Alchemies of the Mind
Jon Elster has written a comprehensive, wide-ranging book on the emotions in which he considers the full range of theoretical approaches. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy and psychology, Elster presents a complete account of the role of the emotions in human behaviour. While acknowledging the importance of neurophysiology and laboratory experiment for the study of emotions, Elster argues that the serious student of the emotions can learn more from the great thinkers and writers of the past, from Aristotle to Jane Austen. He attaches particular importance to the work of the French moralists, notably La Rochefoucauld, who demonstrated the way esteem and self-esteem shape human motivation. The book also maintains a running dialogue with economists and rational-choice theorists. Combining methodological and theoretical arguments with empirical case-studies and written with Elster's customary verve and economy, this book has great cross-disciplinary appeal.