Emotions and bodily feelings -- Existential feelings -- The phenomenology of touch -- Body and world -- Feeling and belief in the Capgras delusion -- Feelings of deadness and depersonalization -- Existential feeling in schizophrenia -- What William James really said -- Stance, feeling, and belief -- Pathologies of existential feeling.
Experiences of Depression is a philosophical exploration of what it is like to be depressed. In this important new book, Matthew Ratcliffe develops a detailed account of depression experiences by drawing on work in phenomenology, philosophy of mind and psychology, and several other disciplines.
This book proposes a series of interconnected arguments against the view that interpersonal understanding involves the use of a 'folk' or 'commonsense' psychology. Ratcliffe suggests that folk psychology, construed as the attribution of internal mental states in order to predict and explain behaviour, is a theoretically motivated and misleading abstraction from social life. He draws on phenomenology, neuroscience and developmental psychology to offer an alternative account that emphasizes patterned interactions between people in shared social situations.
In Real Hallucinations, Matthew Ratcliffe offers a philosophical examination of the structure of human experience, its vulnerability to disruption, and how it is shaped by relations with other people. He focuses on the seemingly simple question of how we manage to distinguish among our experiences of perceiving, remembering, imagining, and thinking. To answer this question, he first develops a detailed analysis of auditory verbal hallucinations (usually defined as hearing a voice in the absence of a speaker) and thought insertion (somehow (...) experiencing one's own thoughts as someone else's). He shows how thought insertion and many of those experiences labeled as "hallucinations" consist of disturbances in a person's senseof being in one type of intentional state rather than another. Ratcliffe goes on to argue that such experiences occur against a backdrop of less pronounced but wider-ranging alterations in the structure of intentionality. In so doing, he considers forms of experience associated with trauma, schizophrenia, and profound grief. The overall position arrived at is that experience has an essentially temporal structure, involving patterns of anticipation and fulfillment that are specific to types of intentional states and serve to distinguish them phenomenologically. Disturbances of this structure can lead to various kinds of anomalous experience. Importantly, anticipation-fulfillment patterns are sustained, regulated, and disrupted by interpersonal experience and interaction. It follows that the integrity of human experience, including the most basic sense of self, is inseparable from how we relate to other people and to the social world as a whole. (shrink)
This paper addresses the phenomenology of hopelessness. I distinguish two broad kinds of predicament that are easily confused: ‘loss of hopes’ and ‘loss of hope’. I argue that not all hope can be characterised as an intentional state of the form ‘I hope that p’. It is possible to lose all hopes of that kind and yet retain another kind of hope. The hope that remains is not an intentional state or a non-intentional bodily feeling. Rather, it is a ‘pre-intentional’ (...) orientation or ‘existential feeling’, by which I mean something in the context of which certain kinds of intentional state, including intentional hope, are intelligible. I go on to discuss severe depression, lack of aspiration, demoralisation and loss of trust in the world, in order to distinguish some qualitatively different forms that loss of hope can take. (shrink)
There has been much recent philosophical discussion concerning the relationship between emotion and feeling. However, everyday talk of 'feeling' is not restricted to emotional feeling and the current emphasis on emotions has led to a neglect of other kinds of feeling. These include feelings of homeliness, belonging, separation, unfamiliarity, power, control, being part of something, being at one with nature and 'being there'. Such feelings are perhaps not 'emotional'. However, I suggest here that they do form a distinctive group; all (...) of them are ways of 'finding ourselves in the world'. Indeed, our sense that there is a world and that we are 'in it' is, I suggest, constituted by feeling. I offer an analysis of what such 'existential feelings' consist of, showing how they can be both 'bodily feelings' and, at the same time, part of the structure of intentionality. (shrink)
Abstract This paper proposes that adopting a ?phenomenological stance? enables a distinctive kind of empathy, which is required in order to understand forms of experience that occur in psychiatric illness and elsewhere. For the most part, we interpret other people's experiences against the backdrop of a shared world. Hence our attempts to appreciate interpersonal differences do not call into question a deeper level of commonality. A phenomenological stance involves suspending our habitual acceptance of that world. It thus allows us to (...) contemplate the possibility of structurally different ways of ?finding oneself in the world?. Such a stance, I suggest, can be incorporated into an empathetic appreciation of others' experiences, amounting to what we might call ?radical empathy? (shrink)
How we understand the nature and role of grief depends on what we take its object to be and vice versa. This paper focuses on recent claims by philosophers that grief is frequently or even inherently irrational or inappropriate in one or another respect, all of which hinge on assumptions concerning the proper object of grief. By emphasizing the temporally extended structure of grief, we offer an alternative account of its object that undermines these assumptions and dissolves the apparent problems. (...) The principal object of grief, we suggest, is a loss of life possibilities, which is experienced, understood, and engaged with over a prolonged period. Other descriptions of grief's object identify more specific aspects of this loss in ways that do not respect a straightforward distinction between concrete and formal objects. (shrink)
It is generally maintained that emotions consist of intentional states and /or bodily feelings. This paper offers a phenomenological analysis of guilt in severe depression, in order to illustrate how such conceptions fail to adequately accommodate a way in which some emotional experiences are said to be deeper than others. Many emotions are intentional states. However, I propose that the deepest emotions are not intentional but pre-intentional, meaning that they determine which kinds of intentional state are possible. I go on (...) to suggest that pre-intentional emotions are at the same time feelings. In so doing, I reject the distinction that is often made between bodily feelings and the world-oriented aspects of emotion. (shrink)
This paper addresses the nature of sensed-presence experiences that are commonplace among the bereaved and occur cross-culturally. Although these experiences are often labelled ‘‘bereavement hallucinations’’, it is unclear what they consist of. Some seem to involve sensory experiences in one or more modalities, while others involve a non-specific feeling or sense of presence. I focus on a puzzle concerning the latter: it is unclear how an experience of someone’s presence could arise without a more specific sensory content. I suggest that (...) at least some of these experiences consist in a dynamic and non-localized experience of significant and salient possibilities. This can amount to the sense of currently relating to a particular individual and, by implication, a sense of that person’s presence. Where an experience of this kind also includes sensory qualities, they are inessential to the sense of relatedness and perhaps symptomatic of it. (shrink)
I outline the early Heidegger's views on mood and emotion, and then relate his central claims to some recent finding in neuropsychology. These findings complement Heidegger in a number of important ways. More specifically, I suggest that, in order to make sense of certain neurological conditions that traditional assumptions concerning the mind are constitutionally incapable of accommodating, something very like Heidegger's account of mood and emotion needs to be adopted as an interpretive framework. I conclude by supporting Heidegger's insistence that (...) the sciences constitute a derivative means of disclosing the world and our place within it, as opposed to an ontologically and epistemologically privileged domain of inquiry. (shrink)
This paper seeks to illuminate the nature of empathy by reflecting upon the phenomenology of depression. I propose that depression involves alteration of an aspect of experience that is seldom reflected upon or discussed, thus making it hard to understand. This alteration involves impairment or loss of a capacity for interpersonal relatedness that mutual empathy depends upon. The sufferer thus feels cut off from other people, and may remark on their indifference, hostility or inability to understand. Drawing upon the example (...) of depression, I argue that empathy is not principally a matter of ‘simulating’ another person’s experience. It is better conceived of as a perception-like exploration of others’ experiences that develops progressively through certain styles of interpersonal interaction. (shrink)
William James's theory of emotion is often criticized for placing too much emphasis on bodily feelings and neglecting the cognitive aspects of emotion. This paper suggests that such criticisms are misplaced. Interpreting James's account of emotion in the light of his later philosophical writings, I argue that James does not emphasize bodily feelings at the expense of cognition. Rather, his view is that bodily feelings are part of the structure of intentionality. In reconceptualizing the relationship between cognition and affect, James (...) rejects a number of commonplace assumptions concerning the nature of our cognitive relationship with the world, assumptions that many of his critics take for granted. (shrink)
This paper disputes the claim that our understanding of others is enabled by a commonsense or ‘folk’ psychology, whose ‘core’ involves the attribution of intentional states in order to predict and explain behaviour. I argue that interpersonal understanding is seldom, if ever, a matter of two people assigning intentional states to each other but emerges out of a context of interaction between them. Self and other form a coupled system rather than two wholly separate entities equipped with an internalised capacity (...) to assign mental states to the other. This applies even in those instances where one might seem to adopt a ‘detached’ perspective towards others. Thus ‘folk psychology’, as commonly construed, is not folk psychology. (shrink)
This paper explores the phenomenology of touch and proposes that the structure of touch serves to cast light on the more general way in which we 'find ourselves in a world'. Recent philosophical work on perception tends to emphasize vision. This, I suggest, motivates the imposition of a distinction between externally directed perception of objects and internally directed perception of one's own body. In contrast, the phenomenology of touch involves neither firm boundaries between body and world nor perception of bodily (...) states in isolation from perception of everything else. I begin by arguing that touch does not involve two distinct feelings, a feeling of the body and a feeling of something external to the body. Rather, these are inextricable aspects of the same unitary experience, with one or the other occupying the experiential foreground. Then I suggest that tactile experience does not always respect a clear boundary between body and world. In touch, bodily and worldly aspects are experienced in a number of different ways and, in many instances, there is no clear experiential differentiation between the two. Finally, I draw these two points together in order to consider the contribution made by touch to our sense of being situated in a world. (shrink)
This paper addresses the nature of touch or ?tactual perception?. I argue that touch encompasses a wide range of perceptual achievements, that treating it as a number of separate senses will not work, and that the permissive conception we are left with is so permissive that it is unclear how touch might be distinguished from the other senses. I conclude that no criteria will succeed in individuating touch. Although I do not rule out the possibility that this also applies to (...) other senses, I suggest that the heterogeneity of touch makes it both distinctive and particularly problematic. (shrink)
This paper addresses the phenomenology of bodily feeling in depersonalization disorder. We argue that not all bodily feelings are intentional states that have the body or part of it as their object. We distinguish three broad categories of bodily feeling: noematic feeling, noetic feeling, and existential feeling. Then we show how an appreciation of the differences between them can contribute to an understanding of the depersonalization experience.
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folk psychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folk psychology.
This paper addresses Bas van Fraassen's claim that empiricism is a ' stance'. I begin by distinguishing two different kinds of stance: an explicit epistemic policy and an implicit way of ' finding oneself in a world'. At least some of van Fraassen's claims, I suggest, refer to the latter. In explicating his ordinarily implicit ' empirical stance', he assumes the stance of the phenomenologist, describing the structure of his commitment to empiricism without committing to it in the process. This (...) latter stance does not incorporate the attitude that van Fraassen takes to be characteristic of empiricism. Thus its possibility serves to illustrate that empiricism as an all-encompassing philosophical orientation is untenable. I conclude by discussing the part played by feelings in philosophical stances and propose that they contribute to philosophical conviction, commitment and critique. (shrink)
This volume addresses the question of what it is like to be depressed. Despite the vast amount of research that has been conducted into the causes and treatment of depression, the experience of depression remains poorly understood. Indeed, many depression memoirs state that the experience is impossible for others to understand. However, it is at least clear that changes in emotion, mood, and bodily feeling are central to all forms of depression, and these are the book's principal focus. In recent (...) years, there has been a great deal of valuable philosophical and interdisciplinary research on the emotions, complemented by new developments in philosophy of psychiatry and scientifically-informed phenomenology. The book draws on all these areas, in order to offer a range of novel insights into the nature of depression experiences. To do so, it brings together a distinguished group of philosophers, psychiatrists, anthropologists, clinical psychologists and neuroscientists, all of whom have made important contributions to current research on emotion and/or psychiatric illness. (shrink)
This paper explores the phenomenology of the Capgras and Cotard delusions. The former is generally characterised as the belief that relatives or friends have been replaced by impostors, and the latter as the conviction that one is dead or has ceased to exist. A commonly reported feature of these delusions is an experienced ''defamiliarisation'' or even ''derealisation'' of things, which is associated with an absence or distortion of affect. I suggest that the importance attributed to affect by current explanations of (...) delusional experience can serve to make explicit the manner in which we ordinarily experience the world under a taken-for-granted aspect of affective familiarity. This implicit feeling is, I argue, partly constitutive of our sense of reality. However, so-called ''folk psychology,'' which is generally adopted by philosophers as an initial interpretive backdrop for delusional beliefs and for beliefs more generally, fails to accommodate it. As a consequence, some pervasive philosophical assumptions concerning the manner in which we experience and understand the world, ourselves, and each other are called into question. (shrink)
Phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty reject the kind of scientific naturalism or that takes empirical science to be epistemologically and metaphysically privileged over all other forms of enquiry. In this paper, I will consider one of their principal complaints against naturalism, that scientific accounts of things are oblivious to a that is presupposed by the intelligibility of science. Focusing mostly upon Husserl's work, I attempt to clarify the nature of this complaint and state it in the form of (...) an argument. I conclude that the argument is effective in exposing naturalism's reliance upon impoverished conceptions of human experience, and that it also weakens the more general case for naturalism. (shrink)
I examine the way in which Daniel Dennett (1987, 1995) uses his 'intentional' and 'design' stances to make the claim that intentionality is derived from design. I suggest that Dennett is best understood as attempting to supply an objective, nonintentional, naturalistic rationale for our use of intentional concepts. However, I demonstrate that his overall picture presupposes prior application of the intentional stance in a preconditional, ineliminable,'sense-giving' role. Construed as such, Dennett's account is almost identical to the account of biological teleology (...) offered by Kant in The Critique of Judgement, with the consequence that Dennett's naturalism is untenable. My conclusions lead to doubts concerning the legitimacy of any account attempting to naturalise intentionality by extracting normativity from biology and also point to a novel account of biological function. (shrink)
Contemporary analyses of biological function almost invariably advocate a naturalistic analysis, grounding biological functions in some feature of the mind-independent world. Many recent accounts suggest that no single analysis will be appropriate for all cases of use and that biological teleology should be split into several distinct categories. This paper argues that such accounts have paid too little attention to the way in which functional language is used, concentrating instead on the types of situation in which it is used. An (...) example of the role of teleology in science is examined and, on the basis of conclusions drawn from this, an alternative unifying analysis is proposed. It is suggested that, contrary to naturalistic accounts, teleology in biology carries no ontological commitment whatsoever to any class of mind-independent entities or properties. Instead, it is best regarded as a methodological device which is used to focus interest, formulate research perspectives and facilitate the structuring of certain questions or types of question that are pertinent in a given context of interest. (shrink)
This paper argues that the DSM diagnostic category 'major depression' is so permissive that it fails to distinguish the phenomenology of depression from a general 'feeling of being ill' that is associated with a range of somatic illnesses. We start by emphasizing that altered bodily experience is a conspicuous and commonplace symptom of depression. We add that the experience of somatic illness is not exclusively bodily; it can involve more pervasive experiential changes that are not dissimilar to those associated with (...) depression. Then we consider some recent work on inflammation and depression, which suggests that the experience of depression and the 'feeling of being ill' are, in some cases at least, much the same . However, we add that the phenomenology of depression is heterogeneous and that many cases involve additional or different symptoms. We conclude that 'major depression' is a placeholder for a range of different experiences, which are almost certainly aetiologically diverse too. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel argues that the subjective character of mind inevitably eludes philosophical efforts to incorporate the mental into a single, complete, physically objective view of the world. Nagel sees contemporary philosophy as caught on the horns of a dilemma.
This paper draws on studies of the Capgras delusion in order to illuminate the phenomenological role of affect in interpersonal recognition. People with this delusion maintain that familiars, such as spouses, have been replaced by impostors. It is generally agreed that the delusion involves an anomalous experience, arising due to loss of affect. However, quite what this experience consists of remains unclear. I argue that recent accounts of the Capgras delusion incorporate an impoverished conception of experience, which fails to accommodate (...) the role played by ‘affective relatedness’ in constituting (a) a sense of who a particular person is and (b) a sense of others as people rather than impersonal objects. I draw on the phenomenological concept of horizon to offer an interpretation of the Capgras experience that shows how the content ‘this entity is not my spouse but an impostor’ can be part of the experience, rather than something that is inferred from a strange experience. (shrink)
Recent philosophical discussions of intersubjectivity generally start by stating or assuming that our ability to understand and interact with others is enabled by a ‘folk psychology’ or ‘theory of mind’. Folk psychology is characterized as the ability to attribute intentional states, such as beliefs and desires, to others, in order to predict and explain their behaviour. Many authors claim that this ability is not merely one amongst many constituents of interpersonal understanding but an underlying core that enables social life. For (...) example, Churchland states that folk psychology ‘embodies our baseline understanding’ of others. Currie and Sterelny similarly assert that ‘our basic grip on the social world depends on our being able to see our fellows as motivated by beliefs and desires we sometimes share and sometimes do not’. And, as Frith and Happé put it, ‘this ability appears to be a prerequisite for normal social interaction: in everyday life we make sense of each other’s behaviour by appeal to a belief-desire psychology’. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article addresses the question of whether certain experiences that originate in causes other than bereavement are properly termed ‘grief’. To do so, we focus on widespread experiences of grief that have been reported during the Covid-19 pandemic. We consider two potential objections to a more permissive use of the term: grief is, by definition, a response to a death; grief is subject to certain norms that apply only to the case of bereavement. Having shown that these objections are unconvincing, (...) we sketch a positive case for a conception of grief that is not specific to bereavement, by noting some features that grief following bereavement shares with other experiences of loss. (shrink)
I argue that the task of describing our so-called 'folk psychology' requires difficult philosophical work. Consequently, any statement of the folk view is actually a debatable philosophical posi-tion, rather than an uncontroversial description of pre-philosophical commonsense. The problem with the current folk psychology debate, I suggest, is that the relevant philosophical work has not been done. Consequently, the orthodox account of folk psychology is an uninfor-mative caricature of an understanding that is implicit in everyday discourse and social interaction, and also (...) in literary narratives. I conclude by considering two recent departures from it, so-called 'experimental philosophy' and Daniel Hutto's 'narrative practice hypothesis'. Both, I claim, take steps in the right direction but retain unhelpful assumptions that they inherit from the orthodox view. (shrink)
This paper sketches an account of what distinguishes emotional intentionality from other forms of intentionality. I focus on the ‘two-sided’ structure of emotional experience. Emotions such as being afraid of something and being angry about something involve intentional states with specific contents. However, experiencing an entity, event, or situation in a distinctively emotional way also includes a wider-ranging disturbance of the experiential world within which the object of emotion is encountered. I consider the nature of this disturbance and its relationship (...) to the localized content of an emotional experience. (shrink)
This essay begins with an outline of the early Heidegger's distinction between beings and the Being1 of those beings, followed by a discussion of Heideggerian teleology. It then turns to contemporary analytic metaphysics to suggest that analytic metaphysics concerns itself wholly with beings and does not recognize distinct forms of questioning concerning what Heidegger calls Being . This difference having been clarified, studies of identity and individuation in the analytic tradition are examined and it is demonstrated that such inquiries have (...) far more in common with Heidegger than one might initially suspect. Indeed, it turns out that much of what the early Heidegger says about Being is tacitly presupposed by the workings of certain being-centric metaphysical projects in the analytic tradition. The discussion concludes with the suggestion that the central difference between the two projects should be understood as one of emphasis and that Heidegger's discussion of Being and a realist metaphysics in the analytic tradition can complement each other as aspects of a broader, more unified philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
This article draws out an epistemological tension implicit in Cosmides and Tooby's conception of evolutionary psychology. Cosmides and Tooby think of the mind as a collection of functionally individuated, domain-specific modules. Although they do not explicitly deny the existence of domain-general processes, it will be shown that their methodology commits them to the assumption that only domain-specific cognitive processes are capable of producing useful outputs. The resultant view limits the scope of biologically possible cognitive accomplishments and these limitations, it will (...) be argued, are such as to deny us epistemic capacities that evolutionary psychology presupposes in its pursuit of an objective, comprehensive account of human nature. (shrink)
Is there a sense in which we can be said to empathize with a philosophical position and, if so, what does empathy consist of here? Drawing on themes in the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I sketch an account of the relationship between philosophical language and philosophical thought, according to which the task of understanding, evaluating, and building upon an explicit philosophical position can involve engaging with the experiential world of its author. If accepted, this account has broader implications for how (...) we conceive of both empathy and philosophical thought. (shrink)
At the time of writing, euthanasia for psychiatric conditions is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands, in cases that are judged to involve unbearable and untreatable suffering. There is a difference between ‘euthanasia’ and ‘assisted suicide’ or ‘assisted dying’. Although I will refer for the most part to ‘psychiatric euthanasia,’ my points apply equally to assisted dying. Even where these practices are legal, they are highly controversial. One case, in particular, received considerable media attention. In the Netherlands, on January 26, (...) 2018, a 29-year-old woman called Aurelia Brouwers ended her life... (shrink)
In this paper, I address the question of what an evolutionary account of intentional states should look like. I suggest that many accounts rest on the assumption that, so far as intentionality is concerned, differences between animal species should be understood solely in terms of comparative sophistication. I argue that this assumption is misguided. Such accounts ignore an important biological distinction between functional and anatomical characterisations and seek to explain comparative differences that are symptomatic of functional divergence by appealing solely (...) to a cognitive analogue of anatomical complexity. This results in accounts that are fundamentally incomplete or beside the point. (shrink)