Posidonius on Emotions and Non-Conceptual Content

Prolegomena 10 (2):185-213 (2011)
In this paper I argue that the work of the unorthodox Stoic Posidonius - as reported to us by Galen - can be seen as making an interesting contribution to contemporary debates about the nature of emotion. Richard Sorabji has already argued that Posidonius' contribution highlights the weaknesses in some well-known contemporary forms of cognitivism. Here I argue that Posidonius might be seen as advocating a theory of the emotions which sees them as being, in at least some cases, two-level intentional phenomena. One level involves judgments, just as the orthodox Stoic account does. But Posidonius thinks that emotions must also include an element sometimes translated as an "irrational tug". I suggest that we see the "irrational tug" as involving a second level of intentional, but non-conceptual representation. This view satisfies two desiderata: it is a view which would have been available to Posidonius and which is compatible with the views reported to us; and it is a view which is independently attractive. It also makes Posidonius' position less far removed from that of orthodox Stoics than it might otherwise do, while remaining genuinely innovative.
Keywords Posidonius  Stoicism  Emotions  Non-Conceptual Content
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