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Not Passion's Slave: Emotions and Choice (Passionate Life) [Paperback]

Robert C. Solomon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5, 2007 0195179781 978-0195179781
The idea that we are in some significant sense responsible for our emotions is an idea that Robert Solomon has developed for almost three decades. Here, in a single volume, he traces the development of this theory of emotions and elaborate it in detail. Two themes run through his work: the first presents a "cognitive" theory of emotions in which emotions are construed primarily as evaluative judgments. The second proposes an "existentialist" perspective in which he defends the idea that, as we are responsible for our emotions. Indeed, sometimes it even makes sense to say that we "choose" them. While the first claim has gained increasing currency in the literature, his claim about responsibility for emotions has continued to meet with considerable resistance and misinterpretation. The new emphasis on evolutionary biology and neurology has (mistakenly) reinforced the popular prejudice that emotions "happen" to us and are entirely beyond our control.

This volume is also a kind of intellectual memoir of Solomon¹s own development as a thinker. The essays written in the 1980s elaborate the themes of the "intentionality" of emotion and the claim that emotions are "judgments"; in this period, he is also increasingly preoccupied with how emotions vary and are identified in a variety of cultures. In the 1990's, his interests evolve to consider the social and political role of emotions and theories about emotion. The final section presents his current philosophical position on the seeming "passivity" of the passions. Despite his own critical assessment of his earlier work, he continues to argue that, in the final analysis, we are responsible for our emotions and existential quality of our lives.

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Not Passion's Slave: Emotions and Choice (Passionate Life) + The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life + True To Our Feelings
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Editorial Reviews


"Solomon's work makes an important contribution to the attempt to move beyond the divorce between emotion and reason, a divorce embraced by both Hume and Kant, albeit in radically different ways. The strength of Solomon's arguments certainly provide robust support not only for his cognitive theory of the emotions but also for this contention that virtually all of our experience is to some degree affective."--Kevin E. O'Reilly, The Review of Metaphysics

About the Author

Robert C. Solomon is at University of Texas, Austin.

Product Details

  • Series: Passionate Life
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195179781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195179781
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

G. Lee Bowie received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University and has taught at University of Michigan, University of Mass, Amherst College, and Hampshire College. Currently he is Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. Meredith W. Michaels received a Ph.D. in philosophy (with Clancy Martin), ETHICS AND EXCELLENCE, THE JOY OF PHILOSOPHY, and TRUE TO OUR FEELINGS, and he was co-editor of TWENTY QUESTIONS, Fifth Edition (with Lee Bowie and Meredith Michaels), and SINCE SOCRATES (with Clancy Martin).

Customer Reviews

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every Jamesian's favourite whipping boy October 19, 2008
The late Robert Solomon is credited by philosophical friend and foe alike as pretty-much single-handedly rehabilitating the study of emotions in philosophy, with publication of his book The Passions in the early Seventies. This is probably true, though it does somewhat downplay how influential Kenny's earlier Action, Emotion and Will has been.
Recently, authors such as Paul Griffiths in his book What Emotions Really Are and Jesse Prinz (author of Gut Reactions) have singled out Solomon as the crudist of the cognitivist theorists of emotion. Is this fair? Well the honest answer based on a thorough reading of Solomon's corpus is sometimes yes and sometimes no! Yes, sometimes he does offer hostage to fortune by, on his own admission, wanting to be a radical in the philosophy of the emotions: arguing that we choose our emotions and that emotions ARE judgments.
No, in that he is quite clear in his later writings that the choice isn't straightforwardly under the individual's control and that the judgments which he claims constitute the emotion do not have to be propositional. His opponents fail to take on board these later qualifications.
This collection contains some of the late papers and anyone who knows Solomon purely via critics such as Griffiths and/or via his own early book, The Passsions, might well be surprised at the contents.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Author March 8, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In college I took a course on existentialism taught by Bob. Bob was vibrant and passionate. I later chose him as my faculty adviser. He passed away a few years ago, having been one of the finest people I've ever met.

Bob's knowledge, intelligence, wit, and enthusiasm for life shine through all of his writings. I highly recommend him.
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