David Hume has outlined the theory of the human morality in his own treatise of human nature. Hume argues that human morality is not based on rational reason and thought, but it is an outcome of our own passions. This is because passions cannot present themselves as an outcome of any kind of reasoning; therefore it would be illogical to judge the moral action as irrational or rational. Hume stated that reason only cannot be a motive to all actions of the will; and that reason cannot oppose passion in the route of the will (Hume 413).
Hume describes reason as the discovery of falsehood or truth which both comprise of disagreement or agreement by either the real relations of ideas, or to the real matter of fact and existence (Cohon 458). He understands that rational thinking is only applicable to ascertaining the relationship between different objects in the world meaning that reason does not apply to thoughts and ideas of the mind. Demonstrative or abstract reasoning never influences our actions but influences the judgment that concerns causes and also effects and this leads us to conclude that passion is a way (Hume 414).
Hume has described passion as the internal thoughts, main motivations in our mind and separate from the exterior world. Hume explains that it is now evident that our volitions, actions and passions, are not vulnerable to disagreement or agreements; because original realities and facts, that are complete in themselves and they do not imply reference to the other actions, volitions and passions (Hume 458). Passions are neither unreasonable nor reasonable and this argument helps Hume to conclude that passions influence and motivate our behavior. He explains that the underlying motivations in a person arise from the ideas of pain and pleasure. When a human being is faced with pain and pleasure from any side, he or she feels some consequent emotion of propensity or aversion, and are also carried to embrace or avoid whatever would give them satisfaction or uneasiness (Taylor 14). From this we can conclude that it is always the internal passion or desire of a person to limit one’s suffering and fully maximize pleasure and hence passion is the real founding motivator for all our actions.
Morality highly influences our affections and actions and from this notion Hume is able to conclude that morals cannot be derived from reason because reason cannot have tremendous influence on our morality. Morals are able to excite passions and this in return prevents or produces actions. Reason alone is known to be an impotent factor in morality. From this we say that the rules of morality are not mere conclusions of reason (James 57). Morality influences people towards actions but reason is unable to influence people’s actions, therefore we can conclude that morality is not an outcome of various rational decisions making which occurs in our minds and also more due to the internal desires and passions.
Hume explains at some point that reason is a slave of passion and it is only meant to serve and obey (Hume 415). This meant that human beings should act on their passions and also rationalize their actions in order to conform to their passions. However, later on Hume explains that reason can have influence on the conduct of human being in two scenarios. One of the scenarios is when excites a given passion through informing the people of the reality of a thing which is proper object of it. The second scenario is when reason discovers the existing connexion of cause and effect in order to afford the people means of exerting their passions (Hume 459).
Hume explains that when two passions are produced by different causes, and are in the minds of human beings, the passions mingle and come together although they have one relation. The dominant passion swallows the inferior passion (James 206).