Not Passion's Slave: Emotions and Choice by Robert C. Solomon

By Robert C. Solomon

The concept that we're in a few major experience chargeable for our feelings is an concept that Robert Solomon has constructed for nearly 3 many years. right here, in one quantity, he strains the improvement of this idea of feelings and complex it intimately. subject matters run via his paintings: the 1st provides a "cognitive" idea of feelings within which feelings are construed basically as evaluative judgments. the second one proposes an "existentialist" point of view during which he defends the concept, as we're accountable for our feelings. certainly, occasionally it even is sensible to claim that we "choose" them. whereas the 1st declare has received expanding forex within the literature, his declare approximately accountability for feelings has persevered to fulfill with substantial resistance and misinterpretation. the hot emphasis on evolutionary biology and neurology has (mistakenly) bolstered the preferred prejudice that feelings "happen" to us and are solely past our control.

This quantity can also be a sort of highbrow memoir of Solomon¹s personal improvement as a philosopher. The essays written within the Nineteen Eighties tricky the topics of the "intentionality" of emotion and the declare that feelings are "judgments"; during this interval, he's additionally more and more preoccupied with how feelings range and are pointed out in a number of cultures. within the 1990's, his pursuits evolve to think about the social and political position of feelings and theories approximately emotion. the ultimate part provides his present philosophical place at the seeming "passivity" of the passions. regardless of his personal severe evaluate of his prior paintings, he keeps to argue that, within the base line, we're answerable for our feelings and existential caliber of our lives.

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Yet no one can deny that, through our emotions ("out of anger," "out of love for you, I . . "), we perform some remarkably stupid and destructive acts. And so, despite the rationality of the emotions as judgments, complete with strategies and logic, we should have to say that, at least in a great many cases, the emotions are irrational as well. Thus, there are two different claims involved here. First, I claim that the emotions in general are rational in the sense of intelligent and conceptual, and a purely descriptive sense.

We often criticize our emotions for their stupidity, their lack of justification, their foolishness, but correspondingly we often acknowledge their right and justification, their astuteness and their effectiveness. Such criticism and praise already presuppose a rational structure, a game of intelligence with strategy and logic, which can go well or badly. It is significant that we make no such attempts at evaluation of our headaches and feelings in general. We simply suffer them, or on occasion, feel lucky that one came along at precisely the right time (in order that we might miss a dull party or meeting).

What follows in every discussion is the usual catechism of examples. "You can't be angry without being angry about something," "You can't be in love without being in love with someone," "You can't assert without asserting something," and so on. But what does this "aboutness" amount to? Can it be analyzed as a casual relationship, a simple association of ideas, as Hume believed? Or is it instead, as Husserl, for example, has argued, some essential relation, a matter of necessity? Given the problems that have arisen in even the most superficial attempts to spell out the Humean insistence on the intentionality of emotions, several recent authors have attempted to reject this 6 entirely, reducing the object in every case to the cause of emotion.

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