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My question is regarding Loneliness. How can anyone overcome loneliness? But first some considerations: The uncertainty of the future does not imply an answer. Saying that someday the feeling of loneliness can disappear because of the possibility of finding someone its not a method to overcome it, its just waiting and tolerating it. Present interaction with other people is not efficient. This may result in feeling more lonely. Of course this is a topic that i can relate to. Thats why previous considerations can have the wrong approach, as it personal. In my opinion, getting involved with other people its just a way to cover the real problem. This has gotten me to think that a logical solution cant be generalized or universalized. But I hope there are aspects of loneliness, that every feels, which can be treated with the same solution. Thanks for your time.

Philosophers may not have any special wisdom to impart on this question, but a bit of analyzing might still be useful. You haven't said what you mean by "loneliness." It might seem that the answer is so obvious that it's not worth asking, but I think it matters for some things you say. Typically when people say that they're lonely, they mean either that they lack company and find that distressing or painful, or that they don't feel an emotional connection with the people they have as "company." We'll at least start with that understanding. You're surely right that even if it's possible that you'll find someone to salve your loneliness, that doesn't get you very far. But then you go on to say that interacting with people in the here and now isn't "efficient." On the face of it, this is puzzling, since if it's loneliness as spelled out above that you want to cure, it's hard at first to see how the cure could come without relationships with other people. You say that getting involved with people covers...

Some of the states of consciousness or physiological reactions that movies seem calculated to produce are arguably pleasurable in themselves (for instance, consider comedies and porn films), but there are some emotions that aren't as obviously pleasurable (for instance, fear, disgust, pity) but which still have a market, and there are some emotions that don't seem to have a market at all (for instance, anger). Have philosophers said much in the way of explaining the attraction of non-pleasurable emotions?

There's a large literature on this problem, going back at least four decades. The most oft-cited paper is Kendall Walton's "Fearing Fictions," Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):5-27 (1978). Walton's thesis, developed at length in his later book, is that when we are "frightened" by a horror movie, for example, our mental state isn't accurately described as fear/fright. Instead, says Walton, what's going on is a complex form of make-believe. We derive pleasure and, arguably, other psychological benefits from this way of making-believe, or so the theory goes. Walton's view isn't the only one, of course. If you want to explore further, there's a recent collection of essays, Suffering Art Gladly: The Paradox of Negative Emotion in Art , edited by my colleague Jerrold Levinson. Although I've never been convinced by the make-believe account, it does seem right that I'm not literally frightened of the monster when I watch the horror movie. After all: I don't believe there's any monster to be frightened of...

I read a fascinating article about free will the other day. The first premise seems unremarkable to me: we initially make our decisions based on emotion, and then rationalize those decisions after the fact by reason. That premise seems well-correlated to me with empirical evidence in many cases; though there might be a small subset of cases in which people actually reason something out first before acting. However, the author then asserted that, because our decisions are primarily driven by emotion, that we only have the illusion of free will. I am not quite sure I completely followed the logical chain from the premise (emotions drive most decisions) to the conclusion (we feel like we have free will even though we actually do not). My questions to the panel are, (a) is the initial premise as reasonable to you as it seems to be to me, and (b) how does the conclusion follow logically from this premise? Thanks very much!

I have to admit: I'm as puzzled as you are. Let's suppose I'm trying to decide which flavor of ice cream I want. My choices are chocolate and rum raisin. I like them both, and there's nothing unreasonable about eating either. What would make the author of the article treat my ending up with rum raisin amount to a free choice? That I did an exhaustive utility calculation? In the circumstances, how is this better than picking rum raisin because at that moment I'm feeling nostalgic and I'm struck by a warm memory of the big scoops of rum raisin I used to get from the ice cream shop in my home town when I was a boy? More generally, what's the issue? Did my momentary emotion compel me to pick the rum-raisin? That doesn't seem plausible. What reason was there for not giving in to my emotion? I'd go a bit further. In a case like this, wouldn't it be a bit unreasonable to second-guess my urge? What's the issue? If it's supposed to be that there's an explanation for how I came to pick what I picked,...

Are feelings/emotions susceptible to moral judgment? For example, can a person be blamed for merely feeling in a certain way, without acting on it?

It's an interesting question. If an emotion simply wells up in you, it might not be reasonable to blame you—especially if you don't act on it. In any given moment, we may not have much control over what we feel. But here are two things to consider. First, we do sometimes say that certain reactions aren't appropriate; we do use broadly moral language to talk about emotions. When we say things like "He should get over himself!", we're often making a judgment about the moral appropriateness of staying in the grip of an inappropriate emotional reaction. Second, most of us do have at least some ability, over the long haul, to train and reshape our emotions. This is one of the goals of certain kinds of psychotherapy, but therapy isn't the only path to the goal. This suggests that we can hold people (including ourselves!) responsible for not doing what it takes to modulate their habitual emotional responses. Here's another way to put it. It's part of a person's character that s/he reacts to things in...

Is horny an emotion or a feeling

Depends on what you mean, doesn't it? But even after we sort that out, the answer may still be that it depends. A headache is a feeling but not an emotion—at least, not as most people use the word. Anxiety, at least a good deal of the time, is also a feeling rather than an emotion, but it can go either way. A free-floating, undirected anxiety is a feeling. But it doesn't seem too strange to say that anxiety about something specific counts as an emotion. So maybe we could say that emotions are feelings with objects. At the end of the day, that won't do. Still, it gets at something. We tend to save the word "emotion" for states that are about something, or have some sort of content other than just raw feels. But that's pretty clearly not enough. That slice of apple-rhubarb pie in front of me may fill me with a very focussed feeling of hunger. But that feeling doesn't count as an emotion. What's missing? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is reason. Emotions can be justified and they can respond...

If there are 201 nations worldwide how can we all be proud of our nations. What is the point in having pride in your nation? Is it because it feels good?

Suppose that 201 groups of people each set themselves a noble goal. If I were a member of a group that achieved its goal, I might well be proud of my group. If that pride is reasonable (and it might well be) I'd still have the same reason to be proud of my group if other groups—even all of them—achieved their goals too. As for the point of pride, I might indulge in feelings of pride because it makes me feel good, but that probably gets things the wrong way around. Some things just make us feel proud. Pride makes most sense, perhaps, when what we're proud of is something that we deserve some credit for, but we also sometimes feel proud when someone that we're associated with accomplishes something. Suppose my friend works hard on a book and it wins an award. I might very well feel proud of her, and that doesn't have to mean that I'm trying to take some of the credit for what she accomplished. We might ask what the point is in this feeling of pride, but the question seems beside the point. My friend did...

If i define philosopher as lover of wisdom, how can i be sure that its a rational,critical and systematic investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct(one of nowadays favoured definitions of philosophy, it seems to me)that brings wisdom? It seems quite bit too dogmatic to me. It seems like these epithets are implying the only way through one can gain wisdom, but what if there are others means to gain wisdom?

If word origins were a good guide to the nature of a profession, a secretary would be a keeper of secrets and a plumber would be someone who works in lead. That suggests we have some reason to be suspicious at the outset. Even if we grant that "philosopher" comes from the Greek for "lover of wisdom," that doesn't tell us much about what the discipline of philosophy actually is. Let's take the philosophers who think of themselves as systematically, critically examining principles of being, knowledge and/or conduct. Do they see themselves as engaged in the pursuit of wisdom? Some might, but I'd guess most don't. They're trying to sort through interesting and abstract questions of a particular sort, but no wise person would think of abstract theoretical understanding as amounting to wisdom nor, I submit, would any wise person think that wisdom requires abstract, theoretical understanding. I'd side with the wise here. Wisdom isn't easy to characterize in a sound bite, but I think of a wise...

In my cross-cultural psychology class, we learned about the emotion "schadenfreude": to take pleasure in someone else's misfortune. If feeling this emotion goes against an individual's beliefs about themselves, i.e., that they are a good person, then isn't it possible that they would deny that they experienced this; doesn't this mean that our own personal experiences are not verifiable and therefore unknowable?

There's a scene in a movie (I forget which one) where a character claims to be happy, weeping all the while. Of course, that was just a movie, but I dare say you've seen someone blush bright red who says they're not embarrassed, or someone with their teeth clenched, insisting that they aren't angry. Our minds aren't detached from our bodies; what we feel makes a difference to what those bodies do. What people say they're feeling isn't always a good guide to what they actually feel. In the scenario you describe, the person is really feeling the emotion (schadenfreude in this case) but says otherwise. It's possible that the person knows very well what they feel but doesn't want to admit it. If so then they, at least, have "verified" their experience, and with the right sort of persuasion, might even be willing to own up to their emotion. Another possibility is that they are deceiving themselves. Just how self-deception works may be tricky to sort out, but it seems to be a real enough phenomenon....

I cannot remember the last time I was unhappy, annoyed or felt jealous. I have read, on some of the answers, references to emotional pain being inevitable. I do not agree. I think it is very possible, but difficult, for one to learn how not to feel 'destructive' emotions, such as anger, jealousy and unhappiness. If one were to, for instance, lose a friend in a 'tragic' accident, they would be expected to feel upset. I think it's correct to say that this is an illogical feeling; an unfortunate bi-product of the way that we have evolved. I think that if one were to be extremely logical, then they would be able to override the emotions, in the same way that many people can override the nefarious feeling of jealousy, if their spouse seemed to be attracted to another person. So, with that context, my question is: Do you think/agree it is possible, or even logical, to live one's life without feeling negative emotions?

Whether it's possible is an empirical question. I'd guess it's highly unusual, but it might be so sometimes for all that. As for whether it's "logical" to live without negative emotions strikes me as not the best question. What I'd ask is whether it's desirable—whether it's a good thing. I don't quite see why it would be, at least given what we're actually like. Suppose my friend is seriously ill and in pain. Feeling bad about that seems appropriate. If I were unruffled by my friend's pain, he might well wonder how much I really cared about him. Or suppose I neglected to do something I ought to have done, causing considerable inconvenience for someone else. Feeling sorry (not just saying it but feeling it) also seems fitting. We did, indeed, evolve so that emotions, negative ones included, are part of our motivational system. Of course, sometimes our emotions can get in the way of responding well. But sometimes. the lack of emotion can have the same result. That's how things are. Would it be...

Sometimes, when person A claims to love person B, some might say "No, person A, you don't really love person B." Often, they will back up this claim by pointing to aspects of person A's behavior as "proof" - i.e. person A is not jealous when person B speaks with members of person A's sex; or person A does not sacrifice a job opportunity because person B is opposed to the employer's ethical practices; or so on. Does it make sense to tell someone that they do not really love someone they believe they love? After all, love is an emotion, and people external to person A's mind cannot properly judge the emotions person A actually feels. So what justification is there for judging a person's love on the basis of their behavior (setting aside cases where a person regularly beats or abuses someone they claim to love)?

You say that love is an emotion, and in some sense we can grant that. But saying it suggests that love is a feeling , and that, in turn, suggests that it's like a warm sensation in one's tummy -- something that we can simply detect by introspection and that we can't (or can't easily) be wrong about. But it's more complicated than that. If I love someone, I can still have moments when I feel angry at them, for example. But my momentary anger -- a non-loving feeling -- isn't the same as not loving them. Love is, among other things, a complicated set of dispositions. Some of them are dispositions to feel a certain way in certain situations, and others are dispositions to behave in certain ways. I might be momentarily angry with my daughter, for example, but it might be true that if anything were to happen to her, I would be beside myself with grief. I might also be willing to make considerable sacrifices for her well-being. I might worry about her, take time to check up on her, and do all of this not...

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