Passions (philosophy)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Revision as of 00:10, 23 January 2012; view current revision
←Older revision | Newer revision→
Jump to: navigation, search
Designs by French artist Charles Le Brun, from Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698), a book about the physiognomy of the 'passions'.
Enlarge
Designs by French artist Charles Le Brun, from Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698), a book about the physiognomy of the 'passions'.

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Passion, or the passions, is a philosophical concept. It is different from popular connotations of passion, which are associated with notions of romance, and which is generally seen as a positive emotion. The philosophical notion, in contrast, is identified with an innate or biologically driven emotional state such as anger, greed, lust, or other deadly sins. In the philosophical sense, the passions can lead to social or spiritual ills, such as punishment from God in Abrahamic faiths, the brutal state of nature presented by Hobbes, or the recurrence of karma in dharmic faith. The passions are often used as foils to advocate the pursuit of virtue, the use of reason, dedication to the principles of a faith or other idealistic principles. Different philosophies approach the passions in a number of ways, from the full indulgence of hedonism and nihilism to the forms of moderation found in philosophies like Epicureanism and conventional religions, to the strict abnegation or rejection espoused by Stoicism, Cynicism, and many types of religious monasticism, especially in certain forms of Buddhism, Gnosticism and Jainism. Contemporary philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger has developed a view of the passions that disassociates them from human nature, and instead gives them a formless life that serve in our noninstrumental dealings with each other. Rather than the guiding force behind our relations with the world, they organize and are organized around the need and danger that is at the heart of our relations with each other. In this way, Unger rejects the traditional view of the passions as something counter to reason and which are associated with certain expressions, rather he sees them at the service of reason and their expression formed within certain contexts.

Contents

Background

The subject of the passions has long been a consideration in Western philosophy. According to European philosopher Michel Meyer they have aroused harsh judgments as the representation of a force of excess and lawlessness in humanity that produces troubling, confusing paradoxes. Meyers sees philosophers has having treated the passions as a given expression of human nature, leaving the question of whether the passions "torture people because it blinds them, or, on the contrary, does it permit them to apprehend who and what we really are?"

Spinoza

The seventeenth century Dutch philosopher Spinoza contrasted "action" with "passion," as well as the state of being "active" with the state of being "passive." A passion, in his view, happened when external events affect us partially such that we have confused ideas about these events and their causes. A "passive" state is when we experience an emotion which Spinoza regarded as a "passivity of the soul." The body's power is increased or diminished. Emotions are bodily changes plus ideas about these changes which can help or hurt a human. It happens when the bodily changes we experience are caused primarily by external forces or by a mix of external and internal forces. Spinoza argued that it was much better for the individual himself to be the only adequate cause of bodily changes, and to act based on an adequate understanding of causes-and-effects with ideas of these changes logically related to each other and to reality. When this happened the person is "active," and Spinoza described the ideas as adequate. But most of the time, this does not happen, and Spinoza, along with Freud, saw emotions as more powerful than reason. Spinoza tried to live the life of reason which he advocated.

Unger

Contemporary philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger rejects the Western philosophical tradition that views the passions as irrational emotion that must be tamed by reason. Rather, Unger sees the passions as our raw responses to the world that do not have a predetermined expression--they are first internal states which come to assume external expressions. These passions are not in conflict with reason and need to be tamed, but rather are ambivalent towards reason and can also act in the service of reason. He outlines nine passions that organize and are organized by our dealings with others: lust, despair, hatred, vanity, jealousy, envy, faith, hope, and love. While these emotional states may be seen as raw emotion, their expression is always conditioned by the context within which the individual mobilizes or learns to mobilize them.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Passions (philosophy)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools