New Philosophy Compass Issue, Sept 2011


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The latest issue of Philosophy Compass is available on Wiley Online Library

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Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art

Aesthetics of Opera (pages 575–584)
Paul Thom

Continental

Schelling’s Contemporary Resurgence: The Dawn after the Night When All Cows Were Black (pages 585–598)
Jason Wirth

Legal & Political

Emotions and the Criminal Law (pages 599–610)
Mihaela Mihai

Logic & Language

Generalized Quantifiers and Number Sense (pages 611–621)
Robin Clark

Negation, Denial, and Rejection (pages 622–629)
David Ripley

Naturalistic Philosophy

Empirical Arguments for Group Minds: A Critical Appraisal (pages 630–639)
Robert D. Rupert

Philosophy of Science

Introduction to the Philosophy of Statistical Mechanics: Can Probability Explain the Arrow of Time in the Second Law of Thermodynamics? (pages 640–651)
Orly Shenker and Meir Hemmo

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Sexual Jealousy

Angelo Bronzino

A Portuguese celebrity, Carlos Castro was recently found dead in a New York hotel room. He had also been castrated. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/10/portuguese-model-killing-carlos-castro?INTCMP=SRCH. Though who killed Castro, and what their motive was, is yet to be proven, it is thought that Castro may have been murdered by his lover, and that the motive may have been sexual jealousy. If this is true, Castro is not the first victim of jealousy. As Wilhelm Stekel remarked in 1921: ‘Has anyone counted the victims of jealousy? Daily a revolver cracks somewhere or other because of jealousy; daily a knife finds entrance into a warm body; daily some unhappy ones, racked by jealousy and life weary, sink into fathomless depths. What are all the hideous battles, narrated by history, when compared to this frightful passion jealousy?’

To give one more example of the victims of jealousy, on June 28th 2008 a 17 year old boy called Simon Everitt was tied to a tree, made to drink petrol and was then doused in it and set alight. He was so badly burned that it took a week to identify his remains. The motive for the murder was said to be sexual jealousy – two of the three murderers had previously been in a relationship with Simon’s girlfriend, Fiona Statham http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8048281.stm A few months after these killers were convicted, peers in the House of Lords voted 99 – 84 against a bill which would have stopped people from being able to use sexual infidelity as a partial defence for murder. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8329444.stm.

Sexual jealousy deserves consideration. Though the murders mentioned above are clearly extreme cases, few people are lucky enough not to have suffered the torments of sexual jealousy at some point in their lives. It is the ‘green ey’d monster’ (Othello, Act 3, Scene 3) that can destroy relationships and take over lives. Jealousy seems to be an inevitable part of life, tied to our need to be loved and to the fear of losing love. Indeed, jealousy is often seen as a sign of caring, hence the practice of ‘making someone jealous’ in order to induce loving and protective feelings in them. However, whether jealousy is natural and inevitable or otherwise, allowing sexual infidelity to be used a partial defence of murder seems to be based on out-dated assumptions about marriage partners being each other’s property. If not, then why shouldn’t other anger-inducing behaviours (leaving your clothes all over the floor, spending all of your joint money in the pub etc.) also count as partial defences for murder? Allowing jealousy to occupy such a privileged position in society serves only to make us less likely to try and control our jealous urges and the subsequent destructive behaviour they may cause.

Related Articles

Tyler Doggatt: Recent Work on the Ethics of Self-Defence

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1747-9991.2010.00382.x/abstract

Happiness: If You’re Not Feeling it You’re Committing a Crime Against Yourself

In these secular days most of us accept we haven’t got an afterlife to look forward too, and most of us don’t hold the belief that we are going to come back in another form. In short this is the only chance we have to be happy, and since this is the only shot we’ve got we owe it to ourselves to make sure we are happy, and so we feel that any time spent suffering is time we have failed to utilise. This is the conclusion the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner came to in his book Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to be Happy in 2001 (although it has been in the news recently as it has just been made accessible to the English speaking world thanks to a new translation of the work by Steven Rendall).

Continue reading “Happiness: If You’re Not Feeling it You’re Committing a Crime Against Yourself”

Remembering the good, forgetting the bad

800px-EdisonDelights1905The relation between memory and personal identity is a well trodden track in the metaphysics of mind and self. But an article on the BBC News website suggests a connection not standardly considered.

A standard proposal of their relation, for instance, is that A is the same person as B only if A can remember experiences had by B. A consequence of such a view is that a person who is sufficiently old and incapable of remembering experiences had by her younger self is not the same person as that ‘younger self.’ There are variants on this approach which rule out that consequence. But all variants share the following feature: the link between memory and personal identity is in what is remembered.

But recent psychological research gives reason to consider a different kind of relation. Psychologists have found that as we get older, we tend to remember positive things better than we do negative things, with a corresponding change in how we behave (we’re happier) and in how we exercise our mental capacities. If this is true, then perhaps, in addition to changes to what one remembers, there are also changes in how one remembers that could constitute changes to who one is.

For the BBC article go here. For a more elaborate description of the research go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small Anthony Collins on the Emergence of Consciousness and Personal Identity
By William Uzgalis , Oregon State University
(Vol. 4, March 2009)
Philosophy Compass

FREE Syllabus: Emotion

FREE PDFTeaching & Learning Guide for: Emotion
By Peter Goldie, The University of Manchester (July 2008)


Keywords:

Section: Mind & Cognitive Science
Subjects:
Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Mind and Cognitive Science
Key Topic: emotion

(See all Philosophy Compass Teaching & Learning Guides‘)