The Enlightenment Period

David Hume

What was unusual about Hume’s theory of the emotions?

Although Hume exalted reason over faith when it came to knowledge, when it came to human psychology he believed that we are primarily motivated by our emotions or “passions” and that reason is always in the service of these emotions. That is, unlike Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677), he did not have a cognitive theory of the emotions, according to which what we feel is the result of what we believe. Hume wrote: “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.”


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