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Title: God, emotion and impassibility
Author: Scrutton, Anastasia Philippa
ISNI:       0000 0001 3391 6697
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2008
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The current theological climate presents two extremes in speaking of the emotional life of God: Passibilism, which affinns the fullness of God's emotional life, and impassibilism,which (claiming fidelity to traditional orthodox Christianity) asserts that God cannot experience emotions. Likewise, contemporary 'philosophy of emotion is characterised by the extremes of cognitive views of emotion on the one hand, and non-cognitive, physiological or 'feelings' views on the other. In this thesis I argue for a more nuanced account of both impassibility and emotion. I seek to show how a more subtle account of emotion may benefit contemporary philosophy of emotion, and how re-conceiving both impassibility and emotion would provide alternative possibilities within theology for speaking of God's emotional life. I begin by showing how the depiction of early impassibilism and modem passibilism as polar opposite views with few theologians inhabiting a middle ground is an oversimplification that neglects those in both camps who argue that God might choose to experience emotions and to suffer, such that God's emotions would not be contrary to God's will or challenge his omnipotence. I then argue that a reappropriation of the Augustinian and Thomist distinction between passiones (emotions that are arational, involuntary, and in Thomas, essentially physiological) and a.ffectiones (emotions that are potentially rational, in accordance with the will, and are not· essentially bodily) as a distinction within the overarching and less discriminating category of 'emotion' may provide important options for both theologians and philosophers of emotion that have previously been overlooked. I continue by exploring the relationship between emotions and intelligence, will, and the body, and the theological implications of this for divine omniscience, omnipotence and incorporeality. I suggest that applying the distinction between passiones and afJectiones to contemporary theology and philosophy of emotion contributes to creating a more plausible middle ground between passibilism and impassibilism, and between cognitive and feelings accounts ofemotion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available