- Paperback: 766 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (3 July 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521531829
- ISBN-13: 978-0521531825
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.9 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions Paperback – 3 Jul 2003
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
More About the Author
'… a staggering feat of synthesis...creates an argument for the dignity and moral efficacy of emotion that is not only an intellectual tour de force but a moving triumph of humanistic thinking.' New York Times Book Review
'… united in an original and altogether personal way the philosophy of the emotions with the texture of life and the experience of art … Upheavals of Thought is what Henry James, one of Nussbaum's favorite authors, would have called a 'great, glittering thing'.' Los Angeles Times Book Review
'… a philosophical milestone. Few books of our time make one feel so privileged to enter into them … A generation may pass before anyone gives an account of thinking about emotion and its human stakes as deep as Upheavals of Thought.' San Francisco Chronicle
'… In this massive study Nussbaum takes the perennial boxing match between thought and perception to a brilliant new register … it has the feel of a major achievement.' Publishers Weekly
'… a brave and civilized book. And at a time when we need above all an understanding of political emotions its subject could not be more welcome.' The New Republic
'… unites in an original and altogether personal way the philosophy of the emotions with the texture of life and the experience of art … The book shows an impressive familiarity with the classics, with psychology, with anthropology, with the law and with its own version of psychoanalysis.' Los Angeles Times Book Review
'[Nussbaum] is among America's most prolific and prominent public intellectuals, with many causes to her credit, to all of which she brings extraordinary scholarly and liberal credentials … it is a brave and civilized book. And at a time when we need above all an understanding of political emotions, its subject could not be more welcome.' The New Republic
'It is an awesomely ambitious and unabashedly personal book. It contains … three elegant studies of the role of the emotions in human flourishing … this is a magnificent book … this book stands apart, if only as a kind of culmination of her work so far.' Mind
'Several disciplinary establishments are bound to be shaken by this book, and most of all the scholars, scientists, and writers in the always emergent field of human emotion … almost all will be amazed by the extent to which Nussbaum can sweep feeling up into thinking and judging.' Common Knowledge
'… it is fitting that perhaps the most considered recent contribution to the field has been made by Martha C. Nussbaum, a philosopher whose considerable powers of thought have brought some much needed clarity and depth of thought into this complex and controversial field … appreciate the breadth of scholarship, the awesome ability to synthesize ideas from a range of disciplines without becoming facile, the elegance of the argument and the clarity of the writing. It is a book to read slowly, with care, and with plenty of pauses for reflection … she is keen to develop a social theory of emotion, which is a major contribution to the is debate.' Auto/Biography
'… thrilling and satisfying.' A. M. C. Casiday, University of Durham
'… an awesome tour de force of philosophical inquiry … some marvelous intellectual architecture …'. getAbstract
Martha C. Nussbaum presents a powerful argument for treating emotions not as alien forces but as highly discriminating responses to what is of value. She illuminates the structure of a wide range of emotions, showing that there can be no adequate ethical theory without an adequate theory of the emotions.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Emotions, I shall argue, involve judgments about important things, judgments in which, appraising an external object as salient for our own well-being, we acknowledge our own neediness and incompleteness before parts of the world that we do not fully control. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
The only other creative artists she deals with in any depth are Proust and Whitman. There are very few references to any others and it is philosophers instead who get all the rest of the attention. Despite this it is true to say that the book is a valuable contribution to the philosophy of art simply because of what the author has to say about emotion itself. Her aim is to establish a cognitive theory of emotion, the evidence for which is taken from the two writers and the composer (and the consequences of which can also help us understand their work in turn). The references to philosophers guide the argument to where she wants it to go starting from the Stoics and ending up as what she regards as a neo-Stoic position.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I heartily endorse this book as an extraordinary, careful, encyclopedic work. In the last twenty years, psychologists have finally learned something philosphers proved fifty years ago (at least): that one cannot understand human action without taking into account subjective experience--including emotion. Nussbaum--contra some previous reviewer who for-who-knows-what-reason says her psychology is "misguided"--knows well the cognitive research on emotions, current psychoanalytic thinking and developmental research, and cutting edge, research-guiding theories. She is quite clear on exactly what kind of evidence each can boast or not. She puts them all together and shows us some things about emotion and ethics that, perhaps, psychologists will get around to knowing in a decade or so.
(So why only four stars? The book really needed a ruthless editor. I frequently found myself saying, "Enough already--you've made your point, so get on with it.)
Caution, though: This is a book for intellectuals--in the best sense of the word, namely, those who care to know the best that has been thought or said. If you're looking for feel-good self-help or goofy metaphysics, go elsewhere.
It is not too difficult, either, to disagree with much that Nussbaum proffers. Take music. She has much to say about the "contents" and "meaning" of Mahler's music, in detailed descriptions of such works as the Second Symphony. She cannot, however, really convince us that it is the music itself which conveys the message. Mahler thought and wrote a lot about what prompted him to write music. But apart from the words of songs included in his symphonies, can the music itself "mean" anything? What we hear is chords, tempi, structure - which through mysterious ways move and touch us. But there may be nothing, really, which would prompt the listener to hear any part of that symphony as particularly "heroic" of "tragic" or "fateful" if that listener does not know of Mahler's commentary - he or she may well feel those parts are spirited, or hurt, or just plain "beautiful" - or maybe tedious and longwinded. The same could be said for other arts: paintings, sculpture, dance (which Nussbaum, remarkably, does not refer to at all).
Language can express emotions a lot more explicitly, but again: can fiction be "about" something? Is Joyce's Ulysses really "about love", as Nussbaum stipulates, or is it a lot more that that? Is not Ulysses rather about, well, everything in the book called Ulysses?
In this book, compassion and love are the core themes. Nussbaum adduces a wealth of literature, fiction and non-fiction, to explain how these two emotions dominate both personal and public life. Each of her arguments makes a point, but also jeopardizes to weaken another. Love is such a complicated concept (and Nussbaum deals with all possible ramifications of it) that at the end one wonders whether anything succinct can be said about it. Compassion is a value of enormous significance in public life, but is so rife with contradictions that no political philosopher (let alone politician) would base her theory on it.
This book, indeed, is very hard to summarize. It may be significant that it does not have a conclusion. In philosophy, Great Thinkers have tried to get to the heart of things. They have come up with simple catchwords - such as alienation, abandonment, human flourishing, righteousness, existential angst, and much more - to offer us something of a grip on the bewildering experience of life. In their methodology, as Nussbaum points out, they have often overlooked or sidelined the vicissitudes of emotional life. But "mining the full wealth of personal experience" (Nussbaum's words) may produce so much debris, valuable as it is, that it becomes impossible to find that one small nugget of gold.
The many hours I spent on reading this book certainly have felt rewarding. It merits a four star appraisal for its combination of forceful intellectual stimulus, fascinating erudition and engaging moral debate. To deserve five stars it might have needed more than just the solid editing that another customer reviewer suggested. It should have had some definite clue, something that would have guided the reader from the outset. The map of experience displayed in this book threatens to become as large as the landscape.
This book is a real treat for everyone who is an avid reader, even if not by far as well-read as Nussbaum. In signaling that emotions are paramount she responds to the frustrations which many of us will have felt about what is sadly lacking in so much formal philosophy. But the book is not a philosophical breakthrough, since Nussbaum has not come up with a (refutable, falsifiable, debatable) answer to the philosophical question of "what it is really all about".
My criticism is that the book can be very light on philosophy sometimes, and that it sometime degenerates into a review article on psychology. There are pages and pages where Nussbaum basically gives a good undergraduate-level account of psychotherapy. I found the account interesting, but unconvicing in many ways -- it is, fortunately, ancillary to the book's argument, and could be dropped. At bad points, Nussbaum forgets to argue for a position, and tells us debateable things as if they came "proven" from the experts in psychology.
So -- how to read this book? Read the early chapters carefully -- they contain the argument (and a beautiful account of Nussbaum's reaction to her own mother's death.) You can then walk around in life for a while and see if she's right. Read on for a clever account of emotion in music (with a recommended recording), and then to dip into psychotherapy and somewhat dubious stories about early childhood development. Wrap it up (if you have the energy) with readings of Proust and others. The early chapters alone, however, are worth the price of the book.
The most interesting material in this book is in Part Three. Nussbaum explicates various texts to illustrate how they contain specific moral concepts central to human experience and action, such that the emotions are treated in an overlapping literary and philosophical manner. This section is not particularly philosophical, however that is taken to be, but is rather careful music and literary criticism. This is a bold move on Nussbaum's part. Her readings on Mahler, Bronte, Joyce, Dante, Augustine, etc. are valuable because she offers sensitive readings of literary texts that do not fall into the usual discourse one finds in or from literature depts. And why would we expect literary criticism in an Anglo-American philosophy dept.?? But Nussbaum's criticism and careful readings demonstrate how literary texts can be morally relevant and philosophical--in ways that are appealing to philosophers and literary folks at the same time. In a way, Upheavals of Thought is a continuation of her work in Love's Knowledge, Therapy of Desire, and the Fragility of Goodness.
So one could nearly always claim that a text which is similar to this one is "hot air" or "misguided psychology," but that sort of view undermines further critical thinking. It is simply too easy to take such a position.
Nussbaum's Upheaval is a subtle text. It is deeply evocative and insightful. Yes, problematic claims are made. Logical rigor is often absent. However, it is nice once and a while to hear from a genuine philosophical scholar on current issues in eloquent and sophisticated prose. Is it philosophy? I'm sure that question misses the point--at least Nussbaum's point in this text, which are actually several points. Her point seems more to take into account how literature, music, and diverse human contexts can be treated philosophically, which, it seems to me, valuable to those readers both in literature and philosophy.
In this book we learn that the feelings - or emotional responses - are things that we should honour in ourselves. These are immediate responses to our environment and they way it affects our view of how we sustain ourselves in the face of challenges. When we face a problem we can be rational about it - look at options, look at strengths and weaknesses, look at possible outcomes to different courses of action. But at the outset we will have an emotional response that tells us what our immediate assessment is. This emotional response is as important as any other form of evaluation.
Nussbaum uses emotionally evocative materials to demonstrate her points of view - music, literature and poetry. This is very effective and avoids losing the drive of her thesis in philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis and the like. I was not convinced in this when she talked of Mahler's music, but her discussion of Mahler's use of words was very revealing to me.
There is philosophy in this book - lots of it. And, for me, that was far more to my liking that large anmounts of psychology might have been. I was fascinated by the discussion on compassion - is it real or an invention? For me it is real, but following the arguments philosophers and schools of philosophy have made was very instructive. I was perhaps less convinced about the ascent of love. Maybe this was psychology interfering. For me sex and love have to be separated. This is difficult because sexual activity is generally associated with the trust that genuine love creates. But, of course, this is not a necessary outcome. Most of the people we love we do not have sexual activity with. Don't even want to have sexual activity with. So to embed the ascent of love with sex does seem to me to be making two distinct matters unnecessarily entwined and probably to the detriment of the understanding of both.
It took quite a while for me to read this book. But, despite its closely argued structure, it was not a labour.
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Specific Topics > Emotions
- Books > History > Academic History
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Academic Philosophy
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Philosophy
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Cultural Studies