Where and How Do Phronesis and Emotions Connect?

Topoi (Special Issue: Virtues, wisdom a) (2024)
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We aim to map out the points of confluence between phronesis and emotion, as well as the nature of this confluence. We do so based on philosophical and psychological explanations of emotions and phronesis. Making sound decisions, which requires phronesis, is an important matter, but its relationship with emotions has only just begun to be studied. We propose that the interplay between phronesis and emotion is possible (rather than inevitable) because both have a cognitive-behavioural structure and because emotions are hierarchical. In the case of emotion, there are no gaps between the cognitive and behavioural dimensions, while phronetic acts can only manifest if cognitive and behavioural aspects are activated simultaneously. The confluence we identify is bidirectional and involves mutual enrichment in this dual dimension. On the one hand, phronesis enriches emotion because it involves extra subjective knowledge and allows emotion to be directed towards higher goals. On the other hand, emotions enrich phronesis because phronesis makes decisions based on sensitive preferences and because emotions confirm correctness in the context of moral decision making. Methodologically, this study is theoretical and interdisciplinary, as our approach is both philosophical and psychological. Philosophy helps us to improve the conceptual foundation of the construct, while psychology provides an analysis of the emotional process, allowing philosophy to understand how emotional evaluation-assessment and motivation lead to decision making.

Author Profiles

Consuelo Martínez-Priego
Universidad Villanueva
Ana Romero-Iribas
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos


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