On the temporality of emotions: An essay on grief, anger, and love

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Many emotions attenuate more rapidly than the significance of the considerations that gives rise to them as we accommodate ourselves to what happens. Grief often diminishes quickly, even though the dead continue to matter to us; anger often evaporates, even though the injustice to which it responds remains undiminished. Nonetheless, such accommodation seems somehow all right: It would be a mistake to be persistently grieving or to be relentlessly angry. But how could it be all right, if the reasons for grief and anger remain significant?

Matters are different with love. Unlike grief and anger, whose diminution is puzzling, what seems puzzling in the case of love is its continuation. In its self-consciousness, love is endless: In loving someone, we foresee no end to our love. Yet we know that love can end: Hearts are broken, lovers betrayed, and people grow apart. Does the self-consciousness of love involve a mistake? Or can we reasonably think of our love as lasting?

On the Temporality of Emotions argues that whereas grief and anger reasonably diminish, love can rationally be conceived as endless. The book draws on contemporary theories of the emotions, especially grief and love, as well as recent accounts of reasons. It puts forward an account of emotional self-consciousness as, at once, embodied and rational. Nonetheless, it maintains that accommodation reveals an irreconcilable moment in our emotional life, a moment that philosophical reflection ought not seek to resolve, lest our emotions are conceived as too neat and philosophy as too comforting.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages208
ISBN (Electronic)9780191885907
ISBN (Print)9780198851165
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022


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