The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions : The Great Courses: Understanding the Mind

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert C. Solomon
  • Series: The Great Courses: Understanding the Mind
  • 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

How does this have high ratings?!?

What disappointed you about The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions?

This is quite possibly the most boring thing I have ever read/listened to.


Any additional comments?

I have a few dozen books from the Great Courses. The idiotic canned applause and the cringe worthy introductory music aside, I have found some good courses. This, alas, is not one of them. If you enjoy being spoken to like a third grader in a special class, maybe you will enjoy this. I swear I could summarize each 30 minute section in three sentences or less. I love this topic, but this was terrible.

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- Mazz

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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- Ben

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses