Kant Contra Hume on the primacy of emotion

Some people say that genuine love is one which is not subject to understanding, but simply experienced, and enjoyed. If one is able to comprehend their affliction, then there is some kind of deficiency or lack of genuine sentiment.

This type of view is not only nonsense, it is uneducated by reason, it is a propagation of the media and popular discourse; if someone really were not to question or rationally examine their preferences or emotions; then they are no more civilised or mentally advanced than the Homeric heroes or characters of Hesiod’s tales.

Hume tells us that the human mind, our beliefs, habits and customs are fundamentally subject to the will of nature, or natural belief. We are subordinate to our empirically-imposed environment which shapes our behaviour and beliefs. Reason is, and ought only to be slave of the passions (Treatise 2.3.3.4)

Kant accepts this ontology of a world where human minds are submerged in experience, Kant also accepts that a lot of our psychology is accountable to the will of nature; Kant remains by default a type of ethical hedonist. Kant does not, however, accept the subordinance of reason over non-reason.

According to Kant, genuine rational deliberation is needed for an action to be assterorically worthy. Actions led by inclination are less worthy, irrespective of whether the action is admirable or not.

Kant gives an example of a grocer who doesn’t overcharge; they could have two mentalities:

HUMEAN: Grocer doesn’t overcharge, because they will get a bad reputation and won’t get customers anymore (bastardisation of categorical imperative1)

KANTIAN: Grocer doesn’t overcharge because of respect for human autonomy. (Categorical imperative2)

In the next month, I shall draw out more arguments against the Kantian claim. I don’t know what I will conclude. Reason shall guide me.

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