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Thinking about the EmotionsA Philosophical History$
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Alix Cohen and Robert Stern

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766858

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198766858.001.0001

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Emotions and Rational Control

Emotions and Rational Control

Two Medieval Perspectives

(p.60) 3 Emotions and Rational Control
Thinking about the Emotions

Dominik Perler

Oxford University Press

All medieval philosophers agreed that emotions ought to be controlled by reason, but they gave different accounts of the control that is possible. Aquinas took emotions to be sensory states that are under immediate rational control because both sensory and rational states are produced by a single soul. By contrast, Ockham distinguished two souls and two types of emotions, namely sensory ones that inevitably arise, and rational ones that can be changed by the will. This chapter examines the mechanisms of control in both cases, paying particular attention to the metaphysical framework the two authors chose. Moreover, it looks at the way they dealt with cases of internal emotional conflict. Whereas Aquinas ruled out permanent conflict in a well-functioning soul, Ockham conceded that some rational emotions could coexist with opposing sensory emotions, thus agreeing that true conflict is possible.

Keywords:   Aquinas, Ockham, emotion, reason, senses, will, imagination, conflict

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