Robert C. Solomon/Satre

I think it appropriate that we cover here some of the "cognitive" thought that is so prevalent today.

Robert C. Solomon/Satre

Postby drlynch on Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:37 pm

Recently I discovered the great letecturer Robert C. Solomon. The former Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy, the University of Texas at Austin. This is from his book "What is an Emotion"? I was surprised that it took me so long to run across this man who documents the history of emotion in philosophy so well. I certainly know of no one else who so thoroughly does the job.

Now unfortunately, he breaks my heart as although he certainly seems to recount accurately the thought of others his own view of emotions certainly seems erroneous. As often say, I find it very hard to understand the internal lives of such people. How do they process their own feelings? What "scripts" do thy have to empathize with others? How do they empathize with others when they say things like the following:

"Emotions are not occurrences and do not happen to us. I would like to suggest that we chose emotions much as we choose a course of action.

Emotions are intentional; that is, emotions are "about" something. "I am angry at John for stealing my car." It is not necessary to press the claim that all emotions are "about" something. Kierkegaard's dread may be an emotion which is not "about" anything, or, conversely, may be "about" everything. Similarly, moods, which ar much like emotions, do not have a specific object. Euphoria, melancholy, and depression are not "about" anything in particular, though they may be caused by some particular incident. We might wish to say that such emotions and moods are "about" the world rather than anything in particular. In fact, Heidegger has suggested that all emotions are ultimately "about" the world and never simply "about" something particular. But we will avoid debating these issues by simply focusing our attention on emotions that clearly seem to be "about" something specifiable.

" I am angry at John for stealing my car." It is true that I am angry. And it is also true that John stole my care. Thus we are tempted to distinguish two components of my being angry; my feeling of anger an what I am angery about. But this is doubly a mistake."

Then from the same work he summarizes Satre's view which I find just as intriguing and bizarre:

At the core Sartre's philosophy, from beginning to end, is the concept of freedom. His intention in Being and Nothingness, for example is to characterize human existence such that it is "without excuse." He argues relentlessly that we a re responsible for everything we do and everything we are. An this includes our emotions. Thus Satre could not disagree more with William James' theory , according to which emotions are largely instinctual, physiological reactions over which we have not control. Our emotions, Sartre says, are "magical transformations of the world, : voluntary ways in which we alter our consciousness of events and things to give us a more pleasing view of the world. Typically, Satre argues, these "transformations" are a form of "escape-behavior," ways of avoiding some crucial recognition about ourselves. perhaps his most elegant and simple example is Aesop's fable about the fox an the grapes; the fox tries to reach the grapes on the vine, but cannot. He makes light of his failure by deciding "They are sour anyway." But, "it is not the chemistry of the grapes that has changed," Sartre says it is the fox's attitude. He has come to look at the grapes oas sour, to prove he didn't want them any way. So too, he generalizes, our emotions are strategies we emply to avoid action , to avoid responsibility, to "flee from freedom," in the language of Being and Nothingness.

Although Sartre never develop full-scale theory of emotion , he nevertheless continued to use The emotions in his later work in particular Being and Nothingness.

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