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Dancing with the Devil

Nonfiction: Self-Help
Unabridged   7.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 10/31/2023

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Dancing with the Devil

Why Bad Feelings Make Life Good

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Digital Download ISBN:9781696612920


Krista K. Thomason draws on insights from the history of philosophy to show why bad feelings—feelings like anger, envy, spite, and contempt—are part of what makes life meaningful.

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Product Description

We tend to think about bad feelings—feelings like anger, envy, spite, and contempt—as the weeds in life's garden. You may not be able to get rid of them completely, but you're supposed to battle them as best you can. The best garden is one with no weeds. The best life is one with no bad feelings. But this isn't quite right, according to philosopher Krista K. Thomason. Bad feelings are the worms, not the weeds. They're just below the surface, and we like to pretend they aren't there, but they serve an important purpose.

Thomason draws on insights from the history of philosophy to show what we've gotten wrong about bad feelings and to show listeners how we can live better with them. There is nothing wrong with negative emotions per se. Negative emotions are expressions of self-love—not egoism or selfishness, but the felt attachment to ourselves and to our lives. We feel negative emotions because our lives matter to us. After explaining this, Thomason helps us look at individual bad feelings: anger, envy and jealousy, spite and Schadenfreude, and contempt. As she demonstrates in this tour of negative emotions, these feelings are valuable parts of our attachment to our lives. We don't have to battle negative emotions or "channel" them into something productive. Bad feelings aren't obstacles to a good life; they are part of what makes life meaningful.

Author Bio

Krista K. Thomason is an associate professor of philosophy at Swarthmore College. Her areas of expertise include philosophy of emotion, moral philosophy, history of philosophy, and political philosophy. She is also the author of Naked: The Dark Side of Shame and Moral Life.