Passion and Action: The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy

Synopsis

Passion and Action explores the place of the emotions in seventeenth-century understandings of the body and mind, and the role they were held to play in reasoning and action. Interest in the passions pervaded all areas of philosophical enquiry, and was central to the theories of many major figures, including Hobbes, Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, Pascal, and Locke. Yet little attention has been paid to this topic in studies of early modern thought. Susan James surveys the inheritance of ancient and medieval doctrines about the passions, showing how these were incorporated into new philosophical theories in the course of the seventeenth century. She examines the relation of the emotions to will, knowledge, understanding, desire, and power, offering fresh analyses and interpretations of a broad range of texts by little-known writers as well as canonical figures, and establishing that a full understanding of these authors must take account of their discussions of our affective life. Passion and Action also addresses current debates, particularly those within feminist philosophy, about the embodied character of thinking and the relation between emotion and knowledge. This ground-breaking study throws new light upon the shaping of our ideas about the mind, and provides a historical context for burgeoning contemporary investigations of the emotions.

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford, England
Publication year:
  • 1997