This section lays out the central problems of this book, its main line of argument, its methodology, and previous scholarly approaches to key issues. It provides a brief discussion of the broader historical developments within which early debates about emotions were situated, and explains the larger endeavor of the book as one of showing how the mainstream account of emotions, as representing patterned inclinations in human beings that gave access to the true conditions of the world, became authoritative. It argues that much of the existing scholarship on emotions has mischaracterized these accounts, as well as the relevant issues, because of its application of problematic dichotomous categories such as emotion vs. reason and subjective vs. objective. It calls for a more expansive approach that considers the early debates over emotions within the context of competing accounts of the human self, and of emergent conceptions of the natural world.
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