Love and Emotional Fit: What Does Christian Theology Tell Us About Unfitting Emotions?1

Heythrop Journal 62 (3):444-453 (2018)
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Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the discovery by Justin D’Arms and Daniel Jacobson of a distinction between the fittingness of an emotion and the propriety of the same. Meanwhile, Christian theology has long been attentive to the relevance of Christian theology to the emotions. Although it seems that never so far have the twain discussions met, they should meet. A fitting emotion accurately construes a situation. Christian theology tells us something about the importance—or the lack thereof—of emotional fit for the emotions involved in love. It is a desideratum for the emotions that they are fitting. But other desiderata for the emotional life sometimes overrule the desideratum of fit. Moreover, emotions sometimes have an effect on their own fittingness. As Kierkegaard shows, love construes its object as better than he presently is, but it also makes the object better. We should cultivate a disposition to loving emotions that are occasionally unfitting yet help to bring about better fit. I explain these things and consider how someone might go about cultivating loving emotions which are sometimes unfitting yet also restorative of fit.

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Mark J. Boone
Hong Kong Baptist University


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