Why Be Emotional?

Sabine A. Döring

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199235018
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Why Be Emotional?

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What would it mean for agency if we could fully control our emotions, or even had no emotions at all? This article defends the thesis that this would not be a gain but a loss. As is shown in this article, the emotions are significant and even indispensable for agency, albeit not in terms of control or guidance. Instead, they are an indispensable source of practical knowledge. The article starts from the idea and ideal of agency emphasized by Donald Davidson and many others: that it is constitutive of being an agent to comply with the requirements of rationality, so that to violate them is, at the limit, to cease to be an agent. According to this ideal, agents are set above the brutes, so to speak, by virtue of their rationality; they are attributed the ‘role of Rational Animal’. As traditionally understood, an agent is practically rational to the extent to which he complies with his judgements about what is best for him to do in a given situation.

Keywords: rationality; judgements; control of emotion; guidance; practical knowledge; idea of agency

Article.  9878 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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