Review: Gross, The Secret History of Emotion

May 30, 2007
By

jacket imageIn his new book, The Secret History of Emotion: From Aristotle’s Rhetoric to Modern Brain Science author Daniel Gross embarks on an intellectual voyage to examine the history of emotions in western culture. Writing for the Times Literary Supplement reviewer Stephen Pender praises Gross’s newest work for delivering a fascinating counterpoint to the way we generally understand emotions today. Pender writes:

One way to prise open the emotional sphere is to situate the passions socially, to investigate their exigencies with an eye on the polis. And we have a fine guide in Daniel Gross, the author of The Secret History of Emotion. To recognize the social in the passionate, Gross urges a turn to Aristotelian traditions, and in particular to the Rhetoric, which offers “a pragmatic phenomenology of the passions.” In opposition to “current platitudes of emotion,” Gross offers a bold, compelling and occasionally rebarbative argument about the turn from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century political rhetoric, which articulated the social and the particular in the passionate, to a hopelessly insular psychology, marked by disingenuous universalizing and specious materialism.… Gross’s deft and remarkable book should be required reading for neurobiologists and, of course, for humanists of every school.

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