Emotions shape the landscape of our mental and social lives. Like geological upheavals in a landscape, they mark our lives as uneven, uncertain and prone to reversal. Are they simply, as some have claimed, animal energies or impulses with no connection to our thoughts? Or are they rather suffused with intelligence and discernment, and thus a source of deep awareness and understanding? In this compelling book, Martha C. Nussbaum presents a powerful argument for treating emotions not as alien forces but as highly discriminating responses to what is of value and importance. She explores and illuminates the structure of a wide range of emotions, in particular compassion and love, showing that there can be no adequate ethical theory without an adequate theory of the emotions. This involves understanding their cultural sources, their history in infancy and childhood, and their sometimes unpredictable and disorderly operations in our daily lives.
Part I. Need and Recognition: 1. Emotions as judgments of value; 2. Humans and other animals: the neo-stoic view revised; 3. Emotions and human societies; 4. Emotions and infancy; Interlude: 'things such as might happen'; 5. Music and emotion; Part II. Compassion: 6. Tragic predicaments; 7. Compassion: the philosophical debate; 8. Compassion and public life; Part III. Ascents of Love: 9. Ladders of love: an introduction; 10. Contemplative creativity: Plato, Spinoza, Proust; 11. The Christian ascent: Augustine; 12. The Christian ascent: Dante; 13. The Romantic ascent: Emily Bronte; 14. The Romantic ascent: Mahler; 15. Democratic desire: Walt Whitman; 16. The transfiguration of everyday life: Joyce.