Raphael, D. D.  36–8 rationality  4, 13, 83–4, 116, 122, 133, 145 rational perception  46, 62 reason  15, 56–7, 76–7, 82–4, 102–4, 123 reductionism  78, 90, 93 reflection 97 reflexion 124–5 Reid, Thomas conversable intellect  110 and empiricism  62–3, 70–3 language 110 nature and standard of taste  13–16 philosophizing trust  97 reason  125–6, 132 and rhetoric  133–7, 139–40, 143 self and intersubjectivity  4–5 social a priori  44 testimony and experiment  90–2, 96–7 trust  75–8, 81–2, 97, 106 representationalism  16, 85–6, 116, 124–5 resemblances 44–5 rhetoric  133, 139 Richetti, John  87–8, 135, 141 Richman, Kenneth  49–50, 85–6 Robinson, Daniel  53–4, 103–4, 120 Romanticism  6–7, 16–20, 69–71, 95–6 Rorty, Richard  66–7, 69–73, 95–6 Rousseau, Jean–Jacques  9–10, 34, 41, 70, 77, 83–4, 93, 106–7 Royal Society  147–8

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Index salto mortale 51–2 Sartor Resartus (Carlyle)  137–9 scepticism communication 15–16 and empiricism  63 and Hume  124–5, 127–8 irony and radical empiricism  66–7, 70–2 and Reid  45–6 and rhetoric  136–8, 142–3 Scottish philosophers  58–60 testimony and experiment  11, 87, 91–2, 95–6 and trust  76–8, 81–2, 84, 99, 102–3 trust and testimony  14–15 ‘Sceptic, The’ (Hume)  62–3 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm  50–1 Schlegel, August Wilhelm von  6–7 Schlegel, Friedrich von  6–7 Schmidt, Claudia  51–2 Schmitt, Frederick F.  90 Schreyer, Rüdiger  113–14 Scottish counter–Enlightenment  49–51 Scottish Enlightenment  70–1, 84, 106–7 Scottish philosophers  58 Searle, John  94 Selden, Anthony  79 self–command 42 Seligman, Adam  41, 79–81, 84 Sensus Communis 37–8 Shaftesbury, Earl of  37–8, 43–4, 65–6, 114–15 Shapin, Steven  14–16, 75–8, 80–1 Siebert, Donald  9, 145–6 Siskin, Clifford  43–4, 147 Sitter, John  9, 11–12 smell 45 Smith, Adam commanding performance  36 communication 15–16 and empiricism  71–3 language 113–16 and Reid  44–5, 47–9 and rhetoric  139–40 and Scottish philosophers  59–61 the social a priori  13 and Stewart  52–3, 57–8 testimony and experiment  93–4 and trust  76–8, 84 Smith, Kemp  7–9, 69, 85–6 Smith, Olivia  127–8 sociability  viii, 7, 18–19, 84–5 social capital  81 Social Contract, The (Rousseau)  83–4 social epistemology  84–5 social intellect  101 socialization 145 social knowledge  82, 90, 110, 138–9, 210, 220–1, 239

277

social a priori  12 Socrates 65 Solomon, Miriam  71–2 Spectator, The 146–7 Steele, Richard  65–6 Stephen, Leslie  vii, 10–11, 123–4 Stewart, Dugald conversable intellect  110 empiricism and conversation  62 and intersubjectivity  5 irony and radical empiricism  72–3 and language  113–14 and meaning  123 natural transcendentalism  52 nature and standard of taste  13–15 philosophizing trust  97 and Reid: social a priori  47–8, 51 and rhetoric  143 Scottish philosophers  60–1 and trust  76–9, 106 Stewart, M.A.  9 stoicism  39, 42 Strawson, P.F.  52–3 Study of Language in England, The (Aarsleff ) 112–13 subjectivity 64 Suderman, Jeffrey  91–2 Sugden, Robert  82–3 sympathy 57–8 Tatler, The 146–7 Taylor, Charles  82–3 testimony  14–15, 78, 82, 84, 102–4, 106–7, 121–2 Teufelsdröckh  137–9, 143 theatre  43–4, 49 ‘theory of fictions’ (Bentham)  132 Theory of Language, The (Beattie)  115–16 Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith)  13, 36–40, 42–4, 93–4 thought 65–6 ‘Three Varieties of Knowledge’ (Davidson)  64 Tillotson, John  89–90, 92 Tooke, John Horne  15–16, 124–5, 127–8, 130–2 Transcendentalism  51–2, 55–6, 117, 127–8, 138–9 Treatise of Human Nature (Hume) empiricism and conversation  66, 69, 71–2 enlightenment, modernity, trust  85 and language  117–18 nature and standard of taste  10–12, 14–15, 43–4, 48 and rhetoric  135–8, 142 and scepticism  7–9 self and intersubjectivity  2–3 testimony and experiment  87–9, 92–5

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278 Index trust  vii–viii, 14, 75, 79, 95–8, 147 Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it Back (Selden) 79 truth  14–15, 54–7, 59–60, 64–5, 71–2, 76, 79–80, 93, 99–100, 109, 119, 124–5, 128, 130–1, 139–40, 147 truthfulness  14, 76 Two Treatises of Government (Locke) 75 Universal Grammar  114–16, 120 Universal Individual  83–4 universalism 106–7 Universal Language  114–15 utilitarianism  39, 62, 123–4, 128–32

virtue  12–15, 34, 77–8 volunté général  41, 84, 106–7 Walzer, Arthur  139–40 Wealth of Nations, The (Smith)  36–7 Wierzbicka, Anna  86–7 Wilkins, John  114–16 Williams, Bernard  77–8, 83–4, 95–7 wisdom 43 Wissenschaftslehre (Fichte)  138 Wittgenstein, Ludwig  64, 88, 106–7 Wolterstorff, Nicholas  81–2, 103 Wordsworth, William  17–18 Yousef, Nancy  83–4