The painted dragons in affective science: Can the Chinese notion of ganlei add a transformative detail?

Abstract

I propose for emotion research a dynamic approach to truth in which folk theories, no matter how much they may be infested with magical thinking and peculiar beliefs, can function as potential competitors and valued interlocutors on the platform of theory construction. For demonstration, I present the ancient Chinese notion of ganlei as a counterpoint to Western metaphysics. Potential contributions of this indigenous belief system to theory and research on emotions include bringing greater clarity to existing concepts of empathy and mind reading and participating meaningfully in the current debates on emotions. More important, ganlei suggests a shift of focus in emotion research from epistemological to ontological categories and from mental representations to intermental transactions. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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