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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 7:19amSanction this postReply
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Am certainly looking forward to reading the work...

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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 10:30amSanction this postReply
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Robert M,

I've started on the book, and it's well worth it.

More importantly, with any luck I'll get to the APA Eastern Division meetings this year.  Was planning to last year, but flying over the handlebars of my bicycle dictated a postponement.

Robert C


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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 3:46pmSanction this postReply
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The sad thing is that for decades others have done a whole lot of work on these issues--Mack, Den Uyl, Rasmussen, Miller, Badhwar, et al.--but Professor Smith writes, and her editors permit her to write, as if she had invented the wheel. Not a word about all these works, if I recall right, and it is quite irksome and makes it difficult to just read and shut up about it all. Scholars are supposed to be attentive to others doing work in their specialty, perhaps not as diligently as scientist ought to but to a considerable extent, nevertheless. (Professor Smith's recent piece in the American Philosophical Quarterly is equally inattentive to such work!)


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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 8:53pmSanction this postReply
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A question: in science, multiple citations in an article or scholarly book is required if one is to talk about ideas/theories developed by someone else, currently or historically... failure to do so would entail other (usually nitpicky) scientists to respond with critique.

I'm just wondering if in philosophy, as a field, whether the methodology is the same as science? It would help me to know what to expect; and I would know not to expect something unnecessary, or "out of bounds" of a particular field. I think things are just done differently in philosophy than in science.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006 - 9:32pmSanction this postReply
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Tibor, perhaps you felt it would help make your case to the 3rd party viewers here; but don't be so modest -- YOU are one of the 'others' mentioned in: "... for decades others have done a whole lot of work on these issues ...".

Ed
[Your personal involvement would only weaken your case to the weak-minded; and who wants THEM on their side?!]


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Friday, May 12, 2006 - 10:53amSanction this postReply
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I’ll remark here on a smidgen of Professor Smith’s new book. Since these casual remarks concern such a wee bit of the book, I want to first give some further impression of the book’s full range. Here is an overall glance of Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist from the jacket flap:

 

Far from representing the rejection of morality, selfishness, in Rand’s view, actually demands the practice of a systematic code of ethics. This book explains the fundamental virtues that Rand considers vital for a person to achieve his objective well-being: rationality, honesty, independence, justice, integrity, productiveness, and pride. Tracing Rand’s account of the naturalistic ground of value and the harmony of human beings’ rational interests, Tara Smith examines what each of these virtues consists in . . . . Along the way, she addresses the status of several conventional virtues within Rand’s theory, considering traits such as kindness, charity, generosity, temperance, courage, forgiveness, and humility.


 

Smidgen

 

Tara Smith writes that emotionalism consists of “allowing emotions to replace thoughts as the decisive grounds for one’s conclusions or actions” (71). This strikes me as an inexact definition of emotionalism. Thoughts are not decisive grounds; they are not grounds of a decision, strictly speaking. They are controlling operators on the grounds for a decision. Precised in this way, Smith’s definition of emotionalism should be that it is “allowing one’s emotions to replace thoughts as the controlling, deciding operators on the grounds for one’s conclusions or actions.” The grounds referred to here would be facts and explicit values.

 

Smith writes on the next page that “in a reasoning process, emotions cannot be substituted for facts because emotions are not tools of cognition.” This is another striking inexactness. Shouldn’t the phrase be “substituted for thought” rather than “substituted for facts”?

 

In her title essay For the New Intellectual (1961), Rand writes of (with a note acknowledging valuable inputs from Nathaniel Branden on these) two psychological archetypes: Attila and the Witch Doctor. Of the latter, Rand writes that “to the Witch Doctor, emotions are tools of cognition, and wishes take precedence over facts” (17). Don’t be a Witch Doctor. Rather, be “a man of reason,” be “dispassionately and intransigently fact-centered” for “it is upon the ability to think, upon his rational faculty, that man’s life depends” (Branden 1962, 136, in The Virtue of Selfishness).

 

These two curiously inexact statements by Smith could be due in part to the sort of telescopic collapse we resort to in hasty expressions. Thought gets the collapse to fact. Controlling, decisive operator on grounds gets the collapse to decisive grounds.

 

I think there is another factor at work in Smith’s expressions. She is trying to be true here (pp. 70–73) to Rand’s (and Branden’s) opposition of emotions to facts. Such oppositions are explicable, in Rand’s text, as in Smith’s, as telescopic collapses in expression. But there is more. When Rand said, repeatedly, that emotions are not tools of cognition, she meant it one hundred percent. Emotions are not tools for reaching facts, they are not cognitive tools. This view was predominant in philosophy until the irrationalist waves in the 19th century and the advances of psychology in the 20th. Opposition of emotions to facts is a natural overstatement in stating a rational ethics.

 

Smith tempers this position. I find Smith inching back from the (early 60s) view of Rand. Smith comes round in her discussion to saying that one should not be “handing emotions the sole decision-making reins” (73). Whoa! Not for Rand. No reins in the hands of emotions. With Rand, as with Plato, all reins go to reason, the guardian of the house.

 

Well, there’s a smidgen. I should not leave without mentioning a significant paper in this area by Marsha Familaro Enright. It is titled “If ‘Emotions Are Not Tools of Cognition’, What Are They?” This paper is published in V4N1 of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Fall 2002).


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Friday, May 12, 2006 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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A question: in science, multiple citations in an article or scholarly book is required if one is to talk about ideas/theories developed by someone else, currently or historically... failure to do so would entail other (usually nitpicky) scientists to respond with critique.

I'm just wondering if in philosophy, as a field, whether the methodology is the same as science? It would help me to know what to expect; and I would know not to expect something unnecessary, or "out of bounds" of a particular field. I think things are just done differently in philosophy than in science.
Science is a philosophy, it falls under the category of epistemology. Citations are always necessary when discussing someone elses ideas/theories even in a scholarly work on philosophy. However I think it's important to not confuse a scholarly work on a science discipline, as opposed to a scholarly work on say the scientific methodology, otherwise that would be a scholarly work on what it is to know, and not necessarily what we know.

In this case the book is about ethics and articulating Rand's notion of ethics. It can't be treated the same as a scientific scholarly work as scientific inquiry depends on hypothesis, observation, experimentation, corroboration, and finally a theory. For example a scientist when discussing his experiments, does not then justify why the concept of an experiment is useful, nor does he justify why he should use his sensory perception to collect observational data. The scientific methodology in a scholarly book of scientific inquiry is a given. Either the scientific methodology is accepted when reading a book on a specific scientific inquiry, or it is not. If you read a pubmed study on the statistical likely-hood of a particular substance causing cancer, the study does not explain statistical methodology. It is understood the reader accepts the methodology of statistics otherwise any scientific inquiry would be unnecessarily burdened with constantly justifying the methodology.

Likewise a book on ethics is a study of what ethics is. It is either accepted based on the reasoning the author gives, or it is rejected. Corroborating one's reasoning does not give it any validation. The reasoning stands or falls on it's own. On the otherhand, a scientific inquiry does require corroboration, to ensure the experiment did not have inherent bias, or that the hypothesis was falsifiable, or that the results of the experiment could be reproduced.


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Friday, May 12, 2006 - 10:56pmSanction this postReply
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> I've started on the book, and it's well worth it.

Robert, is she so far making new connections Rand didn't or simpy presenting things more clearly and in a manner more palatable to academic readers and more "connected" to scholarship and language they are familiar with.

I was -very- impressed with her Introduction which is on the Cambridge site.

Phil

(I hope you have recovered from your wrist injuries well enough to take me on in Ping Pong this summer - if you play!! I expect Christopher Robinson to want a rematch.)

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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 10:16amSanction this postReply
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Stephen Boydstun writes of "a significant paper in this area by Marsha Familaro Enright. It is titled 'If ‘Emotions Are Not Tools of Cognition’, What Are They?'"

Marsha has made available a PDF of this work. Please contact her for a reprint. It is almost telling that she had received no feedback to date on this 4 year old article. Smith's book may stir the pot.

I must say that Tara Smith's contentions, as retailed by Stephen, are indeed short-cutted and compressed and thus fallacious in scope. It seems an argument from authority to baldly state, "emotions are not tools of cognition" as if from Moses on the Mount, irreducibly correct.

Rand was no dummy, and she kept up with her times. Since she died before his florescence, she can be excused for ignorance of Antonio Damasio (and his many colleagues who have published on her turf). But for Tara Smith, I would expect a thorough dismantling of Damasio's reasoning, not ex cathedra diktat which disregards neuroscience. I am hoping for the former.

If the latter, it is an enduring weak spot in O-ist thought and practice -- and where the O-committment to reason and inquiry goes off the rails at times.

Susan Haack does battle with this kind of evasion of responsibility in her article on "Preposterism," excerpted below.


WSS

________________

Pseudo-Inquiry; and the Real Thing

A genuine inquirer aims to find out the truth of some
question, whatever the color of that truth. This is a
tautology (Webster's: "inquiry: search for truth . . ."). A
pseudo-inquirer seeks to make a case for the truth of some
proposition(s) determined in advance. There are two kinds of
pseudo-inquirer, the sham and the fake. A sham reasoner is
concerned, not to find out how things really are, but to make
a case for some immovably-held preconceived conviction. A
fake reasoner is concerned, not to find out how things really
are, but to advance himself by making a case for some
proposition to the truth- value of which he is indifferent.

Neither sham nor fake inquiry is really inquiry; but we need
to get beyond this tautology to understand what is wrong with
sham and fake reasoning. The sham inquirer tries to make a
case for the truth of a proposition his commitment to which
is already evidence- and argument-proof. The fake inquirer
tries to make a case for some proposition advancing which he
thinks will enhance his own reputation, but to the truth-
value of which he is indifferent. (Such indifference is, as
Harry Frankfurt once shrewdly observed, the characteristic
attitude of the bullshitter.)(3) Both the sham and the fake
inquirer, but especially the sham, are motivated to avoid
examining any apparently contrary evidence or argument too
closely, to play down its importance or impugn its relevance,
to contort themselves explaining it away. And, since people
often mistake the impressively obscure for the profound,
both, but especially the fake reasoner, are motivated to
obfuscate.

The genuine inquirer wants to get to the truth of the matter
that concerns him, whether or not that truth comports with
what he believed at the outset of his investigation, and
whether or not his acknowledgement of that truth is likely to
get him tenure, or to make him rich, famous, or popular. So
he is motivated to seek out and assess the worth of evidence
and arguments thoroughly and impartially. This doesn't just
mean that he will be hard-working; it is a matter, rather, of
willingness to re-think, to re-appraise, to spend as long as
it takes on the detail that might be fatal, to give as much
thought to the last one percent as to the rest. The genuine
inquirer will be ready to acknowledge, to himself as well as
others, where his evidence and arguments seem shakiest, and
his articulation of problem or solution vaguest. He will be
willing to go with the evidence even to unpopular
conclusions, and to welcome someone else's having found the
truth he was seeking.

(from "Science, Scientism, and Anti-Science in the Age of Preposterism")

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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 11:26amSanction this postReply
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WSS said:
It seems an argument from authority to baldly state, "emotions are not tools of cognition" as if from Moses on the Mount, irreducibly correct.

Rand was no dummy, and she kept up with her times. Since she died before his florescence, she can be excused for ignorance of Antonio Damasio (and his many colleagues who have published on her turf).

William, It's been a while since I read Damasio.  Can you give an example of any of his or his colleagues' work that would contradict the statement that "emotions are not tools of cognition"?

Thanks,
Glenn

(Edited by Glenn Fletcher on 5/13, 11:39am)


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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 4:15pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn Fletcher reads Damasio (albeit not recently) and asks for an example from his work which contradicts a Rand dictum against such foolishness. I'll pass on this reasonable request for the moment (but give you a provocative speech by Damasio) -- having a lot of work to do before I take a run at Randian psychology and its seemingly barred doors; in the meantime, how about we both get acquainted with the cited article, Glenn? It is good, meaty read, not available in every O-ist idea shop -- and I understand Enright is open-handed with her intellectual production [full disclosure, Marsha and I have begun to discuss her article, which was made available to me by the editor of JARS].

Emotion (as understood by Damasio let's say, not having a full-context Randian take to hand) is a part of the operation of the organism, an adjunct to sense that aids survival (sense of self, sense of other, sense of danger and threat and ally).

Neither a sole necessity, nor a sufficient condition for human cognition, its absence or impairment is a deficit and leads us (through Damasio and other clinical researchers) to ask still "How do they work? What are they for, how did they develop, where do they lie in the brain?" -- with roots in the body and sense of self, emotion seems, to amateurs like me, deeply implicated in human behaviour, mental behaviour uppermost.

Give yourself a thought experiment and examine the cognitions of such as, say, Temple Grandin, whose emotional life is unlike most folk -- despite her rational accomplishments, she is mostly deaf to the social music the rest of us hear, and must expend great effort to comprehend the raw timbres of a hidden symphony that is to us the clanging, clashing, endlessly playing music of life.

Damasio of course gives other and extreme cases of deficit, some merely sad and horrifying, some giving rise to a tinkle of icewater down the spine . . .


I will leave it to Marsha Enright to tease out some of the possible implications, Jeff. Would you join us in further discussion? I post below an excerpt from a Damasio interview that might pique consternation, dismissal or thoughtful consideration of his opinions . . . for those prone to reach for the angina tablets, here's a favourable review of Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness -- from the Bruce Charlton -- this review summarizes the main findings and hypotheses of the Damasio oeuvre.

Excerpt:
Emotions are based on internal body environments which act as inputs into the brain, just as visual or auditory information is an input to the brain from the external environment. Indeed, in evolutionary terms, the brain is primarily an organ for homeostasis - a centre which collects and collates feedback on body states, and acts to maintain constancy of the internal milieu. This concept vastly clarifies the role and nature of emotions, and allows them to be studied using the full force of integrated modern neuroscience.



WSS

_________________

Q: Much of the work you have done in the lab and with your
previous books explored the role that emotions play in
decision-making and in the construction of the self. In your
new book, LOOKING FOR SPINOZA you seem to be presenting a
progress report on our understanding of the nature and
significance of feelings. What is new here? What have you
found out
?
A: Neuroscience is advancing at a fast pace.
As of four years ago, when my last book was published, we had
a reasonable hypothesis regarding the brain basis for
feeling, but no certainties. Now, we can speak with
confidence about "what feelings are" - where they come from,
how they happen, what they are made of biologically. That is
why the book's subtitle is the "feeling brain." We have
identified brain areas and brain pathways necessary to feel
emotions. Armed with the new knowledge we can even venture to
say what feelings are for. The new knowledge broadens our
view of human nature. We can not really know who we are if we
do not understand the brain mechanisms behind emotion and
feeling - what causes emotions, what leads to feelings, how
they affect our decisions, social behavior, and creativity,
and where they fit in evolution.

Q: What value does understanding the difference between
emotions and feelings have?

A: Understanding the
difference between emotions and feelings removed a barrier to
research on the nature of affect, and opened the way to
elucidating the origin and content of feelings.

Q: Are there neurobiological foundations for Ethics?
A: Yes there are. One of the payoffs of the new understanding
of emotions and feelings is the realization that moral
behavior does not begin with humans. In certain circumstances
numerous non-human species behave in ways that are, for all
intents and purposes, comparable to the moral ways of human
beings. Interestingly, the moral behaviors are emotional -
compassion, shame, indignation, dominant pride or submission.
As in the case of culture, the contribution of everything
that is learned and created in a group plays a major role in
shaping moral behaviors. Only humans can codify and refine
rules of moral behavior. Animals can behave in moral-like
ways, but only humans have ethics and write laws and design
justice systems. Animals can show attachment to others but as
I discuss in the book only humans love in the proper sense of
the term.

Q: Why bring Spinoza in to this?
A: Because Spinoza
prefigured in a remarkable way some of the ideas on emotion,
feelings, and ethics that are now taking shape as a result of
modern neuroscience (Spinoza's views on the mind body problem
are especially modern). Also because Spinoza's uncanny
foreshadowing of modern views on biology and mind have not
been recognized by contemporary science and deserve to be so.
Finally, as I studied Spinoza with the purpose of giving him
his due, I became intrigued by the person and the times, and
both found their way into the book.

Q: Are there any case studies that illuminate your
argument?

A: There are many such cases. For example,
children who suffer brain injury in certain regions of the
frontal lobe in their first year years of life develop major
defects of social behavior in spite of being otherwise
intelligent. They do not exhibit social emotions (compassion,
shame, guilt) and they never learn social conventions and
ethical rules.

Q: Is it possible to locate the spiritual in the human
organism?

A: It is indeed. The spiritual is a special
feeling state and, as other feelings states, it can be traced
to the particular operations of several brain and body
regions. We might say that the spiritual is the ultimate
state of well-being—there is a maximal ease, harmony, and
balance of organism functions. Spiritual states are most
conducive to survival.

{from an interview with the author posted to the Harcourt Books site)
(Edited by William Scott Scherk
on 5/13, 4:42pm)


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Post 11

Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 3:08pmSanction this postReply
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Stephen Boydstun writes of "a significant paper in this area by Marsha Familaro Enright. It is titled 'If ‘Emotions Are Not Tools of Cognition’, What Are They?'"

Marsha has made available a PDF of this work. Please contact her for a reprint. It is almost telling that she had received no feedback to date on this 4 year old article.

I read and re-read Marsha's paper in January 2005 and corresponded with her about in preparation for my article on emotion that will appear in the Fall 2006 issue of JARS. 

It is true that Objectivism has not produced a comprehensive theory of emotion. My article is an attempt to introduce objectivists to the work of someone who has done this in a brilliant, accurate, and thorough way - Silvan S. Tomkins    
 
 


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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 7:09pmSanction this postReply
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Steve Shmurak puts the lie to my belief that Marsha's paper had fallen unremarked into the sea . . . with nary a splash or squawk from the gulls or surf riders . . .

Thanks for that, Dr Shmurak -- I very much look forward to your review and synthesis (which coming appearance was noted by Robert Campbell at Objectivist Living). Please let the list know if there are preprints available in the run-up to publication.

If inclined, you might wish to flesh out my answer to Glenn with a nod to Tomkins.


WSS

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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 8:14pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

Sorry to disappoint you, but I wasn't much of a ping-pong player before I broke both wrists...

You asked the obvious question about Tara Smith's new book:

is she so far making new connections Rand didn't or simpy presenting things more clearly and in a manner more palatable to academic readers and more "connected" to scholarship and language they are familiar with.
So far (which, in my case, presently means through the first 1/4 of the book), the answer is the latter: Rand's views, as Smith understands them, are set out clearly and explicitly, in language a good deal less hectoring than one finds in Rand's writings, or Peikoff's.  I've seen no new connections, and rather doubt that the book was intended to make them.

Robert Campbell





 


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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 8:17pmSanction this postReply
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Jenna,

I've heard some (non-Randian) philosophers defend articles that avoided citing a bunch of related work.  But I think most philosophers would subscribe to the same general citation practices that most scientists follow.

Robert Campbell


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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 8:24pmSanction this postReply
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I responded to Stephen B on Smith's treatment of emotions over at New Intellectual Forum.

Here's a slightly revised version of what I said there:

I also detected more than a little discomfort with Rand's formulations regarding emotions.
 
Smith throws into one footnote (p. 70, n. 65) work on emotions from the last couple of decades--by Pinker, Griffiths, Solomon, De Sousa, Damasio, and Nussbaum, among others.  One gets the impression that Rand's views must strike her as a little dated in light of all of this more recent material.
 
Meanwhile, Rand's conception of emotions as derivative from "premises" is relegated to another footnote (p. 72, n. 71).
 
Smith frequently refers to allowing one's emotions to run one's decision-making as "emotionalism." She apparently picked up this usage from Leonard Peikoff.  The term is widely used by Ayn Rand Institute affiliates and supporters today, yet I don't recall Rand ever saying or writing it.
 
Nathaniel Branden is, of course, not going to be cited in a book by an ARI-sponsored author.  He is not cited in Smith's book.
 
Robert Campbell


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Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 8:49pmSanction this postReply
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Tibor,

As far as I can tell (I have more reading to do), you are cited once in Smith's book (p. 38, n. 59).  She refers to a passage from a translation of Auguste Comte's Catéchisme positiviste, as quoted in your book Generosity.

It's kind of odd.  I mean, if she wanted to quote Comte, couldn't she have walked over to the Perry-Castañeda Library at UT and found what she needed in English translation? I'll bet they have all four volumes of the 19th-century translation of the System of Positive Polity.
The sad thing is that for decades others have done a whole lot of work on these issues--Mack, Den Uyl, Rasmussen, Miller, Badhwar, et al.--but Professor Smith writes, and her editors permit her to write, as if she had invented the wheel. Not a word about all these works, if I recall right, and it is quite irksome and makes it difficult to just read and shut up about it all. Scholars are supposed to be attentive to others doing work in their specialty, perhaps not as diligently as scientist ought to but to a considerable extent, nevertheless. (Professor Smith's recent piece in the American Philosophical Quarterly is equally inattentive to such work!)
I haven't seen her APQ article.

Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics cites two articles by Badhwar and one by Den Uyl (the single item by Den Uyl strikes me as less relevant than some that she didn't cite).  Smith also cites two articles by Julia Annas, two by David Schmidtz, a review of one of her previous books by Irfan Khawaja, and a book by Lester Hunt.  Nothing by Mack, Rasmussen, or Miller.

The book is thickly footnoted (and Cambridge went to the trouble of putting the footnotes where they belong, at the bottom of the page).  After Rand, the author most frequently cited is Peikoff.  The vast majority of the Peikoff citations are to Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Robert Campbell


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Sunday, May 14, 2006 - 10:43amSanction this postReply
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Here is another work that seems to address the topic under discussion. The passage here is from Amazon.com:

"Gut Reactions is an interdisciplinary defense of the claim that emotions are perceptions of changes in the body. This thesis, pioneered by William James and resuscitated by Antonio Damasio, has been widely criticized for failing to acknowledge that emotions are meaningful insofar as they
represent concerns, not respiratory function and blood pressure. Fear represents danger, sadness represents loss. To explain this fact, many researchers conclude that emotions must involve judgments regarding one's relationship to the environment. Prinz offers a new unified account of the emotions
that reconciles these two theories. He argues that emotions are embodied appraisals--they are perceptions of the body, but, through the body, they also allow us to literally perceive danger, loss, and other matters of concern.

"The basic idea behind embodied appraisal theory is captured in the familiar notion of a "gut reaction," which has been overlooked by much emotion research. Using recent work in semantics, Prinz show how emotions can be meaningful without incorporating judgments or other cognitive states. Criticizing
those who think that some emotions are social constructions, while others can be explained by evolutionary psychology, Prinz argues that all emotions are the same kind of phenomena, involving both nature and nurture.

"Prinz also distinguishes emotions from other affective states, such as motivations and moods, and offers a theory of emotional valence (what makes some emotions good and others bad). Ultimately, his theory of emotion consciousness is inspired by recent research on the neural correlates of conscious
vision. Drawing a parallel between emotion consciousness and visual consciousness, Prinz shows that emotion is a form of perception in the fullest sense. Where vision reveals the identity of objects in a given situation, emotion reveals how that situation bears on our well-being."


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Sunday, May 14, 2006 - 3:30pmSanction this postReply
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One thing I need to correct:

It turns out that Rand did use the term "emotionalism."  It shows up in her Journals, and in her lectures on nonfiction writing.  The only article that was published during her lifetime that referred to emotionalism or emotionalists was "Philosophy: Who Needs It."

Thanks to John Enright for the correction.

Robert Campbell


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Monday, May 15, 2006 - 6:45amSanction this postReply
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William

Thanks very much for your interest in my article.

I have decided not to make pre-publication copies available because I want people to view the CD-ROM along with the text.

Tomkins provided ostensive definitions of basic emotions ("affects"), that are innate and observable in infants. The CD-ROM provides the referents for these ostensive definitions.

It is critical to understanding his ideas that these ostensive definitions be grasped before any theorizing occurs.

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