Emotional Consistency

Ronald De Sousa
There is no doubt that we experience some sets of emotions as inconsistent. But does this mean they are merely incompatible, in the sense that they cannot, or cannot wholeheartedly , coexist in a single subject at one time? Of does this experience signal some logical relation between the contents of the emotions, analogous to the relation between contrary propositions which make for inconsistent beliefs? And can the notion of inconsistency apply to aesthetic emotions? After distinguishing some
more » ... arieties of opposition and expanding on the subtle relation of consistency to compatibility as these might apply to emotions, I explore ways (drawing inspiration from work by Karen Jones and by Carol Magai and Jeannette Haviland-Jones), in which a framework for thinking of emotional consistency might be grounded in the physiology, phenomenology, and action-tendencies involved in emotions, particularly as these play out over long periods of a life. This affords a plausible notion of emotional coherence, and supports an individualistic vision of wisdom, as the effective elaboration of emotional dynamics over a lifetime. It fails, however, to ground a viable notion of consistency for aesthetic emotions.