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The Southern Journal of Philosophy

Volume 45, Issue 1, Spring 2007

Elisa A. Hurley
Pages 79-104

Working Passions
Emotions and Creative Engagement with Value

It is now a commonplace that emotions are not mere sensations but, rather, conceptually contentful states. In trying to expand on this insight, however, most theoretical approaches to emotions neglect central intuitions about what emotions are like. We therefore need a methodological shift in our thinking about emotions away from the standard accounts’ attempts to reduce them to other mental states and toward an exploration of the distinctive work emotions do. I show that emotions’ distinctive function is to engage us with both objective and personal values. Attention to emotions’ work reveals that it is precisely their “unruliness” that allows them to play meaningful roles in our lives.