In the ancient Greek, the term pathos, translated into Late Latin as passio, from which we get the word passion, was used to indicate a momentary and dramatic change that occurred in the disposition and the behavior of an individual ㅡ a change generally caused by a certain intervention of supernatural power (fate, gods) whose nature is disastrous. A shift in perspective was accomplished by Plato, who began to consider the cause of passion in terms of the relation between body and soul. Passion, however, remained for him a horrible and inevitable pathēmata , in that it could destroy not only the stability of an individual, but also the order established with great effort by the city. By contrast, for Aristotle, passion was not a horrible thing any more; it was rather a normal emotional response to particular circumstances, an emotion that a skillful orator could evoke within a certain audience. Following Plato, however, the Stoics defined passion as an excessive and unreasonable impulse of the soul. Against these ancient traditions, Descartes, considered passion not as a movement of the soul reacting to certain circumstances, but as an emotion excited by the body, combined with the soul. According to Descartes, it was the movement of the esprits animaux (vital spirit) that brought about human passion. For Spinoza, though, the cause of passion was not the movement of vital spirit, but an error of judgment. According to him, passion is an affect of which we are the inadequate and partial cause, for it includes exterior causes as well as our nature.
Finally, Kant defined passion as “the inclination that the reason of one subject cannot control or only can reach with great difficulty.” According to Kant, passion is an inclination (a habitual and sentimental desire) to which the subject submits.
Although there are a diverse number of perspectives and theoretical presuppositions, all these theories concerning passion suggest constant factors that have characterized it throughout its history, that is, passivity, suffering, valuation to an inclination, and exclusiveness.