In Emotion and Peace of Mind, Sorabji examines how the Stoics developed the idea of emotions as judgements internal to the mind, differing from Platonists, who regarded emotions as rooted in the irrational faculties of the soul. He argues that for ancient philosophers and early Christians alike, philosophical analyses on the human emotions provided useful therapies for emotional disturbance. For the same reason, he expects that the ancient philosophy of emotions will contribute to current strands in psychotherapy and psychology.
The book consists of four parts. The first part is devoted to the formation of the Stoic idea of emotions and peace of mind in ancient philosophy. Chapter 1 sketches how the idea of philosophy as psychotherapy and the view of emotions as cognitive were developed in the period of the Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle. Chapter 2 presents Chrysippus as identifying emotions with ‘mistaken judgements of reason’. Chapters 3 and 4 are devoted to Seneca’s defence by ‘harmonizing Chrysippus and Zeno’ and ‘answering Posidonius’. Chapter 5 deals with the Stoic reply to Aristotle’s theory of tragic catharsis. The next four chapters (6–9) introduce the Stoic Posidonius’s main objection—“judgements are not necessary for emotion”—to Chrysippus’s analysis in Galen’s report, with further objections from Aspasius and others. Chapter 10 analyses the modern brain research of Joseph LeDous, who reduced the role of cognition in emotion.
The second part focuses on the value and therapy of emotions in a non-Christian context. Chapter 11 considers how Stoic cognitive therapy would work. Chapter 12 argues that the theory of indifference was not an essential part of Stoic therapy. Chapter 13 considers Chrysippus’s radical thesis that all emotions should be eradicated by examining the reasons for and against eradication. Chapter 14 looks at the debates on whether the emotions should only be moderated or actually eradicated in the Pre-Socratics, Plato, the Epicureans, the Neoplatonists, Aristotle and the Stoics. Chapters 15 and 16 analyse the ancient exercises regarding the dimension of time (past, present, future) and the diversity of the self. Chapter 17 is devoted to Galen’s non-Chrysippan alternative approach, called ‘the physiology of emotion’, which gave a central role to the body in emotion and recognized the need for non-cognitive therapies. Chapter 18 considers the value put on erotic emotions. Chapter 19 explains what catharsis might relieve us of.
Explaining how different views on the nature of emotional conflict bear on the structure of the mind, the third part (chaps. 20 and 21) details the Stoic controversy on the psychology of emotion and supplies a background to Christian treatments of temptation, will and divided will. In the last part, Sorabji analyses how the Stoic concepts of emotions were transformed in Christian traditions. Chapters 22 and 23 address how the concept of first movements was devised by Christian thinkers such as Philo, Origen, Jerome, Augustine and Evagrius. Chapter 24 discusses the influence of the Stoic analyses on emotions on Augustine. Chapter 25 traces the developments of Christian attitudes to the Stoic idea of apatheia, freedom from emotion in the Alexandrians, the Cappadocian Fathers and the Latin tradition. Chapter 26 analyses Augustine’s argument against lust as ‘disobedience to the will’ in his debates with Julian.