Hume is famous for his perspective that stresses experience as the only true vector of knowledge.

Such a viewpoint proves sympathetic to women in the 18th century, whom the Catholic Church and nobility were quick to condemn for engaging in premarital sex and having children out of wedlock. What they failed to understand, however, were the enormous pressures these women faced. Hume’s Of Love and Marriage explores women’s tendencies to resist possessive marriages and a universal search of love, which provides a defense for the rampant premarital sex and shaky, love-based marriages of the 18th century. Early 18th marriages were largely a one sided affair; women were expected to stay at home and raised the children while most husbands did as they pleased. Subordinate to men, women’s personal thoughts and dreams were disregarded in favor of motherhood. Hume’s belief in human experience would have spread the negative aspects of marriage by way of women’s conversations. “After we have acquired a confidence in human testimony, books and conversation enlarge much more the sphere of one’s experience and thought than those of another.” (Miller) Wives speaking with other women of marriage would divulge the difficulty of their lives to prospective brides. Young women, with stories from other wives, would most likely see marriage as a bleak life with little enjoyment or freedom. This knowledge would discourage young women from entering marriage easily. However hesitant a young woman was to marry, however, she still had carnal desires. Premarital sex was a sin, so the only sex free of fault available to women was with a husband. With their knowledge of poor and harsh wifedom, women sought alternatives in the form of premarital sex. Following this boom in fornication, women had children out of wedlock much more often. Hume would argue that their experience through conversation was responsible for

Conversely. marriage was. it only makes sense that wives are apt to disobey their husbands when they are held under tyrannical authority. Under tremendous expectations. Hume would see the startling increase of out of wedlock babies as a response to women’s domestic lives. less oppression from their husbands would mean less chance of rebellion of wives against them. These brides would then more easily accept marriage to satisfy both their financial and carnal needs.” (Miller) According to Hume. The idea of marrying for love without concerns of finances was ludicrous: “Members of the older generation were often high critical of the lack of responsibility they saw in the early marriages of the poor” (Mckay). husbands still demanded obedience from their wives. Daughters could gain fiduciary stability by marrying the proper gentleman. Hume’s view of marriages based on love is much more sympathetic. He suggests that readers consider Plato’s allegory of the Androgyne. but their hesitance to marry led to relations with men they had no intent of marrying. must now “remedy this disorder. If men were to be less strict with their wives. at least. so calculating. a creature which was once man and woman but. split in half by Jupiter. on the human race in their forlorn situation. the marriage would be less oppressive. and their families were quick to find one for them. and to bestow some comfort. but Hume came to women’s defense: “that if we [men] did not abuse our authority. devoid of romance. most times. Jupiter sent down LOVE and CARE to collect the broken halves of human . they would never think it worth while to dispute it. with the girls getting little say in who they would spend the rest of their lives with. Thus. the reputation of marriage would be less intimidating to potential brides. “Nothing could be so businesslike. as a peasant marriage that was often dictated by the need of the couple’s families” (Mckay) Marriage wasn’t a joining of two people meant to be together: it was a financial endeavor.women’s avoidance of marriage: their lust needed satisfaction. Obviously.

html>. by Hume’s logic. Web. and John Buckler. Essay V. McKay. a result of their negative experiences with marriage.. and piece them together. they were beginning to defy the obligations that society had forced upon them. Hill. Moral. romantic. Common women in the later 18th century were changing: though their freedoms weren’t fully realized. but understanding.kind. 30 Nov. Political. Eugene. Their spontaneous marriages in search of love would be explained by Hume as an inherent desire to find their other half. and Literary. Hume wouldn’t have been condemning of the increase in premarital sex. "Hume.org/library/LFBooks/Hume/hmMPL44. 2006. OF LOVE AND MARRIAGE." Library of Economics and Liberty. Along with the romantic idea of Androgyne. women in the city could pursue notions of love as openly as they wanted to. 1987. John P. Essays. <http://www. Miller. A History of Western Society. Part III. New trends in weddings that weren’t financially focused weren’t irresponsible but. 2010.” (Miller) Hume’s endorsement of this allegory is appropriate for the situation of women living in populous cities. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. . Bennett D. village family in the late 18th century. Free from the pestering of the close.econlib. Hume would argue that women were driven to premarital sex.

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