The Rationality of Emotion

Philosophy and Culture 32 (10):35-66 (1987)

Ronald De Sousa
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Vincent Shen
Last affiliation: University of Toronto, St. George Campus
How should we understand the emotional rationality? This first part will explore two models of cognition and analogy strategies, test their intuition about the emotional desire. I distinguish between subjective and objective desire, then presents with a feeling from the "paradigm of drama" export semantics, here our emotional repertoire is acquired all the learned, and our emotions in the form of an object is fixed. It is pretty well in line with the general principles of rationality, especially the lowest reasonable principles. Turned to the second part of this side of reasonable. I will inquire how emotional beliefs, desires, and behaviors contribute to the rationality. I will present a very general biological hypothesis: emotions by controlling highlights the characteristics of perception and reasoning, so that we remove the difficulties due in particular to lead to paralysis; they are being simulated by a simplified perception of information, thus limiting our practice and cognitive choice. How are we to understand emotional or axiological rationality? I pursue analogies with both the cognitive and the strategic models, testing them against intuitions about emotional desires. We distinguish two different classes of desires, the subjective and the objective, and propose that emotions have a semantics that derives from "paradigmatic scenarios", in terms of which our emotional repertoire is learned and the formal objects of our emotions fixed. This fits in well with emerging facts about how our emotional capacities develop, and it can also be squared with the general principles of rationality, particularly minimal rationality. In the second part, I return to the perspective of rationality. I ask how emotions contribute to the rationality of beliefs, desires, and behavior. I proffer a very general biological hypothesis: Emotions spare us the paralysis potentially induced by a particular predicament by controlling the salience of features of perception and reasoning; they temporarily mimic the informational encapsulation of perception and so circumscribe our practical and cognitive options.
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