Emotions bear complex relationships to rationality. On one hand they are seen as rational or irrational, on the other they make our actions intelligible and arguably lift us above the purely mechanistic behaviours of machines. Much like human sensory perception, emotions perform an essential function: they inform us about the world. That said, Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma can be applied to emotions: we can pose the question why is something feared or loved? Is it because it is fear- or love-inspiring in itself? This is the objectivist’s outlook on emotion. In contrast, a subjectivist stance would be that something is fear- or love-inspiring because we fear or love it. In this case, the objects and qualities we find in the world are mere projections of our own attitudes. This course is an exploration into the possibility, extent and nature of the objectivity of emotions, and their contribution to rationality. We shall cast a light on historical perspectives on reason and emotion and compare these with more recent philosophical findings in this vibrant area of contemporary research.
- Emotions and their biological roots. How important are emotions to rational thinking and social behaviour?
- Emotional conflict and control in Plato’s rational agent
- Aristotle on learning how to affect emotional changes
- Turning the tables: foregrounding emotion in Hume
- The wider spectrum: sentiments, moods and character traits
- Motivation, appropriateness and intelligibility of emotion