Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art

By Jenefer Robinson | Go to book overview
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I HAVE been working on the issues in this book for over twenty years. My first published paper on the emotions appeared in 1983. It was a piece of armchair theorizing and I have changed both my views and my methods quite a bit since then. Nevertheless the foundations of the 'anti-judgementalist' view I defend here were already partly in place at that time. More recent papers from 1995 and 1998 reflect the influence of the empirical research that I studied in the intervening years and especially the influence of my colleague, the psychologist Bill Dember, with whom I co-taught courses on the emotions over a long period. My interest in aesthetic questions goes even further back, starting with a Ph.D. dissertation on representation and expression in the arts. Indeed I was led into emotion theory when I began to question exactly what was meant by saying that works of art express and arouse emotions, that artistic style is an expression of temperament or personality, or that the meaning of music is its emotional content.

Because my thinking on these questions has evolved over such a long period, it is inevitable that I won't remember everyone who has helped me along the way; but I hope I have remembered those who had the most important influence. There are several people I'd like to thank who have had a global influence on my thinking since the beginning of my career. Unfortunately Monroe Beardsley and Richard Wollheim are no longer with us, but I can at least thank my former teacher at the University of Toronto, Francis Sparshott, who set me on the road that led to this book.

Among those who have been the most supportive and helpful to me are some whom I have singled out for criticism. In particular, everything I have ever written on emotion theory begins by a critique of the views of Bob Solomon, someone who has been unfailingly generous and supportive of me over the years. I am also consistently critical of the views of Peter Kivy who has been equally helpful and kind for a very long time. Other friends who come in for attack include Noël Carroll, Stephen Davies, Jerrold Levinson, and Kendall Walton. I hope these friends will remain so.

On emotion theory, my biggest debt is to my friend and colleague William Dember, who introduced me to the psychological literature on


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Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art


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