This article sets out an account of false emotions and focuses upon the example of false grief. Widespread but short-lived mourning for well known public figures involves false grief on the part of at least some mourners. What is false about such grief is not any straightforward pretence but rather the inappropriate antecendents of the state in question and/or the desires that the relevant state involves. False grief, for example, often involves a desire for the experience itself, and this can be satisfied. By contrast, real grief is utterly without hope. (We cannot have the deceased back again.) However, because false emotions involve some desire, they can be motivating and may lead us to engage in actions and efforts of discernment that can result in the emergence of the real emotion that they mimic. For this reason, they are not always unwelcome.
- Iris Murdoch