The Case of a Fear of Flying
An enquiry into the rationality of recalcitrant emotions
Your palms are sweaty, your mouth is dry; you feel dizzy as you breathe heavily. The muscles tense and your chest hurts. Many people undergo these ordeals when they merely enter a plane. For some people taking an airplane is as normal as taking the bus, for others airplanes are a somewhat uncomfortable mode of transportation and for some flying is one of the most frightening things in the world. It does not matter how many statistics on the safety of flying a person who is afraid of flying sees, the fear does not subside easily. Even though a person believes that flying is perfectly safe, that person can still be nailed to the ground with fear. The fear of flying is an example of a recalcitrant emotion. A recalcitrant emotion is an emotion that we experience despite a judgement that seems to conflict with it. In the case of a fear of flying it is the judgement ‘flying is perfectly clear’ that conflicts with the emotion of ‘fearing for one’s safety’. The fear of flying and other phobias are not the only cases of recalcitrant emotions. Recalcitrant emotions occur in ordinary experience and need not be emotions of fear. In the case of the fear of flying there is a clear tension between the judgement and the bout of fear. Prima facie, there seems to be a rational conflict between the judgement and the emotion; that is the emotion seems to contradict the judgement. In the case of a fear of flying this rational conflict seems to be clear. However, not all cases of recalcitrant emotions are problematic. Such in the case of a rollercoaster ride or Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn who saves his friend Jim, there is no clear rational conflict. This raises the question how and if an emotion can rationally relate to an emotion. In which sense can a recalcitrant emotion involve rational conflict?
|Series||Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy (ESJP)|
|Journal||Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy|
Heijmeskamp, T. (2017). The Case of a Fear of Flying. Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy, 12, 34–43. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/124781