By Jonathan Friday
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Extra resources for Art and Enlightenment: Scottish Aesthetics in the 18th Century
The conclusions, particularly in the first and final parts of the Treatise, are acknowledged by Hume to have a sceptical orientation, in the sense that many of our beliefs—such as that one thing is the cause of another or that some action is morally good— have no basis in reason, but in imagination and sentiment. This scepticism earned Hume a notorious reputation, further heightened by his perceived and implicit atheism. Hume thought his scepticism was generally misunderstood, and although he certainly was an atheist, he took care never to pronounce that position in order to avoid controversy.
XIII. Under original beauty we may include harmony, or beauty of sound, if that expression can be allowed, because harmony is not usually conceived as an imitation of anything else. Harmony often raises pleasure in those who know not what is the occasion of it; and yet the foundation of this pleasure is known to be a sort of uniformity. When the several vibrations of one note regularly coincide with the vibrations of another they make an agreeable composition: and such notes are called concords.
Few trials have been made in the simplest instances of harmony, because as soon as we find an ear incapable of relishing complex compositions, such as our tunes are, no farther pains are employed about such. But in figures, did ever any man make choice of a trapezium, or any irregular curve, for the ichnography or plan of his house, without necessity, or some great motive of convenience? Or to make the opposite walls not parallel, or unequal in height? Were ever trapeziums, irregular polygons or curves, chosen for the forms of doors or windows, though these figures might have answered the uses as well, and would have often saved a great part of the time, labour, and expense to workmen which are now employed in suiting the stones and timber to the regular forms?