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Upheavals of Thought
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Book description

Emotions shape the landscape of our mental and social lives. Like geological upheavals in a landscape, they mark our lives as uneven, uncertain and prone to reversal. Are they simply, as some have claimed, animal energies or impulses with no connection to our thoughts? Or are they rather suffused with intelligence and discernment, and thus a source of deep awareness and understanding? In this compelling book, Martha C. Nussbaum presents a powerful argument for treating emotions not as alien forces but as highly discriminating responses to what is of value and importance. She explores and illuminates the structure of a wide range of emotions, in particular compassion and love, showing that there can be no adequate ethical theory without an adequate theory of the emotions. This involves understanding their cultural sources, their history in infancy and childhood, and their sometimes unpredictable and disorderly operations in our daily lives.

Reviews

‘… a staggering feat of synthesis...creates an argument for the dignity and moral efficacy of emotion that is not only an intellectual tour de force but a moving triumph of humanistic thinking.’

Source: New York Times Book Review

‘… united in an original and altogether personal way the philosophy of the emotions with the texture of life and the experience of art … Upheavals of Thought is what Henry James, one of Nussbaum’s favorite authors, would have called a ‘great, glittering thing’.’

Source: Los Angeles Times Book Review

‘… a philosophical milestone. Few books of our time make one feel so privileged to enter into them … A generation may pass before anyone gives an account of thinking about emotion and its human stakes as deep as Upheavals of Thought.’

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

‘… In this massive study Nussbaum takes the perennial boxing match between thought and perception to a brilliant new register … it has the feel of a major achievement.’

Source: Publishers Weekly

‘… a brave and civilized book. And at a time when we need above all an understanding of political emotions its subject could not be more welcome.’

Source: The New Republic

‘… unites in an original and altogether personal way the philosophy of the emotions with the texture of life and the experience of art … The book shows an impressive familiarity with the classics, with psychology, with anthropology, with the law and with its own version of psychoanalysis.’

Source: Los Angeles Times Book Review

‘[Nussbaum] is among America’s most prolific and prominent public intellectuals, with many causes to her credit, to all of which she brings extraordinary scholarly and liberal credentials … it is a brave and civilized book. And at a time when we need above all an understanding of political emotions, its subject could not be more welcome.’

Source: The New Republic

‘It is an awesomely ambitious and unabashedly personal book. It contains … three elegant studies of the role of the emotions in human flourishing … this is a magnificent book … this book stands apart, if only as a kind of culmination of her work so far.’

Source: Mind

‘Several disciplinary establishments are bound to be shaken by this book, and most of all the scholars, scientists, and writers in the always emergent field of human emotion … almost all will be amazed by the extent to which Nussbaum can sweep feeling up into thinking and judging.’

Source: Common Knowledge

'… it is fitting that perhaps the most considered recent contribution to the field has been made by Martha C. Nussbaum, a philosopher whose considerable powers of thought have brought some much needed clarity and depth of thought into this complex and controversial field … appreciate the breadth of scholarship, the awesome ability to synthesize ideas from a range of disciplines without becoming facile, the elegance of the argument and the clarity of the writing. It is a book to read slowly, with care, and with plenty of pauses for reflection … she is keen to develop a social theory of emotion, which is a major contribution to the is debate.'

Source: Auto/Biography

'… thrilling and satisfying.'

A. M. C. Casiday - University of Durham

'… an awesome tour de force of philosophical inquiry … some marvelous intellectual architecture …'.

Source: getAbstract

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Contents

  • 7 - Compassion: The Philosophical Debate
    pp 354-400

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