Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions

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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

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
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521642798
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/1999
  • Pages: 462
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.18 (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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