Rick Anthony Furtak
“Rick Anthony Furtak’s Wisdom in Love is a subtle and fascinating study of emotional rightness. Focusing on Kierkegaard’s debt to and critique of ancient Stoic ideas of falsity in emotion, Furtak brings to the topic a flexible philosophical mind and a set of fresh and surprising insights. His scholarship will satisfy specialists, but his impressive literary style makes the book open to any reader who wants to reflect about the topic.” —Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago
“In Wisdom in Love, Rick Anthony Furtak gives us a persuasive defense of love and deep concern, and shows how these lead toward a religious conception of emotion and value. Love and its companion emotions are placed within a picture of what is worthy, a view that makes sense of our perceptions of significance despite the pull of slants that see the world as devoid of anything that matters. It is a timely, important, and original contribution to moral philosophy.” —Edward Mooney, Syracuse University
“Furtak’s voice in this book is extraordinary, for it combines the authentic presence of a human being searching for understanding, the rigorous enquiry of a philosopher investigating emotion and knowledge, and the lyrical sensitivity of a poet engaged in bringing experiences to light. It is a book brimming with wisdom and love.” —John Hanwell Riker, author of Ethics and the Discovery of the Unconscious
“This book will find an important place both in Kierkegaard scholarship and in a wider philosophical context. Furtak has read Kierkegaard extensively and well.” —Alastair Hannay, University of Oslo
In this historically informed work in moral psychology, Rick Anthony Furtak develops a conceptual account of the emotions that addresses the conventional idea that reason and emotion stand in sharp opposition. Furtak begins with a critical examination of the ancient Stoic position that emotions ought to be avoided by rational human beings. He argues that, on the contrary, emotions ought to be understood as embodying a kind of authentic insight, which enables us to attain a meaningful and truthful way of seeing the world.
Furtak’s positive alternative to Stoicism draws heavily on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, particularly Either/Or and Works of Love, while also engaging with a wide range of other relevant philosophical, literary, and religious sources. He argues that a morality of virtue and narrative awareness is necessary for accurate emotional perception, and then attempts to define a qualified value realism based upon a reverential trust in love as the ground of human life. The outcome of this inquiry into the possibility of reliable emotion is an account of the ideal state in which we could trust ourselves to be rational in being passionate.
“Although Kierkegaard is at the center of Furtak’s study, the larger theoretical interest of the book is to develop a philosophy ‘according to which the emotions can be understood as embodying a kind of authentic insight—even, perhaps, enabling us to attain a uniquely truthful way of seeing the world.’ ” — Journal of American Academy of Religion
“This book is an original contribution to moral philosophy and to that part of the philosophy of mind dealing with the emotions. Its markedly felicitous style makes it readable and graspable—by undergraduates, even as it will reward philosophers who are specialists in moral psychology, Greek Philosophy, Kierkegaard, or 19th Century Post-Kantian thought. It displays an exemplary command of secondary and primary sources, and offers a veritable trove in footnotes.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“The subtitle refers to the methodological approach: After beginning with a critical consideration of ancient stoicism and its disdain for the emotions, the study draws upon Soren Kierkegaard’s writings in order to develop a conceptual account of emotional integrity. As the author announces in the preface, the outcome of this guide for the emotionally perplexed is a conception of what it would mean to trust oneself to be rational in being passionate. His rich and inspiring book raises a lot of important questions and will certainly stimulate further discussion.” — Ars Disputandi
“One of the most laudable features of this analysis is how Furtak allows the esthete to respond in kind before moving on to the religious point of view. . . Furtak’s approach to the religious point of view is not only the most controversial aspect of Wisdom in Love but also of Kierkegaard’s writing all told. The debate is over how detached and unemotional religious individuals are portrayed, how engaged by particular worldly aspirations they are supposed to be.” — Christianity and Literature
“At the heart of this conception is an interpretation of love as a basic and general disposition to perceive things in the world as unconditionally valuable. It is especially to be noted for the disciplined pathos of Furtak’s writing. The book bristles with highly suggestive and often illuminating literary examples and illusions.” — Philosophy in Review
“With thorough exegesis of a variety of Kierkegaard’s works, Furtak reveals a theory of emotions built upon a Stoic framework, yet one in which one can save oneself from despair by having faith in what one loves. Recommended.” — Choice