Conceiving Emotions: Martha Nussbaum's "Upheavals of Thought"

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date

Summer 2003

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Religious Ethics

DOI of Published Version


Start Page


End Page



In Upheavals of Thought, Martha Nussbaum offers a theory of the emotions. She argues that emotions are best conceived as thoughts, and she argues that emotion-thoughts can make valuable contributions to the moral life. She develops extensive accounts of compassion and erotic love as thoughts that are of great moral import. This paper seeks to elucidate what it means, for Nussbaum, to say that emotions are forms of thought. It raises critical questions about her conception of the structure of emotion, and about her conception of compassion, in particular. Finally, the paper seeks to show how analyzing the structure, as well as the moral value, of the emotions ultimately requires entering the realm of religious ethics. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Journal of Religious Ethics is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Published Article/Book Citation

Journal of Religious Ethics, 31:2 (2003) pp.325-341.

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