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Publisher's Summary

Conventional wisdom suggests there is a sharp distinction between emotion and reason. Emotions are seen as inferior, disruptive, primitive, and even bestial forces. These 24 remarkable lectures suggest otherwise-that emotions have intelligence and provide personal strategies that are vitally important to our everyday lives of perceiving, evaluating, appraising, understanding, and acting in the world.

Take a tour of Professor Solomon's more than three-decade-long intellectual struggle to reach an understanding of emotions, which he argues are, "the key to the meaning of life." A distinguished philosopher himself, Professor Solomon's lectures unfold as a rich dialogue with other philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Adam Smith, Nietzsche, William James, Freud, Heidegger, and Sartre.

In your exploration, you'll address such questions as: how do we distinguish emotions from feelings, such as heartache? What is the meaning of our emotions, and how do they serve to enrich and guide our lives? Are there a determinable number of basic emotions that serve as building blocks for the range of emotions we experience? Is an emotion such as jealousy a genetic trait shared by all humans - or is it something learned? As you listen to these lectures, prepare to think: Think about your own emotions; think about what you observe in others; think about the enormous body of research and conjecture on this fascinating topic as Professor Solomon takes you on a challenging and stimulating journey. The more we puzzle over the nature of emotions, the deeper the mystery becomes. It is a mystery that is by no means solved, but one that repays in careful, philosophical analysis.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions

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Easy to listen, alive lectures!

Outstanding overview of history and (kind of) evolution.. of human awareness of emotional intelligence. Author emphasizes to all emotions personally, and takes perspectives of philosophy, religion, science and social norms. I'm grateful for great lectures, amazing!

1 person found this helpful

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A great introduction to the philosophical facets of our emotions, their meaning and their significance

A great summary of current philosophical thought on a number of emotions and a comprehensive discussion on their role in our lives. The book is well set out, easy to read (listen to) and the ideas are expressed clearly and concisely. This was the first book I’ve read that discusses emotions through a predominantly philosophical lens, in contrast to a purely scientific one, which I found fascinating and insightful.

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Good start, needs more thought put in

I disagreed with the basic tenents of analysis here. Still a good starting point. A better distinction between the physiological response and the perceptions on emotions would give a higher definition of the complexity of emotions.

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  • Gary
  • 24-11-2018

Feel good and be good

The lecturer clearly demonstrates how our emotions are a subset of our feelings and are how we engage with the world. Emotions are not things or facts. Our emotional intelligence allows us to process the world and to deal with the world. The more we understand ourselves the better our 'eudomania', right actions that result in well being, an Aristotelian word the lecturer used from time to time.

Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, Freud, Hume, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Plato and Aristotle made frequent appearances in these lectures. Is it as he quoted Wittgenstein, 'A depressed person lives in a depressed world' or do our emotional intelligence and our own self awareness make us sometimes too self reflective?

Hume will say that 'reason is a slave to our passions' and we should enjoy our passions when we can, while the Buddhist think our passions enslave us too, but we should just accept that as it is and not let the world get to us. Each gives primacy to experiences over our reason as the foundation for understanding but give different suggestions for dealing with the world.

I've recently have been reading all of the people I mentioned in the above paragraph. This lecturer was able to tie them all together and bring recent research and his own spin on what our experiences mean and show why they are just as relevant today as they were in their own day.

Aristotle (who is frequently quoted in these lectures) would say that good habit, good practice and good behavior make us good and give us practical wisdom (phronesis). The lecturer gave a good example, if one misbehaves after having drunk too much, Aristotle would not blame the drinking, but he would blame the person for having drunk when they should have known better due to their own lack of character from wont of phronesis due to lack of good habits, good practices and good behaviors.

There are many fine points that are presented in these lectures and I found them somewhat a delight and edifying to listen to. I did not think I was going to like them at first since he talked about 'universal emotions' as if they were definitely real and gave too much credence to evolutionary psychology. He later in the lectures made those more of a nuanced position. He quotes a lot from Antonio Damasio and his theories and I would recommend his book 'Strange Order of Things' (probably one of my favorite books for this year) which was published after these lectures were made.

13 people found this helpful

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  • J. Harvey
  • 02-07-2017

Breaks new ground

Emotions don't just happen to us, they're something we do. To learn to perceive them more clearly, and to tune them more precisely, is to learn key strategies for personal power, for human connection, for integrity, for happiness, and fulfillment. This course has more juicy and necessary and surprising insights per minute than anything else you are likely to hear, ever. Solomon is a true exemplar of an enquiring mind; to hit "play" on any of his courses is to be instantly engaged at the highest intellectual level -- but most especially with this one, which reprises his own VERY original work.

11 people found this helpful

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  • oded noy
  • 17-06-2016

Meditation on emotions - Slow to start but worth the experience

This course is broken into three main section. The first seems to be long and somewhat tedious- however it is a good setup for the other two sections. Overall a good meditation on the topic of emotions.

9 people found this helpful

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  • rosswgray
  • 05-04-2016

A true philosopher lectures on the good life

Professor Solomon is much more than a mere scholar of history of philosophy; is is a true philosopher himself. This course was profound and life-affirming, and I would recommend it to anyone no matter their previous experience of philosophy.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-05-2015

The impeccable Robert Solomon

I've been a fan of Robert C. Solomon's work for a long time, he was first introduced to me in Richard Linkletter's film Waking Life, where the director actually crashed one of the professor's classes and filmed it and then later interviewed him in the same movie. I also had the privilege of reading his textbook introducing philosophy for my philosophy 101 while I was an undergrad. This collection of lectures on human emotions and the philosophical views with neuroscience were very enlightening and Robert has a way of delivering his lectures in an entertaining way as a storyteller.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Humus
  • 05-06-2018

Passionate and erudite thinker

Solomon has both a classic and a modern background. He uses it to enrich an important topic.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Market Maven
  • 20-10-2020

A Mile Wide and Inch Deep

First let me say that I am a fan of Prof. Solomon, having completed two previous "Great Courses" of his, one on Existentialism, and one on Nietzsche. However, I felt that this particular course was not up to standard. To begin with, it is much more a psychology course that a philosophy course. So much of it just seems to be an inventory of human emotions. Solomon is an excellent lecturer, so the course is never boring. However I was expecting more. I would have eliminated over 2-3rds of the topics, and concentrated on one-third and gone much more in depth. So many topics are brought up only to be discarded after a few brief comments. For example he claims envy is the one emotion that is never positive. And doesn't really back it up. When I was starting my career I was envious of those with more money that could do more things in life than me. This motivated me. Nothing wrong with that. Another example is deja vu. He brings it up, but never really explains it. And finally, I don't think he adequately address the premise of the entire course, that emotions are intelligent. I am not saying there is no such thing as emotional intelligence, but Solomon did not go deep enough into what this means. To sum up, this is an important topic that deserves more depth than presented here..

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rolando Ruiz
  • 25-05-2019

Insightful all the way

We connect to the world through our emotions. I have never thought about this like that. The proffesor has the ability to show how there are nuances to every emotion and how they vary according to language and culture.
Got me thinking and making notes. I feel like going through some topics more than once.
I felt the joy to be in a classroom again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-05-2017

Very insightful

This lecture series helped me come to a better understanding of the human emotional experience.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Joab Jamieson
  • 14-12-2017

so smart!

The Great Courses never fails to disappoint. Open minded with great opinions from the lecturer.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paola
  • 24-09-2017

fascinating

Wonderful audiobook. Continuously challenging commonly held opinions with new, interesting thoughts. Not on abstract theories, but concerned with concepts and ieas that impact on daily life. Perfectly clear to a novice to the field. A warm, humble, friendly voice - arguing his way along with down-to-earth examples - too sad he is no longer alive.

5 people found this helpful

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  • ShaneG
  • 27-02-2017

Fantastic

Absolutely brilliant set of lectures, very interesting questions posed and a lot of arguments given to explain and defend his stance

6 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 31-10-2017

deeply philosophical, and very interesting.

longer than I expected, but a great perspective on emotions. a philosophical approach to discussing. possibly a great companion to 'self comes to mind's by Antonio dimassio

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jonty
  • 07-02-2021

Mostly okey but has racist and sexist undertones

Claiming that races have a predisposition to addiction to substance abuse is wrong; so think about this, well take peoples land, freedom culture and identity?

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  • Kelli
  • 28-06-2020

A great speaker

A really great listen. With an easy to listen to voice and easy to understand explanations.

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  • Holly Parker
  • 06-06-2017

Riveting listening

Absolutely loved listening to this series if lectures, from an academic perspective they are engaging and accessible to the listener, outlining the complex nature of several emotions while tracking the temporal development of critical thinking through Aristotle, Kant, Hume and beyond.

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  • LC
  • 17-09-2017

A load of waffle

Just a load of naive waffle and stories, mostly made up, with no evidence or logical evaluation of the ideas being proposed. Instead they are generally stated as established because "I have just told a nice story that seemingly supports it, therefore it is proven"

2 people found this helpful

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