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Look Inside Alchemies of the Mind

Alchemies of the Mind
Rationality and the Emotions

  • Date Published: May 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521642798

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About the Authors
  • Jon Elster has written a comprehensive, wide-ranging book on the emotions in which he considers the full range of theoretical approaches. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy and psychology, Elster presents a complete account of the role of the emotions in human behaviour. While acknowledging the importance of neurophysiology and laboratory experiment for the study of emotions, Elster argues that the serious student of the emotions can learn more from the great thinkers and writers of the past, from Aristotle to Jane Austen. He attaches particular importance to the work of the French moralists, notably La Rochefoucauld, who demonstrated the way esteem and self-esteem shape human motivation. The book also maintains a running dialogue with economists and rational-choice theorists. Combining methodological and theoretical arguments with empirical case-studies and written with Elster's customary verve and economy, this book has great cross-disciplinary appeal.

    • Elster and his track record as a successful author for us
    • Genuine interdisciplinary appeal - philosophy, psychology, economics, political science
    • Hot topic - good deal of work on the emotions at the moment
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book is exceptionally insightful, and it achieves a remarkable synthesis of divergent bodies of literature that perhaps no one else could have accomplished.' Alfred Mele, Davidson College

    'This book will undoubtedly find a wide readership, not only among the fans of Elster's previous work, but among the growing number of specialists in various fields who have become captivated by the theory of emotion.' Ronald de Sousa, University of Toronto

    'Gives much pleasure and instruction.' London Review of Books

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 1999
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521642798
    • length: 464 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 159 x 31 mm
    • weight: 0.795kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface and acknowledgments
    Part I. A Plea for Mechanisms:
    1. Introduction
    2. Explaining by mechanisms
    3. Proverbial mechanisms
    4. Mechanisms in Montaigne
    5. Mechanisms in Tocqueville
    6. Some elementary mechanisms
    7. Molecular mechanisms
    8. From mechanisms to laws
    9. A plea for disaggregation
    Part II. Emotions before Psychology:
    1. Introduction
    2. Aristotle on the emotions
    3. The French moralists
    4. Emotion in literature
    Part III. Social Emotions in Historical Context:
    1. Introduction
    2. Shame and social norms
    3. Envy in social life
    4. Honor, duels, and feuds
    Part IV. Rationality and the Emotions:
    1. Introduction
    2. The nature of emotion
    3. Rationality and the emotions
    Appendix
    Part V. Alchemies of the Mind:
    1. Introduction
    2. Transmutation
    3. Misrepresentation
    Coda.

  • Author

    Jon Elster, Columbia University, New York

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