Naming and Understanding the Opposites of Desire: A Prehistory of Disgust 1598-1755.
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In the early 17th century, Aristotelian ideas about the passions came under scrutiny. The dominant, if not only, understanding of the passions before that time came from Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas split most of his main passions into opposing pairs – love/hate, joy/sorrow, fear/bravery etc. Aquinas described the opposite of desire as ‘fuga seu abominatio (flight or abomination).’ Although grappled with by earlier philosophers such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Cajetan, it was not until the 17th century that thinkers attempted to challenge Aquinas’s opposite of desire. This thesis looks at five writers who used a variety of terms, often taken to be near-synonyms of disgust in the historiography – Thomas Wright, Henry Carey, 2nd Earl of Monmouth, Thomas Hobbes, Henry More and Isaac Watts – and challenges that view. Each of these men wrote works that, at least in part, attempted to understand the passions and each had a different understanding of Aquinas’s opposite of desire. The thesis uses a corpus analysis to investigate uses of the words each thinker chose as an opposite of desire and then examines each writers’ influences, experiences, and intentions, to analyse their understanding of the opposite of desire. Secondly, these various opposites of desire appear to bare a family resemblance to modern disgust. All are based upon the action of moving away from something thought of as harmful or evil, and all have an element of revulsion alongside the repulsion. This has led to much of the historiography of these sorts of passions making the assumption that these words simply referred to disgust. This thesis argues that these opposites of desire are not the same as disgust; the differences outweigh the similarities.
AuthorsFIRTH-GODBEHERE, RICHARD SIMON
- Theses