I'm currently taking a course in early modern philosophy. The focus is on psychology, morality, and aesthetics. I've taken philosophy courses in the past, but I'm having a lot of trouble with this one, because I find the readings to be so obvious that they seem pointless. I don't want to come across as one of those people who complain about philosophy being pointless. I just need someone to help me understand and appreciate what I'm missing.
I'll take one from last week as an example. We read David Hume's Dissertation on Passions. He writes at length about how...
Most of our feelings about things are somewhere between joy and grief. Where they land along this spectrum depends on the probability of something happening and the amount of joy/grief it would cause if it did happen.
We feel more pride if the source of the pride is more exclusive. For example, we'd feel more proud of having an autographed Tom Brady jersey than we would for having a box of cereal .
We feel more compassion for those to whom we're closer. I'd feel more sad if my brother got hurt than if my third cousin twice-removed did.
I'll leave it at those examples for now. My point is that none of these seem to be particularly interesting. I don't see what the point of this dissertation is, since nobody could possibly argue with these assertions. I've had this problem with the other readings as well. In other courses that I've taken, the readings seem to be more contentious. In ethics, for instance, someone typically puts forward some ethical framework, and then people argue over whether it's good or bad, and why. In these readings, I just don't see how anyone could possibly disagree when the text is just stating the obvious. I'm not saying that a text has to be contentious to be interesting, but so far I don't see much difference between these readings and one that says: "Humans have two arms, two legs, need food to survive, etc."
I asked my professor, and he didn't give me a straight answer, and just seemed annoyed that I wasn't satisfied. Any thoughts on what I'm missing?