Martha Nussbaum - Upheavals of thought

Author: Martha Craven Nussbaum
Title: Upheavals of thought: the intelligence of emotions
Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press
Year: 2007
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[!info] 2023-11-12: these following excerpts need context and explanation

page 16:

It is sometimes supposed that the cognitive views of emotions are "Apollinian," leaving out what is messy and ungovernable in the life of the passions. I hope to show that this criticism is misguided -- or at least it would not be correct to aim it at my view. ... How simple life would be, if grief were only a pain in the leg, or jealousy but a very bad backache. Jealousy and grief torment us mentally; it is the thoughts we have about objects that are the source of agony -- and, in other cases, delight. Even the grief and love of animals, as I shall argue, is a function of their capacity for thoughts about objects that they see as important to their well-being. But the peculiar depth and the potentially terrifying character of the human emotions derives from the especially complicated thoughts that humans are likely to form about their own need for objects, and about their imperfect control over them. As Freud writes, in my second epigraph, the story of human birth is the story of the emergence of a sentient being from the womb of secure narcissism to the sharp perception that it is cast adrift in a world of objects, a world that it has not made and does not control. In that world, the infant is aware of being an unusually weak and helpless being. Bodily pain is nothing by contrast to the terrifying awareness of helplessness, close to unendurable without the shelter of a womblike sleep. When we wake up, we have to figure out how to live in that world of objects. Without the intelligence of the emotions, we have little hope of confronting that problem well.

page 181:

It has become fashionable in the United States to sneer at psychoanalysis. In part this dismissive attitude results from the fact that Americans are generally impatient with complexity and sadness, and tend to want a quick chemical fix for deep human problems.

page 227:

Fairbairn does not dwell on material need: but it is easy to take the argument one step further, with help from Winnicott. Mature interdependence requires acknowledging the imperfection of the human body, and its needs for material goods; it also involves renouncing the wish of envy to monopolize the sources of good. We might then suggest that mature dependence entails the determination to pursue the fulfillment of basic material needs for all citizens, granting that all have rights not only to liberty but also to basic welfare. All are allowed to be children, in the sense that all are permitted to be imperfect and needy, and an essential part of regard for the humanity in them is to attend to the "holding" of those needs and the creation of a political "facilitating environment." Thus a norm of psychological maturity also suggests a norm for public life, a commitment to the meeting of basic needs, or, to put it differently, to support for a group of basic human capabilities. ... At this point, we can see that such a view supports psychological health, as I have described it. It is also well suited to replicate itself stably over time, since its leading ideas support the formation of personalities that are likely to be intensely concerned with the needs of others, and thus to support for its leading ideas.

pages 297-298:

Chapter 4 began to address normative issues, suggesting a mutually supportive relationship between an account of emotional health and a normative ethical view that stresses imagination, reciprocity, flexibility, and mercy. These connections, I said, should not be pressed too far. A normative ethical view needs independent support; and psychology shows us as many problems for ethics as resources for its implementation. But a persuasive psychological account can at least help us to a better understanding of those problems and those resources.
At this point, however, and for the rest of the book, I shall pursue a different, though related question: what positive contribution do emotions, as such, make to ethical deliberation, both personal and public? What reasons do we have to rely of people's emotions, rather than on their will and on their ability to follow rules? Why should a social order cultivate or appeal to emotions, rather than simply creating a set of just rules, and a set of institutions to support it?

pages 478-481: (from a section titled 'Normative Criteria')

... I said in Part I that we could describe a mutually supporting relationship between an account of emotional health and normative ethical account ... that stressed flexibility, reciprocity, and mercy. ... The compassion supported by love should be built upon reasonable accounts of all three of the judgements Part II identified as constituents of compassion: reasonable accounts, the is, of the seriousness of various human predicaments, of our responsibility for those predicaments, and of the proper extent of concern.

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