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The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life Paperback – March 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0872202269 ISBN-10: 0872202267 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Pub Co; 2nd edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872202267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872202269
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A mature, wise, and provocative work ... The main lines of argument--that the emotions are ways we constitute our lives with meaning; that they are in some important sense things we do rather than things that merely happen to us; that emotions have their own sort of rationality and logic and are subject to evaluation and criticism as such; that emotions are, in some important sense, evaluative judgments--remain an important, credible contemporary view... Solomon is clear, clever, and deep (also often funny). --Owen Flanagan, Duke University

About the Author

Robert C. Solomon, (1942-2007), was Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas, Austin. His The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life is also available from Hackett Publishing Company.

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

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
From the beginning of the book, it becomes readily apparent that Solomon is willing to bridge the analytic/continental divide.
Many great works of art presupposed that 'thinking with your heart' meant something entirely different from 'thinking with your mind'.
The two are not separate and distinct, as Western tradition would have us believe, but that the two are integral to our very being.
D. S. Heersink

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Euroshopper on March 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
The development of a 'Philosophy of Emotion' is flourishing. Trends in philosophy come and go but what makes Robert C. Solomon's "The Passions" interesting is that it challenges an immensely popular faulty dichotomy: emotions vs. rationality. Nowadays it is hard to maintain that our rational thinking is entirely isolated from our deepest emotions, still the myth of the 'irrationality of emotions' is prevailing. If we are to accept the adaptive and purposive tendencies of emotions within the realm of social relations (even when 'conceding' that emotions were/are essentially biologically based), we must reject theories that are dichotomist or deterministic. Many great works of art presupposed that 'thinking with your heart' meant something entirely different from 'thinking with your mind'. Even the educated student of the philosophy of emotions still apologizes for 'suddenly becoming very emotional' about something or may tend to glorify a period in her/his life in which the ('foolish') passions seemed to rule. Solomon's basic thesis is: "every emotion is a strategy, a purposive attempt to structure our world in such a way as to maximize our sense of personal dignity and self-esteem.". The book has a distinct existentialist flavor: "It is our passions, and our passions alone, that provide our lives with meaning". Personally I find it one of the most stimulating books that I have ever read, it really brings back a spark of `Eros' in your once-upon-a-time enthusiasm for philosophy. Current debates are more or less influenced by Ronald de Sousa's "The Rationality of Emotion", an important book (basically working out a biological and social-adaptation thesis), but very poorly written with obtrusive (not that funny) idiosyncrasies (please fire the editor).Read more ›
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on January 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Solomon's "The Passions," for me, was a life-changing read. In many ways, he anticipates and correlates psychologist Rollo May through his synthesis of philosophy, psychology, and literature into a seamless existentialist whole. While borrowing heavily from existentialist thought, Solomon does not limit himself only to that vein of philosophy, but borrows heavily from all periods of philosophical history. Even though he admits to having been schooled in the often arcane mode of Anglo-American philosophy, neither he nor his readers would know it by his mellifluous prose. And, while he opens himself up to Continental philosophy, especially Heiddegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre, he recognizes that this tradition is largely an ideological rather than experiential framework. The resulting work is compendious.

Solomon starts with the dominant paradigm in Western history of philosophical thought: Plato, especially the metaphor of the charioteer and two steeds (in the "Phaedrus"). According to Plato and nearly every thinker subsequently, "reason" and "emotion" are each of the two steeds, while the "soul" (i.e., mind) is the charioteer. The purpose of the charioteer is to extol reason and depreciate the emotions. And, for most of the intervening 2,500 years, most sages have depreciated the passions (i.e., the emotions) in favor of extolling reason (i.e., ratiocination). Even the early Stoics had an aversion to all things emotional. Boethius define humans as "a rational animal," a coinage that has remained unchanged for millennia. And as late as Freud, this dualism persists in the "ego" and the "id." But is that really how things are?

Solomon insists this whole tradition is bunk.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Whiteside on February 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Solomon has gone the extra mile to make his profound philosophy accessible to the well-educated layman. At the same time, the reader needs to stretch at times to follow some of the more difficult parts of the book.

The core message, though, is simply stated; if there is meaning in our lives, it is to be found in our emotions. Contrary to what philosophers, psychologists, religious authorities, and educators have said for centuries, emotions don't "happen" to us as though we were passive victims, instead we create them to give order, substance, depth, and involvement to our lives. Furthermore, it is possible to modify and improve our emotions to give ourselves a better quality of life. The methods for doing this are surprisingly simple, though not easy.
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