In this article I will consider how loss of affect in our intellectual lives, through depression for example, can be as debilitating as loss of affect elsewhere in our lives. This will involve showing that there are such things as intellectual emotions, that their role in intellectual activity is not merely as an aid to the intellect, and that loss of affect changes not only one’s motivations, but also one’s overall evaluative take on the world.
Breithaupt’s central claim is that “empathy can be regarded as a mechanism for strengthening a decision” (2012, p. 87). My concern is that it is not clear what is meant by “strengthen.” Does empathy merely give more motivational “oomph” to a decision already made, or does it strengthen a decision in the normative sense—does it give more reason for the decision?
Peter Goldie explores the ways in which we think about our lives--our past, present, and future--in narrative terms. The notion of narrative is highly topical, and highly contentious, in a wide range of fields including philosophy, psychology and psychoanalysis, historical studies, and literature. The Mess Inside engages with all of these areas of discourse, and steers a path between the sceptics who are dismissive of the idea of narrative as having any worthwhile use at all, and those who argue that (...) our very selfhood is somehow constituted by a narrative. After introducing the notion of narrative, Goldie discusses the way we engage with the past in narrative terms. This involves an exploration of the essentially perspectival nature of narrative thinking, which gains support from much recent empirical work on memory. Drawing on literary examples and on work in psychology, Goldie considers grief as a case study of this kind of narrative thinking, extending to a discussion of the crucial notion of 'closure'. Turning to narrative thinking about our future, Goldie discusses the many structural parallels between our imaginings of the future and our memories of the past, and the role of our emotions in response to what we imagine in thinking about our future in the light of our past. This is followed by a second case study--an exploration of self-forgiveness. In this ground-breaking book, Goldie supports scepticism about the idea that there is such a thing as a narrative self, but argues that having a narrative sense of self, quite distinct from any metaphysical notion of selfhood, is at the heart of what it is to think of ourselves, and others, as having a narratable past, present, and future. (shrink)
Narrative thinking -- Narrative thinking about one's past -- Grief : a case study -- Narrative thinking about one's future -- Self-forgiveness : a case study -- The narrative sense of self -- Narrative, truth, life, and fiction.
Empathy has for a long time, at least since the eighteenth century, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do; and in relation to our capacity to respond to others ethically. In addition, empathy is seen as having a central role in aesthetics, in the understanding of our engagement with works of art and with fictional characters. (...) A fuller understanding of empathy is now offered by the interaction of research in science and the humanities. Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives draws together nineteen original chapters by leading researchers across several disciplines, together with an extensive Introduction by the editors. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, to bring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises. This volume offers the ideal starting-point for the exploration of this intriguing aspect of human life. (shrink)
This paper presents two ideas in connection with the notion of empathic access to one's past, where this notion is understood as consisting of memories of one's past from the inside, plus a fundamental sympathy for those remembered states. The first idea is that having empathic access is a necessary condition for one's personal identity and survival. I give reasons to reject this view, one such reason being that it in effect blocks off the possibility of profound personal progress through (...) radical change. The second idea is that empathy with one's past should, as a matter of necessity, be modeled on empathy with another person. I reject this two-state model, arguing for the alternative possibility of a one-state model, according to which one's thoughts and memories of one's past can become infused with one's present thoughts about and attitudes toward one's past. (shrink)
Grief is not a kind of feeling, or a kind of judgement, or a kind of perception, or any kind of mental state or event the identity of which can be adequately captured at a moment in time. Instead, grief is a kind of process; more specifically, it is a complex pattern of activity and passivity, inner and outer, which unfolds over time, and the unfolding pattern over time is explanatorily prior to what is the case at any particular time. (...) The pattern of a particular grieving is best understood and explained through a narrative account, and not merely through a causal account, for narrative accounts in such cases have powerful explanatory, revelatory, and expressive powers which causal accounts lack. Although I will not argue for it here, I believe that this view of grief can be generalised to other kinds of emotion. If this is so, then many philosophical accounts of emotion are at fault in identifying emotion with a kind of mental state or event. (shrink)
What is the best model of emotion if we are to reach a good understanding of the role of emotion in religious life? I begin by setting out a simple model of emotion, based on a paradigm emotional experience of fear of an immediate threat in one’s environment. I argue that the simple model neglects many of the complexities of our emotional lives, including in particular the complexities that one finds with the intellectual emotions. I then discuss how our dispositions (...) to have these kinds of emotions, which are part of what it is to be a virtuous intellectual enquirer, are subject to vicissitudes, in particular brought about by depression, apathy and other damaging changes to our psychic economy. These changes can flatten affect, so that one’s intellectual life goes cold on one. Finally, I commend the idea of applying this model of intellectual emotion onto religious emotion. (shrink)
According to Bob Solomon, love is a human emotion, with a complex intentional structure, having its own kind of reasons. I will examine this account, which, in certain respects, tends to mask the deep and important differences between love and other emotions.
This volume contains thirty-one state-of-the-art contributions from leading figures in the study of emotion today. The volume addresses all the central philosophical issues in current emotion research, including: the nature of emotion and of emotional life; the history of emotion from Plato to Sartre; emotion and practical reason; emotion and the self; emotion, value, and morality; and emotion, art and aesthetics. -/- Anyone interested in the philosophy of emotion, and its wide-ranging implications in other related fields such as morality and (...) aesthetics, will want to consult this book. It will be a vital resource not only for scholars and graduate students but also for undergraduates who are finding their way into this fascinating topic. (shrink)
I argue that emotional feelings are not just bodily feelings, but also feelings directed towards things in the world beyond the bounds of the body, and that these feelings (feelings towards) are bound up with the way we take in the world in emotional experience.
What is the point of art, and why does it matter to us human beings? The answer that I will give in this paper, following on from an earlier paper on the same subject, is that art matters because our being actively engaged with art, either in its production or in its appreciation, is part of what it is to live well. The focus in the paper will be on the dispositions—the virtues of art production and of art appreciation—that are (...) necessary for this kind of active engagement with art. To begin with, I will argue that these dispositions really are virtues and not mere skills. Then I will show how the virtues of art, and their exercise in artistic activity, interweave with the other kinds of virtue which are exercised in ethical and contemplative activity. And finally, I will argue that artistic activity affords, in a special way, a certain kind of emotional sharing that binds us together with other human beings. (shrink)
The emotions were a neglected topic in philosophy twenty or so years ago, but things have now changed. It is now appreciated how important it is to understand the emotions as an independent aspect of our mental economy – one that has to be properly taken into account in any worthwhile philosophising in ethics or moral psychology, in epistemology, in aesthetics, and generally in philosophical issues surrounding value and how the mind engages with value in the world. There is now (...) a wide range of philosophical theories of emotion 'on the market', and whilst this Guide and the related Article are not the place to argue for one or the other of these, anyone working in areas which overlap with emotion research ought to be aware of what these theories are, and ought to consider what the implications of their own views are in order not to be committed to an ultimately untenable account of the emotions, and of their place in our lives. Author Recommends Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987). This is a classic, full of fascinating insights. Best not read straight through; use it selectively, depending on where your research is going. Robert Solomon, The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1976). Another classic. Solomon was one of the pioneers to resurrect emotion to its rightful place in philosophy. Solomon was greatly influenced by the existentialists, and he argued not only that emotions are rational, but also that we choose our emotions. Since then, Solomon has nuanced his position considerably, but this early work merits close study. Robert Solomon, ed., Thinking about Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). This collection contains 17 chapters on emotion from contemporary philosophers, plus an Introduction by Solomon. It gives an excellent feeling for the central issues in the current debates. John Deigh, 'Cognitivism in the Theory of Emotions', Ethics 104 (1994): 824–54. Deigh argues for a cognitive theory of the emotions, and considers how such a theory can accommodate emotions in non-human animals and in babies. William James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. This article, and the related (and later) discussion in his The Principles of Psychology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981, ch. 25), has had an enormous influence on psychologists, and on philosophers who argue for various versions of non-cognitivism in the emotions. It merits reading in the original. Robert Zajonc, 'On the Primacy of Affect', American Psychologist 39 (1984): 117–23. This article, 100 years after James, has also been enormously influential on non-cognitivists. Jesse Prinz, Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Prinz is one of the proponents of non-cognitivism, and the influence of James and Zajonc will be clear. Peter Goldie, 'Emotion', Philosophy Compass 2/6 (2007): 928–38, doi: [DOI link]. My own survey of the current literature. Online Materials: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotion/ de Sousa on Emotion in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: An excellent survey of the current literature. Sample Syllabus: Week 1: Cognitive-rationalist theories of emotion R. Solomon, 'The Rationality of emotions', Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1977): 105–14. G. Taylor, 'Justifying the Emotions', Mind 84 (1975): 390–402. M. Nussbaum, 'Emotions as Judgements of Value and Importance', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 183–99. Week 2: Non-cognitive feeling theories of emotion W. James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. J. Prinz, 'Embodied Appraisals', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 44–60. Week 3: Perceptual and sui generis theories of emotion Robert Roberts, Emotion: An Aid in Moral Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), ch. 2, sections 2.1–2.4. Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), ch. 6. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 3. Week 4: Expression of emotion Michael Smith, 'The Humean Theory of Motivation', Mind 96 (1987): 36–61. Rosalind Hursthouse, 'Arational Actions', Journal of Philosophy 88 (1991): 57–68. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 5. Week 5: Emotional sincerity and authenticity Mikko Salmela, "What is Emotional Authenticity?", Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 35.3 (2005): 209–39. David Pugmire, Sound Sentiments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), ch. 2 and 7 especially. Week 6: Morality and the emotions A. J. Ayer, 'Critique of Ethics and Theology', Language, Truth and Logic (London: Penguin, 1936), chapter VI. Bernard Williams, 'Morality and the Emotions', Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 207–229. Simon Blackburn, Spreading the Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), chapter 6. Focus Questions1. What element of truth is there in the idea that emotions are judgements? How can such a theory allow for the possibility of conflict between emotion and judgement?2. James argues that feelings are essential to emotion: no feeling, then no emotion. How does a non-cognitive theory of emotion seek to account for this, and is such a theory the only way of doing so?3. Roberts argues that emotions are a kind of perception (a concern-based construal); de Sousa argues rather that there is only an analogy between emotion and perception and that emotion is an irreducible psychological category; Goldie argues that emotional feelings are sui generis'feelings towards'. How might one decide which of these more accurately captures the nature of emotion?4. Hursthouse argues that our expressions of emotion (kicking the chair in anger for example) are arational. What are her arguments for this, and are they sound?5. We often speak of someone's anger, for example, as not being sincere, or of her generosity as not being authentic. What do these claims mean, and how are the notions of sincerity and authenticity of emotion related conceptually?6. What is the role of emotion in our moral thought and talk? (shrink)
In this paper I sketch a virtue theory of art, analogous to a virtue theory of ethics along Aristotelian lines. What this involves is looking beyond a parochial conception of art understood as work of art, as product, to include intentions, motives, skills, traits, and feelings, all of which can be expressed in artistic activity. The clusters of traits that go to make up the particular virtues of art production and of art appreciation are indeed virtues in part because, when (...) they are expressed in artistic activity, that activity is chosen for its own sake, ‘under the concept of art’; and also they are virtues in part because, when they are so expressed, the activities are themselves partly constitutive of human well-being, along with other activities, including leading an ethical life, and what Aristotle called contemplation. With a virtue theory of art before us, we can begin to see the point of art, to see why art matters to us as human beings. (shrink)
_In real life, emotions can distort practical reasoning, typically in ways that it is_ _difficult to realise at the time, or to envisage and plan for in advance. This fea-_ _ture of real life emotional experience raises difficulties for imagining such expe-_ _riences through centrally imagining, or imagining ‘from the inside’. I argue_ _instead for the important psychological role played by another kind of imagin-_ _ing: imagining from an external perspective. This external perspective can draw_ _on the dramatic irony involved (...) in imagining these typical cases, where one_ _knows outside the scope of the imagining what one does not know as part of the_ _content of what one imagines: namely, that the imagined emotion is distorting_ _one’s reasoning. Moreover, imagining from an external perspective allows one_ _to evaluate the imagined events in a way that imagining from the inside does not._. (shrink)
There is a view of the emotions (I might tendentiously call it ‘cognitivism’) that has at present a certain currency. This view is of the emotions as playing an essential role in our gaining evaluative knowledge of the world. When we are angry at an insult, or afraid of the burglar, our emotions involve evaluative perceptions and thoughts, which are directed towards the way something is in the world that impinges on our well-being, or on the well-being of those that (...) matter to us. Without emotions, we would be worse off, prudentially and morally: we would not see things as they are, and accordingly we would not act as we should. Emotions are, according to this view a Good Thing. No wonder we have evolved as creatures capable of emotion.. (shrink)
Warm, sensitive, creative, outgoing, cheeky, creepy. Scan any personal ads page and it's clear that to get a life you need a personality first. It is also a notion with a long and often bizarre history: in early Greece and medieval Europe, it was thought to depend on the balance of bile in the body. On Personality is a thoughtful and stimulating look under the skin of this widely-used but little understood phenomenon. Peter Goldie points out that we rely on (...) personality to do a lot of work: describe, judge, understand, explain and predict others as well as ourselves. Is it really up to this task? If personality is about "character," is it a relic of a bygone Victorian age? If personality is so reliable, how can a virtue in one person be a vice in another? Drawing on a great range of philosophers, novelists and films, from Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Nietzsche to Joseph Conrad, Middlemarch , War and Peace and Bridget Jones' Diary , Peter Goldie also discusses some famous psychology experiments. If personality is a reliable guide to predicting what people will do, he reflects on why people often surprise us and asks whether personality is simply down to chance and circumstance. (shrink)
Abstract Narrative thinking has a very important role in our ordinary everyday lives?in our thinking about fiction, about the historical past, about how things might have been, and about our own past and our plans for the future. In this paper, which is part of a larger project, I will be focusing on just one kind of narrative thinking: the kind that we sometimes engage in when we think about, evaluate, and respond emotionally to, our own past lives from a (...) perspective that is external to the remembered events. Being able to do this is an essential part of what it is to have a narrative sense of self. Sometimes, I will suggest, we fail to have such responses?we are not able to think and feel as we should about an episode in our lives. On such occasions, there is a gap in our narrative sense of self?a gap which opens up especially where the past is in some sense tragic or traumatic. The desire to close this gap is what I will call a desire for emotional closure. (shrink)
Emotions, I will argue, involve two kinds of feeling: bodily feeling and feeling towards. Both are intentional, in the sense of being directed towards an object. Bodily feelings are directed towards the condition of one's body, although they can reveal truths about the world beyond the bounds of one's body – that, for example, there is something dangerous nearby. Feelings towards are directed towards the object of the emotion – a thing or a person, a state of affairs, an action (...) or an event; such emotional feelings involve a special way of thinking of the object of the emotion, and I draw an analogy with Frank Jackson's well-known knowledge argument to show this. Finally, I try to show that, even if materialism is true, the phenomenology of emotional feelings, as described from a personal perspective, cannot be captured using only the theoretical concepts available for the impersonal stance of the sciences. (shrink)
The question is how to explain expressions of emotion. It is argued that not all expressions of emotion are open to the same sort of explanation. Those expressions which are actions can be explained, like other sorts of action, by reference to a belief and a desire; however, no genuine expression of emotion is done as a means to some further end. Certain expressions of emotion which are actions can also be given a deeper explanation as being expressive of a (...) wish. Expressions of emotion which are not actions cannot be given a belief-desire explanation: no belief is involved, and a desire is involved only in an honorific sense of 'desire'. The distinction amongst expressions of emotion between those which are actions and those which are not is not a precise one, and the paper concludes with some speculative remarks about borderline cases such as jumping for joy. (shrink)
Peter Goldie opens the path to a deeper understanding of our emotional lives through a lucid philosophical exploration of this surprisingly neglected topic. Drawing on philosophy, literature and science, Goldie considers the roles of culture and evolution in the development of our emotional capabilities. He examines the links between emotion, mood, and character, and places the emotions in the context of consciousness, thought, feeling, and imagination. He explains how it is that we are able to make sense of our own (...) and other people's emotions, and how we can explain the very human things which emotions lead us to do. He argues that it is only from the personal point of view that thoughts, reasons, feelings, and actions come into view. This fascinating book gives an accessible but penetrating exploration of an important but mysterious subject. Any reader interested in emotion and its role in understanding our lives will find much to think about here. (shrink)