Philosophy of Emotions
Dr. Christa Johnson
Thursdays · 7:00pm–9:45pm · LA1–304
We are emotional animals. We regularly feel sad, angry, guilty, happy, frustrated, etc. in response to various events in the world. But what are emotions, and why do we have them? Do emotions tell us anything important about our environment, and if so what is it? Are emotions the sort of thing that can be rational, justified, good? Or are emotions mental states that we should avoid or minimize, especially given their tendency to unduly influence our thinking and behavior? What is the difference between emotions and other kinds of affective states (such as sentiments and moods)?
Contemporary theories of emotion attempt to answer these questions and many others by proposing a comprehensive story of how the many different aspects of emotions should be understood and related to each other. In this course, we will first take a critical look at the main theories of emotion, both in philosophy and in the sciences of the mind. Once we have a better understanding of what emotions are, the second half of the course will be dedicated to questions concerning the role of emotions in our moral lives and practice.