Far from being a natural kind, ‘emotion’ turns out to be a conventional label that captures quite diverse phenomena; and such phenomena can no longer be relegated, as the ideology of passions suggested, to a ‘lower’ and ‘primitive’ psychic sphere, which threatens the nobility of ‘the thinking thing’. They belong to the unlevelled universe to which all psychological events belong. In general, cognitive sciences have brought to light the heterogeneity not only of emotions, but also of what is traditionally meant by ‘reason’. The experimental investigation of rationality and reasoning by the cognitive sciences has shown that there is no unitary cognitive sphere. There is instead a toolbox of imperfect analytic and operative tools that is heterogenous and scattered, and consequently lacks the hierarchical structure that, according to the Cartesian model, culminated in self-conscious rationality. Thus, a paradigm shift is underway. Some research areas in cognitive sciences adopt a Baconian logic, in which errors and self-deceptions are seen as intrinsic to the ordinary cognitive-affective processes. Therefore, whereas in Freud the naive subject normally deceives herself because she is unable to accept the presence, deep down, of ‘inadmissible’ sexual and aggressive drives, in a dynamic psychology informed by the renewal of the traditional psychological categories outlined above, intrinsically defensive cognitive-affective mechanisms become the principles that rule over the construction of everyday reality.
DE CARO, M., Marraffa, M. (2015). Bacon against Descartes. Emotions, Rationality, Defenses. In De Anna G, Martinelli R (a cura di), Moral Realism and Political Decisions. Practical Rationality in Contemporary Public Contexts (pp. 63-80). University of Bamberg Press.