Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Regrets.... I've had a few

Here is a very interesting paper by Dan Moller on 'Anticipated emotions and emotional valence' (Philosophers' Imprint 11, 9 (July 2011)'.  It's interesting to me because I am (still) wondering about the treatment of anticipation and memory in Plato, especially in the Philebus and it made me wonder what Plato might have to say about the experience of, say, regret.  In particular, I wonder whether he would welcome Dan's useful distinction between the feeling of regret and the associated sensations it provokes.  I doubt it.  Or he would perhaps claim that even absent pain and the like, the thought that one has made a mistake of the sort it is reasonable to think an object of regret is itself bad and to be avoided.  Why?  Perhaps it is just bad to be the kind of person who does such things. Perhaps regret is a sign that one is not the kind of virtuous agent one would like to be.  (I guess he would allow even a virtuous to live with 'pro tanto' regret: the thought that even the right decision had certain negative consequences.)

By the way, what is the ancient Greek for ‘regret’? I’ve done a quick search on μεταγιγνώσκω and related forms and it doesn’t quite capture it. Later, μετάγνοια/η does mean ‘remorse’ or ‘repentance’ but in classical texts I’m not sure the verb often means more than ‘change one’s mind about’ in a way that may or may well not also suggest an accompanying affective response (see e.g. Pl. Phaedr. 231a4).  Perhaps μεταμέλεια is the better bet (as in e.g. Arist. NE 1110b19...)

Anyway, on the subject of regret:

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