The Vehement Passions

The Vehement Passions

by Philip Fisher
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691069964

ISBN-13: 9780691069968

Pub. Date: 03/25/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Breaking off the ordinary flow of experience, the passions create a state of exception. In their suddenness and intensity, they map a personal world, fix and qualify our attention, and impel our actions. Outraged anger drives us to write laws that will later be enforced by impersonal justice. Intense grief at the death of someone in our life discloses the contours of…  See more details below

Overview

Breaking off the ordinary flow of experience, the passions create a state of exception. In their suddenness and intensity, they map a personal world, fix and qualify our attention, and impel our actions. Outraged anger drives us to write laws that will later be enforced by impersonal justice. Intense grief at the death of someone in our life discloses the contours of that life to us. Wonder spurs scientific inquiry.The strong current of Western thought that idealizes a dispassionate world has ostracized the passions as quaint, even dangerous. Intense states have come to be seen as symptoms of pathology. A fondness for irony along with our civic ideal of tolerance lead us to prefer the diluted emotional life of feelings and moods. Demonstrating enormous intellectual originality and generosity, Philip Fisher meditates on whether this victory is permanent—and how it might diminish us. From Aristotle to Hume to contemporary biology, Fisher finds evidence that the passions have defined a core of human nature no less important than reason or desire. Traversing the Iliad, King Lear, Moby Dick, and other great works, he discerns the properties of the high-spirited states we call the passions. Are vehement states compatible with a culture that values private, selectively shared experiences? How do passions differ from emotions? Does anger have an opposite? Do the passions give scale, shape, and significance to our experience of time? Is a person incapable of anger more dangerous than someone who is irascible? In reintroducing us to our own vehemence, Fisher reminds us that it is only through our strongest passions that we feel the contours of injustice, mortality, loss, and knowledge. It is only through our personal worlds that we can know the world.

Author Biography: Philip Fisher is the Reid Professor of English at Harvard University. He is the author of Still the New World, Hard Facts, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, and Making and Effacing Art.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691069968
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/25/2002
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.97(d)

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix

INTRODUCTION 1

ONE: Passions,Strong Emotions, Vehement Occasions 12

TWO: Paths among the Passions 28

THREE: Thoroughness 40

FOUR: Privacy,Radical Singularity 53

FIVE: Time 71

SIX: Rashness 93

SEVEN: Mutual Fear 109

EIGHT: The Aesthetics of Fear 132

NINE: The Radius of the Will 157

TEN: Anger and Diminution 171

ELEVEN: Grief 199

TWELVE: Spiritedness 227

CONCLUSION 246

NOTES 253

AUTHOR INDEX 263

INDEX OF TERMS 266

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