The Subtlety of Emotions


Why do we cry at the movies? What is the best way to manage destructive feelings such as jealousy? Although emotions pervade our lives, their nature, causes, and effects have only recently been studied by social scientists and philosophers. Despite growing scientific interest in the subject, empirical findings have not yet caught up with our intuitive knowledge. In this book Aaron Ben-Ze'ev carries out what he calls "a careful search for general patterns in the primeval jungle of emotions." In an engaging, informal style he draws on a variety of theoretical approaches and popular sources to produce a coherent account of emotions in all their subtlety. All of the ideas are illustrated with examples drawn from everyday life.

The book is organized into two parts. The first presents an overall conceptual framework for understanding emotions. It looks at the typical characteristics and components of emotions, distinguishes emotions from other affective phenomena, classifies the emotions, and covers such related issues as emotional intelligence, regulating emotions, and emotions and morality. The second part discusses individual emotions, including envy, jealousy, pleasure-in-others'-misfortune, pity, compassion, anger, hate, disgust, love, sexual desire, happiness, sadness, pride, regret, and shame. The text is laced with insightful and often amusing quotations from sources ranging from Mae West to Montesquieu.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. I. The Nature of Emotions
  4. 1. The Complexity of Emotions
  5. 2. What Is an Emotion?
  6. 3. Basic Components
  7. 4. The Affective Realm
  8. 5. When Feelings Overflow - Emotional Intensity
  9. 6. Rationality and Functionality
  10. 7. Emotions and Imagination
  11. 8. Everything Is Not under Control - Regulating the Emotions
  12. 9. Emotions and Morality
  13. II. Analyzing Emotions
  14. 10. Why Do We Feel Bad When You Feel Good? - Envy and Jealousy
  15. 11. Why Do We Feel Bad When You Feel Bad? - Pity, Compassion, and Mercy
  16. 12. Why Do We Feel Good No Matter What You Feel? - Happy-For and Pleasure-in-Others'-Misfortune
  17. 13. When You Are Bad, I Am Mad - Anger, Hate, Disgust, and Contempt
  18. 14. The Sweetest Emotions - Romantic Love and Sexual Desire
  19. 15. Caring about Oneself - Happiness and Sadness
  20. 16. Caring about Our Future - Hope and Fear
  21. 17. Taking Account of Our Specific Deeds - Pride, Regret, Guilt, and Embarrassment
  22. 18. Caring about the Self - Pridefulness and Shame
  23. 19. Epilogue
  24. Notes
  25. References
  26. Index