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Emotion and Culture: Arguing with Martha Nussbaum

Wierzbicka, Anna

Description

Martha Nussbaum's account of human emotions, given in her influential 2001 book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions is, in many ways, a balanced and insightful one. Her discussion steers prudently and carefully between, on the one hand, the excesses of cultural relativism and social constructivism, and on the other, the crude universalism of biological and cognitivist accounts of emotion. And yet I do not find Nussbaum's overall account fully adequate, and, in particular, I do...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorWierzbicka, Anna
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-13T22:32:30Z
dc.date.available2015-12-13T22:32:30Z
dc.identifier.issn0091-2131
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/75596
dc.description.abstractMartha Nussbaum's account of human emotions, given in her influential 2001 book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions is, in many ways, a balanced and insightful one. Her discussion steers prudently and carefully between, on the one hand, the excesses of cultural relativism and social constructivism, and on the other, the crude universalism of biological and cognitivist accounts of emotion. And yet I do not find Nussbaum's overall account fully adequate, and, in particular, I do not think she accords sufficient weight to the role of language in emotional experience or its interpretation. She acknowledges that language differences probably* shape emotional life in some ways, but she goes on to say that "the role of language has often been overestimated" (p. 1551)-without noting that it has also often been greatly underestimated. In this article, I argue that despite her desire to strike a balance between extreme positions on emotion and culture, Nussbaum's account of human emotions errs on the side of universalism. I focus on " grief," which is her key example of a universal human emotion, and contrast the Anglo cultural perspective (some aspects of which Nussbaum assumes to be universal) with those reflected in other languages such as Russian, French, Chinese, and the Central Australian language Pintupi.
dc.publisherAmerican Anthropological Association
dc.sourceEthos: The Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology
dc.titleEmotion and Culture: Arguing with Martha Nussbaum
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.description.refereedYes
local.identifier.citationvolume31
dc.date.issued2004
local.identifier.absfor200322 - Comparative Language Studies
local.identifier.absfor200405 - Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
local.identifier.absfor200408 - Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
local.identifier.ariespublicationMigratedxPub4693
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationWierzbicka, Anna, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU
local.bibliographicCitation.issue4
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage577
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage600
dc.date.updated2015-12-11T09:08:08Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-3042797025
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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