Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions / Edition 1

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Jon Elster has written a comprehensive, wide-ranging book on the emotions in which he considers the full range of theoretical approaches. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy and psychology Elster presents a complete account of the role of the emotions in human behavior. Combining methodological and theoretical arguments with empirical case studies and written with Elster's customary verve and economy, this book will have a broad appeal to those in philosophy, psychology, economics, political science, as well as literary studies, history, and sociology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book should have a broad appeal within the humanties as well as the social sciences. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above."

"In this polished work the author, a highly respected political philosopher from Columbia University...reaches for a broad theory of the role of the emotions in human behavior."
—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Jon Elster has written an important and useful book on human emotions and the social sciences...his book a useful source for anyone working in the area."
—Jrnl of Economic Behavior and Organization

"This is perhaps the richest book on emotions I have read."
—The Philosophical Review

William Ian Miller much pleasure and instruction...the fourth essay "Rationality and the Emotions" is as good an introduction to the study of the emotions as any I know. It is well-informed, judicious and consisently acute...
London Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521644877
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgments; Part I. A Plea for Mechanisms: 1. Introduction; 2. Explaining by mechanisms; 3. Proverbial mechanisms; 4. Mechanisms in Montaigne; 5. Mechanisms in Tocqueville; 6. Some elementary mechanisms; 7. Molecular mechanisms; 8. From mechanisms to laws; 9. A plea for disaggregation; Part II. Emotions before Psychology: 1. Introduction; 2. Aristotle on the emotions; 3. The French moralists; 4. Emotion in literature; Part III. Social Emotions in Historical Context: 1. Introduction; 2. Shame and social norms; 3. Envy in social life; 4. Honor, duels, and feuds; Part IV. Rationality and the Emotions: 1. Introduction; 2. The nature of emotion; 3. Rationality and the emotions; Appendix; Part V. Alchemies of the Mind: 1. Introduction; 2. Transmutation; 3. Misrepresentation; Coda.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2005

    Superlative work about emotions

    This superlative work belongs on the shelf of any serious student of art, literature, philosophy and psychology - not to mention those readers who seek self-knowledge. Author Jon Elster explores the complex cognitive antecedents and consequences of emotional experience. Noting that much of what society needs to know about emotions is inaccessible in the psychology laboratory, he makes original, insightful use of literary and philosophical sources. He uses the work of such authors as Francois de La Rochefoucauld, Michel de Montaigne, Jean de La Bruyère and Alexis de Tocqueville to examine how emotional mechanisms function. This approach sheds light on the emotions and on the way you might read literature or listen to music. We highly recommend this book and find it valuable not only for what it says, but for what it inspires. It is capable of changing how you think and feel in ways that are (just as emotions themselves) far from predictable.

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