2022-12-12 16:49:10

A Treatise of Human Nature

David Hume

Section 3iii: The influencing motive of the will

Nothing is more usual in philosophy, and even in common life, than to talk of the battle between passion and reason, to give the preference to reason, and to assert that men are virtuous only to the extent that they conform themselves to reasonrsquo;s dictates. Every rational creature, it is said, ought to regulate his actions by reason; and if any other motive or drive tries to take control, he ought to oppose it until it is either entirely subdued or at least made to conform to the superior drive, reason. Most moral philosophy, ancient and modern, seems to be based on this way of thinking. This supposed pre-eminence of reason over passion provides a rich source of bull;metaphysical arguments as well as of bull;moral harangues, in which reasonrsquo;s eternity, unchangingness, and divine origin are held up for admiration, while the passionsrsquo; blindness, inconstancy, and deceitfulness are equally strongly emphasized. Wanting to show the fallacy of this entire line of thought, I shall try to show bull;that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will, and bull;that reason can never oppose passion in directing the will.

The understanding [here = lsquo;the faculty of reasonrsquo;] goes to work in two different ways: (1) reaching judgments through demonstration, attending only to the abstract relations of our ideas, and (2) reaching them on the basis of probability, attending to the relations of objects that we can know about only from experience. I hardly think anyone will contend that (1) the demonstrative species of reasoning is ever, on its own, the cause of any action. That kind of reasoning belongs in the world of bull;ideas, while the will deals on with the world of bull;realities; so it seems that demonstration and volition are totally removed from each other. Itrsquo;s true that mathematics [here = lsquo;geometryrsquo;?] is useful in all mechanical operations, and arithmetic is useful in almost every art and profession; but they donrsquo;t have any influence by themselves. Mechanics is the art of regulating the movements of bodies for some purpose; and our only reason for using arithmetic in fixing the proportions of numbers is to help us discover the proportions of the influence and operations of bodies. . . . Abstract or demonstrative reasoning never influences any of our actions except by directing our judgment concerning causes and effects. That brings me to the second operation of the understanding.

(2) Itrsquo;s obvious that when we have the prospect of unpleasure or pleasure from any object, we feel a consequent emotion of aversion or liking, and are led to avoid or embrace the object in question. Itrsquo;s also obvious that this emotion doesnrsquo;t stop there; rather, it makes us look in every direction so as to take in whatever objects are connected with the first one by the relation of cause

and effect. Thatrsquo;s where reasoning comes in: it looks for cause-effect connections, and the results it comes up with will affect how we subsequently act. But itrsquo;s obvious that in this case reason doesnrsquo;t provide the impulse to act but only steers it. Itrsquo;s the prospect of pleasure or unpleasure from an object that makes us want it or want to avoid it; and these feelings extend themselves to the causes and effects of the object as they are pointed out to us by reason and experience. We couldnrsquo;t have the slightest interest in what causes what, if the causes and effects were indifferent to us [i.e. if we didnrsquo;t have attitudes, pro or con, towards them]. Where bull;the objects themselves donrsquo;t affect us, bull;their way of being connected canrsquo;t have any influence over us; and because reason is nothing but the discovery of how they are connected, objects canrsquo;t affect us with the help of reason.

Since unaided reason canrsquo;t (a) produce an action or give rise to a volition, I infer that it is equally incapable of (b) preventing a volition or of challenging any passion or emotion ·in its role as a producer of our conduct·. This inference is strictly valid. The only way reason could possibly

  1. prevent a volition would be by pushing our passions in a different direction; but such a push, if it operated alone, would have been able (a) to produce a volition. Nothing can block or dampen the impulse of passion except a contrary impulse - ·a push in the opposite direction·; and if this contrary impulse ever comes from reason, it follows that reason must have a basic influence on the will, and must be able to cause volitions as well as block them. But if reason has no basic influence, it canrsquo;t possibly resist any drive that does have such efficacy; it canrsquo;t ever keep the mind in suspense for a moment. So it seems that the drive that opposes our passion canrsquo;t be reason (using that word in its proper sense). When we talk of the struggle lsquo;between passion and reasonrsquo;, we arenrsquo;t speaking correctly. Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions; the only work it can claim to do is in serving and obeying them. [The famous first half of that sentence is verbatim Hume; he didnrsquo;t put it in bold type.] This opinion may strike you as rather extraordinary, so perhaps I should back it up by some other considerations.

A passion is just a bit of the worldrsquo;s furniture, or if you like a property or state of a bit of the worldrsquo;s furniture; therersquo;s nothing about it that would enable it to represent or be a copy of anything other than itself. When I am angry, that passion is just the state that I am in; it isnrsquo;t about anything else, any more than a reference to something else is involved in my being thirsty or sick or more than five foot tall. So my anger canrsquo;t possibly be opposed by, or contradictory to, truth and reason; because any such contradic




节选:卷二 第三章 第三节 影响意志的各种动机


这个认知(理智体系)在两个方面起作用:(1)感性的方法是仅仅考虑我们想法中的抽象部分作出判断。(2)另一个则是基于可能性,仅考虑我们从经验中所能得知的物体之间的关系。 我相信几乎没有人会同意仅仅只靠第一方面推理的作用可以构成任何行为的动机。第一种推理是属于观念世界的,然而我们的意志却是现实世界的。这种推理让情感和意志看起来似乎是两个相距甚远的概念。实际上,这就想是在所有的机械运作中数学都是有用的,算术在每一个工艺行业中也是有用的,但这并不是由于它们本身就具有影响力。力学是一种根据某种目的来控制行为的一种艺术,然而为了帮助我们发现影响和身体的运作等因素之间的比例,我们就运用算数进行推理。抽象的或是情感性的推理并不能影响我们的行为,除非这种推理能在事件的因果范围内指导我们进行判断。这就引出了认知的第二个方面。显而易见的是,当我们能预知某种物体带给我们的开心和难过,紧接着我们就会产生一种厌恶或爱好的情绪,从而导致我们去避免那些不愉快的事物和去接受开心的事物。同样明显的是这种情绪并不会就此打住,它会影响我们的每一个方面,甚至包括事件因果范围内有关系的所有事物。为了探寻这种因果间的关系,推理就此产生。随着推理结果的变化,我们的意志行为也产生了变化。但是在这种情形下,理性并不会导致行为上的冲动,只会去控制这种冲动。通过预知物体将会带给我们的愉快或不悦的感受,我们会产生一种抗拒或接受的感觉,这些情绪会扩展到理性和经验所指的事物的原因与结果。如果我们对事物的原因与结果漠不关心,那么我们不会有兴趣去搞清楚什么是原因、什么又是结果。如果这些对象本身对我们来说没有任何影响,这些对象的联系方式也不会对我们产生任何影响。因为理性只是发现事物的联系方式,所以事物并不会因为理性的原因就对我们产生任何影响。










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