18 Pages

Editors’ introduction

Martha Nussbaum set herself a monumental task recently when she wrote Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. Her 700-plus page opus adopts the possibility of emotions serving as an intelligent response to value posed by Proust, a view that regards emotions as part of ethical reasoning rather than the tendency in Western philosophy to regard them as either ‘support[ing] or subvert[ing] our choice to act according to principle’ (2001: 1) (not to be confused with Gardner’s comparatively simplistic and narrower Emotional Intelligence theory), particularly according to moral values. Her exploration takes her through a revisiting of philosophical, literary, and social thought, an intellectual voyage, from the Greek Stoics to the most recent economic and political theories grounded in compassion. Her criticism extends into two areas of current educational critique: first, the harnessing of emotion by a market-place imperative to which educational organisations are ‘relatively vulnerable’; and a mass media ‘held hostage to market standards’ thereby diminishing the potential they have to serve the public good (see 2001: 433-5). What is also apparent from her comprehensive survey is that the study of emotion has an ancient and relatively continuous history, carried up through intellectual traditions that include political and other social institutional considerations. A consideration of emotions is central to influential texts on the state and its agencies, notably in Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics, Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Rousseau’s Discourses, Kant’s political writings, Hegel’s political writings, and Mill’s writings on liberty and government, all of which shaped Western notions of the state and its administration, that is, the public sphere in which most of education is located or regulated.