From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category

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Overview

Until two centuries ago "the emotions" did not exist. Thomas Dixon reveals in this study how emotions came into being as a distinct psychological category. They replaced such concepts as appetites, passions, sentiments and affections, which had preoccupied thinkers as diverse as Augustine, Aquinas, Hume, and Darwin. The book is a significant original contribution to the debate which has preoccupied western thinkers across many disciplines in recent decades.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'In sum, this is a deeply rewarding book, backed up by detailed scholarship; it deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone concerned with the history both of passions and emotions.' History of Political Thought

'From Passions to Emotions will be consulted for a long time … not least because it is an important contribution to the history of several fields … Dixon has reduced the main issues to their essences, and one cannot imagine the task having been better accomplished by others.' History of Psychiatry

'In a series of closely argued and well-documented chapters, Dixon shows that this category had no equivalent in earlier discourse … Dixon clearly demonstrates that 'emotion' constitutes a specifically modern discursive construction rather than an analogue of some ancient psychological category …Dixon presents a superb analysis of the interrelationship between the historical fate of the will and the passions … Measured against the sharper, more differentiated analysis presented this book, the conventional understanding of 'emotion' begins to look like a very blunt instrument. Dixon's contribution is not 'merely' historical; it has considerable relevance for contemporary attempts to achieve a richer conceptualisation of affective life.' Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

'From Passions to Emotions offers a cogent, and I think, convincing argument on an issue of crucial public interest. It is a piece of good old-fashioned intellectual history …'. Galton Institute Newsletter

'… a most significant and most interesting contribution both to the history of psychology and to the study of relations between the modern scientific world view and religion. … it will substantially alter how writers refer to the history of what we loosely call the 'feelings'. … There has been little systematic history of the 'emotions' before this book, and this book provides a new and firm reference point. … [there] is a much-needed seriousness about the centrality, complexity and subtlety of interrelations between religion and psychology. There is no doubt that ignorance, indifference or antagonism to religion has marked the history of this field. Here we now have a model study that shows what is involved in overcoming this limitation. … very valuable scholarship and persusasive clarity …' British Journal of the History of Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521827294
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2009
  • Pages: 287
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Thomas Dixon is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Divinity and a fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: from passions and affections to emotions; 2. Passions and affections in Augustine and Aquinas; 3. From movements to mechanisms: passions, sentiments and affections in the Age of Reason; 4. The Scottish creation of 'the emotions': David Hume, Thomas Brown, Thomas Chalmers; 5. The physicalist appropriation of Brownian emotions: Alexander Bain, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin; 6. Christian and theistic responses to the physicalist emotions paradigm; 7. What was an emotion in 1884? William James and his critics; 8. Conclusions: how history can help us think about 'the emotions'; Bibliography; Index.
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