Bitter Joys and Sweet Sorrows

In C. Tappolet, F. Teroni & A. Konzelmann Ziv (eds.), Shadows of the Soul: Philosophical Perspectives on Negative Emotions. Routlege. pp. 58-73 (2018)
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Abstract
We sometimes experience pleasures and displeasures simultaneously: whenever we eat sfogliatelle while having a headache, whenever we feel pain fading away, whenever we feel guilty pleasure while enjoying listening to Barbara Streisand, whenever we are savouring a particularly hot curry, whenever we enjoy physical endurance in sport, whenever we are touched upon receiving a hideous gift, whenever we are proud of withstanding acute pain, etc. These are examples of what we call " mixed feelings ". Mixed feelings are cases in which one and the same person experiences pleasure and displeasure at the same time. Mixed feelings raise two questions: If pleasure and displeasure are contraries, how can mixed feelings be possible? Does the excess of pleasure that we feel when experiencing mixed feelings itself constitute a new feeling, that results from the co-occurrence of the first two? I will argue that mixed feelings are possible and that their existence does not threaten the contrariety of pleasure and displeasure, and that there are no resultant feelings: having a lot of pleasure and a little displeasure does not result in having additional mild pleasure. Finally, I will suggest that although both false, scepticism towards the existence of mixed feelings, as well as the idea according to which resultant feelings exist, are inspired from a single and correct idea: that pleasure and displeasure do fuse in some cases.
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