The challenge of explaining the emotions has engaged the attention of the best minds in philosophy and science throughout history. Part of the fascination has been that the emotions resist classification. As adequate account therefore requires receptivity to knowledge from a variety of sources. The philosopher must inform himself of the relevant empirical investigation to arrive at a definition, and the scientist cannot afford to be naive about the assumptions built into his conceptual apparatus. The contributors to this volume have (...) approached the problem of characterizing and classifying emotions from the perspectives of neurophysiology, psychology, and social psychology as well as that of philosophical psychology. They discuss the difficulties that arise in classifying the emotions, assessing their appropriateness and rationality, and determining their function in motivating moral action. (shrink)
Annette Baier sets the title, the genre, and the task of her book from Hume’s essay "Of Moral Prejudices." Rather than arguing from or towards general principles, these essays call upon a wide range of reading, observation, and experience: we are not only meant to be enlightened, but also invited to adopt the reflective habits of mind they exemplify. Like Hume, Baier analyzes and evaluates our attitudes and customs; like him, she finds that our foibles and our strengths are closely (...) linked; and like him, she is both a proponent and a model of good sense. When she is unfairly prejudiced— as she is against what she sees as the harsh and narrow rigors of Kant—she is, with all the bonnehommie of Hume, more ready to tease than to demolish. (shrink)
There is more akrasia than meets the eye: it can occur in speech and perception, cognitively and emotionally as well as between decision and action. The lures of akrasia are the same as those that are exercised in ordinary psychological and cognitive inferential contexts. But because it is over-determined and because it occurs in opaque intentional contexts, its attribution remains highly fallible.
Bringing together a group of outstanding new essays on Aristotle's De Anima, this book covers topics such as the relation between soul and body, sense-perception, imagination, memory, desire, and thought, which present the philosophical substance of Aristotle's views to the modern reader. The contributors write with philosophical subtlety and wide-ranging scholarship, locating their interpretations firmly within the context of Aristotle's thought as a whole.u.
Lively current debates about narratives of historical progress, the conditions for international justice, and the implications of globalisation have prompted a renewed interest in Kant's Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim. The essays in this volume, written by distinguished contributors, discuss the questions that are at the core of Kant's investigations. Does the study of history convey any philosophical insight? Can it provide political guidance? How are we to understand the destructive and bloody upheavals that constitute so (...) much of human experience? What connections, if any, can be traced between politics, economics, and morality? What is the relation between the rule of law in the nation state and the advancement of a cosmopolitan political order? These questions and others are examined and discussed in a book that will be of interest to philosophers, social and political theorists, and intellectual and cultural historians. (shrink)
Philosophers on Education offers us the most comprehensive available history of philosopher's views and impacts on the directions of education. As Amelie Rorty explains, in describing a history of education, we are essentially describing and gaining the clearest understanding of the issues that presently concern and divide us. The essays in this stellar collection are written by some of the finest comtemporary philosophers. Those interested in history of philosophy, epistemology, moral psychology and education, and political theory will find Philosophers on (...) Education to be both an engaging and fascinating read. (shrink)
While we primarily love individual persons, we also love our work, our homes, our activities and causes. To love is to be engaged in an active concern for the objective well-being—the thriving—of whom and what we love. True love mandates discovering in what that well-being consists and to be engaged in the details of promoting it. Since our loves are diverse, we are often conflicted about the priorities among the obligations they bring. Loving requires constant contextual improvisatory adjustment of priorities (...) among our commitments. Besides delighting in—and being enhanced by—the presence and existence of another person, love requires extended reflection and work. (shrink)
The essays in this volume form a commentary on Descartes' _Meditations_. Following the sequence of the meditational stages, the authors analyze the function of each stage in transforming the reader, to realize his essential nature as a rational inquirer, capable of scientific, demonstrable knowledge of the world. There are essays on the genre of meditational writing, on the implications of the opening cathartic section of the book on Descartes' theory of perception and his use of skeptical arguments; essays on the (...) theory of ideas and their role of Descartes' reconstructive analytic method; essays on the proofs for the existence of God, on the role of the will in the formation and malformation of judgments; and the essays on the foundations of the science of extension and on Descartes' account of the union of mind and body. (shrink)
Since many varieties of self-deception are ineradicable and useful, it would be wise to be ambivalent about at least some of its forms.1 It is open-eyed ambivalence that acknowledges its own dualities rather than ordinary shifty vacillation that we need. To be sure, self-deception remains dangerous: sensible ambivalence should not relax vigilance against pretence and falsity, combating irrationality and obfuscation wherever they occur.
A person has performed an action akratically when he intentionally, voluntarily acts contrary to what he thinks, all things considered, is best to do. This is very misleadingly called weakness of the will; less misleadingly, akrasia of action. I should like to show that there is intellectual as well as practical akrasia. This might, equally misleadingly, be called weakness of belief; less misleadingly, akrasia of belief.
During the period from Descartes to Rousseau, the mind changed. Its domain was redefined; its activities were redescribed; and its various powers were redistributed. Once a part of cosmic Nous, its various functions delimited by its embodied condition, the individual mind now becomes a field of forces with desires impinging on one another, their forces resolved according to their strengths and directions. Of course since there is no such thing as The Mind Itself, it was not the mind that changed. (...) Conceptions of the mind changed. Yet even to say this is misleading, because it suggests that somewhere out there in nowhere there is Nous, Psyche, Soul or Mind, the true but opaque object of all these conceptions. But of course there is no Mind in the realm of things in themselves, waiting for us to see it truly, like a China of the noumenal world, amused that our various conceptions reveal as much about ourselves as about it. (shrink)
Courage is dangerous. If it is defined in traditional ways, as a set of dispositions to overcome fear, to oppose obstacles, to perform difficult or dangerous actions, its claim to be a virtue is questionable. Unlike the virtue of justice, or a sense of proportion, traditional courage does not itself determine what is to be done, let alone assure that it is worth doing. If we retain the traditional conception of courage and its military connotations–overcoming and combat–we should be suspicious (...) of it. Instead of automatically classifying it as a virtue, attempting to develop and exercise it, we should become alert to its dangers. And yet and yet. There is an aspect of traditional courage that serves us: we require the capacities and traits that enable us to persist in acting well under stress, to endure hardships when following our judgments about what is best is difficult or dangerous. If courage is checked, redefined as the virtue that enables virtue–the various sets of dispositions, whatever they may be, that make us resolute in worthy, difficult action–then we need not fear the dangers of courage. We need rather to reform it by diversifying it, as a heterogeneous variety of traits that enable us to act well under stress, against the natural movements of self-protection. (shrink)
In Part I, I consider the normal contexts of assertions of belief and declarations of intentions, arguing that many action-guiding beliefs are accepted uncritically and even pre-consciously. I analyze the function of avowals as expressions of attempts at self-transformation. It is because assertions of beliefs are used to perform a wide range of speech acts besides that of speaking the truth, and because there is a large area of indeterminacy in such assertions, that self-deception is possible. In Part II, I (...) analyze the conditions of self-deception, and discuss the grounds on which it is regarded as irrational, even when particular instances may be beneficial. I consider some of the classical analyses of the motives for self-deception, and attempt to give an account of the occasions in which it is likely to occur. In the final section, I discuss the complex organization of the self that is presupposed by the phenomena of self-deception. (shrink)
review of Rorty's collection on evil. Generally admring, but complaining about the disparate phenomena included under the heading. And remarking on the peculiarities of the Enlish word 'evil' not found in other European languages.
Many have said, and I think some have shown, that it is irrational to fear death. The extinction of what is essential to the self—whether it be biological death or the permanent cessation of consciousness—cannot by definition be experienced by oneself as a loss or as a harm.
Near the outset of Faust, Goethe sets his protagonist to translating the beginning of the Book of John. Dissatisfied with translating logos as Word, Faust tries "In the beginning was Mind" (Sinn), but he quickly retreats: "Can it be Mind what makes and shapes all things? Surely it should be 'In the beginning was Power (Kraft).'" Yet reflecting that Power might be merely latent, merely potential, he perseveres until finally Spirit (Geist) prompts Faust to settle on, "In the beginning was (...) the Deed (That)!"1With the restless ambition of Faust, Jean-Paul Sartre tries to find the origins of self-consciousness in a move from Word to Deed, inspired by an account of Jean Genet's foster-mother branding the .. (shrink)
As Elster suggests in his chapter 'Contradictions of the Mind', in Logic and Society, akrasia and self-deception represent the most common psychological functions for a person in conflict and contradiction. This article develops the theme of akrasia and conflict. Section I says what akrasia is not. Section II describes the character of the akrates, analyzing the sorts of conflicts to which he is subject and describing the sources of his debilities. A brief account is then given of the attractions of (...) the akratic alternative: its power to focus or dominate the agent's attention; its being strongly habitual; its having the pull of social streaming: following the charismatic leader, the mechanisms of sympathetic or antipathetic infection, the models of role casting. Following these strategies is by no means pathological: these are relatively automatic (though still voluntary) psychological functions. That is precisely their power and attraction: they provide the conflicted akrates with an action solution, though not one that accords with his preferred judgment. (shrink)
We are all ambivalent at every turn. “Should I skip class on this gorgeous spring day?” “Do I really want to marry Eric?” Despite being uncomfortable and unsettling, there are some forms of ambivalence that are appropriate and responsible. Even when they seem trivial and superficial, they reveal some of our deepest values, the self-images we would like to project. In this paper, I analyze collaborative ambivalence, the kind of ambivalence that arises from our identity-forming close relationships. The sources and (...) resolutions of collaborative ambivalence reveal how much of our thinking—and so also of our motivational structure—emerges from the details of our collaborative and dialogical engagements. The imaginative skills and strategies exercised in remaining justifiably of two minds—of preserving appropriate ambivalence—are central to practical reasoning. Because these skills provide models for addressing conflicts in the public sphere, because they prompt shared deliberation, they are among the civic virtues. (shrink)
Students of philosophy, psychology, sociology, and literature will welcome this collection of original essays on self-deception and related phenomena such as wishful thinking, bad faith, and false consciousness. The book has six sections, each exploring self-deception and related phenomena from a different perspective.
Not a day passes but we find ourselves indignant about something or other. When is our indignation justified, and when does it count as moral indignation rather than a legitimate but non-moral gripe? You might think that we should turn to moral theories – to the varieties of utilitarian, Kantian, virtue theories, etc – to answer this question. I shall try to convince you that this is a mistake, that moral theory – as it is ordinarily presently conceived and studied (...) – does not have a specific subject matter, a specific aim, scope or boundaries. You might think that the difference between echt moral indignation and other forms of disapproval is their relative strength or the importance of their target; but moral indignation can be quite faint, directed to a relatively minor transgression and a strongly felt gripe may be directed to a serious but presumptively non-moral infraction. I shall try to persuade you that morality does not constitute an important and distinctive domain with a distinctive set of over-riding norms or a privileged mode of reasoning: morality is everywhere or nowhere in particular. Radical as this claim may sound, I am not a complete Luddite about the matter. Traditional moral theories nevertheless have important functions. But rather than being competing ‘winner takes all’ explanatory and normative theories, OldSpeak moral systems function heuristically. They offer a heterogeneous set of reminders, questions, advice, ideals, warnings, considerations for deliberation. While we try to integrate and systematize them, there is no single overarching organizational plan. (shrink)
CONTEMPORARY discussions of the passions are often puzzlingly pulled in what appear to be opposing directions. We sometimes hold people responsible for their emotions and the actions they perform from them. Yet abnormal behavior is often explained and excused by the person "suffering" an emotional condition. We treat emotions as interruptions or deflections of normal behavior, and yet also consider a person pathological if he fails to act or react from a standard range of emotions. Sometimes emotions are classified as (...) a species of evaluative judgments whose analysis will be given in an adequate theory of cognition. But sometimes the cognitive or intentional character of an emotion is treated as dependent on, and ultimately explained by, a physical condition. These conflicting intuitions about the emotions are not easily reconciled: we cannot, for example, construct a tidy taxonomy of emotions, sorting out varieties that are cognitively from those that are primarily physically identifiable, or distinguish those that are strongly associated with "normal" motivational processes from those that are invasive interruptions. (shrink)
"NOTHING," SAYS SPINOZA "can be destroyed except by an external cause." And he adds, "An idea that excludes the existence of our body cannot be in our mind.... The mind endeavors to think of those things that increase or assist the body's power of activity... and to think only of those things that affirm its power of activity". These upbeat passages are mystifying, and sometimes downright disturbing to us dark, obsessive minds, who are prone to think of things that diminish (...) our powers, prone to diminish our powers precisely by thinking about what diminishes us, who are easily capable of thinking of a world that would, could and does exclude us. I want to try to make sense of the motifs expressed in these passages, reading them in such a way that they are not offensive to our sensibility--automatic grounds for distrusting the Spinozistic enterprise. Difficulties remain; but they are the ironies of all Stoics who speak with forked tongue. The optimism of the Stoic-enlightenment program of self-improvement is joined, Janus-faced, with an equally familiar Stoic resignation in the face of necessity. The dynamic energy of conatus as the essence of individuals is revealed as mere partiality: conatus and the individual mind, the contrast between activity and passivity, the contrast between external and internal causes--all these are temporary and temporizing notions which the fully enlightened mind will recognize to be inadequate ideas. Necessary as they are, they are nevertheless merely perspectival. Individuals bent on self-improvement, perceiving themselves bounded by and opposed to the forces of similar individuals, mistake the ontological importance of their individuality and their activities. The Hobbesian strand that is woven through Spinozistic doctrine is visible only within middle-range opinion: it is not ontologically or epistemologically fundamental. Yet, though it is partial and misleading, it remains among the phenomena to be explained. The enlightened will not eliminate but rather explain and understand the middle range talk of conatus, activity and passivity, external and internal, individuals and relations. Indeed, having questioned and even undermined the starting point of individuation, Spinoza returns the repressed: in book 5, particular finite individuals are represented within eternity. (shrink)