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seminars > fall 2014 schedule > seminar: Emotion and Reason

 

Honors Seminars Fall 2014

Emotion and Reason

Course:
HON 296 Sec:002  
Credit:
3 hours  
GEP Category:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives; Humanities (Philosophy)  
Time:
13:30-14:45  
Days:
MW  
Location:
Winston 005  
Instructor:
Dr. Sanem Soyarslan
 
Description:

Restricted to first semester UHP freshmen.

Consider the range of emotions that one experiences in a lifetime, from the joy of being with your loved ones to the fear of losing them, from the thrill of success to the sadness of defeat. Pleasant or aversive, emotions play a central role in our lives, and are an integral part of what makes life worth living. Despite their obvious importance, emotions have been considered by many philosophers to be inferior to another distinctive faculty in human beings, namely reason. The idea that emotions are primitive, irrational and dangerous and thus to be controlled and constrained by reason has been embraced by eminent thinkers from Plato and the Stoics to Kant.

In this course, we will focus on the relationship between reason and emotion in moral cognition and cognition more generally, and we will investigate how/to what extent reason can be said to be distinct from and superior to emotion. Are emotions really irrational or non-rational feelings that should not be allowed to intrude into the mechanisms of reason? How does the nature of the distinction and/or relationship between reason and emotion bear on moral theory? What is the primary basis of our moral judgments: reason, emotions, or both? We will explore these questions as they are asked and answered by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Descartes and Spinoza, and more contemporary authors such as Martha Nussbaum and Jesse Prinz. In addition, we will look at recent work in psychology and cognitive neuroscience on the impact of emotion on reason, including that of Jonathan Haidt and Antonio Damasio.