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Rezension zu: Emotion and Value

Autor:Isife Liberatus
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Kategorienachwuchsforschung
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Publiziert in:
Datum:2017-11-27

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Inhalt

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Title: Emotion and Value

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Editors: Sabine Roeser and Cain Todd

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Publisher: UK: Oxford University Press 2014

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Pages: 272
ISBN: 9780199686094

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This book is a collection of contributions by different scholars on fifteen themes in moral epistemology. It focuses on  the normative nature of emotive experience in evaluative thought and in the acquisition of evaluative knowledge. The approaches adopted by each of the contributors in the book support the thesis that emotions play an important role in constituting different kinds of values. In other words, emotions have normative status. Each of the three parts of the book discusses an aspect of this core thesis, namely: the role of emotions in understanding values, their evaluative roles in evaluative judgment and how emotions aid in self-evaluation and in self-experience.

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The first part of the book discusses the role of emotions in understanding value. Julien Deonna and Fabrice Teroni, in their contribution, argue that emotions are evaluations "in terms of the sort of attitude subjects take towards what they [emotions, L.I.] represent" (15). Defending this attitudinal theory of emotion, Julien Deonna and Fabrice Teroni underscored that several evaluative words, like 'being amused', 'being disgusted' etc, are derived from terms referring to types of attitudes or emotions like feeling amused, disgusted, etc., which are related to these evaluative properties. In any case, the attitudes or emotions like amusement, fear etc help us understand the evaluative properties of being amusing and being dangerous which relate to the emotion. Here, "there is an intentional relation between one's emotions and values exemplified by the objects and events one may confront" (16). For instance, one becomes sad at the demise of a loved one. This attitude of sadness is analogous to the evaluative property of being sad. How then can this analogous relation between emotions and evaluative properties be explained? According to Deonna and Teroni,  some scholars explained the relation in terms of judgment-like-attitudes (JLAs) or in terms of perception-like-experiences (PLEs). These attempts do not succeed because both are limited in scope. JLAs are directed towards evaluative content, where the subject is emotionally unaffected. For example, one might say, 'it is dangerous to live in Syria' unlike 'I am afraid to live in Syria'. The demerit of this account lies in the fact that it deprives human beings  the ability to partake in emotional life. On the contrary, PLEs provide us with information about evaluative concepts like danger, disgrace, etc., without requiring that a subject possess complex cognitive capacities as the proponents of  JLA account suggest. The defect with this theory lies in the fact that it fails to explain in concrete terms the nature of the relation between PLEs, emotions and evaluative properties. Be that as it may, both JLAs and PLEs theories claim that emotions represent values, but Deonna and Teroni argue that emotions relate to value in a different way. The attitudinal approach describes this alternative. This new perspective underscores that emotions are felt bodily attitudes which themselves are evaluations. They are not evaluations in terms of what they represent but in terms of how they resemble value.

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Taking on the theme "Evaluative Phenomenology", Michelle Montague, like Deonna and Teroni, argues that emotions are evaluations. However, she understands this claim differently. In her view, emotions, unlike other forms of stream of consciousness or conscious episodes that are part of our normal life, are complex intentional phenomena because, "they essentially represent objects and states of affairs as having evaluative properties" (33). Montague describes such unique representation of emotions as "distinctively sui generis kind of evaluative phenomenology" (34), which I will abbreviate as DISKEP. In other words, DISKEP refers to "awareness-of-awareness of phenomenological features of experience" (38). An awareness of this sort might be described as a meta-awareness or a second level of awareness, where a subject is aware of a purely phenomenological property of an experience. Hence, DISKEP is a meta awareness of a conscious and intentional emotion experience. For instance, a meta awareness of an emotion of sadness involves an awareness-of-awareness of the evaluative property 'being sad' which is now a phenomenological property of experience . According to Montague, the evaluative properties attributed by a subject to a state of affairs at this level of awareness "are experienced as objective mind-independent properties" (45). In other words, they are  purely phenomenological properties which fall under some type or species like "being dangerous." Montague describes the various ways in which different kinds of emotions represent different kinds of evaluative properties as "fine-grained evaluative phenomenology" (48). For example, one could feel angry about being threatened by a neighbour and about being threatened by terrorism. Although both are instances of the emotion of anger, the instances differ in varieties of ways. First, they vary based on the degree of intensity of feeling ranging from mild annoyance to rage. Second, they  differ based on the direction of the emotion itself, which could be directed towards a particular person or general state of affairs.

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Michael Brady thinks of emotional evaluation as a matter of organic unity. In his empirical-based research, he establishes a connection between attention and emotion. According to him, for example, an emotion of fear can "quickly and reflexively direct and focus a subject's attention onto a potential threat, inform the subject of her evaluative situation; that is, that she is threatened and mobilize a subject's resources to enable her to react appropriately" (53). In general, "positive and negative emotions have different effects on the breadth of our attentional focus" (60). More specifically, positive emotions prompt the perception of the world from unified, coherent and integrated perspectives. Negative emotions, on the other hand, lead to the perception of the world from a fragmented point of view. These emotions, therefore, have effects on one's attitudinal focus and perception of the world. In addition, emotions play some epistemic and governing roles. There are two ways in which emotions carry out these roles. One arises when an emotion fixes one's attention on the object or event  that elicits the emotion. The object in question is an object of constitutive attentional focus, because it is an intentional target of the emotion.  For example, if an emotion of fear fixes one's attention on an object like a poisonous snake, then the snake is said to be the object of what Brady calls 'constitutive' attentional focus, meaning that it is an intentional target of the emotion. However, when an object or event that elicits an emotion is not the direct target of an emotion, then the object is described by Brady as an object of consequential emotional attention. According to Brady, "memories and imaginings generated by emotion are not themselves constitutive of emotion, but are what we might call the objects of consequential emotional attention" (62). For instance, when a past event in one's memory (like the tragic death of one's father two years ago) becomes an indirect target of an emotion of sadness other than an event at present that originally induced the sad feeling (like beholding the remains of a friend), then the past event is described by  Brady as  'object of consequential emotional attention'. Although Brady argues based on experiment for an attentional focus that is constitutive of emotion, he does not discard the idea that the objects of emotional experience could motivate one to attentionally focus on certain imaginative possibilities. He argues that "emotional and affective experience involves an evaluative seeming or appearance, and that the persistence attention in such experience can facilitate an enhanced representation of that initial assessment of one's environment" (64). His empirical-based research on the effect of emotions therefore underlines that emotions can  "tell us something interesting and important about the nature of value and the content of the appraisal that are partly constitutive of emotional experience" (67).

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Explaining the type of connection existing between various components of particular moral emotions (PMEs), Jonathan Dancy introduces the term "R-unitariness" (82), which refers to a normative relation. A normative relation of R-unitariness is a rational relation, which links a particular element of PMEs with other related elements that fit the situation that stimulated the particular element. With this, Dancy proceeds to clarify how the assembly of the elements constituting the MEs unify to form what he calls "unitary states" (72). In his view, the elements of PMEs (like feelings, beliefs, perceptions and desires) are linked by a normative relation of R-unitariness, which explains one's reason to act or feel in a particular way or the other. Hence, Dancy thinks of the elements of PMEs as a process since each of the emotion's elements is appropriate or fitting to the circumstances that stimulate the others. For instance, one could say that the emotion of grief is a process since grief entails "thinking about the various ways in which those who are grieving behave and are affected" (87). Such a process encompasses emotions like feeling sorrowful, feeling distressed, a feeling of shock and trauma, sudden emotional rushes etc. All these help us understand why those who grieve do so at the loss of a loved one. The normative relation of R-unitariness engenders the coherence of the elements of MEs in the grief process. Dancy also cited another instance with the emotion of anger. He underlines that the emotion of anger is also a process. According to him, 'anger as a process' encompasses all thoughts about how those who feel angry behave and are affected. The process also includes the different ways and intensity in which people express the emotion of anger such as  feeling of resentment, feeling of rage, feeling of annoyance, etc. All the elements of anger are held together by a normative relation of R-unitariness. However, Dancy fails to explain the kind of  internal relation that exist among the elements constitutive of his R-unitariness.

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Taking on the theme "Relatively Fitting Emotions and Apparent Objectivity of Values", Cain Todd  presents an account of the phenomenology of emotions that contrasts with a view called 'sentimentalism.' The theory of sentimentalism holds that "some class of values or evaluative concepts [ECs, L.I.] can be analyzed in terms of some class of human responses such as emotions, sentiments or attitudes" (90). A version of sentimentalism proposed by Justin D'Arms holds that ECs "regulate our emotional reactions to things in terms of fittingness towards those things" (95). Todd refutes the sentimentalist's claim, arguing from the following reasons: first, that it fails to provide an objective conception of the fittingness of emotional responses. Second, that it is threatened by relativism. Third, that it lacks objective information about the nature of fittingness as a result of incompatible ECs stimulated by sentiments. D'arms argues that our sentiments often generate conflicts of information  as a result of what he calls the 'wrong kind of reason' (WKR) and 'different subjective evaluative conditions' (SEC). An instance of the third reason is shown thus: One individual can feel sad at the loss of a loved one while another person, who happens to be a close friend of the deceased, may feel indifferent about the same incident. There are two incompatible ECs (i.e. being sad and being indifferent); that describe a non-evaluative fact (i.e. that a person is deceased). The different emotional responses by two persons to a given incident (like the loss of a loved one) are instances of WKR (i.e. whatever one judges to be fitting emotional response to a given state of affair) and SEC (an individual's motivations, interests, beliefs, values, etc.,). The reason is that there are two incompatible ECs (i.e. being sad and being indifferent);  that describe a non-evaluative fact (i.e. that a person is deceased). Owing to the three reasons mentioned above, Todd offers an alternative account of phenomenology of emotions which appeals to his notion of the apparent objectivity of values. According to him, emotions appear to us to be objectively fitting to ECs if they (the emotions) are "thought of in terms of a spectrum, ranging from least objective-seeming to most objective-seeming responses" (99). In other words, an emotional response objectively fits an evaluative concept if  that emotional response fits one's subjective evaluative condition. Examples of an individual's subjective evaluative conditions include: motivations, beliefs, concerns, values, imaginative and attentive capacities, psychological dispositions, etc. A consideration of these factors and the overall phenomenology of the emotion-state underline that apparent objectivity of values is  "Pro-attitude" (90). It (also apparent objectivity of values) also entails fittingness. Additional discussions of fittingness in relation to epistemic justification and rationality of our emotional response are contained in the second and third parts of this book.

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The second part of the book contains discussions on the following: first, the justificatory roles of emotions in evaluative judgment. Secondly, the rationality and appropriateness of certain emotional responses. Adam Pelser focuses on  the epistemic status of emotions and the roles of emotions in the justification of beliefs. In his work entitled: "Emotion, Evaluative Perception, and Epistemic Justification", he emphasizes "that emotions themselves can confer justification on beliefs formed non-inferentially out of (or on the basis of) emotional experience, as, for example, sense perception can confer justification on sense perceptual beliefs" (108). Pelser calls those beliefs formed and justified non-inferentially by emotional experience "emotion-based beliefs" (118). Substantiating the claim that emotions can confer justification on beliefs formed non-inferentially, he adds that "emotions, like sense perceptions, have representational (propositional) content" (108), as indicated by their phenomenology. An  essential role of  such representational content is that it gives rise to beliefs, which are formed on the basis of one's tendency to trust the represented content of emotion. For instance, the tendency to trust one's emotion of fear gives rise to the belief that the perceived object is a threat or dangerous. For emotions to serve as the justification for beliefs, they (emotions) must give rise to what Pelser calls 'thick' evaluative beliefs. Pelser clarifies his notion of 'thick' evaluative belief by appeal to examples, which, in my view, are not illuminating enough as to what the concept itself implies. However, what is clear, on Pelser's view, is that an emotion, in order to justify a belief, must share the propositional content of that belief. For example, an emotion of fear can justify the belief that an object is a threat. Such justification is epistemic, as opposed to pragmatic or moral (111). The particular type of justification that emotions confer on beliefs is non-inferential, which means that the belief need not be based on a chain of reasoning, i.e., an inference. For example, what justifies the belief  that, the Holocaust was an abominable injustice, is a non-inferential emotional experience of moral horror. Such an experience, on Pelser's view, is a good reason for the claim that it is an abominable injustice. Pelser coins the concept 'non-inferential good reason' from the latter instance to describe the way in which the functional and structural parallels between emotions and sense perceptions can give rise to evaluative beliefs. This justificatory thesis, understood in the light of  the perceptual character of emotions, underscores that some emotion-based beliefs are non-inferentially justified by emotions themselves.

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In the work entitled "Why Recalcitrant Emotions are not Irrational", Sabina Döring argues that recalcitrant emotions (REs) are not irrational. According to her, "a 'recalcitrant emotion' is one which persists despite the subject's 'better' judgment; that is, despite his judgment reached by deliberation, about what is right, all things considered" (124). For example, one's emotion of fear may persist despite the judgment that one is safe. Döring is responding to an objection by Helm, who argues that REs differ from perceptions because the former are irrational while the latter are rational. Substantiating  this claim, Helm says, "it is not at all irrational to have a stick half-submerged in water to look bent after one has judged that it is straight" (Helm, 2001: 42). In response, Döring comments, "it is irrational by Helm's lights to feel fear of some x after one has found out that x is in fact harmless" (Döring, 2014: 126). The instance of a stick half-submerged in water is a good example of (recalcitrant) perception while the fear example is a good instance of an RE. Döring, in response to Helm's claim, underscores that "emotions' rational role is analogous to that of perception in that the contents of emotions are non-inferentially related to the contents of other mental states, including emotions" (130). In other words, the content of emotions is in some way linked to perception due the representational character of emotions. For instance, "one sees a gorilla in terms of the salient features, which taken together as a whole constitute fearsomeness to an individual. In experiencing fear of a gorilla, the gorilla appears to be fearsome, where this is an appearance of truth: it seems to the subject that the gorilla is in fact fearsome, whether or not he would affirm the truth of his emotion's content in judgment" (133). The gorilla example shows that it is the perception of the salient features of a gorilla that induces fear in a subject.  It is only when such emotion persists (REs) that there arises the conflict between judgment and emotion. However, Döring emphasizes that a subject is not irrational simply by experiencing REs. Rather the subject becomes irrational when the REs interfere with a subject's reasoned pursuit of a goal. For instance, if a patient declines to undergo an eye surgery due to his recalcitrant emotion of fear that disposes him to think that the surgeon is dangerous, but has good reasons to believe that the Surgeon is a proficient ophthalmologist. Nonetheless, he acts as if the surgeon is dangerous by refusing to be treated by her despite his belief that the she is competent. In this example, the patient is irrational for two reasons: First, his RE interferes with his reasoned pursuit of a goal (i.e to get a cure for an eye problem through surgery). Second, due to his corresponding false evaluation of the surgeon despite his good reasons to believe that she is an expert. Döring concludes that emotions themselves are not irrational since they occur without inference just like the content of other mental states (e.g wish, beliefs, desire, etc.,). In other words, there is nothing irrational in the cognitive conflict between emotional experience and judgment in REs and recalcitrant perception so long as a subject (like in the patient's case) also has a reason to think the opposite of what an RE recommends. 

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Taking on the theme "Surprise", Adam Morton explains why it sometimes makes sense to be surprised when improbable things happen. According to him, the rationality of surprise lies in the fact that it serves as "an inquiry-prompting emotion that seeks for explanation" (143). In other words, surprise motivates one to seek an explanation. Hence, there is a causal link between the emotion of surprise and the desire to seek an explanation. Such an explanation leads, in its turn, to an evaluative attitude like feeling disappointed, feeling challenged, feeling relieved, etc. Clarifying this standpoint further, Morton identifies two types of the emotion of surprise, namely: "surprisingly unsurprising" (140) and an unwelcomed emotion of surprise. In the former, an improbable event is unexpected but not surprising. Nonetheless it prompts an evaluative attitude in an individual, who anticipates in some cases that such unpredictable event would happen. For instance, one may be alarmed at unexpectedly catching a disease that millions of people have but not actually surprised. The individual in this instance only anticipate the improbable event as opposed to a completely unexpected event. In the case of unwelcomed surprise, by contrast, the improbable event is both unexpected and surprising. For example, if a farmer is surprised that her crops have been half-successful rather than giving a full harvest despite the precautionary measures she took to facilitate a bountiful harvest, then such a feeling of surprise prompts her to ask why the harvest is half rather than full. An explanation of the unwelcomed surprise of the half-successful harvest enables the farmer to react appropriately. The farmer's reaction is two-fold. First, she feels the evaluative emotion of disappointment at the poor harvest, especially considering the precautionary measures she took to ensure a bountiful harvest. Second, she reviews her general course of action in the previous planting season. The farmer's first reaction is directed to the poor harvest while her second reaction is directed to the whole planting procedure in the previous season. The farmer's second reaction challenges her to make amends having discovered the problem. So, the emotion of surprise motivates the farmer to seek an explanation that leads to an evaluative attitude such as feeling disappointed, feeling challenged. On the other hand, it disposes one to anticipate in some cases the occurrence of an improbable event. In summary, Morton's stance underscores that surprises (including welcomed ones, which he did not mention) are rational since they lead to evaluative attitudes that motivate one to seek explanation for improbable events.

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In the work entitled "Emotions Fit for Fiction", Greg Currie aims to identify what makes one's emotional response to fiction appropriate. According to him, "emotions represent their objects as being certain ways, and an emotion is appropriate, in one sense, if it represents its object correctly" (149). With regard to the ways in which emotions represent their objects, Currie underlines that "there are representational emotions of fiction and real emotions of events in real world" (146). The emotions directed at real situations in the world are appropriate if a subject represents an object of emotion as it is in real world. There are two relevant examples here. First, one's fear of a dangerous object (like a snake) should represent that snakes are dangerous in real world, otherwise such a representation becomes inappropriate. Second, Michael may be angered by an inaccurate report that Agnes destroyed his reputation only to find out that the report is false. Michael's emotion of anger in view of the available report to him (such as testimonial ones) is appropriate. According to Currie, there are two rules that explain the aforementioned examples namely: 'the rule of reality test' and 'the rule of evidence'. The 'rule of reality test' is applicable in the snake example while the 'rule of evidence' explains the false report example. With regard to the emotions directed at fictions, Currie argues that they are appropriate when one's emotion represents fictional characters the way they are in the fiction. For example, a subject's emotion of fear directed to a fictional character in a  novel or movie (like Dracula) is appropriate, if the character is represented as being fearful in the fictional movie or novel. Currie refers to the rule applicable to fictions as "the rule of representational correspondence test [RRCT, L.I.,]" (150). RRCT says that "my emotional response to the fictional character or event is appropriate to the extent that the emotion is associated with a representation which corresponds to how that character or event is represented as being in the story" (150). The appropriateness of emotional response to fictions is dependent on: first, whether our emotional response to the fictional representation differs from the response we should have to similar event in the real world. Second, whether one is justified in imagining an emotional expression in the face of an ambiguous fictional representation. Although Currie focuses on RRCT, he nonetheless sees parallels between the real- and fictional worlds. Each type of worlds, according to him, plays a unique role in determining the appropriateness of our emotional responses. 

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The third section of the book examines the special role that emotions play in self-evaluation and self-experience. Linda Zagzebski begins this section by defending the rationality of "Emotional Self-Trust" (EST). This essay argues that EST is crucial to justifying of our emotions.  An emotion is justified just in case it fits (or: is commensurate with) its object, and unjustified just in case it does not. For instance, if someone is laughing boisterously while trapped in blazing car, then his emotion is not commensurate to what a response of someone held in a blazing car should be. We often do the best we can to make our emotions fit their objects. The fittingness of an emotion, in Zagzebski's view, is not reducible to the truth or fittingness of set of beliefs. So, our emotions cannot be justified by reference to the justification of epistemic states alone but by reliance on our emotions. The idea of relying on our emotions to justify our emotions reveals that the justification of our emotions is circular. Zagzebski refers to this circularity of the justification of our emotions as "emotion circularity" (169). This kind of circularity makes it seem as if our emotions cannot be justified due to infinite regress that the  justification of emotion tends to. She argues, on the contrary, that our emotions can be justified with the help of EST. According to her, EST helps a person respond rationally to her awareness of emotion circularity. Such a rational response entails relying on our emotions, beliefs and experiences. Our reliance on our emotions is based on the fact that we naturally trust the product of our reflective powers and also make adjustments when our reflections show us that our emotions might not be trustworthy.So,with EST, one brings one's emotions, beliefs and experiences to conscious awareness. Such conscious effort to justify one's emotion and ensure its appropriateness is the starting point of self-reflection. In this reflective mood, a responsible epistemic agent who has EST makes an effort to make his or her emotion fit its object. Zagzebski calls such a self-conscious attempt by an epistemic agent to make a belief fit the truth "epistemic conscientiousness" (180). This kind of self-consciousness entails: first, that an individual trusts some of her beliefs and her emotions. Second, it requires that an individual reflects conscientiously upon her total set of psychic states so as to sustain all those emotions that survive reflection. In other words, a conscientious person ought to trust the emotions that form the partial basis of her decision to act in a certain way. When an emotion fails to satisfy the demands of conscientious self-reflection, then it is inappropriate. For instance, if a Lumberman cuts off his right leg mistakenly due to mishandling of his chainsaw and he starts laughing after the incident, then his emotion is inappropriate to the magnitude of injury sustained. In summary, Zagzebski's notion of EST is key to understanding the rationality of our response to the awareness of emotion circularity. An awareness of emotion circularity, therefore requires basic trust in one's emotions.

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Focusing on the theme: "Self Empathy and Moral Repair", Nancy Sherman explains how the emotion of self-empathy (SE) can help in the healing of moral injury, especially emotions of subjective guilt. Sherman presents a self-directed notion of empathy (hence, the term 'SE'), in contrast to  'other-directed' notions of empathy (the standard notion of empathy). SE, in her view, is a cognitive ability that  places one in one's  own world through imagining one's hurtful feelings in the context of one's own world. In other words, the individual sees herself from the third-person perspective, visualizing her painful emotional experience 'from a distance'. With such imaginative capability, one enters into one's world to heal moral injury. Hence, Sherman emphasizes that through SE, "we uncover our hurt to ourselves, and in that acknowledgment can sometimes elicit resources for responding to and ameliorating the suffering" (184). SE, therefore, predisposes one to a fairer self-assessment by stimulating a reactive attitude of forgiveness towards oneself. This reactive attitude requires the befriending of oneself which, on an Aristotelian view, entails "positive feelings and affection (philesis) towards one's object [i.e., in the case of SE the self, L.I.,] and feelings of goodwill (eunoia)" (190). Drawing on this Aristotelian notion, Sherman’s account has the following four characteristics: first, SE brings about moral growth through a fairer self-assessment, which prompts a reactive attitude of forgiveness towards oneself. Second, it enables us to "become affectively re-engaged in the anguish of our guilt or shame feelings, and cognitively re-engaged in appraising circumstances from a new perspective that time and distance allows" (191). Third, it redirects "our attention to what is salient and morally significant to our moral agency and well-being" (191). These characteristics make Sherman's model of SE (i.e., self-directed empathy) differ from 'other-directed' views on empathy (the standard notion of empathy). The other-directed views on empathy include: first, the notion of empathy as vicarious arousal or contagion. The proponents of this view argue that we understand other people's emotions by feeling a similar emotion to theirs from our own perspective. On the second concept of empathy, the individual experiencing empathy, makes the other person's perspective her own. Doing this, according to Adam Smith, requires standing in another's shoes and 'becoming' that person. In other words we "'enter, as it were, into his body and become in some measure the same person with him" (Smith 1976:48). Third, the view known as the therapist's view describes empathy more from an intellectual perspective. The empathizer (the therapist) only helps the patient revisit and reconstruct painful emotional feelings without knowing actually what the patient is going through. The fourth notion describes empathy as an emotional feeling that begins with the 'other' (object of empathy) and ends with the empathizer (the subject of empathy). For instance, a victim of brutal torture in a support group may achieve SE after feeling empathy for others who were tortured brutally like him. Whereas the four views on empathy above focus on 'the other' and sometimes ends with a single individual, Sherman's notion of SE begins and ends with a single individual. Moreover, her stance explains how a person can gain affective access to her past emotionally imbued experiences so as to facilitate the  healing of moral injury. Such access leads one to fairer self-assessment and self-forgiveness and enables one to respond positively to one's past self with hope and renewed trust in oneself (195).

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Reflecting on the theme "Emotion and the Virtues of Human Understanding", Michael Lacewing considers  'passions' or what he also calls 'emotions' as an important source of our reason for acting, feeling, and desiring. Furthermore, they (passions) motivate us to reflect, deliberate and respond appropriately to morally challenging situations. However, when one is under pressure, one is stimulated to respond inappropriately, i,e., defensively. The notion of a defensive response refers to an agent's unconscious distortions in response to a challenging situation. Lacewing refers to those defensive responses, which  distort passions or emotions (intentionally or not) as "defence mechanisms" (201). In his words, "defence mechanisms [DM, L.I.] lead to both a lack of transparency and error, not only with regards to one's reasons, but also in self-understanding" (206). An agent deploys DMs in morally challenging situations and they can impede his or her ability to know the truth. For example, a feeling of an apparent threat to one's integrity could make one lie so as to protect one's reputation. Lacewing thinks that the option of lying as a way of defending one's integrity is inappropriate, hence he calls for the deconstruction of a subject's DM by the agent. He does not explain what his notion of 'deconstruction' means. However, extrapolating from his remarks, we can understand it roughly as the opening of oneself to painful feelings in the face of a morally challenging situation. Hence, Lacewing underlines that, "opening oneself to feelings that are painful and pose an apparent threat to one's well-being forms part of the deconstruction of one's defence mechanism, which is a course of action aimed at the epistemically good end of moral knowledge" (206). Furthermore, Lacewing thinks that deconstruction also requires that a subject  deploys the virtues of human understanding like close relationship and dialogue, specific forms of courage, self-acceptance, and compassion. These virtues, according to Lacewing, "lead to the deconstruction of the self so as to forestall the obstruction of understanding of the passions on which moral judgments rest" (209).

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In the work entitled  "Emotion and Agency", Jan Slaby and Philip Wünscher outline a view of emotion that puts agency (i.e., an agent's power to act within an environment) at the heart of what an emotion is. According to them, human emotions and agency relate to each other in the following way: An emotion manifests itself in the act that an agent performs within his environment. This view stands in contrast to a common view, according to which emotions cause actions or events. The intensity, mode and vivacity of an agent's engagement with his environment shape his emotion and determine how he manifests his emotion. For example, an awful harvest can make a diligent farmer feel very sad after he (the farmer) had taken all precautionary measures to ensure a bountiful harvest for his crops. Such an active engagement of the farmer with his environment to ensure a bountiful harvest shapes and determines how he manifests his emotion of sadness. An agent, in Slaby and Wünscher's view, therefore becomes aware of three things when his actions give rise to an emotion like sadness. First, he becomes aware that he feels sad. Second, he becomes aware that something (namely he himself) feels sad. Third, he becomes aware that, in feeling sad, he is active. This agency-centered view of emotion makes emotions appear "less as mental states and more as temporally extended episodes involving a person's entire comportment in and towards the world" (213). Slaby and Wünscher refer to the relation between human emotion and agency, as "phenomenal coupling" (216). Phenomenal coupling plays a psychological role for an agent by ensuring that his sense of 'selfhood' is not annihilated in the process of his (agent's) active engagement with the environment. Such psychological role helps an agent not to slip into depression. For example, a depressed person suffers the annihilation of his agency and experiences the environment as oppressive and threatening. The reason is that the capacity of the depressed person to engage himself is wiped out by depression. In summary, Slaby and Wünscher underscore that an understanding of the link between emotion and agency is crucial to "making sense of ourselves as agents" (226).

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In the last chapter of the book, entitled "Evaluating Existential Despair", Matthew Ratcliffe addresses the question: is existential despair (ED) an accurate appraisal of the human predicament? Responding to this question he underlines that ED is not an accurate appraisal of the human predicament. He gives this response for the reasons that emerge in his analysis of ED. According to him, ED is an emotional state, in which one feels that nothing is of any value. Such a painful feeling of worthlessness, according to Ratcliffe, reveals the relation between evaluative belief and affective feeling. This link shows that ED is intelligible when analyzed in connection with associated feelings. Such feelings comprise our evaluative belief partially. Ratcliffe distinguishes ED from a case of severe depression, which he culled from Tolstoy's memoir entitled 'A Confession'.  In the memoir, Tolstoy presents a notion of ED that undermines one's affective disposition and makes one feel hopeless and worthless. Such an experience could be likened to finding oneself in a desperate situation. Ratcliffe likens such desperate situation to a narrative he attributes to Tolstoy. In the narrative, he recounts: "A traveler runs away from a beast and seeks refuge in a well. At the bottom of the well is a dragon, and so the traveler is unable to climb out or climb down. He clings to a twig growing from the side of the well, which two mice__ one black and the other white__ nibble at in turn. As the traveler awaits his inevitable fate, he consoles himself by licking the drops of honey off leaves that grow from the twig, the taste of which distracts him from his plight" (231-232). Tolstoy's problem, according to the narrative, was that the honey stopped tasting sweet to the traveler at the sight of the inescapable dragon and the mice. This story, according to Ratcliffe, paints the picture of a felt need to survive which is unfulfilled by an inescapable sense of death on the part of the traveler. This sense of mortality undermines the traveler's purposive activity since it gives him the sense that his life is worthless. Ratcliffe disagrees with Tolstoy for undermining the traveler's affective disposition. He, argues, however, for an optimistic view of ED, where ED provides one with the ability to contemplate and cope with a world shaped by a pervasive sense of privation. Furthermore, he emphasized that even if ED were to be biologically undesirable, it would neither hinder cognitive processes nor forestall accurate evaluations. Drawing on the above, Ratcliffe concludes as follows: first, that ED does not lead to despair since it "offers us access to certain values" (238). Second, that ED does not "preclude interpersonal concern, other than when it is accompanied by losses of interpersonal feeling that are clearly attributable to blockage and privation" (244). Third, that there is no basis for those who have never experienced ED  to "maintain, with confidence, that it amounts to an entirely erroneous evaluation of human life" (244). In view of the last three premises, Ratcliffe reiterates that ED does not give an accurate appraisal of human predicament.

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The thrust of argument in this book is that emotions facilitate the understanding of the nature of value through their justificatory role in self-evaluation and self experience. Each of the thirteen chapters has a profound persuasive leitmotif that targets audiences, who already have basic acquaintance with moral epistemology. In addition, the content of the book is good, enlightening and appropriate for the intended audience. However, some general questions emanating from the above discussions call for further clarification. Some of them include: First, can one acquire an evaluative knowledge or be capable of an evaluative thought in the face of emotional disorder? Second, can there be value without emotion or emotion without value? Third, is it possible for evaluative properties to be meaningful without supervening on emotions? Fourth, does the abstract nature of evaluative properties imply that they are primitive or unanalyzable? These and other questions call for further clarifications and continued reflection on the normative nature of value, especially as it relates to the ongoing research in the area of moral epistemology.                                                                                                                       

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Liberatus Ebelechukwu Isife

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Institute of Christian Philosophy
University of Innsbruck, Austria
November, 2017

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