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Regret : the persistence of the possible / Janet Landman.


New York : Oxford University Press, 1993.
ISBN 0195071786

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Subjects Psychologische aspecten.
Regret.
Spijt.
Description xxviii, 366 pages ; 25 cm
Copyright Date 1993.
Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 331-356) and index.
Summary "We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads," Lillian Hellman once wrote. "It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell upon them." Yet who in their lifetime has never regretted a lost love, a missed opportunity, a path not taken? Although poets and novelists have long probed the complexities of regret, little has been written from a scholarly perspective. Now, in Regret: The Persistence of the Possible, Janet Landman takes a lively and perceptive look at this perhaps universal experience. Landman addresses key questions about the nature of regret - what it is, how you experience it, how it changes you. She draws on sources almost as multifaceted as the experience itself, including psychology, economics, philosophy, and anthropology, as well as classic works of literature. We learn what people regret most - lack of education comes first, followed by work and matters of the heart. We see how regret differs from other emotions, such as disappointment, remorse, and guilt. In one of the most fascinating sections, Landman examines four worldviews - the romantic, tragic, comic, and ironic - through which the experience of regret is colored. She explores how each of these worldviews shapes the way we regret, as exemplified in major novels such as Great Expectations, Notes from Underground, The Ambassadors, Mrs. Dalloway, and Breathing Lessons. In Dostoevsky's novel, for instance, regret is likened to a disease, the self-gnawing of a cellar mouse, and a poison of unfulfilled desires turned inward - that is, as something tragically self-destructive and incurable. Indeed, regret is widely regarded as inevitably ruinous and irrational; in economic decision theory regret has traditionally been conceived as an illogical state of being stuck in the past and ruled by emotion. Landman takes issue with these views and reveals some significant benefits of regret. At best, she argues, regret is a dynamic, changing process - only by first surrendering to regret can we eventually transcend it. Moreover, in transforming regret we transform the self. In Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons, for example, we witness how the characters Ira and Maggie Moran position themselves to move forward in their relationship only after they have accepted life's limits, losses, and mistakes - without resignation or despair. Whenever we regret, we are comparing reality with possibility. To some, especially proponents of orthodox decision theory, this is one of the aspects that renders regret irrational. To take seriously something that is "not real" can appear to such critics to be as nonsensical as a belief in ghosts (which, interestingly enough, Landman finds to be the most common of all metaphors for regrets). Landman does not agree with those who condemn the persistence of the possible in the human heart and head. "It is a good thing," Landman writes, "what the human mind is not limited by what actually exists, but works in such a way that it draws comparisons between what happens and what might have happened. It is partly in this ability to imagine alternatives, and the capacity to care about the particularities of experience, that we accomplish the task of becoming fully human." For anyone who has ever questioned, avoided, or experienced regret, here is a provocative and challenging look at this enduring emotion.
Contents Uses of regret -- What we talk about when we talk about regret -- Worldview of regret: a literary framework -- Regrets? I've had a few: What we regret most -- The logic of regret: its role in decision making -- Personal roots of regret -- Occasions of regret -- Transformation of regret -- The contrary wisdom of regret.
Network Numbers (OCoLC)27894830
(OCoLC)ocm27894830
WorldCat Search OCLC WorldCat
WorldCat Identities Landman, Janet.
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