Chapter

Knowledge as Emotion

Susan James

in Passion and Action

Published in print November 1999 | ISBN: 9780198250135
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597794 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198250134.003.0010
 Knowledge as Emotion

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Alongside the view that we need passion to motivate us to acquire knowledge, we find in the seventeenth century the idea that knowledge itself—and especially practical knowledge—has an emotional dimension. Practical knowledge consists in an ability to act in certain ways, which in turn depends on certain motivating passions that are often conceived as forms of love. This conviction draws on Platonism and Augustianism, and is taken up by both Protestant philosophers such as the Cambridge Platonists, and Catholic ones such as Pascal. The emotional changes that knowledge is understood to produce are widely seen as giving us a form of protection against passions that can infiltrate our bodies and shape our characters, from the time we are in the womb.

Keywords: Augustine; Cambridge Platonism; love; Pascal; Platonism; practical knowledge

Chapter.  14210 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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