The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life

The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life



The Pequod Review:

Robert Solomon's book The Passions takes a nuanced approached to the reason-versus-emotions debate:

There are no a priori limits on the scope and objects of the emotions. One might have invested himself in anything and thus be emotionally committed to just about anything - pets and gardens, collections of model ships or medieval coins - with a passion that is more usually reserved for lovers and children. But what distinguishes the emotions is not what they value but that they value, that they endow our lives with meaning. A man whose life is meaningless is a man who is not emotionally committed, or whose commitments are not at all what they seem. There is the content of Camus's sense of "the Absurd" - not a sense of "confrontation" but a sense of emptiness, not the ruthless conclusion of Reason but the hollow logic of a reasoning that has no passionate base to which to anchor itself.

Emotions are self-involved not only in the sense that they are important to us; they are also about us, about our Selves, whether explicitly or not. Every emotion, as a uniquely subjective judgment, involves a judgment of both one's Self and his surreality. It is through our emotions that we constitute ourselves.

Emotions are profound and the key to the meaning of life...