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Deeper than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music, and Art

Jenefer Robinson



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Clarendon Press
19 April 2007
Theory of art; Theory of music & musicology; Literary studies: general; Philosophy; Philosophy: aesthetics; Cultural studies; Physiological & neuro-psychology, biopsychology
Deeper than Reason takes the insights of modern psychological and neuroscientific research on the emotions and brings them to bear on questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Robinson begins by laying out a theory of emotion, one that is supported by the best evidence from current empirical work on emotions, and then in the light of this theory examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, her book will make fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone engaged with the arts and aesthetics, especially with questions about emotional expression in the arts, emotional experience of art forms, and, more generally, artistic interpretation.

Part One develops a theory of emotions as processes, having at their core non-cognitive 'instinctive' appraisals, 'deeper than reason', which automatically induce physiological changes and action tendencies, and which then give way to cognitive monitoring of the situation. Part Two examines the role of the emotions in understanding literature, especially the great realistic novels of the nineteenth century. Robinson argues that such works need to be experienced emotionally if they are to be properly understood. A detailed reading of Edith Wharton's novel The Reef demonstrates how a great novel can educate us emotionally by first evoking instinctive emotional responses and then getting us to cognitively monitor and reflect upon them. Part Three puts forward a new Romantic theory of emotional expression in the arts. Part Four deals with music, both the emotional expression of emotion in music, whether vocal or instrumental, and the arousal of emotion by music. The way music arouses emotion lends indirect support to the theory of emotion outlined in Part One. While grounded in the science of emotion, Deeper than Reason demonstrates the continuing importance of the arts and humanities to our lives.
By:   Jenefer Robinson
Imprint:   Clarendon Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 230mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 29mm
Weight:   737g
ISBN:   9780199204267
ISBN 10:   0199204268
Pages:   518
Publication Date:   19 April 2007
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Deeper than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music, and Art

a highly readable account of current thinking. Julian Johnson, Music and Letters Journal A remarkable book, with a wide scope and a clear, compelling main thesis. In this book, Robinson convincingly shows how the expression and experience of emotion play a central role in the appreciation and creation of artworks... Robinson says in her epilogue that one of her ambitions in the book has been to marry the Two Cultures, the scientific and the humanistic. And indeed her book succeeds marvelously in this respect. Though there has been increasing attention to scientific research by philosophers in recent years, and some classic works of philosophy of art involve careful analyses of particular works of art in some detail, rarely (if ever) have these two approaches to philosophy been combined so carefully and so seamlessly. I hope that Robinson's book will encourage other philosophers to make use of both the humanistic and scientific resources essential to the serious philosophical study of art and emotion. James Harold, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Everything about Jenefer Robinson's long awaited book, Deeper than Reason, is absolutely first rate... This is surely one of the most impressive works in philosophy of art to be produced in recent memory, and will be widely read as well as copiously commented on in the years to come. It was well worth waiting for. Peter Kivy, British Journal of Aesthetics

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