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We normally talk of "passions" as emotions or drives. But we also talk about "the passion of the Christ", namely what he suffered or underwent - and this points us to the etymological link with passivity. When Aristotle said that to perceive is to suffer, he meant not that perceiving is painful, but that in perceiving we are acted on by another.

Exploring our concept of passion, by way of passivity, will direct us into exploring action, force, and - what rationalists think is the best understanding of action and force - the explanation of one thing by another thing. Does it make sense to say that, when I am passionate, I am under the power of something else - that it accounts for what is going on in me? That would mean I can only be passionate about things that are more forceful, more explanatory than I am. How does this square with the phenomenology of emotional intensity?

Am I active to the extent that I generate (and thereby serve as the explanation for) something over and above what already exists in the world? Is creativity unconstrained, unresponsive to anything given, insofar as it is genuinely creative? If so, then how could any creative act be appropriate to a given situation?