Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What role do emotions play in the philosophical life?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What role do emotions play in the philosophical life?

    I can see two plausible extremes that would answer this question. First, a certain type of naturalist, analytic philosopher might say that emotion has virtually no role in philosophy or the philosophical life. Maybe emotional intuitions in ethics are important, but by and large, emotions muddy our logical faculties. Thus, we should attempt to calm or suppress our emotions when doing philosophy. Second, a Catholic (or devotee of a comparable religious tradition) might argue that emotion is crucial towards attaining wisdom. If God is a trinity of persons united through love, then emotion itself, or something analogical to emotion, is a fundamental, generative force in the universe. And on top of that, the ethical commands of Jesus seem to indicate that our emotional states are, to some degree, an ethical choice we make. On this view, the cultivation of emotional habits and virtues is essential to the philosophical life.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    Emotions should always be tempered by reason. Feelings, emotions, intuitions can hint at certain ethical and metaphysical truths, and in this sense I think they reveal a teleological tendency towards the good, the beautiful, the true--but they often do so dimly. Emotions can only be properly ordered only if we first understand what is true. A pro choicer may feel that the right to abortion should be universal. He may feel that this is common sense, intuitive. I would say his feelings are misdirected. But after he does some philophical investigation into what constitutes a human person, when it's morally licit to kill a human, what determines human value, etc., can he determine where to direct his emotions.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RomanJoe View Post
      Emotions should always be tempered by reason. Feelings, emotions, intuitions can hint at certain ethical and metaphysical truths, and in this sense I think they reveal a teleological tendency towards the good, the beautiful, the true--but they often do so dimly. Emotions can only be properly ordered only if we first understand what is true. A pro choicer may feel that the right to abortion should be universal. He may feel that this is common sense, intuitive. I would say his feelings are misdirected. But after he does some philophical investigation into what constitutes a human person, when it's morally licit to kill a human, what determines human value, etc., can he determine where to direct his emotions.
      RomanJoe gave a good answer, so I will just add some minor points. It is clear, that Aquinas et al focused on rationality as the way to gain true metaphysical knowledge. It is also what distinguishes us from other animals and what survives death in hylomorphistic dualism. He would probably exclude emotion from philosophy as best as possible and, without claiming that one can´t get objective knowledge through them, put it into a category of its own. If one presses me on it, I´d give his mystical experience and following stop of doing philosophy altogether, as an example.
      But one example which is rather modern and definitely has philosophical work done on it, is the argument from morality, and it certainly is primarily based on intuition. If my intuition, that killing the baby in front of me is objectively evil in all places and cultures, is true, then I´m presupposing an objective standard, from which everything else follows. The first premise is emotional, everything following from it a logical conclusion.
      So, every area in philosophy is connected, but I´d say that in Logic emotion has no place, while it is fundamental in Morality. In the philosophy of religion it has its place, but I´d say only in relation with arguments from morality. It doesn´t make sense to go into the analytical school, formulate theistic arguments, but let the premises rest on emotional arguments.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've always viewed emotions as a horse and the intellect as the rider. You use a horse to somewhere faster than you can on foot, but it's crucial that the rider determine where they're going, not the horse.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well certainly, especially in the Philosophy of Religion (both parties) and in Metaphysics, emotion is a, if not THE, driving factor to make arguments. I have never come across a real Apatheist and I think it is a flawed position. So the arguments formulated are mostly analytical in nature, but the motive is not.

          Also can we in that context conflate emotion with intuition? I know they are not the same, but they correlate. For example, and I want to formulate it later, I thought of an intuition argument for free will yesterday and I won´t deny a certain emotional attachment to being free.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post
            Well certainly, especially in the Philosophy of Religion (both parties) and in Metaphysics, emotion is a, if not THE, driving factor to make arguments. I have never come across a real Apatheist and I think it is a flawed position. So the arguments formulated are mostly analytical in nature, but the motive is not.

            Also can we in that context conflate emotion with intuition? I know they are not the same, but they correlate. For example, and I want to formulate it later, I thought of an intuition argument for free will yesterday and I won´t deny a certain emotional attachment to being free.
            Good point. One may mistake emotions for intuitions. For instance, being emotionally invested in the pro-choice movement may convince one that the right to abortion is some sort of a priori intuition that should govern our legal decisions.

            How can we discriminate between emotions and intuitions? I think intuition reflects a rudimentary grasp of truth, and said grasp can be distorted, misdirected, etc. A good example may be the unity of the rational agent. I think our intuition that we are one thing, a unified rational whole that persists despite temporal changes, that can entertain universal logical patterns, that is more than its basic parts, that is above a mere disparate collection of parts organized only by some lingual convention, is blatantly true. The most philosophically untrained have an unwavering intuition that this is true even though they can't hash it out in an academically-nuanced way.

            This simple primordial intuition reflects what natural reason may venture towards. We may need reason to refine, explicate, and adjust what our intuitions regard as true, but I think our intuitions serve as a guide towards these truths. This doesn't necessarily mean however, that what we regard as intuitively true is really true (e.g. emotional distortment, childhood conditioning, cultural conditioning).
            Last edited by RomanJoe; 07-02-2019, 01:21 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'll ask the question in stronger terms: Are there cases in which one ought to have certain emotional states before thinking or writing about a particular topic? For example, I think it would strike most as odd if a genuinely hateful person wrote a book about the love of God. Would that person be truly incapable of writing a good book on the subject? If you are an academic (in the perjorative sense, someone who views philosophy merely as a way to put food on the table, a la Rorty at the end of his life) but you have no wonder at the universe or existence, are you prohibited from doing good philosophy, or at least philosophy of a certain type?

              I think these sorts of emotional barriers are very real in other professions. If you have no compassion, you shouldn't be a therapist. If you have no patience, you shouldn't be a grade-school teacher. What emotional (maybe moral?) prerequisites are there for doing good philosophy?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Brian View Post
                I'll ask the question in stronger terms: Are there cases in which one ought to have certain emotional states before thinking or writing about a particular topic? For example, I think it would strike most as odd if a genuinely hateful person wrote a book about the love of God. Would that person be truly incapable of writing a good book on the subject? If you are an academic (in the perjorative sense, someone who views philosophy merely as a way to put food on the table, a la Rorty at the end of his life) but you have no wonder at the universe or existence, are you prohibited from doing good philosophy, or at least philosophy of a certain type?

                I think these sorts of emotional barriers are very real in other professions. If you have no compassion, you shouldn't be a therapist. If you have no patience, you shouldn't be a grade-school teacher. What emotional (maybe moral?) prerequisites are there for doing good philosophy?
                I don't think it's required for a lot of philosophical topics. We can do a lot of work on metaphysics without any emotions whatsoever. We just need focus; good, clear and polished rational intuitions; a good grap of logic; some acquaintance with real objects. That would be sufficent to do a good deal of work in metaphysics: to discuss universals, Platonism, hylemorphism, dualism x monism, God's existence (through some cosmological arguments, for example), etc. I think a completely emotionless human (if such a being were possible) would be able to do quite a lot of good metaphysical work with that. Some work about epistemology, too.

                I think even a hateful person could write some decent stuf about God's love, with a purely intellectual understanding. Though it would probably be much better if the person were able to have experiential knowledge of love and God, etc, obviously. But I think "pure reason" detached from emotions can get us pretty far with a lot of things.

                But there are some other areas of philosophy in which emotions and sharp sensibilities would be very helpful and perhaps even necessary. Some theology (like the aforementioned example of divine love) could benefit from emotional perceptions. Ethics, too, could benefit a And I think we probably can't do anything with aesthetics, philosophy of beauty, art, etc., if we don't have proper emotions.

                So I think the answer is yes, there are some areas of philosophy in which certain emotional states are very helpful, and some in which they may be necessary (aesthetics, some stuff about mysticism, probably existentialism, etc)

                If hou consider the love of truth to involve some kind of emotion, tho, then all of philosophy requires it. We can only care about truth if we perceive value in it, and we do. This fact has some obious and deep connections with the medieval idea of the transcendentals.

                Comment

                Working...
                X