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The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions

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Description

Conventional wisdom suggests there is a sharp distinction between emotion and reason. Emotions are seen as inferior, disruptive, primitive, and even bestial forces. These 24 remarkable lectures suggest otherwise-that emotions have intelligence and provide personal strategies that are vitally important to our everyday lives of perceiving, evaluating, appraising, understanding, and acting in the world.

Take a tour of Professor Solomon's more than three-decade-long intellectual struggle to reach an understanding of emotions, which he argues are, "the key to the meaning of life." A distinguished philosopher himself, Professor Solomon's lectures unfold as a rich dialogue with other philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Adam Smith, Nietzsche, William James, Freud, Heidegger, and Sartre.

In your exploration, you'll address such questions as: how do we distinguish emotions from feelings, such as heartache? What is the meaning of our emotions, and how do they serve to enrich and guide our lives? Are there a determinable number of basic emotions that serve as building blocks for the range of emotions we experience? Is an emotion such as jealousy a genetic trait shared by all humans - or is it something learned?As you listen to these lectures, prepare to think: Think about your own emotions; think about what you observe in others; think about the enormous body of research and conjecture on this fascinating topic as Professor Solomon takes you on a challenging and stimulating journey. The more we puzzle over the nature of emotions, the deeper the mystery becomes. It is a mystery that is by no means solved, but one that repays in careful, philosophical analysis.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • 24/11/2018

Feel good and be good

The lecturer clearly demonstrates how our emotions are a subset of our feelings and are how we engage with the world. Emotions are not things or facts. Our emotional intelligence allows us to process the world and to deal with the world. The more we understand ourselves the better our 'eudomania', right actions that result in well being, an Aristotelian word the lecturer used from time to time.

Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, Freud, Hume, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Plato and Aristotle made frequent appearances in these lectures. Is it as he quoted Wittgenstein, 'A depressed person lives in a depressed world' or do our emotional intelligence and our own self awareness make us sometimes too self reflective?

Hume will say that 'reason is a slave to our passions' and we should enjoy our passions when we can, while the Buddhist think our passions enslave us too, but we should just accept that as it is and not let the world get to us. Each gives primacy to experiences over our reason as the foundation for understanding but give different suggestions for dealing with the world.

I've recently have been reading all of the people I mentioned in the above paragraph. This lecturer was able to tie them all together and bring recent research and his own spin on what our experiences mean and show why they are just as relevant today as they were in their own day.

Aristotle (who is frequently quoted in these lectures) would say that good habit, good practice and good behavior make us good and give us practical wisdom (phronesis). The lecturer gave a good example, if one misbehaves after having drunk too much, Aristotle would not blame the drinking, but he would blame the person for having drunk when they should have known better due to their own lack of character from wont of phronesis due to lack of good habits, good practices and good behaviors.

There are many fine points that are presented in these lectures and I found them somewhat a delight and edifying to listen to. I did not think I was going to like them at first since he talked about 'universal emotions' as if they were definitely real and gave too much credence to evolutionary psychology. He later in the lectures made those more of a nuanced position. He quotes a lot from Antonio Damasio and his theories and I would recommend his book 'Strange Order of Things' (probably one of my favorite books for this year) which was published after these lectures were made.

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  • J. Harvey
  • 02/07/2017

Breaks new ground

Emotions don't just happen to us, they're something we do. To learn to perceive them more clearly, and to tune them more precisely, is to learn key strategies for personal power, for human connection, for integrity, for happiness, and fulfillment. This course has more juicy and necessary and surprising insights per minute than anything else you are likely to hear, ever. Solomon is a true exemplar of an enquiring mind; to hit "play" on any of his courses is to be instantly engaged at the highest intellectual level -- but most especially with this one, which reprises his own VERY original work.

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  • oded noy
  • 17/06/2016

Meditation on emotions - Slow to start but worth the experience

This course is broken into three main section. The first seems to be long and somewhat tedious- however it is a good setup for the other two sections. Overall a good meditation on the topic of emotions.

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  • Christopher Serrone
  • 07/05/2015

The impeccable Robert Solomon

I've been a fan of Robert C. Solomon's work for a long time, he was first introduced to me in Richard Linkletter's film Waking Life, where the director actually crashed one of the professor's classes and filmed it and then later interviewed him in the same movie. I also had the privilege of reading his textbook introducing philosophy for my philosophy 101 while I was an undergrad. This collection of lectures on human emotions and the philosophical views with neuroscience were very enlightening and Robert has a way of delivering his lectures in an entertaining way as a storyteller.

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  • rosswgray
  • 05/04/2016

A true philosopher lectures on the good life

Professor Solomon is much more than a mere scholar of history of philosophy; is is a true philosopher himself. This course was profound and life-affirming, and I would recommend it to anyone no matter their previous experience of philosophy.

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  • Rolando Ruiz
  • 25/05/2019

Insightful all the way

We connect to the world through our emotions. I have never thought about this like that. The proffesor has the ability to show how there are nuances to every emotion and how they vary according to language and culture.
Got me thinking and making notes. I feel like going through some topics more than once.
I felt the joy to be in a classroom again.

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  • Humus
  • 05/06/2018

Passionate and erudite thinker

Solomon has both a classic and a modern background. He uses it to enrich an important topic.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24/05/2017

Very insightful

This lecture series helped me come to a better understanding of the human emotional experience.

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  • Ben
  • 02/05/2016

Interesting... in parts

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The presenter does have some interesting insights to contribute, but the lectures are uneven. He appears to be largely unaided by written text, and it shows. Space-fillers, such as "sort of" and "kind of" abound, creating the impression of lacking precision and ad-libbing. The ideas are often not well-supported to empirical research, and even attempts are made to adopt a social constructionist approach (although the latter happens without much conviction). The author's criticism of evolutionary psychology is weak, and no mention is made of Margaret Mead's groundless attempt to prove that jealousy is an entirely socially-constructed emotion. There may be intimations of racism although this never crystallizes to a significant extent. Still, the lectures are worthwhile to a certain extent.

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  • Joab Jamieson
  • 14/12/2017

so smart!

The Great Courses never fails to disappoint. Open minded with great opinions from the lecturer.

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