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The Passions: A Study of Human Nature




The Passions: A Study of Human Nature

P. M. S. Hacker

ISBN: 978-1-118-95474-4 October 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 472 Pages

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A survey of astonishing breadth and penetration. No cognitive neuroscientist should ever conduct an experiment in the domain of the emotions without reading this book, twice.

Parashkev Nachev, Institute of Neurology, UCL

There is not a slack moment in the whole of this impressive work. With his remarkable facility for making fine distinctions, and his commitment to lucidity, Peter Hacker has subtly characterized those emotions such as pride, shame, envy, jealousy, love or sympathy which make up our all too human nature. This is an important book for philosophers but since most of its illustrative material comes from an astonishing range of British and European literature, it is required reading also for literary scholars, or indeed for anyone with an interest in understanding who and what we are.

David Ellis, University of Kent


Human beings are all subject to boundless flights of joy and delight, to flashes of anger and fear, to pangs of sadness and grief. We express our emotions in what we do, how we act, and what we say, and we can share our emotions with others and respond sympathetically to their feelings. Emotions are an intrinsic part of the human condition, and any study of human nature must investigate them. In this third volume of a major study in philosophical anthropology which has spanned nearly a decade, one of the most preeminent living philosophers examines and reflects upon the nature of the emotions, advancing the view that novelists, playwrights, and poets – rather than psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists – elaborate the most refined descriptions of their role in human life.

In the book’s early chapters, the author analyses the emotions by situating them in relation to other human passions such as affections, appetites, attitudes, and agitations. While presenting a detailed connective analysis of the emotions, Hacker challenges traditional ideas about them and criticizes misconceptions held by philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists.

With the help of abundant examples and illustrative quotations from the Western literary canon, later sections investigate, describe, and disentangle the individual emotions – pride, arrogance, and humility; shame, embarrassment, and guilt; envy and jealousy; and anger. The book concludes with an analysis of love, sympathy, and empathy as sources of absolute value and the roots of morality.

A masterful contribution, this study of the passions is essential reading for philosophers of mind, psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, students of Western literature, and general readers interested in understanding the nature of the emotions and their place in our lives.

 Preface xi

Acknowledgements xvii

Part I Sketching the Landscape 1

Chapter 1 The Place of the Emotions among the Passions 3

1. Passions, affections, and appetites 3

2. Agitations and moods 14

3. Emotions 22

Chapter 2 The Analytic of the Emotions I 37

1. The representation of emotions 37

2. The language of the emotions 40

3. Expressions and manifestations of emotion 45

4. Emotion, cognition, and the will 56

Chapter 3 The Analytic of the Emotions II 60

1. The epistemology of the emotions 60

2. Emotion and reason 67

3. The place of the emotions in human life 77

Chapter 4 The Dialectic of the Emotions 83

1. The Cartesian and empiricist legacies and their invalidation 83

2. Philosophical and psychological confusions: James 97

3. Neuroscientific confusions: Damasio and the somatic marker hypothesis 103

4. Evolutionary accounts of the emotions: Darwin and Ekman 111

5. The quest for basic emotions 115

Part II Human, All Too Human 129

Chapter 5 Pride, Arrogance, and Humility 131

1. The web of pride 131

2. Shifting evaluations of pride 135

3. Pride: connective analysis 140

Chapter 6 Shame, Embarrassment, and Guilt 152

1. Shame cultures and guilt cultures 152

2. Shame and embarrassment: connective analysis 157

3. Guilt: connective analysis 173

Chapter 7 Envy 183

1. Envy and jealousy: a pair of vicious emotions 183

2. Envy and jealousy: conceptual unclarity 187

3. Envy and jealousy: their conceptual roots 192

4. Envy: iconography, mythology, and iconology 197

5. Envy: connective analysis 200

Chapter 8 Jealousy 208

1. Different centres of variation 208

2. Iconography 215

3. Jealousy: connective analysis 216

4. Jealousy and envy again 228

Chapter 9 Anger 232

1. The phenomena of anger 232

2. The vocabulary of anger 235

3. Anger: connective analysis 239

4. Conceptions of anger in antiquity 253

5. Is acting in anger warranted? 259

Part III The Saving Graces: Love, Friendship, and Sympathy 265

Chapter 10 Love 267

1. Concepts and conceptions of love 267

2. The biological and social roots of love 269

3. The objects of love 274

4. Historico]normative constraints 279

5. The phases of love 282

6. The web of concepts of love 287

7. The iconography of love 294

8. Connective analysis I: categorial complexity 298

9. Connective analysis II: peculiarities of love as an emotion 304

10. Connective analysis III: some characteristic features of love 316

11. Self]love 324

Chapter 11 Friendship 327

1. Friendship and love 327

2. The roots and marks of different forms of friendship 336

3. Analysis of the relation 345

4. Friendship, virtue, and morality 350

Chapter 12 Sympathy and Empathy 357

1. Sympathy: the historical background 357

2. The analysis of sympathy 367

3. Empathy: from Einfühlung to mirror neurons 377

4. Empathy and sympathy 385

5. Envoi 392

Appendix: Moments in the History of Love 393

1. The history of love 393

2. Ancient Israel 395

3. Ancient Greece 402

4. From pagan Rome to Christian Rome 410

5. Early Christianity 417

6. The deification of love 426

Index 438