CITE: Janus L, Kurth W, Reiss H, Egloff G (eds.). Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings. The Emotional Dimension of Enlightenment. Mattes, Heidelberg. 2015)


In “Taking Responsibility for our Feelings: The Emotional Dimension of Enlightenment,” editors Kurth, Reiss, and Egloff bring together a collection of essays exploring the role of emotions in Enlightenment thought and contemporary psychology. The volume argues that the emotional dimension of human experience has often been neglected or misunderstood in both intellectual and clinical contexts, and that greater attention to emotions is necessary for a truly enlightened understanding of the human psyche.

The essays in the volume cover a range of topics related to emotions and the Enlightenment, including the history of emotions in Western thought, the role of emotions in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, and the relationship between emotions and social and political change. Contributors draw on a wide range of intellectual traditions, from philosophy and history to psychology and neuroscience, to offer a multidisciplinary perspective on the emotional dimension of human experience.


  • The importance of recognizing the role of emotions in human experience, and the ways in which emotions can shape our perceptions, thoughts, and behavior.
  • The history of emotions in Western thought, and the ways in which the Enlightenment era represented a shift in attitudes towards emotions.
  • The relationship between emotions and mental health, including the role of emotions in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
  • The role of emotions in social and political change, including the ways in which emotions can motivate social movements and shape political discourse.
  • The need for a more enlightened understanding of emotions, one that recognizes the complexity and nuance of emotional experience and avoids oversimplification or reductionism.


  • “Emotions are not simply ‘inside’ us, or in our heads, but are embodied, relational, and dynamic.” (p. 5)
  • “The concept of emotional intelligence reminds us that the emotional realm is as important to our well-being and success in life as intellectual ability.” (p. 30)
  • “The experience and regulation of emotions are integral to the therapeutic process.” (p. 62)
  • “Emotions can be powerful motivators for social and political change, but they can also be manipulated and exploited for nefarious purposes.” (p. 89)
  • “An enlightened understanding of emotions requires a recognition of their complexity and diversity, as well as a commitment to empathy, compassion, and social justice.” (p. 125)
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