Philosophy of Emotions
The emotions have been a central topic of philosophical inquiry from antiquity to the present, and in all of the major philosophical traditions. This enduring concern can be attributed, in part, to the way that the emotions – and thinking about the emotions – address both objective reality, on the one hand, and felt, subjective experience, on the other. They thus point to our speculations about the nature of our humanness and our place in the world. In this course, we will examine the role and significance of emotions from a number of perspectives, focusing primarily on the early Chinese tradition (4th -2nd centuries BCE) but also looking comparatively at perspectives from other traditions, ancient and contemporary. In particular, we will consider how the emotions were construed in early moral psychology and ethics, in relation to ideas about the mind, body and human nature. We will also interrogate the place of emotions in natural philosophy, and the ways in which the endeavor to understand and make sense of the world informed thinking about the emotions.
Prior background in Chinese philosophy, ancient philosophy or philosophy of emotions would be helpful but not required. All sources will be read in English translation.