As a young teenager, I loved (I can't say I understood it) Erich Fromm's The art of loving. And I have always been more or less sure that one can learn to be happier and that one is responsible even of one's emotions and "nature".
This, however, contradicts centuries of poetry about love as an uncontrolled emotion surprising one at once, about spleen, about depression and sadness as inescapable. One could almost argue that the lack of control on emotions seems to be a characteristic mark of many extra-ordinary artists and historical figures (or is it only a "selective" lack of control?).
Personally, I met many people who live fatalistically, wishing and hoping that the future will bring them something better and enduring the present instead of trying to change it. However, I never met someone who could claim no-control whatsoever on his/her thoughts. Emotions seem in this sense to be different from, e.g., inductions, as they imply less effort and can hence be thought of as "externally" determined.
All of this seems connected with the belief on a persistent self (on this connection, see here), an agency that pervades present and future moments and can hence influence them. But the two beliefs are not necessarily connected. One could belief in a persisting agency and at the same time in its being a victim of events –in particular, emotional ones. And Theravāda Buddhism is an example of cultivation of emotions'control without believing in a self.
Do we negate a distinctive character of emotions (and, hence, miss an important potential inhering in them) if we assume that they can/must be controlled?
Allen from Indiana to Pitt
6 hours ago