Often they have been regarded as a dangerous threat to morality and rationality; in the romantic tradition, on the contrary, passions have been placed at the center both of human individuality and of the moral life. This ambivalence is reflected in the close connections between the vocabulary of emotions and that of vices and virtues: Not coincidentally, some key virtues—love, compassion, benevolence, and sympathy—are also names of emotions.
On the other hand, prudence, fortitude and temperance consist largely in the capacity to resist the motivational power of emotions Williams The view that emotions are irrational was eloquently defended by the Epicureans and Stoics. For this reason, these Hellenistic schools pose a particularly interesting challenge for the rest of the Western tradition. The Stoics adapted and made their own the Socratic hypothesis that virtue is nothing else than knowledge, adding the idea that emotions are essentially irrational beliefs.
All vice and all suffering is then irrational, and the good life requires the rooting out of all desires and attachments. As for the third of the major Hellenistic schools, the Skeptics, their view was that it is beliefs as such that were responsible for pain. Hence they recommend the repudiation of opinions of any sort.
Philosophy can then be viewed as therapy, the function of which is to purge emotions from the soul Nussbaum In support of this, the Stoics advanced the plausible claim that it is psychologically impossible to keep only nice emotions and give up the nasty ones. For all attachment and all desire, however worthy their objects might seem, entail the capacity for wrenching and destructive negative emotions. Moreover, the usual objects of our attachment are clearly unworthy of a free human being, since they diminish rather than enhance the autonomy of those that endure them.
The Hellenistic philosophers' observations about nasty emotions are not wholly compelling. Surely it is possible to see at least some emotions as having a positive contribution to make to our moral lives, and indeed we have seen that the verdict of cognitive science is that a capacity for normal emotion appears to be a sine qua non for the rational and moral conduct of life. Outside of this intimate but still somewhat mysterious link between the neurological capacity for emotion and rationality, the exact significance of emotions to the moral life will again depend on one's theory of the emotions.
Inasmuch as emotions are partly constituted by desires, as some cognitivist theorists maintain, they will, as David Hume contended, help to motivate decent behavior and cement social life. If emotions are perceptions, and can be more or less epistemically adequate to their objects, then emotions may have a further contribution to make to the moral life, depending on what sort of adequacy and what sort of objects are involved.
An important amendment to that view, voiced by D'Arms and Jacobson a is that emotions may have intrinsic criteria of appropriateness that diverge from, and indeed may conflict with, ethical norms. Appropriate emotions are not necessarily moral. Kevin Mulligan advances a related view: Emotions themselves are justified by perceptions and beliefs, and are said to be appropriate if and only if the axiological judgments they support are correct. If any of those variant views is right, then emotions have a crucial role to play in ethics in revealing to us something like moral facts.
A consequence of this view is that art and literature, in educating our emotions, will have a substantial role in our moral development Nussbaum Such elucidation would only be plausible if we understood the explicans more clearly than the explicandum. But the variety and complexity of emotions makes them poor candidates for the role of explicans. The view in question must also be distinguished from the sociobiological hypothesis—which had early precursors in Mencius and Hume—that certain motives of benevolence are part of the genetic equipment which makes ethical behavior possible.
That plausible view has attracted surprisingly energetic opposition in recent years. One objection against it is one directed against all forms of ethical naturalism: Nevertheless, studies of social interaction among other primates strongly support the hypothesis that our moral intuitions have been shaped by evolution. Such naturalistic studies do promise to explain, at least, both the existence of some of our more benevolent emotions and attitudes, and the way in which their scope often seems so dangerously limited to the members of some restricted in-group.
The range of emotions to which the sociobiological hypothesis can be applied, however, is relatively narrow. That many complex emotions are to a certain extent socially constructed, is attested by the fact that what is considered normal emotion varies between epochs and cultures.
Feminists have pointed out, in particular, that gender-specific norms on emotional experience and expression have been a standard means of maintaining inequality among the sexes in many cultures de Beauvoir Viewed in this light, the emotions in general lack that property of universalizability which many philosophers have regarded as a sine qua non of the ethical Blum On the other hand, the extent and significance of cultural differences are still a matter of considerable controversy Pinker Any conclusions about the place of emotions in the moral life must therefore remain highly tentative.
In the past two decades, the philosophy of emotions has become enriched with a number of perspectives that have both embraced and inspired inter-disciplinary studies. In this section, not all references are to works by professional philosophers: Most significantly, the study of emotions has had a considerable impact on ideas about the intersection of morality, politics, psychiatry and law. Emotions are seen by several philosophers as the psychological roots of moral feelings, so that different domains of morality can be traced to groups of emotions of which the prototypes are observed in our primate cousins de Waal ; Joyce Less radically, other philosophers have explored the function of emotion — particularly guilt and shame — in motivating moral behavior Taylor ; Gibbard ; Baier, ; Greenspan In recent years, a notable development in philosophical treatment of emotions has been the attempt to incorporate interdisciplinary approaches and insights into philosophy.
Paul Griffiths , Jessie Prinz , Craig DeLancey , Tim Schroeder are among the most vigorous exponents of the view that philosophical work on the emotions must be re-oriented away from linguistic analysis and more richly rooted in science. Robert Solomon, who spurred both interest and opposition with his provocative thesis that emotions are judgments, also advocated an enrichment of emotion theory through cross-cultural perspectives and the integration of scientific perspectives Solomon Under the impact of explosive progress in brain science, there has been renewed interest in the hypothesis that innate emotional temperament, as well as social environment, condition people's moral and political stance.
Emotional dispositions, in turn, have been linked via neuro-transmitters to specific genes Canli and Lesch At the same time, the influence of social environment and ideology has been studied in increasingly greater depth. More traditional perspectives continue to thrive, notably in the defense, by David Pugmire and others, of a broadly Aristotelian point of view on the moral importance of integrity in emotions.
There has also been increasing attention paid to the central role of emotions in psychiatry Blair, Mitchell, and Blair ; Charland , in law and politics Finkel and Parrott ; Deigh , and in religion Roberts A notable development of the past quarter of a century has been the increasing interest in specific emotions.
The role of emotions in our experience of art and literature is an obviously promising area which has received much attention in recent decades. Robert Gordon was one of the first to suggest that the knowledge we have of the states of mind of others, and particularly of their emotional condition, is derived not from any psychological theory, but from an active simulation of that other's state. The idea has been developed by Keith Oatley , as an approach to literature.
Fiction, he argues on the basis of much empirical work, works as a simulation run on the wetware of the reader's mind, and has the power to change us.
This view is also supported by Martha Nussbaum, who despite being firmly in the cognitive camp, has insisted that the kind of knowledge involved in moral appraisal is both affective and cognitive. For that reason, the full force of certain moral truths can best be grasped through the medium of literature rather than philosophical argument. Nussbaum ; ; ; Baier ; Hogan There has been a good deal of work on the role of emotions in music, although there is little consensus about how that works.
Budd ; Juslin and Sloboda ; Robinson ; Nussbaum Emotions in film have also come under scrutiny from philosophers Plantinga ; French, Wettstein and Saint One area that has mushroomed since the last couple of decades of the twentieth Century is the philosophy of sex and love. At least one book has explored the prospects for love and sex with robots Levy More usually, controversies have centered on the role of reason in generating love, as well as the kinds of reasons for action that love produces or can justify.
As might be expected, contemporary contributions to the philosophy of love have on the whole been less sanguine about love, particularly erotic love, than the general run of self-help or popular books in praise of love. Surprisingly, however, the idea that we love for reasons continues to find defenders among philosophers. In debates about the nature of emotions, feminist voices have been important participants, particularly on issues concerning the role of emotions in morality Gilligan ; Larrabee and the question of gender. On the latter question, as in other aspects of mentality research on gender differences in emotion has generally been dogged by publication bias: Sometimes it has seemed to follow in some mysterious way from the dimorphism of human gametes that men and women must have significantly different experiences of emotions in general and of sex and love in particular.
Nevertheless, a number of thinkers have resisted this trend. Finally, though probably not exhaustively, emotion theorists have turned to collective or shared emotions, as a specific form of shared intentionality; a motivating topic in that area being the question of collective guilt feelings Gilbert ; Tuomela ; Konzelmann Ziv ; Salmela In short, interdisciplinary research has thrived in recent years. Vast projects have sprung up, notably the Centre for Interdisciplinary Study of Affective Sciences CISAS in Geneva, in which philosophers have collaborated with psychologists, neuroscientists, experimental economists, and students of literature to study emotions.
Despite the great diversity of views contending in the philosophy of emotions, one can discern a good deal of agreement. A broad consensus has emerged on what we might call adequacy conditions on any theory of emotion. An acceptable philosophical theory of emotions should be able to account at least for the following baker's dozen of characteristics. All the recent and current accounts of emotion discussed here have something to say about most of them, and some have had something to say about all. The exploration of questions raised by these characteristics is a thriving ongoing collaborative project in the theory of emotions, in which philosophy will continue both to inform and to draw on a wide range of philosophical expertise as well as the parallel explorations of other branches of cognitive science.
Cameron Woloshyn made invaluable contributions to the current revision of this entry. Wyndham Thiessen helped with an earlier version. David Chalmers made judicious suggestions for improving the original version. Also, the editors would like to thank Kyle Helms for pointing out several typos in the first published version of the entry. Emotions and the Topography of the Mind 2. Emotions as Feelings 3. Emotions and Intentional Objects 4.
Psychological and Evolutionary Approaches 5. The Ontology of Emotions 8. Rationality and Emotions 9. Emotions and Self-knowledge Morality and Emotions Summary of Recent Trends and Ramifications into neighboring disciplines Emotions and the Topography of the Mind How do emotions fit into different conceptions of the mind? Emotions as Feelings The simplest theory of emotions, and perhaps the theory most representative of common sense, is that emotions are simply a class of feelings, differentiated from sensation and proprioceptions by their experienced quality.
Emotions and Intentional Objects What does a mood, such as free-floating depression or euphoria, have in common with an episode of indignation whose reasons can be precisely articulated? Psychological and Evolutionary Approaches That emotions typically have formal objects highlights another important feature of emotional experience which feeling theories neglect, and which other psychological theories attempt to accommodate: Cognitivist Theories Most contemporary philosophical theories of emotion resemble psychological appraisal theories, characterizing emotions primarily in terms of their associated cognitions.
The Ontology of Emotions What, in the end, are emotions? Rationality and Emotions The clearest notions associated with rationality are coherence and consistency in the sphere of belief, and optimization of outcomes in the sphere of action. Morality and Emotions The complexity of emotions and their role in mental life is reflected in the unsettled place they have held in the history of ethics. Summary of Recent Trends and Ramifications into Neighboring Disciplines In the past two decades, the philosophy of emotions has become enriched with a number of perspectives that have both embraced and inspired inter-disciplinary studies.
Adequacy Conditions on Philosophical Theories of Emotion Despite the great diversity of views contending in the philosophy of emotions, one can discern a good deal of agreement. Bibliography Cited Works Ainslie, George, Emotion and Personality , New York: An Essay on Emotion , New York: Essays on Ethics , Cambridge: Ben Ze'ev, Aaron, and Ruhama Goussinsky, In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims , Oxford: Ruling Passions , Oxford and New York: Lust , Oxford and New York: Attachment and Loss , New York: Epistemology and Emotions , Aldershot: Music and the Emotions: The Philosophical Theories , London: Burge, Campbell, Richmond, and Victor Kumar.
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