The nature and structure of emotions
Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Philosophers have almost always said something about emotions and passions whenever they have discussed human mental life. Many have asserted that it is some emotions or, more broadly, passions, that are to be primarily valued and sought. These valued passionate states of mind might include emotions, moods, desires, belief-like feelings of conviction and commitment, and romantic or erotic love, which are typically scarcely distinguished. Not only are these states of mind lumped together, but the reasons why they are valued may likewise be various: they may be valued because of their intrinsic feeling (especially insofar as they are intense), through their long-term or deep effects on the rest of our practical and mental lives, through their effects on others’ lives, or even in the glimpse they give us of an object that transcends our mundane and superficial concerns, as in love, peak experiences, or intimations of God, Beauty, or Nature. Others have claimed that it is in the subduing or elimination of some or all of these passions that the ideal human life consists. Again, what precisely are the objectionable passions is typically not delineated, and why such mental states are objectionable may be diverse and even unspecified. One might resent their "disruptive" nature on our mental life, especially insofar as some of them stem from external, uncontrollable sources, and instead seek a calm state that is within one’s control and not subject to these whimsical externalities. Or one can see many or all passions as disruptive of control and success in our inner or outer life, or in the lives of others. We might call this latter group the anti-emotional Rationalists, and the former group the pro-emotional Romantics|
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