Advertisement

Emotion, Desire, and Morality

  • Mark F. Carr
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 8)

Abstract

While temperance may not be widely appreciated, emotion is a topic of vast appeal and importance in the moral life. Emphasis on the analysis of emotion in this chapter will lie in the areas of psychology and morality.

Keywords

Cognitive Theory Moral Agent Moral Virtue Moral Life Nicomachean Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Strongman, K. T. The Psychology of Emotion, 4th edition: Theories of Emotion in Perspective. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Psychology of Emotion, p. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Strongman’s chapter eight, “Specific Emotions Theory.”Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For a collection of important essays in the development of what are now called “cognitive” theories see Magda B. Arnold, Feelings and Emotion: The Loyola Symposium. New York: Academic Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    In the briefest of summaries of the James-Lange theory, Ronald de Sousa, “Emotions,” Encyclopedia of Ethics, p. 302, writes: “emotions are specifically feelings caused by changes in physiological conditions relating to the autonomic and motor functions.”Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Alison M. Jaggar refers to the “dumb view” of emotion in her article, “Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology,” in Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, edited by Alison M. Jaggar and Susan R. Bordo. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989, pp. 148–149.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Solomon, Robert. The Passions. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983, p. 5.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The Passions, p. 126.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Passions, p. 148.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The Passions, p. 186.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The Passions, p. 191.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Greenspan, Patricia. Emotions and Reasons: An Inquiry into Emotional Justification. New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1988, p. 3. See also Jenefer Robinson, “Emotion, Judgement, and Desire,” in The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 39, No. 10, supplement, October 1983, pp. 731-741, for a critique of Solomon’s theory.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Emotions and Reasons, p. 4.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Greenspan, Patricia. “A Case of Mixed Feelings: Ambivalence and the Logic of Emotion,” in Explaining Emotions, edited by Amélie Oksenberg Rorty. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980, p. 238. See also chapter five, “Rationally Appropriate Ambivalence,” in Emotions and Reasons. Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    “A Case of Mixed Feelings,” p. 238.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Emotions and Reasons, p. 14.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid. For a discussion of affect from a feminine perspective see Nel Noddings, Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984, chapter six, “Enhancing the Ideal: Joy.”Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    de Sousa, Ronald. The Rationality of the Emotions. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Strongman, K. T. The Psychology of Emotion, 3d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1987, p. 88.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    The Psychology of Emotion, 4th ed., p. 82.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    de Sousa, Ronald. “The Rationality of Emotions,” in Explaining Emotions, pp. 132-133.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Although he does not delve into the significance of an appraisal system in the effort to establish the morality of emotion, Justin Oakley in Morality and the Emotions, New York: Routledge, 1992; paperback reprint, 1994, pp. 38–85, argues for the moral significance of emotions. Like some other proponents of the cognitive theory, he notes the significance of affect but then adds the third prong of desire to establish a threefold theory of emotion as “complex phenomena involving cognitions, desires, and affects” (p. 38). Accounts of emotion in the moral life that do not include all three elements are, in Oakley’s view, inadequate to the task of establishing the moral import of emotion. While Oakley does acknowledge his approach as being founded upon a virtue ethic, he does not analyze just how virtue (temperance in particular) is involved within the “complex phenomena” of the relationship between desire and affectivity.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ekman, Paul. “Biological and Cultural Contributions to Body and Facial Movement in the Expression of Emotions,” in Explaining Emotions, p. 80.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    “Biological and Cultural Contributions,” p. 82. Ekman gives credit to Silvan Tomkins for the term “affect program” and also notes the influence of C. E. Izard.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    “Biological and Cultural Contributions,” p. 82-83.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    “Biological and Cultural Contributions,” p. 83.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    “Biological and Cultural Contributions,” p. 83-84.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lazarus, Richard. “Constructs of the Mind in Adaptation,” in Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion, ed. Nancy L. Stein and others. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1990, p. 6.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    The Psychology of Emotion, 3d ed., p. 96.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
  31. 31.
    The Psychology of Emotion, 3d ed., p. 55. See also Fortenbaugh’s comments on which one comes first in Aristotle on Emotion, p. 87.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Daniel Westberg notes this result of the work of cognitive emotion theorists in his article, “Emotion and God: A Reply to Marcel Sarot,” in The Thomist, vol. 60, No.l, January, 1996, p. 116, where he writes: “First, the recent cognitive theories are much more in line with Aristotelian-Thomist psychological principles; and second, one of the psychologists [Magda Arnold] most influential in the 1960’s for the shift away from the James-Lange paradigm actually based her work on Thomistic theory.”Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Sherman, Nancy. “Emotions,” p. 666.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Aristotle on Emotion, p. 17.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Aristotle on Emotion, p. 17.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Aristotle on Emotion, p. 17.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    See Fortenbaugh for a careful delineation of Aristotle’s “biological” psychology as opposed to his “political and ethical psychology.” The biological is “tripartite” and includes nutritive, sensitive, and intellective parts. The political and ethical psychology is “bipartite” and includes the rational and irrational elements. As portrayed in political and ethical psychology, passions arise from “the seat of the appetites and of desire in general” (NE 1.13.18).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    For instance, H. Rackham translates the Greek pathe with “emotion” in the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Nicomachean Ethics. Fortenbaugh does not address the relationship between the two in his book. Martha Nussbaum, in Love’s Knowledge: Essays in Philosophy and Literature, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 291, appreciates the fact that for Aristotle emotions are not simply “blind surges of affect,” she does not give a detailed account of the difference in Aristotle’s work. The Oxford Press’s edition of Rhetoric, 1924 ed., apparently with the editorial approval of W. D. Ross, uses emotion synonymously with passion. In fact, in the index under “passion” one finds in parentheses “emotion.”Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    See Roberts, Robert C, “Aristotle on Virtues and Emotions,” Philosophical Studies vol. 56, 1989, p. 293: “...most often the pathe to which he relates virtues are what we call emotions.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    For the notion that physical passivity “initiates” the experience of emotion see Summa Theologica I-II 31.1 where he posits that “delight,” as an emotion, begins in a “certain movement of the soul,” and the “sensible establishing thereof.” Note, however, that the notion of a strictly linear account of this process is softened with the modifying phrase “all at once.” See also Rhetoric 1369b, 30ff.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Love’s Knowledge, p. 40.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Love’s Knowledge, p. 291.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Love’s Knowledge, p. 40.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Love’s Knowledge, p. 41.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Kosman, L. A. “Being Properly Affected: Virtues and Feelings in Aristotle’s Ethics,” in Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics, ed. by Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980, p. 104. In Sherman’s article “Emotions,” p. 667, she refers to the passivity of emotion: “Another element to review is the pleasant and painful feelings that are a part of emotions....Accordingly, a plausible account of the emotions must allow for variations in the intensity of felt affect of this sort. Some are more intense, others are more subdued. The felt affect of emotion may be a mixture of both pleasure and pain....Specific emotions may best be thought of as complex phenomena made up of an array of component emotions with felt affects that vary across them.”Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Fabric of Character, pp. 60-68, where she writes of the relationship between orexis (“a generic motive of voluntary action,” p. 64), and boulēsis with regard to desire in Aristotle’s work.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    See NE 2.3.5-6.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    In NE 7.7.8, Aristotle details what would happen if the process of deliberation did not engage our natural desire: ‘The weak deliberate, but then are prevented by passion from keeping to their resolution; the impetuous are led by passion because they do not stop to deliberate: since some people withstand the attacks of passion, whether plèasant or painful, by feeling or seeing them coming, and rousing themselves, that is, their reasoning faculty, in advance, just as one is proof against tickling if one has just been tickled already. It is the quick and the excitable who are most liable to the impetuous form of Unrestraint, because the former are too hasty and the latter too vehement to wait for reason, being prone to follow their imagination.”Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    For instance, both Rhetoric 1370a, 20ff, and Nicomachean Ethics 2.5.2 list desire as “one of the passions. His delineation of psychology in NE 1.13.18, lists desire and the passions (“the seat of the appetites”) as being in the same faculty. And in Eudemian Ethics 1223a 26ff he lists the three subdivisions of appetition as wish (boulēsis), passion (thumon), and desire (epithumia).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Maclean, Paul. “Sensory and Perceptive Factors in Emotional Functions of the Triune Brain,” in Explaining Emotions, pp. 9-36.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    “Sensory and Perceptive Factors...,” p. 11.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    N. J. H. Dent describes this process of desire, deliberation, and choice in Moral Psychology of the Virtues, pp. 134-135: “Between the arousal of desire and its enactment we often do, often should and often can, interpose reflection. And the possibility of doing so enables us to incorporate the purposes such desires incite us to undertake into a deliberatively understood and sought plan of life, and enables us to make the actions we undertake on desire embody our deliberate intentions. Such actions thus can express at least one element of our guiding conception of how we should live our lives, and are not bound to be unrelated and unconnected interludes when we are assailed by non-rational impulses, which we can do nothing about.”Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Koch, Phillip. “Bodily Feeling in Emotion,” Dialogue, vol. 26, 1987, p. 61.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    See also ST I-II 31.1 where Aquinas notes that the experience of emotion arises from “a sensitive apprehension” which is based upon “a movement of the sensitive appetite.”Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    The Recovery of Virtue, p. 113.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Barad, Judith. “Aquinas on the Role of Emotion in Moral Judgment and Activity,” The Thomist, vol. 55, No. 3, July, 1991, p. 407.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    “Aquinas on the Role of Emotion...,” p. 413.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    “Aquinas on the Role of Emotion...,” p. 398 no. 3.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    See also ST I-II 22.3: “As stated above (A.l) passion is properly to be found where there is corporeal transmutation. This corporeal transmutation is found in the act of the sensitive appetite, and is not only spiritual, as in the sensitive appetite, but also natural.”Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    “Aquinas on the Role of Emotion...,” p. 399.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    “Emotion and God,” p. 110.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    When referring to the experience of emotion “only on the psychological level, “ it must be remembered that Aquinas highlighted the fact that, at times, the psychological level caused the movement of the physical level. The importance of this fact in Westberg’s argument (“Emotion and God,” p. 118) lies in the passibility of God. As he notes, “When qualities such as love and joy are attributed to God (or to human beings with respect to their rational appetite), they signify ‘a simple act of the will, with similarity of effect, but without passion’” (emphasis mine).Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    “Emotion and God,” p. 118. For other accounts of purely psychological experience of emotion, see Kenny, Aquinas on Mind, chapters five, “Appetite and Will,” and seven, “Sense, Imagination, and Intellect”; Nancy Sherman, Fabric of Character, especially pp. 60-68, 162-171; Michael Stocker, “Intellectual Desire, Emotion, and Action,” in Explaining Emotion, pp. 84-85, and Paul Hoffman, “St. Thomas on the Halfway State of Sensible Being,” The Philosophical Review, vol. 99, No. 1, January, 1990, pp., 73–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    “Emotion and God,” p. 120-121. See also Melinda Vadas, “Affective and Non-Affective Desire,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 45, No. 2, December, 1984, pp. 273–279. Vadas gives an excellent account of desire that may or may not be driven by movements of the sense appetite. Another good article that details the relationship of desire with emotion is found in Jenefer Robinson’s “Emotion, Judgment, and Desire.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    The neural and biochemical network of the body suffers some stimulus from either internal or external sources. This stage is pre-mentation; no cognitive awareness exists prior to stimulus.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    This stage may also be called simply passion, or perhaps passional desire (see Dent). Movements may be initiated by either physiological or psychological stimulus.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    A more detailed system could be presented here that would show both automatic and ponderous appraisal systems, as in the thought of Paul Ekman.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    At this stage the experience of emotion is not simply physiological or even psychological but should be considered as fully integrated into moral deliberation and experience.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    After the judgment of reason the full experience of emotion is a rational desire (what Dent calls “rationally ordered desires”) as opposed to a passional desire. This rational affectivity provides, among other things, motivation.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    “Emotions,” p. 667.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    “Aquinas on the Role of Emotion...,” p. 403.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    The Recovery of Virtue, p. 114.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Williams, Bernard. Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers 1956-1972. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973, p. 207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Problems of the Self p. 207.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Problems of the Self pp. 222-227.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982, p. 173.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Gilligan, Carol. “Moral Orientation and Development,” p. 36.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    “Moral Orientation and Development,” p. 41. The question of moral epistemology arises in the call to include the emotions in moral deliberation. There are a number of excellent essays that address the question from this perspective. Three important essays are: Code, Lorraine. “Taking Subjectivity into Account,” in Women, Knowledge, and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy, 2d ed., ed. Ann Garry and Marilyn Pearsall. New York: Routledge 1996, pp. 191–221; Walker, Margaret Urban. “Moral Understandings: Alternative ‘Epistemology” for a Feminist Ethics,” in Justice and Care, pp. 139-152; and Jaggar, Allison. “Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology,” in Gender/Body/Knowledge, pp. 145-171. Jaggar calls for alternative epistemological models that display the “continuous interaction between how we understand the world and who we are as people. They would show how our emotional responses to the world change as we conceptualize it differently and how our changing emotional responses then stimulate us to new insights. They would demonstrate the need for theory to be self-reflexive, to focus not only on the outer world but also on ourselves and our relation to that world, to examine critically our social location, our actions, our values, our perceptions, and our emotions” (p. 164).Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    “Moral Orientation and Development,” p. 43.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    “Moral Orientation and Development,” p. 45.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Held, Virginia. Feminist Morality: Transforming Culture, Society, and Politics, ed. Catharine R. Stimpson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 51.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Feminist Morality, p. 52.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Feminist Morality, p. 30.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Jaggar, Alison. “Love and Knowledge,” p. 164-165.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Noddings, Nel. Caring, p. 87.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Oakley, Justin. Morality and the Emotions, p. 47-50.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Sherman, Nancy. Fabric of Character, p. 47.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Sherman, Nancy. “Emotion,” p. 670.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Sherman, Nancy. Fabric of Character, p. 2.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Fabric of Character, p. 49-50.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Mandler, George. “A Construcdvist Theory of Emotion,” in Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1990, p. 22.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    de Sousa, Ronald. The Rationality of Emotions, p. 201.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    The Rationality of Emotions, pp. 202-203.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    Sherman, Nancy. “Emotions,” p. 670. See also Virginia Held, Feminist Morality, pp. 22-42; Nel Noddings, Caring, pp. 79-98; and Morwenna Griffiths, “Feminism, Feelings, and Philosophy,” in Feminist Perspectives in Philosophy ed. Morwenna Griffiths and Margaret Whitford. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988, pp. 131-151. In arguing for emotion in moral epistemology, Griffiths contends that emotion does not simply help attach salience to moral issues; rather, feelings “are a route to truth” (p. 148). Emotion provides for and assesses our basic beliefs about the world.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Williams, Bernard. Problems of the Self p. 223.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    Greenspan, Patricia. Emotions and Reasons, p. 4.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Noddings, Nel. Caring, p. 87. See also Joan Tronto, “Women and Caring: What Can Feminists Learn About Morality From Caring?” in Gender/Body/Knowledge, pp. 172-187.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    Greenspan, Patricia. Emotions and Reasons, p. 37.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    Harak, Simon G. Virtuous Passions: The Formation of Christian Character. New York: Paulist Press, 1993, p. 19.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    Virtuous Passions, p. 19. See also pp. 67-98. The conception of human consciousness offered by embodiment thought is compelling. There is something that rings true about all of my body being involved in “knowing” something, despite the awkward notion of claiming that my toe, for instance, “knows” something.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    Jaggar, Alison. “Love and Knowledge,” pp. 149-150.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    “Love and Knowledge,” pp. 150-153.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    Held, Virginia. Feminist Morality, p. 89.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    See N. J. H. Dent. The Moral Psychology of the Virtues, p. 193.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    Sherman, Nancy. Fabric of Character, p. 49.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    See Kosman, L. A. “Being Properly Affected,” p. 112.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark F. Carr
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ReligionLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA

Personalised recommendations