The emotions are at the centre of our lives and, for better or worse, imbue them with much of their significance. The philosophical problems stirred up by the existence of the emotions, over which many great philosophers of the past have laboured, revolve around attempts to understand what this significance amounts to. Are emotions feelings, thoughts, or experiences? If they are experiences, what are they experiences of? Are emotions rational? In what sense do emotions give meaning to what surrounds us? (...) -/- The Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction introduces and explores these questions in a clear and accessible way. The authors discuss the following key topics: -/- the diversity and unity of the emotions the relations between emotion, belief and desire the nature of values the relations between emotions and perceptions emotions viewed as evaluative attitudes the link between emotions and evaluative knowledge the nature of moods, sentiments, and character traits. -/- Including chapter summaries and guides to further reading, The Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction is an ideal starting point for any philosopher or student studying the emotions. It will also be of interest to those in related disciplines such as psychology and the social sciences. (shrink)
Life, on a day to day basis, is a sequence of emotional states: hope, disappointment, irritation, anger, affection, envy, pride, embarrassment, joy, sadness and many more. We know intuitively that these states express deep things about our character and our view of the world. But what are emotions and why are they so important to us? In one of the most extensive investigations of the emotions ever published, Robert Roberts develops a novel conception of what emotions are and then applies (...) it to a large range of types of emotion and related phenomena. In so doing he lays the foundations for a deeper understanding of our evaluative judgments, our actions, our personal relationships and our fundamental well-being. Aimed principally at philosophers and psychologists, this book will certainly be accessible to readers in other disciplines such as religion and anthropology. (shrink)
Emotions are crucial to human agency. But what are emotions? And how do they relate to agency? The aim of this book is to spell out an account of emotions, which is grounded on analogies between emotions and sensory experiences, and to explore the implications of this account for our understanding of human agency. The central claim is that emotions consist in perceptual experiences of values, such as the fearsome, the disgusting or the admirable. A virtue of this account is (...) that it affords a better grasp of a variety of interconnected phenomena: the relationship between emotions and motivation, the nature of evaluative judgements, the relationship between responsibility and attitudes such as anger, and, finally, the relation between emotions and reasons. (shrink)
Until recently, philosophers and psychologists conceived of emotions as brain- and body-bound affairs. But researchers have started to challenge this internalist and individualist orthodoxy. A rapidly growing body of work suggests that some emotions incorporate external resources and thus extend beyond the neurophysiological confines of organisms; some even argue that emotions can be socially extended and shared by multiple agents. Call this the extended emotions thesis. In this article, we consider different ways of understanding ExE in philosophy, psychology, and the (...) cognitive sciences. First, we outline the background of the debate and discuss different argumentative strategies for ExE. In particular, we distinguish ExE from cognate but more moderate claims about the embodied and situated nature of cognition and emotion. We then dwell upon two dimensions of ExE: emotions extended by material culture and by the social factors. We conclude by defending ExE against some objections and point to desiderata for future research. (shrink)
We defend a functionalist approach to emotion that begins by focusing on emotions as central states with causal connections to behavior and to other cognitive states. The approach brackets the conscious experience of emotion, lists plausible features that emotions exhibit, and argues that alternative schemes are unpromising candidates. We conclude with the benefits of our approach: one can study emotions in animals; one can look in the brain for the implementation of specific features; and one ends up with an architecture (...) of the mind in which emotions are fully accommodated through their relations to the rest of cognition. Our article focuses on arguing for this general approach; as such, it is an essay in the philosophy of emotion rather than in the psychology or neuroscience of emotion. (shrink)
Peter Goldie opens the path to a deeper understanding of our emotional lives through a lucid philosophical exploration of this surprisingly neglected topic. Drawing on philosophy, literature and science, Goldie considers the roles of culture and evolution in the development of our emotional capabilities. He examines the links between emotion, mood, and character, and places the emotions in the context of consciousness, thought, feeling, and imagination. He explains how it is that we are able to make sense of our own (...) and other people's emotions, and how we can explain the very human things which emotions lead us to do. He argues that it is only from the personal point of view that thoughts, reasons, feelings, and actions come into view. This fascinating book gives an accessible but penetrating exploration of an important but mysterious subject. Any reader interested in emotion and its role in understanding our lives will find much to think about here. (shrink)
“What is an emotion?” William James asked that question in the title of an essay he wrote in 1884, and his answer was that an emotion is a sensation brought about by bodily disturbance. Writing as a psychologist, he was concerned to help turn his discipline into a science. But as a philosopher writing about religious faith, by contrast, James argued that emotions must be understood in terms of such large and fuzzy issues as “the meaning of life.” The philosophy (...) of emotions and emotions research has since gone off in two quite different directions, one a broad-based perennial philosophical concern with the proper place of the emotions in ethics and living well, the other an increasingly sophisticated pursuit of the latest ammunition and theoretical weaponry in the biological and neurological sciences. (shrink)
Emotions often misfire. We sometimes fear innocuous things, such as spiders or mice, and we do so even if we firmly believe that they are innocuous. This is true of all of us, and not only of phobics, who can be considered to suffer from extreme manifestations of a common tendency. We also feel too little or even sometimes no fear at all with respect to very fearsome things, and we do so even if we believe that they are fearsome. (...) Indeed, instead of shunning fearsome things, we might be attracted to them. Emotions that seem more thought-involving, such as shame, guilt or jealousy, can also misfire. You can be ashamed of your big ears even though we can agree that there is nothing shameful in having big ears, and even though you judge that having big ears does not warrant shame. And of course, it is also possible to experience too little or even no shame at all with respect to something that is really shameful. Many of these cases involve a conflict between one’s emotion and one’s evaluative judgement. Emotions that are thus conflicting with judgement can be called ‘recalcitrant emotions’. The question I am interested in is whether or not recalcitrant emotions amount to emotional illusions, that is, whether or not these cases are sufficiently similar to perceptual illusions to justify the claim that they fall under the same general heading. The answer to this depends on what emotions are. For instance, the view that emotions are evaluative judgments makes it difficult to make room for the claim that emotional errors are perceptual illusions. Fearing an innocuous spider would simply amount to making the error of judging that the spider is fearsome while it is in fact innocuous. This might involve an illusion of some sort, but it certainly does not amount to anything like a perceptual illusion. In this chapter, I argue that recalcitrant emotions are a kind of perceptual illusion.. (shrink)
In Emotions and Reasons, Patricia Greenspan offers an evaluative theory of emotion that assigns emotion a role of its own in the justification of action. She analyzes emotions as states of object-directed affect with evaluative propositional content possibly falling short of belief and held in mind by generalized comfort or discomfort.
This 1996 book is the result of a uniquely productive union of philosophy, psychoanalysis and anthropology, and explores the complexity and importance of emotions. Michael Stocker places emotions at the very centre of human identity, life and value. He lays bare how our culture's idealisation of rationality pervades the philosophical tradition and leads those who wrestle with serious ethical and philosophical problems into distortion and misunderstanding. Professor Stocker shows how important are the social and emotional contexts of ethical dilemmas and (...) inner conflicts, and he challenges philosophical theories that try to overgeneralise and over-simplify by leaving out the particulars of each situation. In offering a realistic account of emotions and an in-depth analysis of how psychological factors affect judgments of all kind, this book will interest a broad range of readers across the disciplines of philosophy and psychology. (shrink)
This article discusses the importance of metaemotions (emotions about emotions), showing their undeniable existence and how they are a critical and essential part of emotion life. The article begins by placing reflexivity of emotions within the general reflexivity of human beings. Then, the article presents the literature on metaemotion, showing some of the problems that surround them, which ultimately will lead to ask if the concept of metaemotion is really necessary. The second part of the article argues for the usefulness (...) of the concept, pointing out its role in establishing distinctions among emotional states as well as further clarifying the nature of emotion, and concludes on pointing out some of the directions for future research on metaemotions. (shrink)
The two central emotions of pride and jealousy have long been held to have no role in moral judgements, and have been a source of controversy in both ethics and moral psychology. Kristjan Kristjansson challenges this common view and argues that emotions are central to moral excellence and that both pride and jealousy are indeed ingredients of a well-rounded virtuous life.
In this paper, we draw on developmental findings to provide a nuanced understanding of background emotions, particularly those in depression. We demonstrate how they reflect our basic proximity (feeling of interpersonal connectedness) to others and defend both a phenomenological and a functional claim. First, we substantiate a conjecture by Fonagy & Target (International Journal of Psychoanalysis 88(4):917–937, 2007) that an important phenomenological aspect of depression is the experiential recreation of the infantile loss of proximity to significant others. Second, we argue (...) that proximity has a particular cognitive function that allows individuals to morph into a cohesive dyadic system able to carry out distributed emotion regulation. We show that elevated levels of psychological suffering connected to depressive background emotions may be explained not only in terms of a psychological loss, but also as the felt inability to enter into dyadic regulatory relations with others—an experiential constraint that decreases the individual’s ability to adapt to demanding situations. (shrink)
One central argument in favor of perceptual accounts of emotions concerns recalcitrant emotions: emotions that persist in the face of repudiating judgments. For, it is argued, to understand how the conflict between recalcitrant emotions and judgment falls short of incoherence in judgment, we need to understand recalcitrant emotions to be something like perceptual illusions of value, so that in normal, non-recalcitrant cases emotions are non-illusory perceptions of value. I argue that these arguments fail and that a closer examination of recalcitrant (...) emotions reveals important disanalogies with perception that undermine the perceptual model of emotions. (shrink)
The phenomenology of emotions has traditionally been understood in terms of bodily sensations they involve. This is a mistake. We should instead understand their phenomenology in terms of their distinctively evaluative intentionality. Emotions are essentially affective modes of response to the ways our circumstances come to matter to us, and so they are ways of being pleased or pained by those circumstances. Making sense of the intentionality and phenomenology of emotions in this way requires rejecting traditional understandings of intentionality and (...) so coming to see emotions as a distinctive and irreducible class of mental states lying at the intersection of intentionality, phenomenology, and motivation. (shrink)
Recently, an increasing body of work from sociology, social psychology, and social ontology has been devoted to collective emotions. Rather curiously, however, pressing epistemological and especially normative issues have received almost no attention. In particular, there has been a strange silence on whether one can share emotions with individuals or groups who are not aware of such sharing, or how one may identify this, and eventually identify specific norms of emotional sharing. In this paper, I shall address this set of (...) issues head-on. I will do so by drawing on one of the most elaborate, but rather neglected phenomenological accounts of sociality, namely Edith Stein’s work on communal experiences and her theory of empathy. I wish to show that a suitably amended Steinian account affords us with an intriguing alternative to both phenomenalist and normativist construals of collective emotions. Moreover, I shall argue that it provides a more fine-grained account of the different types of emotional sharing than standard accounts, ranging from face-to-face, or shared, to more robust but less direct, or collective, emotions. Finally, I will propose a tentative answer to the above questions by pointing to non-dyadic or collective forms of empathy. (shrink)
Robert C. Roberts first presented his vivid account of emotions as 'concern-based construals' in his book Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology. In this new book he extends that account to the moral life. He explores the ways in which emotions can be a basis for moral judgments, how they account for the deeper moral identity of actions we perform, how they are constitutive of morally toned personal relationships like friendship, enmity, collegiality and parenthood, and how pleasant and (...) unpleasant emotions interact with our personal wellbeing. He then sketches how, by means of their moral dimensions, emotions participate in our virtues and vices, and for better or worse, express our moral character. His rich study will interest a wide range of readers working on virtue ethics, moral psychology and emotion theory. (shrink)
This paper explores the phenomenon of meta-emotions. Meta-emotions are emotions people have about their own emotions. We analyze the intentional structure of meta-emotions and show how psychological findings support our account. Acknowledgement of meta-emotions can elucidate a number of important issues in the philosophy of mind and, more specifically, the philosophy and psychology of emotions. Among them are (allegedly) ambivalent or paradoxical emotions, emotional communication, emotional self-regulation, privileged access failure for repressed emotions, and survivor guilt.
Moral Emotions builds upon the philosophical theory of persons begun in _Phenomenology and Mysticism _and marks a new stage of phenomenology. Author Anthony J. Steinbock finds personhood analyzing key emotions, called moral emotions. _Moral Emotions _offers a systematic account of the moral emotions, described here as pride, shame, and guilt as emotions of self-givenness; repentance, hope, and despair as emotions of possibility; and trusting, loving, and humility as emotions of otherness. The author argues these reveal basic structures of interpersonal experience. (...) By exhibiting their own kind of cognition and evidence, the moral emotions not only help to clarify the meaning of person, they reveal novel concepts of freedom, critique, and normativity. As such, they are able to engage our contemporary social imaginaries at the impasse of modernity and postmodernity. (shrink)
In this book, Rebekka Hufendiek explores emotions as embodied, action-oriented representations, providing a non-cognitivist theory of emotions that accounts for their normative dimensions. _Embodied Emotions_ focuses not only on the bodily reactions involved in emotions, but also on the environment within which emotions are embedded and on the social character of this environment, its ontological constitution, and the way it scaffolds both the development of particular emotion types and the unfolding of individual emotional episodes. In addition, it provides a critical (...) review and appraisal of current empirical studies, mainly in psychophysiology and developmental psychology, which are relevant to discussions about whether emotions are embodied as well as socially embedded. The theory that Hufendiek puts forward denies the distinction between basic and higher cognitive emotions: all emotions are embodied, action-oriented representations. This approach can account for the complex normative structure of emotions, and shares the advantages of cognitivist accounts of emotions without sharing their problems. _Embodied Emotions _makes an original contribution to ongoing debates on the normative aspects of emotions and will be of interest to philosophers working on emotions, embodied cognition and situated cognition, as well as neuroscientists or psychologists who study emotions and are interested in placing their own work within a broader theoretical framework. (shrink)
I investigate the normative status of an unexamined category of emotions: ‘lyrical’ emotions about the transience of things. Lyrical emotions are often accused of sentimentality—a charge that expresses the idea that they are unfitting responses to their objects. However, when we test the merits of that charge using the standard model of emotion evaluation, a surprising problem emerges: it turns out that we cannot make normative distinctions between episodes of such feelings. Instead, it seems that lyrical emotions are always fitting. (...) Although this claim is counterintuitive, the price of denying it is to hold that such emotions are never fitting—an equally strange result. If this is correct, then the commonplace discourse of sentimentality surrounding lyrical emotions lacks normative moorings. (shrink)
Emotions play an important part in moral life. Within clinical ethics support (CES), one should take into account the crucial role of emotions in moral cases in clinical practice. In this paper, we present an Aristotelian approach to emotions. We argue that CES can help participants deal with emotions by fostering a joint process of investigation of the role of emotions in a case. This investigation goes beyond empathy with and moral judgment of the emotions of the case presenter. In (...) a moral case deliberation, the participants are invited to place themselves in the position of the case presenter and to investigate their own emotions in the situation. It is about critically assessing the facts in the case that cause the emotion and the related (moral) thoughts that accompany the emotion. It is also about finding the right emotion in a given situation and finding the right balance in dealing with that emotion. These steps in the moral inquiry give rise to group learning. It is a process of becoming open towards the perspectives of others, leading to new insights into what is an appropriate emotion in the specific situation. We show how this approach works in moral case deliberation. A physician presents a situation in which he is faced with a pregnant woman who is about to deliver multiple extremely premature infants at the threshold of viability. The moral deliberation of the case and the emotions therein leads to the participants’ conclusion that “compassion” is a more adequate emotion than “sadness”. The emotion “sadness” is pointed towards the tragedy that is happening to the woman. The emotion “compassion” is pointed towards the woman; it combines consideration and professional responsibility. Through the shift towards compassion, participants experienced more creativity and freedom to deal with the sad situation and to support the woman. The paper ends with an analysis and reflection on the deliberation process. In the conclusion we argue for more attention to emotions in clinical ethics support and offer some directions for doing this in the right way. (shrink)
In the last decades there has been a great controversy about the scientific status of emotion categories. This controversy stems from the idea that emotions are heterogeneous phenomena, which precludes classifying them under a common kind. In this article, I analyze this claim—which I call the Variability Thesis—and argue that as it stands, it is problematically underdefined. To show this, I examine a recent formulation of the thesis as offered by Scarantino (2015). On one hand, I raise some issues regarding (...) the logical structure of the claim. On the other hand, and most importantly, I show that the Variability Thesis requires a consensus about what counts as a relevant pattern of response in different domains, a consensus that is lacking in the current literature. This makes it difficult to assess what counts as evidence for or against this thesis. As a result, arguments based on the Variability Thesis are unwarranted. This raises serious concerns about some current empirical theories of emotions, but also sheds light on the issue of the scientific status of emotion categories. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop a fresh understanding of the sense in which emotions are evaluations. We argue that we should not follow mainstream accounts in locating the emotion–value connection at the level of content and that we should instead locate it at the level of attitudes or modes. We begin by explaining the contrast between content and attitude, a contrast in the light of which we review the leading contemporary accounts of the emotions. We next offer reasons to think (...) that these accounts face substantial problems since they locate the link emotions bear to values at the level of content. This provides the incentive to pursue an alternative approach according to which emotions qualify as evaluations because they are specific types of attitudes, an approach we substantiate by appealing to felt bodily stances. We conclude by considering two reasons why this approach may be resisted; they respectively pertain to the alleged impossibility of drawing the attitude–content contrast in the case of the emotions and to the suspicion that so doing raises qualia-related worries. (shrink)
Emotions and personhood are important notions within the field of mental health care. How they are related is less evident. This book provides a framework for understanding the important and complex relationship between our emotional wellbeing and our sense of self, drawing on psychopathology, philosophy, and phenomenology.
Emotions, I will argue, involve two kinds of feeling: bodily feeling and feeling towards. Both are intentional, in the sense of being directed towards an object. Bodily feelings are directed towards the condition of one's body, although they can reveal truths about the world beyond the bounds of one's body – that, for example, there is something dangerous nearby. Feelings towards are directed towards the object of the emotion – a thing or a person, a state of affairs, an action (...) or an event; such emotional feelings involve a special way of thinking of the object of the emotion, and I draw an analogy with Frank Jackson's well-known knowledge argument to show this. Finally, I try to show that, even if materialism is true, the phenomenology of emotional feelings, as described from a personal perspective, cannot be captured using only the theoretical concepts available for the impersonal stance of the sciences. (shrink)
I discuss a large number of emotions that are relevant to performance at epistemic tasks. My central concern is the possibility that it is not the emotions that are most relevant to success of these tasks but associated virtues. I present cases in which it does seem to be the emotions rather than the virtues that are doing the work. I end of the paper by mentioning the connections between desirable and undesirable epistemic emotions.
ABSTRACT Some epistemologists hold that all rational norms are fundamentally concerned with the agent’s states or attitudes at an individual time [Hedden 2015, 2016; Moss 2015]; others argue that all rational norms are fundamentally concerned with processes [Podgorski 2017]. This distinction is not drawn in discussions of emotional rationality. As a result, a widely held assumption in the literature on emotional rationality has gone unexamined. I employ Abelard Podgorski’s argument from rational delay to argue that many emotional norms are fundamentally (...) concerned with emotional processes. I also claim that the main response available to the synchronist about belief is not available to the synchronist about emotions and, therefore, fundamental process norms are more plausible than epistemologists tend to believe. (shrink)
It is often claimed that emotions are linked to formal objects. But what are formal objects? What roles do they play? According to some philosophers, formal objects are axiological properties which individuate emotions, make them intelligible and give their correctness conditions. In this paper, I evaluate these claims in order to answer the above questions. I first give reasons to doubt the thesis that formal objects individuate emotions. Second, I distinguish different ways in which emotions are intelligible and argue that (...) philosophers are wrong in claiming that emotions only make sense when they are based on prior sources of axiological information. Third, I investigate how issues of intelligibility connect with the correctness conditions of emotions. I defend a theory according to which emotions do not respond to axiological information, but to non-axiological reasons. According to this theory, we can allocate fundamental roles to the formal objects of emotions while dispensing with the problematic features of other theories. (shrink)
Stocker intends this book to redress the common failures of contemporary moral philosophers to see the importance of emotions for their field. His aim is not merely to point out deficiencies in current thinking about emotions and their place in ethics, however. It is also to show how emotions are important for ethics. The book is divided into ten chapters, four of which are written in collaboration with Elizabeth Hegeman, an anthropologist and psychoanalyst. The first seven present criticisms of current (...) thinking and argue for some general theses about the way emotions are related to values. The last three examine specific emotions, notably, compassion, pity, pride, shame, and anger. They serve to substantiate the general theses about the way emotions are related to values that the first seven chapters promote. In this review I will concentrate on the material in these first seven chapters. Though some of it is jointly authored, I will for convenience' sake mostly refer just to Stocker as the author. (shrink)
In recent years, several minimalist accounts of joint action have been offered (e.g. Tollefsen Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35:75–97, 2005; Sebanz et al. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31(6): 234–1246, 2006; Vesper et al. Neural Networks 23 (8/9): 998–1003, 2010), which seek to address some of the shortcomings of classical accounts. Minimalist accounts seek to reduce the cognitive complexity demanded by classical accounts either by leaving out shared intentions or by characterizing them in a way that (...) does not demand common knowledge of complex, interconnected structures of intentions. Moreover, they propose models of the actual factors facilitating online coordination of movements. The present proposal aims to enrich a minimalist framework by showing how shared emotions can facilitate coordination without presupposing common knowledge of complex, interconnected structures of intentions. Shared emotions are defined for the purposes of this paper as affective states that fulfill two minimal criteria: (a) they are expressed (verbally or otherwise) by one person; and (b) the expression is perceived (consciously or unconsciously) by another person. Various ways in which the fulfillment of (a) and (b) can lead to effects that function as coordinating factors in joint action are distinguished and discussed. (shrink)
The emerging consensus in the philosophy of cognition is that cognition is situated, i.e., dependent upon or co-constituted by the body, the environment, and/or the embodied interaction with it. But what about emotions? If the brain alone cannot do much thinking, can the brain alone do some emoting? If not, what else is needed? Do (some) emotions (sometimes) cross an individual's boundary? If so, what kinds of supra-individual systems can be bearers of affective states, and why? And does that make (...) emotions ?embedded? or ?extended? in the sense cognition is said to be embedded and extended? Section 2 shows why it is important to understand in which sense body, environment, and our embodied interaction with the world contribute to our affective life. Section 3 introduces some key concepts of the debate about situated cognition. Section 4 draws attention to an important disanalogy between cognition and emotion with regard to the role of the body. Section 5 shows under which conditions a contribution by the environment results in non-trivial cases of ?embedded? emotions. Section 6 is concerned with affective phenomena that seem to cross the organismic boundaries of an individual, in particular with the idea that emotions are ?extended? or ?distributed.? (shrink)
The challenge of explaining the emotions has engaged the attention of the best minds in philosophy and science throughout history. Part of the fascination has been that the emotions resist classification. As adequate account therefore requires receptivity to knowledge from a variety of sources. The philosopher must inform himself of the relevant empirical investigation to arrive at a definition, and the scientist cannot afford to be naive about the assumptions built into his conceptual apparatus. The contributors to this volume have (...) approached the problem of characterizing and classifying emotions from the perspectives of neurophysiology, psychology, and social psychology as well as that of philosophical psychology. They discuss the difficulties that arise in classifying the emotions, assessing their appropriateness and rationality, and determining their function in motivating moral action. (shrink)
DO WE CHOOSE OUR EMOTIONS? Can we be held responsible for our anger? for feeling jealousy? for falling in love or succumbing to resentment or hatred? The suggestion sounds odd because emotions are typically considered occurrences that happen to us: emotions are taken to be the hallmark of the irrational and the disruptive. Controlling one’s emotion is supposed to be like the caging and taming of a wild beast, the suppression and sublimation of a Freudian "it.".
Pre-theoretically, it seems obvious that there are deep and multifarious relations between memory and emotions. On the one hand, a large chunk of our affective lives concerns the good and bad events that happened to us and that we preserve in memory. This is one amongst the many ways in which memory is relevant to the nature and causation of emotions. What does recent research teach us about these relations? § 1 surveys some key issues in this regard. On the (...) other hand, which events we happen to preserve in memory very much depends on how we affectively reacted to them when they took place. Emotions are relevant to the nature and causation of memory in this and many other ways. Key issues regarding these relations are surveyed in § 2. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that emotions have particular intentional objects. This assumption is consistent with the way that we talk: when we attribute states of anger, we often attribute anger at someone, or at something. It is also consistent with leading theories of emotion among philosophers and psychologists, according to which emotions are like judgments or appraisals. However, there is evidence from the social psychology literature suggesting that this assumption is actually false. I will begin by presenting a criterion for (...) determining whether a mental state has a particular object. It is not sufficient for that state to be caused by an object or by a representation of a given object—the state must influence the subject’s thought and behavior in ways that are specific to that object. I will present evidence that emotions fail this test, and describe some of the reasons why we persistently attribute objects to our emotions. My view may seem untenable, because the literature on various aspects of emotional life such as normativity, linguistic expression, and behavioral influence consistently appeals to intentional objects. I will conclude by presenting a sketch of how I could address this concern. (shrink)
Emotions are the focus of intense debate both in contemporary philosophy and psychology, and increasingly also in the history of ideas. Simo Knuuttila presents a comprehensive survey of philosophical theories of emotion from Plato to Renaissance times, combining rigorous philosophical analysis with careful historical reconstruction. The first part of the book covers the conceptions of Plato and Aristotle and later ancient views from Stoicism to Neoplatonism and, in addition, their reception and transformation by early Christian thinkers from Clement and Origen (...) to Augustine and Cassian. Knuuttila then proceeds to a discussion of ancient themes in medieval thought, and of new medieval conceptions, codified in the so-called faculty psychology from Avicenna to Aquinas, in thirteenth century taxonomies, and in the voluntarist approach of Duns Scotus, William Ockham, and their followers. Philosophers, classicists, historians of philosophy, historians of psychology, and anyone interested in emotion will find much to stimulate them in this fascinating book. (shrink)
Evolutionary approaches to the emotions have traditionally focused on a subset of emotions that are shared with other species, characterized by distinct signals, and designed to solve a few key adaptive problems. By contrast, an evolutionary psychological approach broadens the range of adaptive problems emotions have evolved to solve, includes emotions that lack distinctive signals and are unique to humans, and synthesizes an evolutionary approach with an information-processing perspective. On this view, emotions are superordinate mechanisms that evolved to coordinate the (...) activity of other programs in the solution of adaptive problems. We illustrate the heuristic value of this approach by furnishing novel hypotheses for disgust and sexual arousal and highlighting unexplored areas of research. (shrink)
This essay develops a comparison between the Stoic and Daoist theories of emotions in order to provide a new interpretation of the emotional life of the wise person according to the Daoist classic Zhuangzi 莊子, and to shed light on larger divergences between the Greco-Roman and Chinese intellectual traditions. The core argument is that both Zhuangzi and the Stoics believed that there is a peculiar kind of emotional responses that emerge by themselves and are therefore wholly natural, since they do (...) not involve evaluative judgment and desire, and distinguished them sharply from emotions, or “passions,” that arise as a result of mistaken evaluative judgments and artificial additions to things as they are, as well as to self-emerging feelings themselves. It is argued that while both Zhuangzi and the Stoics acknowledged the natural and therefore normative status of self-emerging feelings, Zhuangzi assessed them more favorably than the Stoics. The final part of the essay suggests that this divergence can be ultimately traced to different dichotomies that structured the debates in both traditions: rational versus non-rational in the Greco-Roman tradition, and artificial versus natural in the Chinese. (shrink)
The term “emotional practices” is gaining currency in the historical study of emotions. This essay discusses the theoretical and methodological implications of this concept. A definition of emotion informed by practice theory promises to bridge persistent dichotomies with which historians of emotion grapple, such as body and mind, structure and agency, as well as expression and experience. Practice theory emphasizes the importance of habituation and social context and is thus consistent with, and could enrich, psychological models of situated, distributed, and (...) embodied cognition and their approaches to the study of emotion.It is suggested here that practices not only generate emotions, but that emotions themselves can be viewed as a practical engagement with the world. Conceiving of emotions as practices means understanding them as emerging from bodily dispositions conditioned by a social context, which always has cultural and historical specificity. Emotion-as-practice is bound up with and dependent on “emotional practices,” defined here as practices involving the self , language, material artifacts, the environment, and other people. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus, the essay emphasizes that the body is not a static, timeless, universal foundation that produces ahistorical emotional arousal, but is itself socially situated, adaptive, trained, plastic, and thus historical. Four kinds of emotional practices that make use of the capacities of a body trained by specific social settings and power relations are sketched out—mobilizing, naming, communicating, and regulating emotion—as are consequences for method in historical research. (shrink)
Prior used our emotions to argue that tensed language cannot be translated by tenseless language. However, it is widely accepted that Mellor and MacBeath have shown that our emotions do not imply the existence of tensed facts. I criticise this orthodoxy. There is a natural and plausible view of the appropriateness of emotions which in combination with Prior’s argument implies the existence of tensed facts. The Mellor/MacBeath position does nothing to upset this natural view and therefore is not sufficient to (...) block one drawing conclusions for the metaphysics of time from the nature of our emotions. (shrink)
'Understanding Emotions' presents eight original essays on the emotions from leading contemporary philosophers in North America and the U.K - Simon Blackburn, Bill Brewer, Peter Goldie, Dan Hutto, Adam Morton, Michael Stocker, Barry Smith, and Finn Spicer. Goldie and Spicer's introductory chapter sets out the key themes of the ensuing chapters - surveying contemporary philosophical thinking about the emotions, and raising challenges to a number of prejudices that are sometimes brought to the topic from elsewhere in the philosophy of mind (...) and moral philosophy. Brewer, Hutto, Goldie and Smith explore the conceptual and epistemological problems of other minds that the emotions raise, and how the emotions can be a source of knowledge of the world around us. The chapters by Stocker, Blackburn and Morton are broadly concerned with issues in morality - Stocker argues for the traditional Aristotelian view that emotions reveal value and are constitutive of value; Blackburn, from a more Augustinian perspective, argues that the virtuous person, like the rest of us, will be emotional but he or she will have the right emotions towards the right objects; Morton questions the idea of emotions and narrative as sources of self-understanding. An extensive bibliography completes the book. Drawing together the arguments of leading contemporary philosophers, focusing on issues in the philosophy of mind, epistemology and moral philosophy, this book offers a wide and deep understanding of the emotions, and will be of interest across the philosophical spectrum to students and researchers of this fascinating and important topic. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider the question of whether there exists an essential relation between emotions and wellbeing. We distinguish three ways in which emotions and wellbeing might be essentially related: constitutive, causal, and epistemic. We argue that, while there is some room for holding that emotions are constitutive ingredients of an individual’s wellbeing, all the attempts to characterise the causal and epistemic relations in an essentialist way are vulnerable to some important objections. We conclude that the causal and epistemic (...) relation between emotions and wellbeing is much less strong than is commonly thought. (shrink)
A number of emotion theorists hold that emotions are perceptions of value. In this paper I say why they are wrong. I claim that in the case of emotion there is nothing that can provide the perceptual modality that is needed if the perceptual theory is to succeed (where by ‘perceptual modality’ I mean the particular manner in which something is perceived). I argue that the five sensory modalities are not possible candidates for providing us with ‘emotional perception’. But I (...) also say why the usual candidate offered – namely feeling or affectivity – does not give us the sought-after perceptual modality. I conclude that as there seems to be nothing else that can provide the needed perceptual modality, we should reject the perceptual theory of emotion.1. (shrink)
Our sense of time is altered by our emotions to such an extent that time seems to fly when we are having fun and drags when we are bored. Recent studies using standardized emotional material provide a unique opportunity for understanding the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the effects of emotion on timing and time perception in the milliseconds-to-hours range. We outline how these new findings can be explained within the framework of internal-clock models and describe how emotional arousal and valence (...) interact to produce both increases and decreases in attentional time sharing and clock speed. The study of time and emotion is at a crossroads, and we outline possible examples for future directions. (shrink)
The general aim of this article is to consider whether various affective phenomena – feelings like the feeling of knowing, of familiarity, of certainty, etc., but also phenomena like curiosity, interest, surprise and trust – which have been labelled “epistemic emotions” in fact constitute a uniﬁed kind, i.e., the kind of the so-called “epistemic emotions”. Obviously, for an affective phenomenon to belong to the kind of the epistemic emotions, it has to meet two conditions: it has to qualify, ﬁrst, as (...) an emotion, and, second, as an epistemic one. The paper is structured accordingly. The ﬁrst part is devoted to the question whether the aforementioned affective phenomena really are emotions, while the second part bears on their hypothetical common epistemicity. (shrink)
A popular idea at present is that emotions are perceptions of values. Most defenders of this idea have interpreted it as the perceptual thesis that emotions present (rather than merely represent) evaluative states of affairs in the way sensory experiences present us with sensible aspects of the world. We argue against the perceptual thesis. We show that the phenomenology of emotions is compatible with the fact that the evaluative aspect of apparent emotional contents has been incorporated from outside. We then (...) deal with the only two views that can make sense of the perceptual thesis. On the response–dependence view, emotional experiences present evaluative responsedependent properties (being fearsome, being disgusting, etc.) in the way visual experiences present response-dependent properties such as colors. On the response–independence view, emotional experiences present evaluative response-independent properties (being dangerous, being indigestible, etc.), conceived as ‘Gestalten’ independent of emotional feelings themselves. We show that neither view can make plausible the idea that emotions present values as such, i.e., in an open and transparent way. If emotions have apparent evaluative contents, this is in fact due to evaluative enrichments of the non-evaluative presentational contents of emotions. (shrink)