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Traditionally mind is regarded as having characteristics of three fundamental kinds — cognitive, conative and affective — knowing, striving and feeling. This division is understood in two main ways. According to modern idealistic theory, cognition, conation and feeling are complementary aspects of all mental process, each implying the others and the three together constituting what we mean by mentality; and this is perhaps the most widespread view of the matter. At the same time we find in contemporary thought as well as in earlier theories the conception of the cognitive, the conative and the affective as different sets of mental processes. This is the view implied by Hume, for example, when he says that reason is no motive to action; reason is regarded as purely cognitive and passive, as having no conative or active character, and similarly as having no affective character.

It may be said, in fact, that all English thinkers of the eighteenth century were in difficulties as to the distinction and relation between reason and the passions — with the possible exception of Shaftesbury, who, recognising affections towards affections as well as affections towards outside things, made possible an account of mind as a system of affections. To Butler, on the other hand (and here his views are similar to those of Socrates and Aristotle), there could not be system unless there was a specially systematising affection, one which informed man as to his nature or showed him how he could live up to it. Now Butler, like his Greek predecessors, is unable to maintain a distinction between reflective principles and passions or to show what these principles are; this comes out in the ambiguous position of benevolence in his theory, and in his difficulty in distinguishing the operations of conscience and of self-love. He fails, in fact, to show that any of our motives (tendencies to action) are anything but passionate or how the object of a reflective principle could have any relation to the object of a passion — such a relation, in particular, that the two tendencies could conflict. Similarly, Hume cannot consistently uphold the existence of a reason which is not operative (i.e., which is not already among our actions and capable of affecting others), and which has not particular objects that it pursues in preference to other things and therefore passionately.

Berkeley, again, leaves the passions of the mind in a somewhat ambiguous position in his theory. They are, according to his first division, one main class of “ideas”; but he immediately goes on to argue that the


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mind is something over and above ideas (which it may “have”), that it is something of which we cannot have an idea but can only have a “notion”, since it is essentially active and ideas are passive. But this means that the “ideas” he calls passions are no more intimately related to the mind (no more “its”) than any other ideas; or, if he is going to adhere to the view that passions are in some special way mental, he must abandon the doctrine of the mental as an agent, but not an object, of ordinary cognition. The fact that he goes no further into the question of the passions, is a sign of the weakness of his position.

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