Dr Catherine Dromelet

Nominated Fellow
Dr Catherine Dromelet

Dr Catherine Dromelet - orcid.org/0000-0002-6494-2852

Nominated Fellow, June 2022 - August 2022

Home Institution: FWO, Research Foundation Flanders

Catherine Dromelet studied philosophy in Lausanne, Boston, and Rome, where she received her PhD degree. She was an affiliated research scholar at MTA in Budapest and is currently an FWO postdoctoral fellow at the University of Antwerp. Her work focuses mainly, but not only, on the concepts of custom and habit in schools of thought ranging from early modern associationism to 19th-century French philosophy and classical sociology. She published a critical edition of Léon Dumont’s texts on habit and sensibility with Classiques Garnier, and her recent publications include an article for the Journal of Scottish Philosophy and co-authored entries for the Springer Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences.

Project Title: Useful superstition in Hume's theory of government

In the framework of a broader, FWO (Belgium) project on «Irreligion and common illusions in Hume», Dr Dromelet's work at IASH analyses the organic connexion between Hume's two enquiries, from the angle of the author's methodological shift after the Treatise of Human Nature and the first Enquiry. By contrast to a line of interpretation that highlights Hume's irreligious agenda in his science of man and his normative epistemology, she focuses on his moral philosophy and his (natural) history to bring out the role of religious and secular fictions in his social and political theory. On the background of the tension between irreligion and allegiance (moral, social, and political), she addresses the explanation's gap created by Hume's change of perspective, from the associationist moral psychology of the Treatise and the first Enquiry, to the natural history of moral practices displayed in his later writings. Her project at IASH covers important aspects that are often downplayed in the literature, such as the role of sacredness and the ambivalence of the notion of utility. Although the importance of utility is widely acknowledged when it comes to Hume's theory of justice, little attention has been paid to this concept in the specific framework of the tension between tradition and progress. Against a prevailing portrayal of Hume as a sceptic and a naturalist, her research emphasises the way he wields the notion of utility as a weapon against religious superstition, and then relies on it to support secular superstition, legitimizing social order, political power, and public obedience.