Active desire

Philosophical Psychology 32 (6):945-968 (2019)
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Abstract

Desire is commonly understood as a mental state in relation to which we are passive. Since it seems to arise in us spontaneously, without antecedent deliberation, it also seems to constitute a paradigmatic type of mental state which is not up to us. In this paper, I will contest this idea. I will defend a view according to which we can actively shape our desires by controlling the way in which we imagine their contents. This view is supported both by behavioral and neural data which indicate that imagining can either strengthen or weaken our existing desires. Arguably, this influence is made possible by our capacity to imaginatively elaborate on the content of our desires. This gives a reason to think that what we desire is partially under our control. It is under our control only partially because we can influence our desires insofar as their content appears appealing to us in imagination.

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Author's Profile

Uku Tooming
University of Tartu

Citations of this work

Self-Knowledge of Desire: When Inference Is Not Enough.Uku Tooming - 2022 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 30 (4):381-398.
How to keep up good appearances: Desire, imagination, and the good.Uku Tooming - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1147-1160.
Crusius über die Vernünftigkeit des Wollens und die Rolle des Urteilens.Sonja Schierbaum - 2021 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 69 (4):607-618.

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What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Responsibility for believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.
Controlling attitudes.Pamela Hieronymi - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (1):45-74.

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