“Face Value. Perception and Knowledge Others’ Happiness”

In Lisa Bortolotti (ed.), The Philosophy of Happiness. Palgrave (2008)
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Happiness, like other basic emotions, has visual properties that create the conditions for happiness to be perceived in others. This is to say that happiness is perceivable. Its visual properties are to be identified with those facial expressions that are characteristic of happiness. Yet saying that something is perceivable does not suffice for us to conclude that it is perceived. We therefore need to show that happiness is perceived. Empirical evidence suggests that the visual system functions to perceive happiness as well as other basic emotions. Experiences that can be had simply by virtue of how the perceptual system functions are known as observations. I will thus argue that visual experiences in which we become aware of others’ happiness are observations. This approach will provide the necessary conceptual framework to show that we have perceptual knowledge of others’ happiness.



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