Sodano, JP (2018) Uneasy Passions: The Spectator’s Divergent Interpretations of Locke’s Theory of Emotion. Eighteenth Century, 58 (4). 449 -467. ISSN 0193-5380

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Abstract

In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke is of two minds when it comes to human emotion. On the one hand, our passions represent an innate sensing faculty, given to us by "the infinite Wise Author of our being," for interpreting the intrinsic good and evil in things. On the other hand, feelings like love and hate, joy and sorrow are the end product of rational cognition, whereby we determine the meaning of an initial, provoking "uneasiness." This article argues that Locke's paradox provides important insight for reading the passions in eighteenth-century discourse. It presents close readings of essays on the passions from The Spectator to demonstrate a fundamental difference between Addison and Steele that can be traced to An Essay's self-contradiction. Close attention to Steele's essays on grief reveal a significant move away from The Spectator's dominant role of training readers to rectify their passions, encouraging them, instead, to bear witness to the "pleasing Perplexities" of affective intensity. Addison and Steele's divergent positions, via Locke, reflect a cautiously negotiated, and conflicted, conversation taking place in the eighteenth century regarding the nature, function, and value of the passions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2018 07:51
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2018 08:40
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/4776

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