The nature of emotions: comments on Martha Nussbaum's Upheavals of thought

In Martha Craven Nussbaum, Joseph Chan, Jiwei Ci & Joe Lau (eds.), The Ethics and Politics of Compassion and Capabilities. Hong Kong: Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong (2007)

Authors
Joe Y. F. Lau
University of Hong Kong
Abstract
Nussbaum’s theory of the emotions draws heavily on the Stoic account. In her theory, emotions are a kind of value judgment or thought. This is in stark contrast to the well-known proposal from William James, who took emotions to be bodily feelings. There are various motivations for taking emotions as judgments. One main reason is that emotions are intentional mental states. They are always about something, directed at particular objects or state of affairs. For example, fear seems to involve the anticipation of danger. To grief for the passing of a loved one involves the thought that someone dear to us is now gone. In Upheavals of Thought and also in her Hochelaga Lecture, Nussbaum analyzed compassion as a set of judgments, including for example the judgment that someone is experiencing serious suffering, and that the person in question does not deserve the suffering.
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