Edmund Burke and the Emotions

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JournalJournal of History of Ideas
DatePublished - Oct 2011
Issue number4
Volume72
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)571-93
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The emphasis Burke placed on the role of feeling in moral and political life is an obvious feature of his thought. Less obvious is what Burke understood by a feeling and it is a question that has been largely overlooked in modern scholarship. This article suggests that Burke entertained different and incompatible theories of emotion. In early works, he often endorsed a non-cognitive theory of affect: here emotions were essentially non-reasoning states. But he later rejected this position and insisted upon the intrinsic rationality of feeling. This article examines the philosophical content and political significance of these rival outlooks.

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