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Rapaport, D. (1949). The Emotions. Outline of a Theory: By Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: Philosophical Library, 1948. 97 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:390-392.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:390-392

The Emotions. Outline of a Theory: By Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: Philosophical Library, 1948. 97 pp.

Review by:
David Rapaport

This book has the loud jacket and poor translation of its sister volume, The Psychology of Imagination, but its printing is agreeable to the eye and its conception more ordered. The author attempts to sketch a phenomenological theory of emotions. He gives a blistering critique of positivist academic psychology, a justifiable criticism of James's and Janet's theory of emotion and uses the investigations of Levin and Dembo on anger as the basis for his theory.

His discussion of psychoanalysis acknowledges that 'psychoanalytic psychology has certainly been the first to put the emphasis on the signification of psychic facts' (pp. 41–49). Yet he rejects psychoanalytic theory because in it the signification is that of something extraconscious and thus it contradicts the Cartesian 'cogito ergo sum' which is Sartre's sine qua non. Beyond these generalities his discussion reveals no familiarity whatsoever with the psychoanalytic theory of emotions.

The premise of Sartre's theory of emotion is: '… a phenomenological description of emotion will bring to light the essential structure of consciousness, since an emotion is precisely a consciousness. And conversely, a problem arises which the psychologist does not even suspect; can types of consciousness be conceived which would not include emotion among their possibilities, or must we see in it an indispensable structure of consciousness?' (p. 15). Haughty and commonplace as this may sound, it remains a fact that 'varieties of emotional experience as conscious experience' have so far been insufficiently explored (this is particularly obvious for anxiety).

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