earthly mixture

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Senior Member

Here is a paragraph from David Hume's essay called "The Stoic".

Can someone explain to me what he is referring to by "shaking off every earthly mixture"? Does he mean they pretend to be above all earthly feelings?

Thank you.

But the social passions never afford such transporting pleasures, or make so glorious an appearance in the eyes both of GOD and man, as when, shaking off every earthly mixture, they associate themselves with the sentiments of virtue, and prompt us to laudable and worthy actions. As harmonious colours mutually give and receive a lustre by their friendly union, so do these ennobling sentiments of the human mind. See the triumph of nature in parental affection! What selfish passion, what sensual delight is a match for it, whether a man exults in the prosperity and virtue of his offspring, or flies to their succour through the most threatening and tremendous dangers?
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I don't think there's any "pretending" involved, but the idea is that the social passions are most pleasing and most glorious to God and man when they are stripped of baser instincts and prompt us to virtuous actions.


    English - Long Island, NY, USA
    I agree with The Newt.

    "Shaking off" might be understood as simply "moving away from."

    "Every earthly mixture" might be understood as "material attachments" (but philosophers tend to be very particular with their choice of words, so you should inspect other parts of the text to understand what Hume regards as "earthly").

    It might help to imagine a person named "social passions" choosing to be friends with a person named "sentiments of virtue" and not to be friends with a person named "earthly mixtures."
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