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Wisdom In Love: Kierkegaard And The Ancient Quest For Emotional Integrity
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From the Inside Flap
In this historically-informed work in moral psychology, Rick Anthony Furtak develops a conceptual account of the emotions that addresses the conventional idea that reason and emotion stand in sharp opposition. Furtak begins with a critical examination of the ancient Stoic position that emotions ought to be avoided by rational human beings. He argues that, on the contrary, emotions ought to be understood as embodying a kind of authentic insight, which enables us to attain a meaningful and truthful way of seeing the world. Furtak's positive alternative to Stoicism draws heavily on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, particularly "Either/Or" and "Works of Love," while also engaging with a wide range of other relevant philosophical, literary, and religious sources. He argues that a morality of virtue and narrative awareness is necessary for accurate emotional perception, and then attempts to define a qualified value realism based upon a reverential trust in love as the ground of existence. The outcome of this inquiry into the possibility of reliable emotion is an account of the ideal state in which we could trust ourselves to be rational in being passionate. "Wisdom in Love" makes an original contribution to the philosophy of the emotions and provides a new and compelling interpretation of Kierkegaards work as a whole.
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Top Customer Reviews
Science is giving me hope that a new wrist blood pressure monitor might give me results without producing the high pulse, blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat that a large cuff on my left arm recently produced:
In July, 2013, I feel like I was taking too much medication, my pulse slowed, and the irregular heartbeat was frequently seen by my old blood pressure monitor because the normal heartbeat was too weak to let my left arm be cut off without reacting spasmodically. I am not fond of stages in life that involve me adjusting to new medical attempts to make my life as regular as the ten commandments, daily prayers, or whatever Hitchens was thinking when he wrote Mortality. There are a lot of things I don't like about old people walking around like zombies with pacemakers. I used to go to Central Presbyterian Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which seems to have plenty of the old folks trying to live a highly regulated life that does not require great faith in what everybody else is doing. They do what they are told so they can all be doing whatever is on the agenda at the right time. I am not likely to feel at home in a crowd of old people trying to bring up a few children as part of a blessed community.
Getting together with people has strange ties to what Furtak really wants to write about, and being bothered by what Furtak calls "failure to appreciate the meaning of his emotions is that he suffers from chronic discontinuity of character" (p. 70) like I have problems with grammar when I look for forms of thought. Religion is now imposing the kind of sheepish following upon people that scatters buttered bread crumbs for the sweet roll death camps. My big difference with Furtak relates to time. Everything that Nietzsche would call life on earth, Furtak wants to put within the grip of the social reality moral concepts that can only flop into a flow of time:
Trying to indulge in the immediate intensity
of passion while scorning the wholehearted
care on which passions are based, he condemns
himself to a procession of passing fancies,
nothing more. (p. 70).
2013 was the 45th anniversary of March 31, 1968, when LBJ announced that he was not running for president in 1968 so he could bring peace to Vietnam, and on March 31, 1973, I was married as American troops were withdrawn from active participation in the open warfare that I had been exposed to in more ways than TV could express. In Winners And Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, And Ruins From The Vietnam War, some of the ordinary people serving in Nam told Gloria Emerson that officers were not comfortable when women were around because rank was supposed to satisfy the kind of social structure that women live for in the world, but the regular troops were the officers' women in Nam. Furtak expects some people to see what matters:
By inhabiting the vanishing instant, with a
hypothetical and subjunctive relation to the
beliefs that he tacitly affirms in his emotional
responses, he renders himself incapable of
distinguishing between emotions that arise from
a lasting disposition and those that are superficial
and temporary. (p. 70).
Writers can go whole hog like warfare when they pick a topic that erupts through the skin of social ego boundaries. For a holy Samson anachronism in a society obsessed with The Dedalus Book of Literary Suicides: Dead Letters (Dedalus Concept Books) fatal truths about itself, trying to come up with a last act that does not turn everybody into slaves of the traditions they were afraid to question is the lack that matches The Sublime Object of Ideology (The Essential Zizek). Kierkegaard and I are not church professionals, and this book is the philosophical substitute for some ideal I never reached.
As another reviewer pointed out, the image on the cover is described in the last footnote in the book, and is taken from a letter to Kierkegaard's fianceé: the image suggests that love enables us to see. This book as a whole is a meditation on why it is that philosophy (Gk: the "love of wisdom") ought to acknowledge that wisdom consists in loving, in cultivating the attitude of emotional acceptance & awareness. The scholarship is very diverse, and solid throughout: one is reminded of Nussbaum's work for instance, but with more of an overt focus on the existential tradition and on emotional authenticity. From Furtak's critique of Stoicism to the Rilke translations in later epigraphs, the book is quite capably executed, original and filled with insight: and often memorable, for it is so well written. Astonishing for an author's first work, and filled with promise: indeed, an excellent new book in the philosophy of the emotions.