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Emotion and Imagination



Emotion and Imagination

Adam Morton

ISBN: 978-0-745-66447-7 July 2013 Polity 184 Pages

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Recent years have seen an enormous amount of philosophical research into the emotions and the imagination, but as yet little work has been done to connect the two. In his engaging and highly original new book, Adam Morton shows that all emotions require some form of imagination and goes on to fully explore the link between these two important concepts both within philosophy and in everyday life.

We may take it for granted that complex emotions, such as hope and resentment, require a rich thinking and an engagement with the imagination, but Morton shows how more basic and responsive emotions such as fear and anger also require us to take account of possibilities and opportunities beyond the immediate situation. Interweaving a powerful tapestry of subtle argument with vivid detail, the book highlights that many emotions, more than we tend to suppose, require us to imagine a situation from a particular point of view and that this in itself can be the source of further emotional feeling. Morton goes on to demonstrate the important role that emotions play in our moral lives, throwing light on emotions such as self-respect, disapproval, and remorse, and the price we pay for having them. He explores the intricate nature of moral emotions and the challenges we face when integrating our thinking on morality and the emotions.

This compelling and thought-provoking new book challenges many assumptions about the nature of emotion and imagination and will appeal to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the role that these concepts play in our lives. The book also has far reaching implications that will spark debate amongst scholars and students for some time to come.

Preface vii

Part I The range of emotions

Refined emotions 3

Imagining in emotions 8

Seeing as 17

Emotions and thinking 22

Keeping mood and emotion distinct 29

Pressure 37

Categories of emotion 44

Part II Imagining vile emotions

Imagining what we shouldn’t feel 53

Imagining minds: emotions and perspectives 56

Imagining a point of view 63

Misimagination 74

Imagining invented characters: fiction and philosophy 83

Invisible everyday failures 88

Imagining awful actions 94

Sympathy versus empathy 101

The tradeoff 108

Part III Memotions

The threat of irrelevance 117

Retracting emotions 122

Emotions with multiple points of view 128

The variety of moral emotions 134

Emotional learning 142

Smugness 149

Part IV Families of emotions

The ideas and the questions 157

Shame, regret, embarrassment, remorse 159

Shame-like versus regret-like 164

Ghosts 170

Looking backward and looking inward 175

Gaps in the pattern: shame versus guilt 180

Two kinds of pride 184

The smug family 189

Dark humour, radical possibilities 194

Shaping our emotions 198

End: a virtue if imagination 206

Notes 210

References 219

Index 229

"Friends of Adam Morton's work will find familiar strengths in this essay in moral psychology: detailed attention to the peculiarities of cases and a hostility to easy formulations, matched by lucid arguments that keep the general aim in view. He has surprising things to say about imagining; mice do it, apparently. But we, unlike mice, can use imagination to help to shape our own emotions, and hence to structure our own moral lives. All in all, this is a splendid attempt to think through the complex issue of what the imagination can and cannot do for us."
Gregory Currie, University of Nottingham

"Adam Morton is a pioneering and original thinker whose provocative and insightful work on emotion and imagination has pushed the field in important new directions. It's exciting to have a book-length treatment of these issues from such an interesting and creative mind."
Tamar Gendler, Yale University

"Morton takes us on a journey of the imagination into the imagination. His kaleidoscope of examples compels us to believe that emotions involve the imagination in sometimes unexpected, but always fascinating ways. A great read!"
Heidi Maibom, Carleton University