Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Enjoying negative emotions

Abkhazia. Picture by Sergei Loiko
Georgian refuges in Abkhazia. Picture by Sergei Loiko.
When I posted the abandoned houses´ pictures, I commented I felt a kind of attraction for them. The same happens to me when I see some pictures of ruins, and this is not that I am not sorry about the situation that caused the ruin. For whoever shares my feelings, here I have some excerpts from the article ¨The paradox of horror¨, by Berys Gaut, published in the book Arguing About Art, edited by Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley.
Ruins of a house. Picture from
¨One can also enjoy other ¨negative¨ emotions. One can enjoy disgusting stories, and there is a minor genre, poular on college campuses, of ¨disgust¨movies (...)The negative emotion of anger can also be enjoyed: irascible inidivduals sometimes seek out situations in which they will have an opportunity to get angry. Likewise, it is possible to relish a feeling of quite melancholy, dwelling on the sorrows and disappointments of life, and weeping for the sadness of the world.
Phenomena of this sort have been noted by several philosophers in the last decade, and have been seen as key ingredients in the solution of the paradoxes. (....) Two kinds of theories have been advanced to explain how the enjoyment of negative emotions is possible, but neither is entirely satisfactory as it stands. The first is the ¨control thesis¨, develpoed by Marcia Eaton, and refined by John Morreall (...) Morreall holds that one can enjoy negative emotions when one is ¨in control¨ of the situation which produces the emotions, where control is understood in terms of an ability to direct one´s thoughts and actions. (...)
The second, more promising view of how it is possible to enjoy negative emotions has been developed by both Kendall Walton and Alex Neill. They deny that these emotional responses are intrinsically unpleasant. They both speak as if it is a purely contingent matter whether or not people enjoy the emotions themselves. It is not the emotions themselves that are intrinsically unpleasant, they hold, but , rather, it is the objects of the emotions which are unpleasant or disvaluable.¨

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