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David Hume

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Take any action allow’d to be vicious: Wilful murder, for instance. Examine it in all lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In which-ever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never can find it, till you turn your reflexion into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action. Here is a matter of fact; but ’tis the object of feeling, not of reason. It lies in yourself, not in the object. So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it. Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compar’d to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind[.]
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Part 1 Of virtue and vice in general, Sect. 1 Moral distinctions not deriv'd from reason

 
David Hume

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I consider those who would prevent the birth of the passions almost as foolish as those who would destroy them, and those who think this has been my object hitherto are greatly mistaken.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 

I cannot exist entirely except when somehow I go beyond the stage of action. Otherwise I’m a soldier, a professional, a man of learning, not a “total human being.” The fragmentary state of humanity is basically the same as the choice of an object. When you limit your desires to possessing political power, for instance, you act and know what you have to do. … You insert your existence advantageously into time. Each of your moments becomes useful. With each moment, the possibility is given you to advance to some chosen goal, and your time becomes a march toward that goal—what’s normally called living. … Every action makes you a fragmentary existence. I hold on to my nature as an entirety only by refusing to act—or at least by denying the superiority of time, which is reserved for action.

 
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While we find such endless differences between the actions of different men under the same temptations, or of the same man at different times, we shall yet be unable to find any link of the chain undetermined by the action of the outward circumstance on the inner law; or any point where we can say a power lay in the individual will of choosing either of two courses — in other words, to discover sin. Actions are governed by motives. The power of motives depends on character, and character on the original faculties and the training which they have received from the men or things among which they have been bred.
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If I can reconcile myself to the certainty of death only by forgetting it, I am not happy. And if I can dispose of the fact of human misery about me only by shutting my thoughts as well as myself within my comfortable garden, I may assure myself that I am happy, but I am not. There is a skeleton in the closet of the universe, and I may at any moment be in the face of it. Happiness is inseparable from confidence in action; and confidence of action is inseparable from what the schoolmen called peace -- that is, poise of mind with reference to everything I may possibly encounter in the chances of fortune.
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William Ernest Hocking
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