In this book Irving Singer tries to show how we create our world, in part, through what we call our "feelings." That catch-all word covers a large variety of attitudes, dispositions, sentiments, emotions, intuitions, inclinations, and kinesthetic sensations. He offers a view of the affective dimension in our being which supplements, but does not duplicate, scientific inquiry. Feeling always exists in some interaction with cognitive structures. It cannot be wholly separated from them. Yet it typically lends itself to an approach that is more characteristic of the humanities than of the sciences.
Singer has previously made forays into the realm of affect in his writings on love, sex, compassion, and conditions such as friendship and a religious or cosmic sense of oneness. In this book he cuts across the gamut of human feeling, inspecting it more fully though sometimes with concepts that he broached in those earlier stages of development. By portraying how feeling relies upon imagination, and through imagination upon idealization, consummation, and the aesthetic, Singer attempts to draw a family picture that will present the basic lineaments of sex, love, and compassion as well as the other stations of the spectrum to which they belong.
The introductory chapter places the succeeding ones in a context of ideas about feeling in general and, more specifically, attachment of the sort that some psychologists have been investigating for the last forty years. The final chapter considers how affective failures and imperfect attachments can play a constructive rolein the growth of imagination, idealization, consummation, and the aesthetic - each of which reveals the vibrancy of our existence. In their complexity they give meaning to life and make it worth living. [via]