Selves, Emotions and Biology: The Case of Anger
Antonio Damasio's rethinking of the relationship between rationality and the emotions seems to have been largely adopted by the scientific and philosophical communities. However, is this 'cognitive turn' really justified in ascribing rationality to the emotions? Were the classical theorists, such as Descartes, all wrong about thinking the emotions to be irrational? In order to test the justifications of Damasio's theory, the proposed research will focus on anger, the most irrational of the emotions as seen from the classical point of view. If Damasio's theory can account for anger as a rational phenomenon, then the classical theories of emotion must rejected. Several implications of 'the cognitive turn' will then be examined: 1) how an acknowledgement of the rationality of the emotions can lead to a pluralistic naturalism of the self; 2) how the creation of the self encompasses and transcends the nature-nurture dichotomy; 3) that overly pessimistic conceptions of human nature may be false, due to their erroneous theories of the emotions.