Leading philosopher Richard Wollheim recruits into service the insights of literature and of psychoanalysis, as well as of philosophy, in this rich and thought-provoking account of the emotions. Starting from the premise that emotions form a distinct psychological category, Wollheim argues that they arelike beliefs and desiresdispositions or underlying forces in the mind that erupt from time to time into the stream of consciousness. However, to assimilate emotions to beliefs or to desires or to some combination of the two is quite wrong. Emotions are attitudes or orientations to the world, says the author, and in this regard they are naturally associated with the imagination.
The book considers what emotions are, how they arise in our lives, and how standard and "moral" emotions differ. Wollheim writes within the analytic tradition, yet decisively abandons a number of assumptions associated with that tradition and instead develops what he calls the psychologization, or repsychologization, of the emotions. Addressing repsychologization of the mind and its contents as a major theme, the author offers sustained discussion of the opinions of Sartre, William James, Freud, Melanie Klein, Stendhal, Montaigne, and Bertrand Russell.