From Ressentiment to Redemption
- New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 2: The passion
David Hume posed the problem as a dilemma and, more, as a dictum or a prohibition: ‘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’ (Hume 1975: II, III, III). Three centuries of philosophical discussion around the question continues well into the 21st century (see for example, Prinz 2003), and we keep on getting caught in the dilemma, somehow or another. Either we say Hume is right and we are slaves of our passions or we say he is wrong and reason controls behavior. Theorists that agree with Hume maintain that emotions are not cognitive (from W. James (1884, 1894) and Lange (1922), to the more recent Damasio (1994) and Zajonc (1984)). Zajonc insists that emotions are phylogenetically and ontogenetically prior to cognitions. New scientific research in biochemistry, genetics, neurobiology, reveal biological bits (like genes, chemicals in the brain, neurological nets, metabolic cycles, etc.) and enforce Hume’s view of emotions as ‘passions’ which act without the control of reason, at least in the short term.
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