Alchemies of the Mind

Alchemies of the Mind : Rationality and the Emotions

4.21 (19 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 behaviour. While acknowledging the importance of neurophysiology and laboratory experiment for the study of emotions, Elster argues that the serious student of the emotions can learn more from the great thinkers and writers of the past, from Aristotle to Jane Austen. He attaches particular importance to the work of the French moralists, notably La Rochefoucauld, who demonstrated the way esteem and self-esteem shape human motivation. The book also maintains a running dialogue with economists and rational-choice theorists. Combining methodological and theoretical arguments with empirical case-studies and written with Elster's customary verve and economy, this book has great cross-disciplinary appeal.
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'The book is exceptionally insightful, and it achieves a remarkable synthesis of divergent bodies of literature that perhaps no one else could have accomplished.' Alfred Mele, Davidson College 'This book will undoubtedly find a wide readership, not only among the fans of Elster's previous work, but among the growing number of specialists in various fields who have become captivated by the theory of emotion.' Ronald de Sousa, University of Toronto 'Gives much pleasure and instruction.' London Review of Books
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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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19 ratings
4.21 out of 5 stars
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4 68% (13)
3 5% (1)
2 0% (0)
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