It seems that human beings are hedonistic by nature. We use reason to find the course that will serve us best when a decision needs to be made. However, we are also passionate by nature. On some occasions our passion, be it in the form of love, hate, ecstasy, or anger, will cause us to abandon reason and perhaps act in a way that is not in our best interest. It is often said that we should follow our hearts and embrace our passionate side. My question is should we live passionately, for better or for worse, or should we try to contain our passions and live by reason?

If you mean by "hedonistic by nature" that human beings always act so as to secure the most pleasure for themselves, then your next remarks shows that you correctly do not think this is true. However, you seem to equate being hedonistic with doing what is in one's self-interest, and this is not true either. It is not always in one's self-interest to do what gives one the most pleasure. You also seem to take reason to be used solely to further one's self-interest, as if it were irrational to sacrifice one's own self-interest in order to save someone else from harm, but it is clearly rational to act in order to prevent a serious harm to someone else, even if it is not in your own self-interest.

However, the main point of your question seems to involve the supposed conflict between reason and the passions. It is true that sometimes our emotions lead us to do something that will cause us harm when there is no compensating benefit for anyone. But, in general, our emotions do not cause us to act irrationally, on the contrary, usually there is a congruence between what our emotions or passions lead us to do, and what it is rational to do. That is because there is usually not a unique way of acting that reason requires us to do. Rather, there are often many different and even incompatible courses of action that are allowed by reason.

You may have the mistaken but extremely popular view, especially among philosophers, that reason requires one to maximize one's self-interest, or the interests of all concerned. But reason is not as strict a taskmaster as philosophers take it to be. If we were to regard it as contrary to reason whenever we do not act to maximize, everyone would be acting irrationally at least 99% of the time. All that reason actually requires is that we avoid acting in a way that will harm ourselves when there is not a compensating benefit to anyone. Given this proper understanding of reason, there is far less conflict between reason and the passions than your question assumes. So except for the negative passions, such as hate, it is unlikely that we need to restrain our passions in order to live by reason.

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