Passionate Regulation and the Practicality of Reason
In this chapter, I present a reading of Hume’s theory of passionate self-moderation and explore its application to the question of whether Hume accords any practicality to reason. One of Hume’s well-known arguments concludes that reason cannot exercise control over the passions, many of which cause or motivate action. So, it looks as though actions are inevitable results of unruly passions. Hume’s theory of action, however, embodies principles by which certain passions can moderate the effects of other passions. My goal in this chapter is twofold: (1) to show that many of the details of Hume’s theory of passionate self-moderation are verified in contemporary psychological studies of emotion regulation, and (2) to argue that reason, for Hume, has a kind of practicality, given its role in passionate regulation, one that is often overlooked in discussions of Humean practical reason.