Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 1999

Kristján Kristjánsson
Pages 49-54

A Prolegomena to "Emotional Intelligence"

Although emotional intelligence (EQ) training seems to fall right into line with virtue ethics and the reigning cognitive theories of emotion, there is a reason many philosophers are skeptical of such training. Emotional intelligence manuals tend to underplay considerations which philosophers see as essential preludes to theories of emotional cultivation: considering our responsibility for emotions, connecting this responsibility with moral evaluation, and explaining moral-justification of particular emotions in particular contexts. This essay fills in the gap between EQ-theorists and philosophers by outlining the conditions which must be satisfied for an emotion to be morally justified, and hence a proper object of EQ-training. A necessary step in filling in this gap is to show how moral evaluation of the emotions indeed requires responsibility, in spite of recent attacks on this assumption. If successful, this defended position provides a prolegomena to the ideal of emotional intelligence.