Robert Solomon:
"True to Our Feelings" (Oxford Univ Press, 2007)

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
This book by the USA philosopher Robert Solomon bridges a theory of emotions and a theory of ethics.

Following Heidegger (who thought that emotions tunes us to the world) and Sartre (who thought that emotions have a purpose and we are responsible for them), Solomon claims that we are responsible for our emotions, and, in fact, we "are" our emotions (as well as our thoughts). Emotions are an essential part of our existence: without them, we would not be able to make rational decisions. It is our emotions that guide us in this world. Anger, for example, is a strategy for engaging with the world. Emotions are acts of consciousness.

People enjoy dramatic films and even horror films because they evoke unpleasant emotions. People even enjoy (and pay for) experiencing extreme danger (whether on rollercoasters or paragliding). Solomon concludes that we wouldn't get pleasure out of a "negative" emotion unless that emotion was not negative at all. Pleasure and pain are not opposites: they are complementary. Emotions help us conceptualize and evalutate, and therefore shape our lives.

Emotions are not inside our mind but are outside, in the world, and more precisely in the social space. "Introspecting is looking in the wrong place".

Emotions, therefore, help us "reason". People whose emotional life has been damaged (e.g. by a stroke) are no longer capable of making rational decisions despite the fact that the rest of their brain is functioning like before. They do not "care" for the consequences of the decision and therefore are incapable of making a rational one.

Spirituality is a meta-emotion that transcends the personal and relates to a larger self.

TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi