In David Humes' book, "A Treatise of Human Nature" he states that reason is the slave to the passions.

"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. (T 2.3.3 p. 415)"

Could someone explain this to me, preferably reconstructing in a premise-conclusion format.

Many thanks.


1 Answer 1


I want an ice-cream The ice-cream shop is open now Therefore I shall go and get an ice-cream

This does not work without the passionate 'wanting' of ice-cream. Many (but perhaps not all) bits of human reasoning are 'passion driven' in this way. I am grateful to my first year ethics lecturer for this explanation. If there's an error it's mine, not his.

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