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Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions 1992–1993

Martha Nussbaum

Summary

Table of Contents

Abstract

The series that Martha Nussbaum presents in Upheavals of Thought applies psychological, philosophical and psychoanalytical analysis to tackle an age-old dilemma: ‘what is an emotion? and, what is the relation of emotions, thoughts, and feelings?’ Nussbaum presents a powerful argument for treating emotions not as alien forces but as highly discriminating responses to what is of value and importance. Emotions shape the landscape of our mental and social lives. Like genealogical upheavals in a landscape, they mark our lives as uneven, uncertain and prone to reversal. Are they simply, as some have claimed, animal energies or impulses with no connection to our thoughts? Or are they rather suffused with intelligence and discernment, and thus a source of deep awareness and understanding? She shows that there can be no adequate ethical theory without an adequate theory of the emotions, and that this involves understanding their cultural sources, their history in infancy and childhood, and their sometimes unpredictable and disorderly operations in our daily lives. It is the literary and historical dimensions that make the book a special contribution to the now burgeoning literature on the emotions.
KEY WORDS: emotions, psychology, feelings, beliefs, cognition, thoughts, mental, animal, impulse, ethics, compassion, grief, loss, suffering, Stoics, development, art, music, literature, love, erotic, Plato, Joyce, Dante, Proust, Augustine, Mahler, Spinoza

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Templeton Press