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Impressions of Hume$
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Marina Frasca-Spada and P. J. E. Kail

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256525.001.0001

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Hume—and Others—on Marriage

Hume—and Others—on Marriage

(p.269) Hume—and Others—on Marriage
Impressions of Hume

Sarah M. S. Pearsall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to determine how conflict was reconciled within loving marriages in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. It begins by considering changing social theory. Hume and Francis Hutcheson refined conclusions put forward by John Locke, and focused on marriage not as a government in which the husband ruled, but rather as a partnership of affection. Too little connection has been made between social theory from this period, most often discussed by philosophers and political scientists, and the experience of ordinary people, most often discussed by social and cultural historians. The chapter thus attempts to bridge that chasm and bring the two areas together. There are echoes of this new marriage paradigm in letters from Revolutionary-era marriages in which the couple was separated by the Atlantic. The wives, at odds with their husbands, attempted to achieve their ends by deploying what the chapter terms ‘the coercive language of affection’. The idiom of affection and shifting visions of ideal masculinity informed these correspondences. Ultimately, it is argued that roles for white women and men shifted under the influence of intellectual currents that antedated and transcended the American Revolution, most critically the Scottish Enlightenment.

Keywords:   marriage, gender, friendship, equality, gallantry, Hume, John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, James Parker, Margaret Parker

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