Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions
Cambridge University Press, Apr 14, 2003 - 751 pages
What is it to grieve for the death of a parent? More literary and experiential than other philosopical works on emotion, Upheavals of Thought will engage the reader who has ever stopped to ask that question. Emotions such as grief, fear, anger and love seem to be alien forces that disturb our thoughts and plans. Yet they also embody some of our deepest thoughts--about the importance of the people we love, about the vulnerability of our bodies and our plans to events beyond our control. In this wide-ranging book, based on her Gifford Lectures, philosopher Martha Nussbaum draws on philosophy, psychology, anthropology, music and literature to illuminate the role emotions play in our thoughts about important goals. Starting with an account of her own mother's death, she argues that emotions are intelligent appraisals of a world that we do not control, in the light of our own most significant goals and plans. She then investigates the implications of this idea for normative issues, analyzing the role of compassion in private and public reasoning and the attempts of authors both philosophical and literary to purify or reform the emotion of erotic love. Ultimately, she illuminates the structure of emotions and argues that once we understand the complex intelligence of emotions we will also have new reasons to value works of literature as sources of ethical education. Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago, appointed in Law School, Philosophy department, and Divinity School, and an Associate in Classics. A leading scholar in ancient Greek ethics, aesthetics and literature, her previous books include The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge, 1986), Loves's Knowledge (Oxford, 1992), Poetic Justice (Beacon Press, 1997), The Therapy of Desire (Princeton, 1996), Cultivating Humanity (Harvard, 1997), and Sex and Social Justice (Oxford, 1999). Her reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, New York Review of Books, and New Republic.
What people are saying - Write a review
Upheavals of thought: the intelligence of emotionsUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Nussbaum, a distinguished philosopher and classicist now at the University of Chicago, ably defends a cognitive view of emotions that owes much to the Stoics. In this view, "emotions are appraisals ... Read full review
To me, this was an eye opening book, in the way it places the subject of emotions firmly in the intentional/cognitive realm, but seen as perspectival cognition that attaches importance and value to one own goals. Nussbaum illuminates many areas from this perspective which tend to be obscured by the widepread misconceptions of what emotions are (Child development, Music, Ethics, ... and Love). The book does not require a strong philiospohical background, and some may ask for more scholary discussion of rivalling approaches. Those who expect all the answers to these questions to come form neuro science (as an example of what Dennett calls "greedy reductionism") should take this book to heart. Those who fear science and therfore try to obscure the subject matter by way of mystifying the emotions will also benefit no less.