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Reason and Emotion

Reason and Emotion
Miranda Fricker

The question of how emotion relates to reason acquires its
importance from an apparent conflict between the implicit
teachings of Western philosophy and and feminism. If philosophy
advises that we should place our trust, if anywhere, in reason; and
if feminism has learned that it is a political imperative to acknowledge, share and thereby validate the ways in which women’s emotions may conflict with accepted modes of reasoning,
then feminist philosophy is left in a compromised position, both
epistemologically and politically. It has therefore been of primary
importance that feminist philosophers reassess the role of emotion in relation to well accepted, and less well accepted, modes of
reasoning. My understanding of this effort is as a progression
towards an alignment of reason and emotion rather than an
opposition. As long as a dichotomy between the two is maintained,
there can be no well integrated practice of feminist philosophy
according to the above characterisations:

My philosophical education taught me to follow reason
wherever it went and to distrust political considerations.

My experience as a feminist has taught me to stick by my
political commitments even when I appear to have lost the
argument. [1, p. 169]
In their separation, not only philosophers but feminists too have
perpetuated the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, reason and
emotion, contributing to a false polarisation. It is understandable
that where the dominant mode of reasoning seems to support
men’s interests while systematically denying how women feel
about the world, women should come to distrust not just that use
of reason but reason itself, asserting instead the superiority of
emotion [2]. But I shall argue that this is a mistake, not least
because it is based on a falsely polarised model of the two
faculties. Such a polarisation should be abandoned for an interactive model in which neither partner dominates. Despite this,
however, in the course of discussing emotion and reason and their
interrelation, we can reassess what there is to be gained from an
initial privileging of emotion as regards instigating changes of
consciousness for both men and women, and thereby political

relation than others which appear to be more internally generated.

It would appear therefore that emotions are variously placed on a
continuum between these two extremes of external and internal.

Consider the difference between receiving a piece of bad news
and feeling the shadowy onslaught of depression, for instance.

This idea of a continuum, however, has not been the mainstream
philosophical perspective on emotions, and instead the tendency
has been to create a second dichotomy within the initial reasonemotion opposition between internal sensation and external
‘aboutness’; that is, between the sheer phenomenology of emotion and its intentional properties. Hence we are faced with either
the positivist ‘Dumb View’ [3, pp. 132-34] or the cognitivist
view, both of which effectively dichotomise our faculties of
reason and (physiological) sensation.

The positivist view [4] makes an analytical distinction between
emotion and rational processes, and so it tends to construe
emotions as mere sensations’ such as pangs or qualms, flushes or
tremors’ [5, p. 132] leaving any intentionality to quite separate
rational processes. But here positivism encounters four major
stumbling blocks. Firstly, this view cannot account fordispositional
emotions. For example, an ongoing fear of nuclear war is obviously not constantly manifested by a cold sweat or by any
sensation of fear per se, yet it is nonetheless an emotion. Secondly,
it cannot explain how we can ever fail to be aware that we are in
a given emotional state. One could invoke the unconscious to
justify placing this exigency on the theory of emotion, but there
are also more commonly accepted forms of our failure to ac-

A dichotomy within a dichotomy?

There are many different types of emotion ranging from dispositions such as having an optimistic outlook, through emotions
about particular events such as feeling pleased about something,
and finally to ‘knee-jerk’ responses such as fright or shock. These
examples suggest that some emotions are more directly related to
the external world through their intentional content and/or causal


Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991

knowledge our own emotional states readily available. Stress, for
example, is one such emotional condition which can often remain
unacknowledged by the sufferer until stomach ulcers and the like
make it painfully and belatedly evident. Thirdly, having postulated emotion as raw physiological sensation, the positivist view
cannot explain why sheer sensation should require interpretation
before it can be registered as a particular emotion. A rush of
adrenolin may register either as fright or excitement, for example.

Finally, ‘The Dumb View’ of emotion fails to acknowledge that
sensations themselves, not just thoughts, are not merely caused by
the external world but they are also about that external world. If
one feels outrage at an unjust act, then the feeling of outrage
cannot be analytically separated from the act in the way positivism
requires, because the feeling of outrage itself actually expresses
something about that act. Even where emotions are understood as
mere sensations, therefore, they are nonetheless both causally and
intentionally linked to the external world; they depend upon that
world both for their existence and for their definition. It is this
notion of definition which is prioritised in the cognitivist approach.

Without actually denying the physiology of emotion, the
cognitivist view [6] defines emotions according to their intentional content, as expressed in the associated judgement about the
external world [3, pp. 265-66; 5, pp. 133-34]. On this view, two
rushes of adrenolin can be differentiated as distinct emotions
according to whether the subject interprets them as excitement or
fear. This presents a problem, since it entails that every individual
is an infallible interpreter of her own emotional states. In everyday life, however, it is commonplace that one blames a bad mood
on, say, not getting enough sleep, when the real reason might be
quite different – that one is miserable at work, for example.

Despite this drawback, the cognitivist view is nonetheless a clear
improvement on positivism, firstly because it affirms the essential
intentional content of emotion, and secondly because, with the
exception of the final one, it overcomes the above problems with
the positivist account. If our emotions are accompanied by correlative judgements, then the cognitivist theory can explain
dispositional emotions as simply lacking their physiological
accompaniment. Thus, living with a general fear of nuclear war
(where that fear is accompanied by no physiological sensation)
can be theorised simply as the belief that nuclear war is a real
possibility and that this is a hypothetically terrifying prospect, or
some belief to that effect. A similar explanation can be given for
a person’s failure to be aware that she is in a given emotional state
(as in the example’ of stress) and for why sensations require
judgemental interpretation since, without a correlative judgement,
a sensation remains undefined and perhaps barely recognised at

Despite these virtues, however, the cognitivist view has the
serious drawback that it further emphasizes a division between
physiological sensation and reasonable judgement, and thereby
between the body and the mind. In fact this separation of sensation
from judgement as two distinct components within emotion is the
very reason it manages to overcome the above difficulties. As a
result, the cognitivist view cannot overcome the fourth objection
to the positivist account, which was that one cannot use intentionality to make a sharp distinction between’ internal’ sensations and
judgements about externals, since not only judgements but also
sensations have a degree of intentional content. This is not to say
that all emotions have the same level of expressive power, but it
is to reassert that feelings are causally and intentionally connected
to the external world. If! am made angry by something, then I feel
angry about it. Once this is acknowledged, then it becomes
virtually impossible to maintain a reason-emotion dichotomy,
since the key distinction in terms of intentional content is undermined. We have beliefs about the world; but we also have

Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991

emotions or even sensations about the world, depending on one’s
analysis. We must therefore resist the temptation to reduce
emotion to a meaningless, physicalist brand of sensation, especially since this would be to participate in a certain tradition of
contempt for the body which has contributed to women’s subordination [7]. Instead we may affirm the expressive power of
emotions themselves, since they do indeed express responses to
the external world. Furthermore, the language of emotion is not
reducible to the language of words, since I have argued that
emotions do not express things solely in virtue of ‘associated’

beliefs or interpretations. Such rational, linguistic processes no
doubt perform an important task in their articulation of those
nebulous or ‘subterranean’ meanings which emotions already
possess, but this should not be used to deny that it means
something in itself to feel angry, hurt or frightened. One expresses
a very different response to the world if a judgement is declared
with anger, than if one speaks without apparent emotion. The

change is not just cosmetic or a mere matter of nuance, since what
one actually communicates is now seen to depend on the emotions
that are conveyed. Furthermore, I would like to broaden this claim
by arguing that this is because judgement in general presupposes
emotion, since even our very perceptions depend in part upon our
emotions: ‘Observation is not simply a passive process of absorbing
impressions or recording stimuli; instead, it is an activity of
selection and interpretation’ [5, p. 138]. With the realisation that
one of more must trusted methods of acquiring ‘facts’ about the
world – perception – depends partly upon value [8, pp. 363-65]
comes the corollary that perception must also presuppose emotions, since feelings of approval and disapproval and so on form
the building blocks of value. In this way, the judgement-emotion
distinction breaks down as a special case of the disintegrating
fact-value distinction. We may reaffirm, then, that even reasoning
from observation presupposes emotions to some extent. Conversely, emotions also presuppose judgements, such as my pride
about my friend’s winning a prize depending on my belief that si
he has indeed won it and my judgement that it is a worthy prize.

Emotion ,and reason, then, are interdependent and mutually
constitutive. This argument grows out of the first, which was that,
even where emotions are seen as sensations, they are still expressive
in themselves and not solely in virtue of some ‘associated’

judgement. The result of this is that it is no longer tenable to
dissect emotion into sensation and judgement on the grounds that
one is merely a bunch of raw internal psychological phenomena,
while the other is a rational judgement about the external world.

Having witnessed the initial positivist dichotomy between reason


see those responses as intentional, since they are understood as
part of a social communication system of emotions. Furthermore,
the associated belief emerges not so much as ‘accompanying’ the
sensation but partially forming it, or combining irreversibly with
it as they pass together through the cultural filter. This is how
reason unites with emotion, thereby articulating the original
emotional expression. They are interdependent in that they are
formed and acquired simultaneously through a social system,
each presupposing the other:

The process of coming to have human feelings comes
about as a result of the interactions of those not yet quite
human feelings inherent in human babies with the knowledge, understanding, perceptions and beliefs that people
develop as a result of growing up and living in the world.

[9, pp. 143–44]

and emotion be displaced to a new cognitivist dichotomy within
emotion itself, between sensation and judgement, we have now
been able to kill two birds with one stone by arguing firstly that
emotion or’ sensation’ has some intentional content; and secondly
that reason and emotion, or judgement and sensation, are mutually constitutive, since each presupposes the other. If these
arguments are right, then both dichotomies tumble in parallel.

In order to avoid further dichotomy, we need a view of
emotions which does not dissect them, but which leaves them
whole, thus giving due credit to their expressive capacity as
emotions. One way of doing this is to prioritise the context in
which we learn to recognise and interpret our emotions. It is a
mistake to take even physiological phenomena as entirely asocial
or natural:

Although it is probably true that the physiological disturbances characterizing emotions … are continuous with the
instinctive responses of ourprehuman ancestors, ‘” mature
human emotions are neither instinctive nor biologically
determined. Instead, they are socially constructed on several
levels. [5, p. 134]
Emotions are socially conditioned not only to influence which
responses are deemed appropriate for a given situation, but also
with reference to how those different responses are to be expressed.

Grief is a salient example, especially where it concerns mourning,
since different cultures vary so visibly. But even relatively nonritualised emotions such as anger can vary enormously from place
to place. In effect, all emotions are ritualised to some extent.

Society, as the learning place of the when and how of emotions,
reminds us that both sensation and judgement acquire their form
from the same mould. If physiological phenomena are partly
trained responses to external conditions, then once again we can


Given this, it would now appear impossible to make a sharp
distinction between emotion and reason, sensation and judgement, since in each case the partners are mutually constitutive and
interdependent to the extent that it is not possible to analyse one
without the other.

The socialisation of our emotional faculty therefore produces
an interdependence between what the cognitivist views as the
separate components of sensation and judgement comprising an
emotion, and this interdependence allows us, indeed obliges us,
to theorise emotions not dissected but whole. But by the same
token it also opens up difficult questions about the ‘freedom’ of
our emotions. How far have feminists been right to lay their trust
in emotions – reason being suspect as a possible tool of oppression
– if like reason, those very emotions are produced and interpreted
in the terms of the patriarchy? This question becomes all the more
vexed if we consider that emotions are inextricably linked to
beliefs, beliefs which presuppose linguistic concepts and rational
structures. This being so, perhaps emotions are as deeply entrenched in patriarchal conceptual organisation as are the reasoning processes which structure belief. I will return to this question
after a discussion of reason and its closer relation to the dubiously
conditioned concepts organising language and reason itself.

Reason and Interests
The standard, supposedly all-embracing criticism made against
anyone, especially women, who upholds an emotional conviction
against some apparently reasoned argument is that she is being
‘illogical’. This is a misuse of the word. Logic demands relatively
little of us; only that we do not contradict ourselves. The bounds
of logical possibility are a far cry from actual possibility. Hence
it is logically possible that this article will vaporise in thirty
seconds, even though it would be irrational to believe this would
happen, since the empirical evidence is overwhelmingly to the
contrary. Logic pays no heed to evidence, only to consistency.

Given this, women have no reason to distrust logic itself, since it
bears no relation to the facts of patriarchy. (Many people may be
justifiably wary of logocentrism, but that is a different matter.)
Nor does it deny the validity of any means of understanding,
provided those means do not result in contradiction:

Being illogical is not having strong feelings or mixed
feelings, or changing your mind, or being unable to express
things and prove things, or anything of the sort. It is
maintaining nothing, since to make an illogical statement
is to make no statement at all. [10, p. 37]
(Of course, this is only true where language is being used literally.

In metaphorical use, contradiction can take on great expressive
power, and many feminists have used it in this way.) Reason or

Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991

rationality, on the other hand – I take these to mean the same thing
– are a cause for conc~rn, since they suppose much more than the
strictures of 10gic. What is perceived as rational depends not only
on consistency, but on what is perceived as evidence, and what is
seen as a ‘good’ reason for doing or believing something. While
consistency may sometimes be difficult to prove, what counts as
adequate evidence for a belief is inevitably more contentious and
culture bound. What counts as a good reason for something is
clearly not only a matter of practicality but also ideology. For
example, while it may appear to be relatively simple to decide
upon good and bad (practical) reasons to build a bridge in a certain
place, the waters become instantly muddied with ideology and
with the politics of vested interest when we consider that the
bridge in question would probably bring an intense traffic of
lorries through the little town onthe other side. It is therefore in the
realm of rationality that women and other subordinated groups
must be on guard against the partisan use ofthe term and the selfrighteous claim to reasonableness. What it is rational to want or
think or do depends on one’s priorities, aims, interests, values and,
of course, emotions. What may count as rational, therefore, even
within one culture, is fairly flexible. Unlike logic, then, rationality
is the kind of thing which can be moulded to serve interests and
(as in the case of language [11]) it will inevitably serve the
interests of the dominant class.

Despite the fact that logic is quite a different thing from
rationality, the two are often confused. For example, a woman
may be told she is illogical for getting angry with a man who takes
over when she is busy mending her car. She may be called illogical
on the grounds (which mayor may not be true) that he will be able
to mend it more quickly. It does not take much to prove that there
is no logical contradiction involved here, since she can simply
assert that she did not want him to butt in, and thus there is no
contradiction in her getting annoyed. But more awkwardly she
may be accused of irrationality, and the question of whether it is
rational for her not to want him to take over depends on the
specifics of their relationship, gender relations in general, what
mending cars signifies socially and so on. It is easy to see, then,
how claims about rationality can readily, often unintentionally, be
used to deny the validity of women’s emotions. But how does this
happen? If emotions are culturally learned, then how is it possible
to have emotions which are not recognised and codified by the
rational model, the interpretive codes of that culture? We must
now return to the question raised at the end of the last section. Just
how far are emotions conditioned by cultural ‘rationality’ and
how far do they preserve an autonomy of their own?

Emotions are not just functions of any old concepts, but rather
they are likely to be functions of those concepts which help the
dominant class maintain its power. This is how what is accepted
as rationality can serve the interests of the dominant group in its
preservation of the status quo. Humour provides a classic example,
since what people find funny and/or what is presented as funny so
often presupposes oppressive social attitudes towards the group
which is supposedly represented by the mother-in-law, the old
biddy, the black momma, the fat woman, the ‘busty’ woman, the
Irishman, the ugly woman, the old nag… These stereotypes
become the institutions of a culture’s humour but, unlike the
banana skin, they are politically relevant institutions. Bananas do
not stand to lose much in the maintenance of the status quo, but
people who are discriminated against for their race, sex, and a
multitude of other labels, most certainly do.

Lorraine Code makes the important distinction between an
inevitable level of conditioned generalisations and unnecessary
stereotyping in her concept of ‘epistemological responsibility’.

She concludes that: ‘Experience is always mediated by the
location of experiencing subjects within a certain time, place,
culture and environment, and it is always shaped as much by
unconscious considerations and motivations’ [12, p. 160]. But
this does not mean we have to resort to stereotype, since we also
have access to diverse personal stories. It is these we must listen
to if we are to be epistemically responsible, since a reliance upon
stereotype amounts to an idee fixe, the wilful guarding of some
precious set of beliefs and their protection from possible refutation. In a word, prejudice.

In as far as it is possible to think responsibly in this way within
the bounds of our dubious conditioning, I suggest this is the result
of close listening to our ‘subterranean’, not yet reasoned or
articulated emotions, so that we may then go on to interpret and
reason them out sensitively and accurately. Furthermore, if they
are expressed and acted upon, then they may be able to effect a
change in what is accepted as rationality and in the conventional
modes of interpretation culturally on offer. This is the extent to
which our emotions in general- and particularl y anger, as perhaps
the most politically powerful emotion [3] – do enjoy some
independence from conditioning. In Code’s terms, it is the result
of listening to the first person narratives about the feelings and
experiences of individual people instead of relying on generalisations which too easily become accepted as granted truths,
thereby turning from valid generalisations into brutalising stereotypes. Given this possibility for the nurturance of new emotions
which are not yet sanctioned and codified by accepted rationality,
and given that the status quo relies on our emotional as well as

Challenging Domination
Our emotional faculty, as I have said, is highly conditioned by
cultural norms. If emotional responses are going to have meaning,
if they are going to express anything about the external world,
then they must be communally codified to some extent. In this
sense, the fact that emotions presuppose common concepts for
their meaning can only enrich our communal and individual
emotional lives. But what does this imply about the possibilities
for political change? It now seems that the status quo shapes even
the most nebulous and autonomous recess of our consciousness:

‘Race, class and gender shape every aspect of our lives and our
emotional constitution is not excluded’ [5, p. 141] and
Within a capitalist, white-supremacist, and male-dominant society, the predominant values will tend to be those
that serve the interests of rich white men. Consequently,
we are all likely to develop an emotional constitution that
is quite inappropriate for feminism. [5, p. 143]

Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991


rational acquiescence, then emotions can emerge as a potentially
subversive force. No wonder that it is this process of drawing
subterranean emotions to the surface, sharing them, articulating
them and politicising them that structures the progressive energy
of feminist consciousness raising.

Elizabeth Spelman [3] explores the potentially subversive
nature of anger and notices that, while many oppressed groups are
associated with emotion as opposed to reason, they tend not to be
associated with anger. She explains this by saying that it is in the
interests of the dominant group not to make anger’ available’ to
the subdominant group, since the very feeling of anger is a kind
of political achievement in itself. Anger signifies refusal and
therefore presupposes a more fundamental kind of human equality
between master and slave. Stronger still, the expression of anger
actively asserts that equality, that right to pass judgement: ‘Hence
there is a politics of emotion: the systematic denial of anger can
be seen as a mechanism of subordination, and the existence and
expression of anger as an act of insubordination’ [3, p. 270]. Susan
Griffin echoes this idea when she distinguishes between the kind
of anger which is politically contextualised and anger whose
political significance is not understood. She describes the first as
‘placed’ and ‘known’, the second as ‘displaced’ and therefore
‘unknown’: ‘ … this question of two types of anger is essential. For
me, it is the missing link between political and psychological
understanding’ [13, p. 283]. The first kind of anger has the power
to threaten the status quo in the way Elizabeth Spelman describes,
while the second lacks any subversive power since its expressiveness is not fully realised and its significance is therefore consigned to the purely psychological. This is where we see the
importance of recognising those half-formed feelings which are
not yet sanctioned by the accepted form of rationality. Emotions
and their interpretations certainly are conditioned to some extent,
but they are not wholly determined as long as we do not fail to
listen to each other’s stories and question the suitability of the
publicly available modes of interpretation. Only then may emotion become a political force for changing how we interpret the
world. If we achieve this, then we can assert that our emotions if we listen to them – are not only an expression of the world, but
also active participants in how the world is shaped. Emotions can
function as a partially separate language which both presupposes
and is presupposed by actual linguistic concepts, but which
nonetheless remain irreducible to verbal language. When gradually brought into focus by reason and words, our emotions acquire
the linguistic articulation to transcend old interpretations and to
form new ones. Anger, in particular, provides a classic example
of this dynamism in emotion, and thus: ‘ … anger is the ‘essential
political emotion’ , and to silence anger may be to repress political
speech’ [3, p. 269].

I believe this point about emotion and language is closely
related to Susan Griffin’s criticism of the way of all ideology. She
speaks of the inevitably restrictive power of any ideology, since
in its very advocacy of one mode of interpretation it effectively
censors any other: ‘ … by its own denial and blindnesses, each new
ideology creates its own forbidden subterranean world of reality’

[13, p. 282]. The emancipatory drive away from such censorship
is to be found once again in listening to our half-formed not yet
spoken, not yet wholly understood emotions, in order that they
grow to be fully formed and defended by a (modified) rational

Because I was ashamed of this feeling in myself, because
of the ideologist in me who censored my ownfeeling and
did not let it live long enough to be explored and understood, I was in danger from the most dangerous brand of
ignorance, ignorance of myself. [13, p. 281, my emphasis]
It is important to note the emboldened words, since they clarify

what is NOT being advocated here. Griffin is not claiming that
one cannot or ought not be selective about one’s emotions, beliefs
and interpretations. She is not saying that after thorough consideration, selection is destructive or censorious. This would
indeed by anti-logic since contradiction would be deemed tolerable and even desirable in the name of anti-censorship. But this is
not what is being said here, since the important difference between
selection and censorship is that the first happens after thorough
consideration while the other outlaws it from the start. That is
what can be restrictive about ideology, and linguistic concepts:

their power to stop us listening to half-formed emotions and
beliefs without a fair trial. The obligation to give every emotion
a fair trial recalls Lorraine Code’s notion of epistemic responsibility, and we should remember that such trials are the stuff of
logic. Without any selection we would have an ever-expanding
mass of contradictory emotions and beliefs which, if left unresolved, would neutralise itself to express nothing, change nothing. When we listen to what Alison Jaggar calls our ‘outlaw
emotions’ , therefore, it is ultimately with a view to incorporating
them into our conditioned modes of response and interpretation.

This is a political aim, since it is about changing consciousness.

While we listen, we simultaneously revise our notion of what is
rational and we make sense of those emotions with the help of
newly reasoned explanations. We explain a woman’s barely
expressed discontent by appeal to reason when we say that she is
unhappy and confused because her boss is sexually harrassing
her, and thus we select against the old interpretation that she is
irritable at work because she is ‘prudish’ and has no sense of fun.

In sum, our emotions bear a looser and more flexible relation
to the dominant ideology than does our reason since, while
rationality can be moulded to serve the interests of a certain group,
emotions cannot be wholly determined by those interests. To
refute this would be to fly in the face of evidence, since CR groups
and other ways oflistening to personal stories have brought about
many changes of consciousness. One such change is the creation
of the new concept and new name for what would formerly have
been misconstrued as prudishness, irritability, or some such thing,
and that name is ‘sexual harrassment’. In addition, if emotion
owes its partial autonomy to the fact that it has a period of
gestation before the dominant model for rationality can take a
hold, then this reasserts our inability to explain how these kinds
of emotions can bear their own meanings if we are working with
a model for emotion which dissects it in two. Therefore, the
cognitivist view that the expressive power of emotions is exclusively located in one sector of emotion – judgement – is wholly

The Relation Between Emotion and Reason
In the light of this acknowledgement of the partial autonomy of
emotions and their political import, the traditional idea of emotion
needing to be dominated by reason is also exposed as hopelessly
biased. Of course reason must regulate wayward emotions and
-prejudicial feelings, but equally emotion must regulate reason in
order that accepted forms of interpretation and rationality do not
brutalise and deny people’s emotions, forbidding them their due
interpretation, their meaning, and their political significance. The
relation between reason and emotion, as I have said, is one of
interaction and interdependence. It is crass to mistake this for
domination and submission:

‘Control’ does not necessarily mean ‘subdue’ or ‘diminish’ … Reasoning about a situation may result in one’s
ceasing to be angry; but it may just as easily result in one’s
becoming angry. [3, p. 268]

Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991

Neither reason nor emotion is independent from the other, but nor
is either reducible to the other. Reason presupposes emotion,
since what is rational depends on emotional preferences about
different possible conclusions or outcomes; and emotion presupposes reason since our emotions require rational interpretation if
they are to come above ground. The relation is a partnership in

… rather than repressing emotion in epistemology it is
necessary to rethink the relation between knowledge and
emotion and construct a conceptual model that demonstrates
the mutually constitutive rather than oppositional relation
between reason and emotion. [5, p. 141]
I hope that the recognition of how each presupposes the other, and
an emphasis on how both are simultaneously learned through
culture, provides such a model. In particular, the inter-relation
between emotion and reason remains dynamic because the expressive power of emotion is not reducible to that of rational
judgement as expressed in language. In this way, a degree of
autonomy in emotion is preserved despite the cultural conditionings
which mould rationality. This reminds us anew just what can be
politically subversive in our half-formed emotions as yet
unsanctioned by the dominant model for reason. If we give
enough space to these emotions, then we can let them reform the
character of rationality. The assertion that this is possible facilitates the practice of feminist philosophy, since it makes way for
the conversion of reason from a political enemy into a political
ally. Only then may our epistemology align itself freely with our



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William James, The Principles ofPsychology, New York, 1890.


Alison Jagger, ‘Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist
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Stanley Schachter, Emotion, Obesity and Crime, New York, 1971.


Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience
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Modernism, Abstraction and the Return to Painting

Marnaret Iversen

The Deflationary Impulse; Postmodernism, Feminism & the Anti-Aesthetic

Andrew Benjamin

Kiefer’s Approaches

Michael Newman
Christa Burner
Alastair Williams
Geornina Born
Sandra Kemp
Jean-Jacques Lecercle
Sylvia A8acinski

Edited by

Mimesis and Abjection in Recent Photowork
Expression and Construction; Adorno and Thomas Mann
Mimesis and Construction in the Work of Boulez and Cage
MUSic, Modernism and Signification
But What if the Object Began to Speak? The Aesthetics of Dance
Berkeley: Bishop or Buzby? Deleuze on Cinema
Sewing Machine; Building Monumentally

Andrew Benjamin and Peter Osborne

lCA Documents January 1991 ISBN 0905263189

Radical Philosophy 57, Spring 1991

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