Upheavals of Thought

The Intelligence of Emotions

Upheavals of Thought

What is it to grieve for the death of a parent? More literary and experiential than other philosopical works on emotion, Upheavals of Thought will engage the reader who has ever stopped to ask that question. Emotions such as grief, fear, anger and love seem to be alien forces that disturb our thoughts and plans. Yet they also embody some of our deepest thoughts--about the importance of the people we love, about the vulnerability of our bodies and our plans to events beyond our control. In this wide-ranging book, based on her Gifford Lectures, philosopher Martha Nussbaum draws on philosophy, psychology, anthropology, music and literature to illuminate the role emotions play in our thoughts about important goals. Starting with an account of her own mother's death, she argues that emotions are intelligent appraisals of a world that we do not control, in the light of our own most significant goals and plans. She then investigates the implications of this idea for normative issues, analyzing the role of compassion in private and public reasoning and the attempts of authors both philosophical and literary to purify or reform the emotion of erotic love. Ultimately, she illuminates the structure of emotions and argues that once we understand the complex intelligence of emotions we will also have new reasons to value works of literature as sources of ethical education. Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago, appointed in Law School, Philosophy department, and Divinity School, and an Associate in Classics. A leading scholar in ancient Greek ethics, aesthetics and literature, her previous books include The Fragility of Goodness (Cambridge, 1986), Loves's Knowledge (Oxford, 1992), Poetic Justice (Beacon Press, 1997), The Therapy of Desire (Princeton, 1996), Cultivating Humanity (Harvard, 1997), and Sex and Social Justice (Oxford, 1999). Her reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, New York Review of Books, and New Republic.


 Reviews:

"Nussbaum's book raises many interesting questions and adds to the body of cognitive theories of emotion." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal

"In this massive study, Nussbaum takes the perennial boxing match between thought and perception to a brilliant new register...This huge book has its ups and downs, but it has the feel of a major achievement." Publishers Weekly (starred)

"[Upheavals of Thought] unites 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

"As with any brilliant synthetic work, then, Nussbaum's book leaves us wondering whether things really fit together so neatly...Nussbaum's has taught us a lot about love, in this book and elsewhere." Chicago Tribune

"[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

"This remarkable book is really three books, written by someone who has such an extraordinarily capacious mind that she easily examines topics in ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy, as well as in literature, law, music, psychology, and religion. Her prose is lucid...Her arguments are clear. Her organizational skills allow her to introduce lenghty discussions of quite diverse topics and still offer a coherent thesis. This book instructs and delights on nearly every page." Catholic Studies Book Review

"...impressive for its breadth of learning and for imaginative speculation...she does succeed at an erudite series of contemplation, sparkling with insights." Salem Press

"[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

"[Upheavals of Thought] is a staggering feat of synthesis, reflecting not only Nussbaum's wide-ranging expertise in philosophy, law, divinity, classics, Asian studies and gender studies but recent developments in cognitive psychology, anthropology and psychanalysis as well...extraordinary achievement of this book." THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Nov 2001

"Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions is impressive for breadth of learning and for imaginative speculation, rather than for careful reasoning....[Nussbaum] does succeed at an erudite series of contemplation, sparkling with insights." Salem Press

"Upheavals of Thought is once again to be commended for both drawing attention to and trying to change for the better the complex workings of emotion in our social lives. Her work is both philosophically stimulating and admirable."
Charles Starkey, Philosophical Psychology

'… an awesome tour de force of philosophical inquiry … some marvelous intellectual architecture …'. getAbstract


 Prizes:

2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner
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