Can Emotions Have Abstract Objects? The Example of Awe

Philosophia 46 (3):733-746 (2018)
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Abstract

Can we feel emotions about abstract objects, assuming that abstract objects exist? I argue that at least some emotions can have abstract objects as their intentional objects and discuss why this conclusion is not just trivially true. Through critical engagement with the work of Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt, I devote special attention to awe, an emotion that is particularly well suited to show that some emotions can be about either concrete or abstract objects. In responding to a possible objection, according to which we can only feel emotions about things that we take to matter to our flourishing, and thus cannot feel emotions about causally inefficacious abstract objects, I explore how abstract objects can be relevant to human flourishing and discuss someemotions other than awe that can be about abstract objects. I finish by explaining somereasons why my conclusion matters, including the fact that it presents a challenge to perceptual theories of emotion and causal theories of intentionality.

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Rachel Fredericks
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Citations of this work

Consciousness is Sublime.Takuya Niikawa - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Jadedness: A philosophical analysis.Andreas Elpidorou - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 1:1-24.
Jadedness: A philosophical analysis.Andreas Elpidorou - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (2):567-590.

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References found in this work

Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant (ed.) - 1788 - New York,: Hackett Publishing Company.
The emotions: a philosophical introduction.Julien A. Deonna & Fabrice Teroni - 2012 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Fabrice Teroni.
How We Hope: A Moral Psychology.Adrienne M. Martin - 2014 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Upheavals of Thought. The Intelligence of Emotions.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2003 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 65 (1):174-175.
Précis of Upheavals of Thought.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2):443-449.

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