chapter  6
15 Pages

The passions

Book II of the Treatise is devoted to what would now be termed the philosophy of psychology. Hume analyses some of the most fundamental human passions and emotions. In its main drift, this is the least controversial section of the Treatise, for with regard to the passions, naturalism is inherently plausible. Few people would argue, for example, that sexual desire is acquired through reasoning or is the product of experience. Whatever the effect of experience or reasoning, it only too evidently has a base which is independent of both. Consequently we shall not follow Hume in detail but shall give an example of his procedure and then concentrate on the two most important sections in Book II, these being the discussions of free will and of the relation between reason and the passions.1