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If the head is religion, the gut is magic. Taking up this provocation, this Element delves into the digestive system within transnational Afro-Diasporic religions such as Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Candomblé, and Cuban Lucumí (also called Santería). It draws from the ethnographic and archival record to probe the abdomen as a vital zone of sensory perception, amplified in countless divination verses, myths, rituals, and recipes for ethnomedical remedies. Provincializing the brain as only one locus of reason, it seeks to expand the notion of 'mind' and expose the anti-Blackness that still prevents Black Atlantic knowledges from being accepted as such. The Element examines gut feelings, knowledge, and beings in the belly; African precedents for the Afro-Diasporic gut-brain axis; post-sacrificial offerings in racist fantasy and everyday reality; and the strong stomachs and intestinal fortitude of religious ancestors. It concludes with a reflection on kinship and the spilling of guts in kitchenspaces.
Karl Heinrich Heydenreich contends in “On Moral Freedom” (1791) that the human being is originally endowed with consciousness of freedom. Moreover, Heydenreich explicitly denies that our consciousness of freedom is a consequence of consciousness of the moral law and instead maintains that the moral law provides only indirect support for our innate consciousness of freedom. Similar to Snell’s contention that our freedom is revealed to us through the feeling of our own self, at one point Heydenreich refers to our feeling of freedom. According to Heydenreich, the task of philosophy is to secure this feeling of freedom from the skepticism of speculative reason.
This chapter reviews how the early post-Kantians perceived the need of reforming Kant’s Critique in order to complete the philosophical revolution it had initiated. In 1785, Jacobi had brought Spinoza to the discussion, claiming that his monism undermined human freedom and personality. He further claimed that this monism was the logical conclusion of all philosophy. The post-Kantians’ task was thus threefold: (1) to demonstrate that personalism is consistent which monism, which they in principle accepted as the necessary standpoint of reason; (2) to show that Kant’s idealism could be the basis for the desired personalism; and (3) to overcome what they took to be the formalism of Kant’s system that stood in the way of it. All this came down to ridding the system of its presumed unknown “thing-in-itself” while finding a principle that would unify it internally, not just by means of external reflection. Fichte had attempted this with his “I.” Even more important, however, was his analysis of feeling, which he considered the concrete counterpart of the “I” and which, as in the feeling of guilt, brought reason and nature together. This was the synthesis that the post-Kantian idealists explored in their different ways.
Hegel and the Challenge of Spinoza explores the powerful continuing influence of Spinoza's metaphysical thinking in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century German philosophy. George di Giovanni examines the ways in which Hegel's own metaphysics sought to meet the challenges posed by Spinoza's monism, not by disproving monism, but by rendering it moot. In this, di Giovanni argues, Hegel was much closer in spirit to Kant and Fichte than to Schelling. This book will be of interest to students and researchers interested in post-Kantian Idealism, Romanticism, and metaphysics.
In this chapter, I begin to develop an account of why psychopaths are unable to see other people as sources of value, a claim that is necessary for the central argument of the book as developed in Chapter 3. Having described psychopathy as a condition characterised primarily by emotional deficiencies, I look to the emotions for evidence of why psychopaths are as they are. I consider the three main philosophical theories of the emotions – cognitivist, ‘feeling’ and perceptualist theories – before settling on a hybrid account, according to which emotions are complexes of thought and feeling. Based on this, I interrogate the relationship between emotions and value, suggesting that emotions play a role in our ability to ascribe value to things in the world. I then trace the implications of these conclusions for the ability of psychopaths, given their emotional deficiencies, to engage evaluatively with the world.
Kant’s theory of friendship is crucial in defending his ethics against the longstanding charge of emotional detachment. But his theory of friendship is vulnerable to this charge too: the Kantian sage can appear to reject sympathetic suffering when she cannot help a suffering friend. I argue that Kant is committed to the view that both sages and ordinary people must suffer in sympathy with friends even when they cannot help, because sympathy is necessary to fulfill the imperfect duty to adopt others’ merely permissible ends (MPEs), and we ought to take friends’ MPEs as our own. MPEs are individuated in terms of concepts which include marks of the first person, and no marks of law other than permissibility. To adopt ends of others individuated in terms of such concepts rather than merely promote them as means to different ends, those concepts must engage with one’s feelings in a way that requires sympathy.
On my interpretation of Kant, feeling plays a central role in the mind: it has the distinct function of tracking and evaluating our activity in relation to ourselves and the world so as to orient us. In this article, I set out to defend this view against a number of objections raised by Melissa Merritt and Uri Eran. I conclude with some reflections on the fact that, despite being very different, Merritt and Eran’s respective views of Kantian feelings turn out to have something potentially problematic in common: they blur the boundary between feelings and other kinds of mental states.
The chapter is devoted to Fichte’s genetic account of agency that comes to the foreground in Part II of the System of Ethics. As the chapter shows, what motivates this second deduction is a concern to avoid what Fichte calls “empty formula philosophy” which fails to explain how willing an object is possible. Fichte sets out to avoid this shortcoming by offering a complex theory of the drives, focusing first on what he calls our “lower capacity of desire.” The chapter argues that the key to understanding this section of the System of Ethics lies in Fichte’s attempt to derive the character of our “natural drive” from how we represent the system of nature as a whole. At the center of this derivation we find Fichte draw upon an organicist model of nature. This organicist model gives Fichte the resources to present an original theory of desire as an activity of “forming and being formed” by natural objects.
This chapter is about sensibility, which is the term that was commonly used in the second half of the eighteenth century to refer to a special capacity to respond with sensitivity to one’s environment. Colloquially understood as the heightened responsiveness of feeling or emotion, sensibility – in cultural, literary, artistic, historical, social, philosophical, and political contexts – reached far beyond what either of these more familiar terms convey. Eighteenth-century thinking about sensibility, in all of its complexity, remains deeply relevant to twenty-first century theories of affect, feeling, and emotion, and provides robust resources for, and in some cases correctives to, current theoretical and philosophical thought.
Affective states and their representational forms have been as crucial to critical constructions of modernism as to the writing we associate with its multiple movements, moments, and legacies. At the confluence of represented feeling and registrations of affect, ambitions of otherwise historically distinct writers come into conversation. To see how this conversation might enhance modernist studies’ critical-affective literacies, this chapter follows a transhistorical rather than a discretely periodized arc, gauging the conceptual challenges and interpretive opportunities that come with close reading affective representation as it interlaces modernism’s stylistic aspirations and political valences. It considers how changing disciplinary priorities are transforming the ways in which modernist studies addresses affect’s critical purchase. And it encompasses both early twentieth- and twenty-first-century figures (Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, Storm Jameson, Ian McEwan, and Rachael Cusk) to explore analytical synergies between vocabularies of feeling and evolving strategies of experimental form.
Chapter 4 is about choice (prohairesis), an Aristotelian innovation. This is the central chapter of the book, drawing together the threads of the previous chapters. Aristotle says that virtue of character is a disposition involving choice and he defines choice as desiderative thought or thoughtful desire. He is here emphasizing each side of choice, thought, and desire. I argue that choice can belong to good, bad, and akratic people, but my main aim is to show how thought and desire are interdependent in the case of the good person. To that end, I analyze the type of thought involved in the choice of the good person – deliberation – showing that it cannot be adequately explained without mentioning virtue and hence desire and feelings. Conversely, I show that the type of desire involved, which I argue takes up the motivation both of wish (which I argue is in the rational part of the soul) and the feelings, requires thought. I conclude with some examples of choice, showing how from one point of view virtue makes the goal right, and from another it makes what contributes to the goal right. That is because virtue of character and thoughtfulness are intertwined.
I provide an overview of which the main thesis is that Aristotle’s view of thought and feelings is sui generis, different from Kantian and Humean style views of motivation. Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean is introduced, along with a discussion of philosophical method and a synopsis of chapters.
In his exhaustive cultural history of the atomic bomb, Paul Boyer suggests that the unthinkable scale of nuclear warfare registered in the American consciousness as an aesthetic problem. “How was one to respond imaginatively to Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he writes, “and, still more, to the prospect of world holocaust?” This chapter sees the decidedly American strain of black humor that emerged in the wake of the Japanese bombings as an attempt to build a new “atomic aesthetics” that would be capable of registering and critiquing nuclear violence. A key feature of these aesthetics is an “atomic laughter”—a shattering strain of laughter that is both interior to and elicited by these darkly comic texts. This essay offers a theory of this atomic laughter—its political and affective dimensions—by way of a close reading of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964).
Chapter 1, “Inner Sense as the Faculty for Inner Receptivity”, sets the stage by introducing Kant’s basic model of representation and by defining two pairs of concepts that will guide my analysis: reflexivity and referentiality, on the one hand, and objective and subjective validity on the other. Through an examination of the historical context, the chapter develops an account of inner sense as a transcendental faculty of sensibility, and gives preliminary accounts of central concepts, including affection, sensation, appearance, intuition, perception, and experience. As a result, the chapter suggests that – by analogy with outer sense – inner sense receives inner appearances and yields distinctively inner intuition according to its specific form, i.e., time. The full argument for this claim will be put forward only in Chapter 2. Finally, by considering insights concerning the faculties for desire and feeling from the third Critique and the Anthropology, the chapter develops a broader notion of inner receptivity as susceptibility to all mind-internal causes.
Alix Cohen argues that the function of feeling in Kantian psychology is to appraise and orient activity. Thus she sees feeling and agency as importantly connected by Kant’s lights. I endorse this broader claim, but argue that feeling, on her account, cannot do the work of orientation that she assigns to it.
This chapter examines the critique of the production of affect advanced by a range of thinkers in the Marxist tradition, above all, Theodor Adorno, but also including Herbert Marcuse, Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson. It focuses in particular on what Adorno describes as the ‘diversionary function’ of ostensibly positive affective states – especially what he calls ‘fun’, a multiply freighted word, as the chapter shows – and asks what it means to categorise such states as ‘false’. The degree to which affective states are open to misinterpretation by those undergoing them is, therefore, a central question in this chapter. Drawing on Keston Sutherland’s recent emphasis on the role of disgust in Marx’s satirical account of capitalist production, the chapter will in conclusion emphasise the affective charge of the Marxist critique of affect itself.
This book considers how 'affect', the experience of feeling or emotion, has developed as a critical concept within literary studies in different periods and through a range of approaches. Stretching from the classical to the contemporary, the first section of the book, 'Origins', considers the importance of particular areas of philosophy, theory, and criticism that have been important for conceptualizing affect and its relation to literature. Includes ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, eighteenth-century aesthetics, Marxist theory, psychoanalysis, queer theory, and postcolonial theory. The chapters of the second section, 'Developments', correspond to those of the previous section and build on their insights through readings of particular texts. The final 'Applications' section is focused on contemporary and future lines of enquiry, and revolves around a particular set of concerns: media and communications, capitalism, and an environment of affective relations that extend to ecology, social crisis, and war.
According to rationalist conceptions of moral agency, the constitutive capacities of moral agency are rational capacities. So understood, rationalists are often thought to have a problem with feeling. For example, many believe that rationalists must reject the attractive Aristotelian thought that moral activity is by nature pleasant. I disagree. It is easy to go wrong here because it is easy to assume that pleasure is empirical rather than rational and so extrinsic rather than intrinsic to moral agency, rationalistically conceived. Drawing on underappreciated elements of Kant’s moral psychology, I sketch an alternative form of rationalism, according to which moral activity is by nature pleasant because at least some pleasures are by nature rational.
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