Feeling Like It: A Theory of Inclination and Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)

Tamar Schapiro- Feeling Like It: A Theory of Inclination and Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)

Cristian Vulpe

Feeling like doing something is different from deciding to do it. Being inclined to act and willing to act are distinct expressions of agency. Nevertheless, they are importantly connected. In her captivating new book, Feeling Like It, Tamar Schapiro explores the connections between inclination and will. Her point of departure is what she calls ―the moment of drama.‖ This is the moment when you are inclined, but not thereby determined, to do something. You are angry at your foe, and you feel like fighting back, but you haven’t made up your mind yet. There is a deliberative space between your inclination to raise your fist and strike, and your decision to do so. Schapiro invites us to think about this space and guides us through her novel conception of human agency. On Schapiro’s view, your inclinations are the expression of your inner animal, a motivational source distinct from your deciding self. When you feel like φ’ing, your inner animal determines itself to φ. But you are not your inner animal. Having an inclination confronts you with a choice. You can take the ―high road‖ and assume responsibility for your action by humanizing the raw motivational material provided by your inclination into a principle of action you can endorse. Or you can take the ―low road‖ and succumb to your inner animal, trying to flee the burden of your freedom. This theory offers much to appreciate and raises interesting questions. Here, I will concentrate on three aspects: Schapiro’s Kantian method, her concept of inclination, and her dualistic picture of motivation.

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