Article

An Ethics of Emotion?

Jerome Neu

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199235018
Published online January 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199235018.003.0023

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 An Ethics of Emotion?

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Emotions, Kant would apparently agree with Freud, are not in our control. Moral commands are restricted to what is in one's control. The moral will, which for Kant is the only unconditionally good thing in the world or out of it, is what matters. Moral worth depends on acting from duty, from respect for law in accordance with the Categorical Imperative. Our “principles of action”—what we try to do—are supposed to be for us to determine, even when “tender sympathy” is beyond our powers. But can we really make sense of respect for the moral law apart from our understanding of the empirical world of so-called “pathological” emotions? What, in the end, is “respect”? Is it too an emotion? Certainly, like emotions in general, it functions in Kant's account as an attitude and a motive.

Keywords: ethics of emotion; Kant; Freud; moral commands; moral worth; moral law; pathological emotion

Article.  8316 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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