Is jealousy eliminable? If so, at what cost? What are the connections between pride the sin and the pride insisted on by identity politics? How can one question an individual's understanding of their own happiness or override a society's account of its own rituals? What makes a sexual desire "perverse," or particular sexual relations undesirable or even unthinkable? These and other questions about what sustains and threatens our identity are pursued using the resources of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines. The (...) discussion throughout is informed and motivated by the Spinozist hope that understanding our lives can help change them, can help make us more free. (shrink)
This book is a study of Hume and Spinoza and the relationship of philosophical theories of the emotions to psychological theories of therapy. Arguing that Spinoza's cognitivist theory of emotions is closer to the truth, it is shown that that provides the beginning of an understanding of how Freudian or, more generally, analytic therapies make philosophic sense. That is, we can begin to understand how people's emotional lives might be transformed by consideration and interpretation of their memories, beliefs, fantasies; in (...) other words, how knowledge might help to make one free. (shrink)
Is jealousy eliminable? At what cost? Must it be pathological? Distinctions between jealousy and envy (and between malicious and admiring envy) are explored, as are the psychological and social roots of both. Jealousy need not be mere possessiveness, it may have more to do with self-identity, and envy should not be confused with legitimate resentment of injustice. The relations of jealousy to claims of right, to certain underlying fears, and to certain forms of love are considered.
The schoolyard wisdom about “sticks and stones” does not take one very far: insults do not take the form only of words, in truth even words have effects, and in the end the popular as well as the standard legal distinctions between speech and conduct are at least as problematic as they are helpful. To think clearly about how much we should put up with those who would put us down, it is necessary to explore the nature and place of (...) insult in our lives. What kind of injury is an insult? Is its infliction determined by the insulter or the insulted? What does it reveal of the character of each and of the character of society and its conventions? What is its role in social and legal life (from play to jokes to ritual to war and from blasphemy to defamation to hate speech)? Philosophical, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and legal approaches to the questions are emphasized. Whether intentional or unintentional, the assertions and assumptions of dominance in insults make them a serious and essential form of power play. Is to understand all to forgive all? (shrink)
Philosophical and popular ethics tend to focus on the question "What ought I to do?" Is there, in addition to the ethics of action, an ethics of fantasy? Are there fantasies one ought not to have? Of course there are fantasies with horrific content. Does it follow that there is something wrong with a person who has such fantasies or that they ought to make efforts to suppress them or to otherwise change themselves? Do the problems such fantasies raise depend (...) on their links to desire and action? Masturbation fantasies are considered as well as fantasies that may emerge during sex with others, fantasies that include actual others, and fantasies that get embodied in pornography. Psychoanalytic and legal aspects of the issues are emphasized. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Incest taboos should be seen as involving non?sexual objections to sexual relations, that is, objections based on who people are in relation to each other, rather than their activities. What is at stake is brought out by considering certain objections to father?daughter incest and certain features of taboos. The objections that matter do not depend on social ties and distinctions having a biological basis, but there is nonetheless a biological element in incest taboos. To see it, one must look to (...) the nature of the Oedipus complex, and to the conditions for the development of the individual and of society. There may be prohibitions which are necessary (to morality, to society, to humanity) even though they may not be justifiable within a narrower conception (e.g. utilitarian) of morality and justification. And so taboos which are universal (occur, in one form or another, in every society), and absolute (allow no questioning), and impose strict liability (allow no excuse), may not be irrational: they may mark the boundaries that shape a way of life. (shrink)
Christian theology still condemns the sin of pride, yet many modern political movements stake their claims in terms of pride (Black Pride, Gay Pride, Deaf Pride, etc.). In the age of identity politics, it would seem pride may help to overcome self-loathing and to transform society. To see the appropriate personal and political place of pride, one must properly understand the differing roles of responsibility and value in the constitution of pride. A distinction between self-respect and self-esteem also helps clarify (...) the issues. (shrink)
Christ would have us love our enemies. But can we choose what we feel? Can we make ourselves love someone because we think we should? What sort of “love” is it that is within our control? And ought we be so ready to foreswear resentment if it is based on moral wrongs? Self-respect, self-defense, and respect for the demands of morality may weigh against Christ’s injunction. There are questions of psychological possibility and of moral desirability—questions more inextricably intertwined than some (...) might think. There are grounds for caution. Arguments on these matters from Nietzsche to Freud, Kant to Rawls, Bishop Butler to Jeffrie Murphy and Charles Griswold are explored. Most centrally: If forgiveness is a virtue, the motives matter. Can we determine the reasons that move us? (shrink)
Does Freud still have something to teach us? The premise of this volume is that he most certainly does. Approaching Freud from not only the philosophical but also historical, psychoanalytical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives, the contributors show us how Freud gave us a new and powerful way to think about human thought and action. They consider the context of Freud's thought and the structure of his arguments to reveal how he made sense of ranges of experience generally neglected or misunderstood. (...) All the central topics of Freud's work, from sexuality and neurosis to morality, art, and culture are covered. (shrink)
Why should understanding lead to forgiveness? What is it about knowledge of the cause of an offense that makes it not an offense or less of an offense? Does such knowledge affect the character of the harm inflicted or does the forgiveness depend on other conditions of anger? And when should understanding lead to forgiveness? After all, every action has some explanation. Is any explanation enough for forgiveness, or are only certain ones of the appropriate kind? Which? What are the (...) implications of these questions for contemporary therapeutic movements that urge forgiveness (of self and others) as a step toward self-healing? (shrink)
In response to critical discussion of my book, A Tear Is an Intellectual Thing: The Meanings of Emotion, I clarify and develop various aspects of my analysis of jealousy in particular and affectivity in general. In relation to jealousy, I explore the nature of pathology, the role of fantasy and of the rival, and the place of examples and of evolutionary theory. In relation to affectivity, I emphasize the difference between distinguishing emotions from other psychological states and distinguishing among, within (...) and between, particular emotions (where affectivity may not be central). In addition, I emphasize the dangers of a version of G.E. Moore's error in demanding a nonreductive analysis of good in parallel demands for a nonreductive analysis of affectivity. (shrink)
This book's thirty essays explore philosophically the nature and morality of sexual perversion, cybersex, masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, same-sex marriage, promiscuity, pedophilia, date rape, sexual objectification, teacher-student relationships, pornography, and prostitution. Authors include Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Nagel, Alan Goldman, John Finnis, Sallie Tisdale, Robin West, Alan Wertheimer, John Corvino, Cheshire Calhoun, Jerome Neu, and Alan Soble, among others. A valuable resource for sex researchers as well as undergraduate courses in the philosophy of sex.
This essay uses plays by Ibsen and O’Neill to consider whether self-deception is always a bad thing, and whether undeceiving others is always a good (or easy) thing. There is a focus on the question of the possibility of mistake about one’s own present happiness, involving a consideration of the nature of happiness. There is a further focus on the role of collusion by others in self-deception, using a distinction between two types of self-deception: one characterized by inner conflict and (...) another by a contrast between self-perception and external views. The work of Sartre and Freud is used to illuminate these two types of self-deception and the conditions for overcoming them. (shrink)
Oatley's discussion of “resentment” in Othello works with an unfortunately impoverished notion of resentment, and the narrative of emergence and unfolding that he offers suffers from it. As explicated by Bishop Butler, John Rawls, and other philosophers, resentment rests on moral claims and is to be distinguished on that basis from envy and Nietzschean ressentiment. W. H. Auden, in “The Joker in the Pack,” provides more persuasive insight into the dark destructive malicious envy that motivates Iago. Such destructive aims are (...) as characteristic of humans as “relational goals,” and must be attended to if we are to learn from literature about ourselves. (shrink)
“Imagine A rather short-sighted person told to read an inscription in small letters from some way off….' So begins the quest for “the real nature of justice and injustice” undertaken in response to the challenge of Glaucon and Adeimantus to show that “justice pays”. It is often alleged that the search leads through analogy to a monster “organic” state that lives by devouring individual rights. I believe that these charges are mistaken. Plato's political theory does not derive from an analogy (...) which makes the state a monster individual with interests superior to and independent of those of ordinary citizens; it derives rather from a doctrine of objective interests discernible by those with special training and ability, interests which later thinkers have taken to be the object of a “real will”, unerring even where a person's mere empirical desires are shortsightedly misdirected. Plato identifies the interests of his ideal state with the objective interests of its citizens , and in his harmonious world, metaphysics, moral psychology, and political organization combine to ensure that those interests need never override individual mundane interests for they never conflict: they coincide. That the whole theory is dubious should not prevent us from seeing that just what the theory is may be clarified by examining the arguments which putatively lead to it, and that those arguments provide grounds for not confounding Plato's theory with others which may reach similar conclusions about political organization and obligation. (shrink)
This essay argues that Freud’s case of Little Hans, while complicated by Hans’ father’s dual role in the analysis and in the Oedipal drama itself, provides valuable insight into the nature of psychoanalytic evidence and argument. The case provides direct, if sometimes ambiguous, evidence concerning primal phantasies and infantile sexuality--issues of universality, the role of experience, and the nature of phantasy are explored. Four strands of Freud’s analysis of Little Hans’ horse phobia are also explored. While the toxicological theory of (...) anxiety is problematical and was subsequently abandoned by Freud himself, the other strands have great explanatory power and offer advantages over behaviorist and other alternative accounts. A kind of theoretical rigor in the concepts employed is argued to be among those advantages. The inevitably theory-laden character of observation is emphasized throughout, and it is argued that psychoanalysis provides a far more powerful theory than certain critiques would allow. (shrink)