Passion: Philosophical Definition

passion philosophy

The passion: from passivity to activity

The passion in philosophy is a central concept, which refers to the conception of subjectivity. For philosophers of freedom, passion is a “disease of the soul” (Kant), for the rationalist philosophers (Plato, Descartes), they blur the trial and prevent access to truths. Whereas for the Romantics (Hegel, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, …), the passion intensifies life, stands for liberation.

General Definitions:

From the Latin “passio” action to bear, endure, suffer

Old meaning : all passive phenomena of the soul, that is to say all that is suffered

Modern meaning: inclination unmanageable; break the psychological

Specific definitions of philosophers:

Cicero: “Zeno gives this definition of passion: Passion is a commotion of the soul opposed to right reason and against nature”

Descartes: “You can usually appoint passions all the thoughts that are excited in the soul without the help of the will, and therefore no action that comes from her only by the impressions that are in the brain, because anything that is not action is passion “(Treatise on the Passions of the soul)

Spinoza: “I mean disorders of the body through which the power to act in this body is increased or diminished, helped or reduced, and at the same time, the ideas of these disorders. When we can be the adequate cause of someone One of those conditions, so I mean by love action, in other cases a passion “(Ethics)

Hume: “The passion is a violent emotion of the mind and sensitive to the appearance of a good or bad, or object which, owing to the original constitution of our faculties, is fit excite an appetite “(Treatise on human nature)

Kant: “The inclination that the reason the subject can not be controlled or managed with difficulty there is passion” (Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view)

Kant: “The passion takes the time and, however powerful it may be, she thought to reach its goal. Passion is like a poison swallowed or disability contracted and she needs a doctor who heals the soul from inside or outside, who knows yet most often prescribe drugs palliative “(Critique of Practical Reason)

Kierkegaard: “We have lost more when we lost her passion when one has lost his passion” (Diary of the Seducer)

Hegel: “Nothing great has done great in the world without passion” (Reason in History)


Cite this article as: Tim, "Passion: Philosophical Definition, June 16, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, June 16, 2012,

Leave a Reply