All right, this is just totally too perfect. I’m re-reading Hume in preparing a lecture today, and found a passage which manages to tie together a bunch of posts I’ve done recently on the pleasures of my disabled kid, Humean aesthetics, and how aggravating children can make you happy in the ultimate sense.
Difficulties increase passions of every kind; and by rousing our attention, and exciting our active powers, they produce an emotion which nourishes the prevailing affection.
Parents commonly love that child most whose sickly infirm frame of body has occasioned them the greatest pains, trouble, and anxiety in rearing him. The agreeable sentiment of affection here acquires force from sentiments of uneasiness.
Nothing endears so much a friend as sorrow for his death. The pleasure of his company has not so powerful an influence.
Jealousy is a painful passion; yet without some share of it; the agreeable affection of love has difficulty to subsist in its full force and violence. Absence is also a great source of complaint among lovers, and gives them the greatest uneasiness; yet nothing is more favourable to their mutual passion than short intervals of that kind.
Apologies for the excessive posting in the last 24 hours. This is what happens when the husband is out of town at a conference (see the last part of the passage for extra aptness).