A Study of Aristotelian Demands for Some Psychological Views of the Emotions

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This dissertation identifies 5 mayor demands regarding the role of the emotions in Aristotelian virtue theories and examines how well some contemporary psychological views of the emotions deal with these issues. The discussion of the role of emotion in Aristotelian virtue theory draws on Aristotle's texts and the works of Terence Irwin, Nancy Sherman, Martha Nussbaum, John Cooper, Rosalind Hursthouse and Arash Abizadeh. The discussion of the contemporary psychological views of the emotions is based on the work of Paul Griffiths in What Emotions Really Are, and focuses on his division of the study of emotion into affect programs and higher cognitive emotions.

The dissertation is divided in three chapters. The first chapter discusses Aristotelian definitions of emotion and outlines the following demands that psychological theories of emotion should be able to explain: (1) plausibility, (2) psychological harmony, (3) motivational support, (4) perception of moral salience and (5) training. The second chapter explains the psychological views that Griffiths focuses on, the affect program theory and the higher cognitive view, and highlights the areas relevant to the Aristotelian demands. The third chapter compares the contemporary theories of emotion discussed with Aristotelian views of emotion by taking the Aristotelian demands outlined in the first chapter and examining how the contemporary theories handle these issues. I conclude that the contemporary views do not adequately meet the Aristotelian demands and need to pay more attention to the Aristotelian view of emotion to achieve a more complete view. I argue that how a theory distinguishes between basic and higher cognitive emotions impacts the compatibility with Aristotelian notions of emotion and how it can meet its demands.






Santiago, Ana Cristina (2009). A Study of Aristotelian Demands for Some Psychological Views of the Emotions. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/1184.


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