The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Philosophy and the Passions

Philosophy and the Passions

Toward a History of Human Nature Michel Meyer, and Translated by Robert F. Barsky
  • Copyright: 2000
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 320 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02031-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02032-7
  • Series Name: Literature and Philosophy
“The subject of emotions in philosophy is very much on the front burner in many areas today, including such diverse disciplines as cognitive science, ethics, and the philosophy of rhetoric. Meyer’s book is thus right on the money. It is sensible in its quasi-historical structure, imaginative in its insights, especially at the intersection of emotions, rationality, rhetoric, and logic, which is one of the author’s primary concerns. I recommend it to English-speaking philosophers who are interested in the subject of emotions and in what is currently going on on the other side of the English Channel.”
“Michel Meyer offers a wide-ranging exegesis—the first of its kind—that systematically retraces the history of philosophical conceptions of the passions in the work of such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Spinoza, Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, and Freud. The great ruptures that led to passion’s condemnation as sin, and to its romantic exultation as the truth of existence, are meticulously registered and the logic governing them astutely explained.”

The subject of the passions has always haunted Western philosophy and, more often than not, aroused harsh judgments. For the passions represent a force of excess and lawlessness in humanity that produces troubling, confusing paradoxes.

Michel Meyer provides new insight into an age-old dilemma: Does passion torture people because it blinds them, or, on the contrary, does it permit them to apprehend who and what we really are?

Michel Meyer is Professor of Philosophy at the Free University of Brussels and the University of Mons. He is the author of many books, including From Logic to Rhetoric, From Metaphysics to Rhetoric, Meaning and Reading, Of Problematology, Questions and Questioning, and Rhetoric, Language, and Reason (1994, also published by Penn State Press).

Robert F. Barsky is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearings, Introduction á la théorie littéraire, and Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent.

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