A Theory of Regret

Book Pages: 176 Illustrations: 19 illustrations Published: October 2017

Author: Brian Price

Media Studies > Film, Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy

In A Theory of Regret Brian Price contends that regret is better understood as an important political emotion than as a form of weakness. Price shows how regret allows us to see that our convictions are more often the products of our perceptual habits than the authentic signs of moral courage that we more regularly take them to be. Regret teaches us to give up our expectations of what we think should or might occur in the future, and also the idea that what we think we should do will always be the right thing to do. Understood instead as a mode of thoughtfulness, regret helps us to clarify our will in relation to the decisions we make within institutional forms of existence. Considering regret in relation to emancipatory theories of thinking, Price shows how the unconditionally transformative nature of this emotion helps us become more sensitive to contingency and allows us, in turn, to recognize the steps we can take toward changing the institutions that shape our lives.


"I marvel at the argument and the intricate conceptual architecture of the book. This is an incisive, exciting, and very welcome meditation on the power of regret to make us more thoughtful human beings." — Katherine Goktepe, Contemporary Political Theory

"[A Theory of Regret] is navigating one of the most fraught questions of our current scholarly moment, in which theory is being surpassed, elegized, ignored, and derided, and yet so very many of us still crave its appearance, its surprises, and its speculations. Thus, among the many other things it is, A Theory of Regret is also a powerful model for how to write a theory of anything whatsoever." — Eugenie Brinkema, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies

“Drawing on discourses of philosophy, cinema, literature, institutions, and bureaucracies, Brian Price has crafted an original thesis about regret as an affective imprint of thought. Against the constraint imposed by the imperative to act without remorse, he painstakingly unpacks regret’s characteristic shifts and pauses, identifying in them a transformative potential that restores thought to the openness of contingency and freedom.” — Rey Chow, Anne Firor Scott Professor of Literature, Duke University

“Brian Price brings forth his deep and surprising insights on the relation of ethics to epistemology with clarity, depth, and humor. Thinking of regret as a modality of moral reasoning, Price shakes up our self-assurance and self-satisfaction with our thoughts and our mode of existence. A Theory of Regret is a compelling and provocative work that will stimulate debate in a variety of domains, including political theory, moral philosophy, and film theory.” — D. N. Rodowick, author of Elegy for Theory


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Brian Price is Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Studies and the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, the author of Neither God nor Master: Robert Bresson and Radical Politics, and coeditor of Color, the Film Reader, and On Michael Haneke. He is also a founding coeditor of World Picture.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction  1
1. What is Regret?  31
The Habit of Virtue  32
Nonvoluntary and Involuntary Relations  36
Stupidity and Akrasia  42
When to Speak?  35
2. Impossible Advice  60
The Postman Always Rings Twice  61
Possible Advice  71
The Gift of Advice  82
Economy, Economics  90
Sameness and Trust  93
3. The Problem of Withdrawal  103
The Trouble with Agonism  106
Keeping Up Appearances  110
Appearance and Withdrawal  117
Hypocristy and Regret  127
Afterthoughts  133
Notes  141
Bibliography  155
Index  161
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6951-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6936-3
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