• ChatteringMonkey
    201
    We are biological beings, and part of our brain is the limbic system that controls emotions and instincts. They seem to be a vital part of what makes us us.

    Why is there so little in Western philosophy that deals with our emotions? Or is there, but I just don't know about it?

    Is it simply antithetical to the philosophical project, in that philosophy just happens to be the discipline that engages the other parts of us, the rational linguistic parts? So then we should just look at other disciplines or activities to tell us about it, like music, dance, poetry, art,... and perhaps even religion?

    Or could philosophical activity tell us something about it, and is it merely a defect in Western philosophy that very little has been said about it. In Chinese philosphy for instance Confucius deals extensively with 'ritual', which seem to have at least something to do with the non-rational part in us. And indian philosophy has meditative 'practices'...

    What do you think, is it an oversight in Western philosophy, or just not what philosophy is about?
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    Why is there so little in Western philosophy that deals with our emotions?ChatteringMonkey

    From the age of reason, everybody was "weeding out" emotions. And you are absolutely correct that we need emotions in our discourse... :)

    Now, what will be your next step? :)

    Enjoy the day, :cool:
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201
    Now, what will be your next step? :)Damir Ibrisimovic

    I don't know... smileys :-) 8-) ;-)

    Maybe poetry, though i'm not much of a poet i should say.

    I'm a sad chattering monkey,
    still chattering cheerfully!

    It will be chitter, chatter, cheer,
    until the end I fear.

    :-(

    Enjoy your day, i'm off to sleep.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    Even philosophers will grant that emotions have a strong influence on how we "feel". Happy, sad, angry, loving, bored, etc. Philosophers generally do not acknowledge the enormous sway emotions have over how and what we think. They like to picture themselves as rational beings, unswayed by irrational emotion. Fools. Hume terms reason the slave of passion.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    Yeah Hume did think that reason was a slave to the passions, and there was ofcourse also Nietzsche. On of my favourite passages from him that ties back to this :

    "It has gradually become clear to me what every great
    philosophy up till now has consisted of — namely, the confes-
    sion of its originator, and a species of involuntary and un-
    conscious auto-biography; and moreover that the moral (or
    immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the
    true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always
    grown. Indeed, to understand how the abstrusest metaphysi-
    cal assertions of a philosopher have been arrived at, it is
    always well (and wise) to first ask oneself: ''What morality
    do they (or does he) aim at?" Accordingly, I do not believe
    that an "impulse to knowledge" is the father of philosophy;
    but that another impulse, here as elsewhere, has only made
    use of knowledge (and mistaken knowledge!) as an instru-
    ment. But whoever considers the fundamental impulses of
    man with a view to determining how far they may have here
    acted as inspiring genii (or as demons and cobolds) , will find
    that they have all practised philosophy at one time or an-
    other, and that each one of them would have been only too
    glad to look upon itself as the ultimate end of existence and
    the legitimate lord over all the other impulses. For every
    impulse is imperious, and as such, attempts to philosophise."

    With Thus Spake Zarathustra, and also with his style in other work in general, he attempted to engage with more than the rational only. Still there is not a whole lot of that in Western philosophy... and especially there doesn't seem to be an equivalent of something like ritual, or a practice that tries to engage the body also. Maybe that is a consequence of mind-body dualism, or the notion of pure spirit/reason?
  • Jake
    788
    Philosophers generally do not acknowledge the enormous sway emotions have over how and what we think. They like to picture themselves as rational beings, unswayed by irrational emotion. Fools.Bitter Crank

    Bitter Crank hits the nail on the head, as he so often does.
  • BrianW
    407
    I think now that psychology is advancing much further, it will eventually discover a way to discuss emotions in objective and perhaps even logical terms. Eastern philosophy had the advantage that its fundamentals rested on metaphysics so a discussion on emotions was easier without necessarily being answerable as to the objective relevance of it.
  • ArguingWAristotleTiff
    3.2k
    I think now that psychology is advancing much further, it will eventually discover a way to discuss emotions in objective and perhaps even logical terms.BrianW

    Could you please let me know when this happens?
  • BrianW
    407


    Ok. Though I should say that it's probably began and it's at the ground level - trying to establish a 'base-reading' as it were. Eventually both psychology and psychiatry will be fundamental to understanding emotions.
  • praxis
    881
    We are biological beings, and part of our brain is the limbic system that controls emotions and instinctsChatteringMonkey

    This is a rather outdated understanding of what portions of the brain and body ‘control’ emotions.

    Anyway, what sort of philosophical questions do you have about emotions?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201

    What are good and bad ways of dealing with them generally. But maybe that aren't exactly philosophical questions, hence the questions in the OP.
  • praxis
    881


    If you don’t have any philosophical questions about emotion then I don’t see a problem.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    I'm not sure if objective knowledge from a third perspective of emotions will necessarily tell us much about how to deal with emotions. Maybe...

    Eastern philosophy has a long tradition concerning this subject, but it starts from a phenomenological description of first person expercience.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    Well I have questions, I'm just not sure philosophy needs to deal with them. They do more of that in eastern philosophy, but then the lines between philosophy and religion seem murkier there, so then there's that.
  • praxis
    881


    A fundamental demarcation between religion and philosophy is that the former provides answers and the latter seeks them. That being the case, no religion is truly philosophical.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    Yes i don't disagree, but I think good philosophy should also provide some answers. And it does that too... just not in this case it seems.
  • aporiap
    103
    I think that's a certain image of philosophy. The majority of philosophers are known for their their philosophical systems, which serve as worldviews, 'answers'.


    See the SEP entry.
  • praxis
    881
    I think good philosophy should also provide some answers. And it does that too... just not in this case it seems.ChatteringMonkey

    It seems to not have answers to what questions?
  • praxis
    881
    The majority of philosophers are known for their philosophical systems, which serve as worldviews, 'answers'.aporiap

    They’re not any sort of absolute authority. It’s perfectly acceptable, and even considered a good and beneficial practice, to question these worldviews.

    To accept them without question by mere authority or as an expression of solidarity with the ‘group view’, especially if they appear untrue, would be more like religion.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    How to deal with emotions? How does it tie into living a good life, or into virtue etc... ?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201


    And Praxis you do not accept some philosophy merely on authority, right, but you also don't live in suspension of judgement the rest of your life... to live means to make choices. Philosophy provides tools for formulating better questions and thinking about them, so you can come up some answers of your own... ideally to make better life choices.
  • praxis
    881
    How to deal with emotions?ChatteringMonkey

    Starting with the most basic, carefully regulate diet and physical activity. This is the best place to start because many emotions primarily function to regulate energy. I could go on, but, this isn’t a philosophical question.

    Questions surrounding emotions and their relationships to virtue and living a good life are interesting.
  • praxis
    881
    so you can come up some answers of your own...ChatteringMonkey

    Exactly. This doesn’t fly so well in religious circles.
  • All sight
    241
    Well, reason as slave to the passions is basically meaning that we are charged with pleasing the limbic system. That's what life's about! You don't control how you feel, or how perception is marked by signification, nor how memory is consolidated, and motivations established, but you do know what causes what, and how to figure stuff out... you know, if you aren't too afraid to admit it.
  • aporiap
    103
    They’re not any sort of absolute authority. It’s perfectly acceptable, and even considered a good and beneficial practice, to question these worldviews.


    To accept them without question by mere authority or solidarity with the ‘group view’, especially if they appear untrue, would be more like religion.

    It's true the philosophical process involves in it a value of critical judgement and skepticism but I don't think that stands in contrast to religion, moreso in contrast to the specific belief motivators you mentioned.... Religions are just culturally generated world-views [or, more accurately termed, metaphysical belief frame-works], under the same ontic category as secular metaphysical frameworks. You can be critical and do philosophy from within those those religious systems just like you can from within any other metaphysical framework.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201

    Well, reason as slave to the passions is basically meaning that we are charged with pleasing the limbic system. That's what life's about! You don't control how you feel, or how perception is marked by signification, nor how memory is consolidated, and motivations established, but you do know what causes what, and how to figure stuff out... you know, if you aren't too afraid to admit it. — All sight

    Yes I basicly agree. Free will is nonsensical, if it were free it wouldn't be will. We don't choose our will, we are our will... biologically determined.
  • All sight
    241


    Well, I think that neurologically we have "free won't", or inhibition. We can do a lot of rationalizing to explain our behavior, but it is mostly inexplicable. When it is premeditated, and intentional, this is usually considered dubious, and inferior to spontaneity. So that, the majority of our "conscious-deliberation" is about what not to do, not what to do. We never run out of thinking of stuff we could be doing, and things we want, but we do refrain from a lot of it. The better one feels, the more impulsive, and spontaneous. Right down to food energy levels. "Neat", or non-exercise acitivty thermogenesis, is just the random impulsive activities one makes, and they increase with higher calorie intake and decrease with lower caloric intake. Sugar also makes one do all kinds of big and often repetitive purposeless or obsessive behaviors.

    I also think that the higher energy, more elevated someone is the less they are able to restrain, or inhibit themselves. That's why we have "crimes of passion", and we all know how intense emotions are extremely difficult to restrain. So that, I think that not only do we just have "free won't", but we also purposely maintain low energy levels because we're too afraid to allow ourselves to lose control, so must maintain levels of energy we can control.
  • BrianW
    407
    I'm not sure if objective knowledge from a third perspective of emotions will necessarily tell us much about how to deal with emotions.ChatteringMonkey

    Me too. I think we have to figure a way to express the whole range of perspectives in order to determine a comprehensive study of emotions. When its too subjective it seems to exclude others and when its too objective it doesn't seem personal enough to cover our individual intricacies. Limited perspective is a philosopher's worst nightmare.

    Perhaps a combination of both eastern and western philosophies could work. One to speak directly to the individual and the other to the community at large or the underlying principle. Maybe this would better explain emotions as a subjective experience as well as having objective range of interactions.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201
    Well, I think that neurologically we have "free won't", or inhibition. We can do a lot of rationalizing to explain our behavior, but it is mostly inexplicable. When it is premeditated, and intentional, this is usually considered dubious, and inferior to spontaneity. So that, the majority of our "conscious-deliberation" is about what not to do, not what to do. We never run out of thinking of stuff we could be doing, and things we want, but we do refrain from a lot of it. The better one feels, the more impulsive, and spontaneous. Right down to food energy levels. "Neat", or non-exercise acitivty thermogenesis, is just the random impulsive activities one makes, and they increase with higher calorie intake and decrease with lower caloric intake. Sugar also makes one do all kinds of big and often repetitive purposeless or obsessive behaviors.

    I also think that the higher energy, more elevated someone is the less they are able to restrain, or inhibit themselves. That's why we have "crimes of passion", and we all know how intense emotions are extremely difficult to restrain. So that, I think that not only do we just have "free won't", but we also purposely maintain low energy levels because we're too afraid to allow ourselves to lose control, so must maintain levels of energy we can control.
    All sight

    This is interesting, especially considering that it is apparently well-established in studies now that the level of 'self-control' seems to be by far the best indicator of succes later in life in our societies.

    Not sure what to think of it yet. Reminds me of Freud... I need to think about it some more.
  • praxis
    881
    It's true the philosophical process involves in it a value of critical judgement and skepticism but I don't think that stands in contrast to religionaporiap

    Where it specifically contrasts is faithfulness to the particular religion. Clearly it’s more than a just a culturally generated worldview if it requires faith.
  • bloodninja
    299
    What do you think, is it an oversight in Western philosophy, or just not what philosophy is about?
    4d
    ChatteringMonkey

    I think that for Heidegger, emotions (broardly construed as affectivity or attunement) are really important. I'm not sure if we can include Heidegger in "western philosophy" however as he is essentially critiquing the western philosophical tradition in a way different to every other western philosopher before him who likewise also inherited that tradition.
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