Nature of Knowledge Lecture
Nature of Knowledge Lecture by Professor Paul Guyer
Title: Hume, Kant, and the Passion for Reason
Abstract: Hume and Kant apparently have antipathetic conceptions of reason: Hume holds that reason can determine means but never set ends, Kant holds that reason alone can determine the necessary end for human beings. Are their conceptions really so different? In fact, Hume posits that we have a calm passion to be reasonable, and Kant too must presuppose an underlying commitment to be reasonable that cannot itself be derived from reason. The real difference between them lies in their conception of the value of being reasonable: for Hume, it is to free ourselves from the turbulence of violent passions, but for Kant that negative conception of freedom is only part of a larger conception that includes the positive value of setting our own ends. Their real difference thus lies not in their conceptions of the relation between reason and passion, but in the value of reason itself.
Paul Guyer is F.R.C. Murray Professor in the Humanities, and Professor Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania.