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Emotions and the Self - New suggestion for taxonomy of Emotion - Dina Mendonça Instituto Filosofia.

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Presentation on theme: "Emotions and the Self - New suggestion for taxonomy of Emotion - Dina Mendonça Instituto Filosofia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Emotions and the Self - New suggestion for taxonomy of Emotion - Dina Mendonça Instituto Filosofia Linguagem, UNL III Jornadas Internacionais de Jovens Investigadores de Filosofia Universidade de Évora 6-8 de Junho de 2011

2 The paper proposes that establishing a connection between the concept of core self with the narrative self provides a way to better grasp the dynamic nature of emotions and suggests a surprising novel contribution for emotion taxonomy. Outline 1 st part – Theoretical Background - Problems of emotion taxonomy - Using a situational approach to defining the notion of both minimal and narrative self are given as to highlight their different advantages for emotion study 2 nd part – Comparing fear, joy and pride in core self vs. narrative self - How to compare: Fear, Sadness, Joy and Pride - Exploring examples: how different selves reveal different situations Conclusion: Novel suggestion for emotion taxonomy

3 Problems of emotion taxonomy “Emotions do not form a natural class. A set of distinctions has generally haunted the philosophy of mind stands in the way of giving good descriptions of the phenomena. (…) Historically, the list of emotions has expanded as a result of these controversies. For instance, the opponents of Hobbes, wanting to secure benevolence, sympathy, and other disinterested attitudes as counterbalances to self-interest, introduced them as sentiments with motivational power. Passions became emotions and were classified as activities. When the intentionality of emotions was discussed, the list expanded still further: ressentiment, aesthetic and religious awe, anxiety and dread were included. Emotions became affects or attitudes. As the class grew, its members became more heterogenous; the analysis became more ambiguous; and counterexamples were explained away by charges of self-deception” (Rorty 1980, 105)

4 1.Doing justice to the varied elements an emotion “The Problem of the Plenty is the counterpart to the Problem of Parts. The Problem of Parts asks: What components of an emotion episode are really essential to its being an instance of some particular emotion? The tempting answer is that all parts are essential. The Problem of Plenty then asks: If all parts are essential, how do they hang together into a coherent whole? Put differently, the Problem of Parts asks for essential components, and the Problem of Plenty asks for an essential function of emotions in virtue of which they may have several essential components.” (Prinz 2004, 18) 2.Doing justice to the varied of emotions Dividing emotions between basic and social (Eckman) Dividing emotions into affect, emotion, sentiment (Damásio) Separating emotions with methodological procedure (Griffiths)

5 Self Problems of the self can be tied to three questions (Hardcastle 2008, 1-3) The question of personhood: Which asks about the nature of personhood trying to answer questions such as: What makes a person a person (distinguished from animals and objects)? The question of Identity: Which deals with the problem of determining temporal continuity of the self (am I the same self you saw five years ago) and dealing with giving an explanation of self disorders such as multiple personality, and whether the self is a unity or if in fact there are many selves (my narrative self, my core self) The question of characterization: What is it about me that makes me this person? That is, what crucial aspects of people make them be those specific people. This issues are tied to trying to understand some human actions as when we ask what sort of person would do horrible actions, but also in trying to understand ourselves (how come I acted in this unexpected way) and understanding our emotional ties (why do I like this person, food, activity)

6 In a overview article on the several notions of self, Gallagher (2000) summarizes the continuous ongoing reflection by philosophers, psychologists and other cognitive science experts focusing on two important aspects of the self (Gallagher 2000, 14): The Minimal Self is considered phenomenologicaly, that is, in terms of how one experiences the sense of self and how consciousness of oneself one takes oneself as an immediate subject of experience, unextended in time. As Gallagher writes, “the minimal self almost certainly depends on brain processes and an ecological embedded body, but does not have to know or be aware of this to have an experience that still counts as a self-experience.” (Gallagher 2000, 15) One of the aspects of the minimal self is that is the home of the first-person pronoun “I” in the self- reference way such that it does not allow a mistake. That is, has the feature of immunity to error principle, such that when a person refers to herself she can never make a mistake about it (Gallagher 2000, 15). The Narrative Self is defined as “A more of less coherent self (or self-image) that is constituted with a past and a future in the various stories that we and others tell about ourselves. (Gallagher 2000, 15) The narrative self grants not only a abstract entity of narration as an identity extended in time, but also a sense in which this abstract narrative is in a sense open (not only because future events transform past history) but also because, as Gallagher writes, “we cannot prevent ourselves from ‘inventing’ ourselves.” (Gallagher 2000, 19)

7 Using a situational approach to defining the notion of both minimal and narrative self are given as to highlight their different advantages for emotion study De Sousa paradigm scenario with slight modifications “My hypothesis is this: We are made familiar with the vocabulary of emotion by association with paradigm scenarios. These are drawn first from our daily life as small children and later reinforced by the stories, art, and culture to which we are exposed. Later still, in literate cultures, they are supplemented and refined by literature. Paradigm scenarios involve two aspects: first, a situation type providing the characteristic objects of the specific emotion-type (where objects can be of the various sorts identified in chapter 5), and second, a set of characteristic or “normal” responses to the situation, where normality is first a biological matter and then very quickly becomes a cultural one” (De Sousa 1987, 182). Modifications: situation type includes objects and subject the set of responses includes different levels of response (biological, social, cultural, ill)

8 2 nd part – Comparing fear, joy and pride in minimal self vs. narrative self - How to compare?!? Different offered situations will immediately appeal to a different description of the self. For examples: Feeling fear of a snake - minimal self of losing one’s job - narrative self Feeling sad my friend is crying I lost the watch my grandmother ha given me before she died Feeling joy Being at a party My son finished to read the first book on his own Feeling proud my friend…. my action….. my country

9 One way to answer this is to assume that the Minimal self is a abreviated version of the narrative self.... “We are indebted to Hume for the distinction between the object and the cause of emotions. But that distinction needs to be refined before we can use it to understand Johnh’s emotions condition. In the case of the husband who believed his wife had been killed in a plane crash, the precipitation or immediate cause of the mab’s grief is hearing a newscast anouncing the fatal crash of the plane his wife intended to take. But of course the newscast has such a powerful effect on him because normallysuch news stories are themselves effects of the significant cause of his grief: her death in the fatal plane crash. Often when we find emotions puzzling, it is because we do not see why the immediate cause should have such an effect. The significant cause of an emotion is the set of events – the entire causal history – that explains the efficacy of the immediate or precipitating cause. Often the significant cause is not the immediate past; it may be an event, or a series of events, long forgotten, that formed a set of dispositions which are triggered by the immediate cause. “ (Rorty ) “Certainly emotions are often identified in a rough way without tracing their causal histories; one need not always know why a person is angry to recognize his condition” (Rorty 1980, 120)

10 But let us suppose that one is not reducible to the other.... When we see others we do not see them with their story (though we may be aware how the story has affected them) I have gotten divorced and right after I accepted to be really sad but it turns out I had the most amazing sense of euforia. My sadness could only be seen in light of the divorce story, while the euforia looked puzzling in light of the narrative. One could argue, for example that the sense of euforia and joy were due to a sense of relief. The parent who gets irritated at his children can be an occasional event (because of over stress at work) or a common occurrence whenever any type of stress happens, or a constant attitude happening event.

11 How we design the emotional situation matters to capture the narrative self vs. minimal self Divorce situation: Narrative self feels sad, misery, disapointment Minimal self feels prone to feel joy at minimal things (euforia) This does not prevent someone from feeling sad for other parallel situations: Lost a watch my grandmother had given me before she died My cat died My friend is crying because she feels she can’t cope Giving birth situation Narrative self feels immense sense of joy, happiness, fulfillment Minimal self feels prone to feel joy at minimal things (euforia) This does not prevent someone from feeling fear in other parallel situations: I see a snake in front of me in the path I will lose my job My brother will fail his test

12 Divorce situation and Giving birth situation May offer similar minimal self emotions and yet very different narrative self emotions. But although the Minimal self can be prone to feeling joy it is still the case that this does not prevent someone from feeling sad for other parallel situations: Feeling joy: Got the job I applied for Being at a party My son finished to read the first book on his own What is interesting is the inability to discharge the Narrative Self (example: depression and the use of antidepressants without terapeutical process to accompany it)

13 Raise a problem before I conclude: Pride seems to be different “… a distinction needs to be made between two emotions of simple pride: pride in one’s behaviors (‘achievement-oriented’ pride) and pride in one’s general personal characteristics (‘hubristic pride’) (…) The former type of pride allegedly results from internal, unstable, controllable, specific attributions of the ‘I-am-proud-of-what-I-did’ kind, but the latter from internal, stable, uncontrollable, global attributions of ‘I-am-proud-of-who-I-am’. The underlying assumption is that whereas achievement orientated pride is ‘authentic’ and ‘adaptive’, hubristic pride is ‘inauthentic’, and leads to narcissistic self-aggrandisement (Lewis, 2000; Leary 2007; Tracy and Robins 2004, 2007)” (Kristjánsson 2010, 79)

14 It seems rather difficult to give an example of a situation which gives rise to pride in which we could see how different emotional experiences of minimal self could play out differently…. Even if we contrast it with a situation of humility…. Perhaps because of the nature of pride: pride is a self-conscious emotion. That is: “Those emotions not only involve consciousness of the self; they are – to use the language of intentionality – about the self. The self is, in other words, their direct attentional and intentional object: The self is not only the stage; it is on the stage” (Kristjánsson 2010, 77) Perhaps because I lack (we lack) the mental ability yet to have that idea: the identification of the pride-situation is harder to conceive (but exists)

15 Conclusion: Novel suggestion for emotion taxonomy Novel Suggestion: Instead of labeling emotion based on their “nature” we could label them in terms of the connection to the self And we may find interesting distinctions in sadness, fear, and joy in its appearance in the minimal self with connection with the narrative self. For instance, that some emotions held in the narrative self (sadness) promote, while at the same time diminish, the capacity for some emotions in the minimal self. This may explain why neuroscientists have discovered that one cannot be simultaneously angered and in fear. The suggestion in itself raises further questions that need to be considered in order to make the new taxonomy a worthwhile task. (For example: Which notions of self could be considered? How to read achievements of emotion theory within the new suggestion? What is the status of self-conscious emotions in this novel suggestion?)

16 Bibliography: Gallagher, Shaun S "Philosophical conceptions of the self: implications for cognitive science," Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (1):14-21 Kristjánsson, Kristján. The self and its emotions New York/Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Lewis, M., Takai-Kawakami, K., Kawakami, K., & Sullivan, M. W. (2010). Cultural differences in emotional responses to success and failure. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 34(1), Lewis, Michael., “Self-Conscious Emotions: Embarrassment, pride, Shame and Guilt,” in The Handbook of Emotion, Third Edition, ed. Michael Lewis, Jeannette M. Haviland-Jones and Lisa Feldman- Barrett, New York, NY: Guilford, 2004, pp Mendonça, Dina. “The Pattern of Emotion – Following a Deweyan Suggestion” (Journal of Transactions of Charles Peirce Society forthcoming) Rorty, Amélie O. “Explaining Emotions” in Explaining Emotions (ed. Amélie Rorty) Berkely, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 1980, pp Shariff AF, Tracy JL. (2009). Knowing who's boss: implicit perceptions of status from the nonverbal expression of pride. Emotion. 9(5): 631-9

17 Emotions and the Self - New suggestion for taxonomy of Emotion - Dina Mendonça Instituto Filosofia Linguagem, UNL III Jornadas Internacionais de Jovens Investigadores de Filosofia Universidade de Évora 6-8 de Junho de 2011


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