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Philosophy of Emotion Contemporary analytic philosophy of emotions is currently dominated by two opposing camps. In one camp we have those generally labelled.

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Presentation on theme: "Philosophy of Emotion Contemporary analytic philosophy of emotions is currently dominated by two opposing camps. In one camp we have those generally labelled."— Presentation transcript:

1 Philosophy of Emotion Contemporary analytic philosophy of emotions is currently dominated by two opposing camps. In one camp we have those generally labelled cognitivists and in the other those who favour a Jamesian approach, the neo-Jamesians. The‖term‖’cognitivism‛‖brings together writers on emotions, some of whom might be termed pure cognitivists: e.g. Solomon (1976 & 2003c), Taylor (1985) and Nussbaum (2004); and those who might be termed hybrid cognitivists: e.g. Goldie (2000) Greenspan (1993) Nash (1987) and Stocker (1987). Neo- Jamesianism, as the name suggests, brings together philosophers and psychologists who‖advance‖a‖contemporary‖variant‖of‖William‖James’s‖account‖of‖emotion and in doing so often align themselves with the research program initiated by Darwin ([1872] 1965) and later Ekman (1972); those Darwinian claims are often buttressed by theoretical claims drawn from neuroscience and cognate theories of mind: e.g. Damasio (1994), Prinz (2004) and Robinson (1995).

2 Cognitivists and Jamesians In short, cognitivists take emotions to be centrally, and explain them in terms of, appraisals, judgements or evaluative beliefs; neo-Jamesians explain emotions in terms of awareness of bodily changes, usually patterned changes in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). How the debate is polarised can be captured by returning to a passage from William James’s paper in Mind, published in 1884, a passage frequently quoted and/or referred to by those on either side of the debate. Our natural way of thinking about … emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called the emotion, and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression. My thesis on the contrary is that the bodily changes follow directly the PERCEPTION of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion. (James, 1884: 190-191. Emphasis in original)

3 Cognitivism and Jamesianism The cognitivist philosophers of emotion favour analysis of the thoughts that constitute the emotion, in its social situation or embedded in a narrative: the‖’natural‖way‖of‖thinking‖about‖…‖emotions’,‖as‖James‖puts‖ it. Neo-Jamesians, in following James’s‖claim‖that‖the ‘bodily changes follow directly the PERCEPTION of the exciting fact’‖reject‖the talk of thoughts and favour a cognitive neuroscience approach, sometimes drawing on or appealing to evolutionary psychology/socio-biology.

4 Cognitivism and Jamesianism So, cognitivists depict emotional episodes as fundamentally outward-facing and Jamesians as fundamentally introspective. Cognitivists argue that emotions are rational; Jamesians argue that they are non-rational or rationally inert irruptions in an otherwise rational life (though recently neo-Jamesians have sought to give and account of emotions which can accommodate the rationality of emotion while retaining the central Jamesian commitment, e.g. Prinz). In cognitive theories, intentionality is at centre stage, our thoughts are directed at something in the world; in neo-Jamesian theories, passivity is at centre stage, we are struck by or afflicted by something.

5 COGNITIVISM JAMESIANISM Emotions are centrally appraisals/judgements/evaluations of a certain class or family Emotions are centrally feelings of bodily changes as those changes occur Emotions are rationalEmotions are irrational or simply not rationality-apt. More recently: emotions might be rational but their rationality is anomalous and/or extraneous Emotions are intentionalEmotions are brute Emotional episodes are centrally outward- facing Emotional episodes are centrally introspective Emotional utterance = expression (functionally analogous to a smile, a frown, a grimace or a cry of anguish). The utterance is part of the emotion. Emotional utterance = description (a report of an inner event). The utterance and emotion are discrete; the latter is merely a label we attach to our emotions.

6 COGNITIVISM JAMESIANISM Study of emotion is undertaken by the analysis of thoughts in a social situation and/or embedded in a narrative: Meaning of emotion is central Study of emotion is undertaken by cognitive neuroscience and a study of bodily changes that theorises their evolutionary purpose: Cause of emotion is central We are answerable for our emotionsWe are subject to our emotions Chief influences are philosophers and certain schools of philosophy: Aristotle and the Stoics; Nietzsche, Sartre and Existentialism; and, it is claimed, Wittgenstein. Chief influences are neuroscience and evolutionary biology: Darwin’s‖work‖on‖emotional‖expression‖in‖’man animals‖and work on the ANS Cognitivism’s ‘chain of events’: (i) object—(ii) perception/judgement/belief—(iii) outward behavioural manifestation (i) we lose a loved one—(ii) we are sad—(iii) we cry [because we are sad]; (i) we meet a snake—(ii) we are frightened—(iii) we tremble and run [because we are frightened] (i) we are betrayed by a colleague—(ii) we are angry— (iii) our hands shake, we flush and shout [because we are angry] Jamesian chain of events: (i)object—(ii) bodily change—(iii) awareness of bodily change. (i) we lose a loved one—(ii) we cry—(iii) we are sad [because we cry] (i) we meet a snake—(ii) we tremble and run—(iii) we are frightened [because we tremble] (i) we are betrayed by a colleague—(ii) our hands shake, we flush and shout—(iii) we are angry [because we are shaking, flushing and raising our voice]

7 Deigh’s Emotion Gap John Deigh (2004) has identified that the problem facing theories of emotions in both camps is their inability to cover both of two facts about emotions. Fact one is the intentionality of emotion. Fact two is that, as Deigh puts it, ‘emotions are common to both humans and beasts’ (with caveats that a. humans have a broader set of emotions, and b. we are not committed to all beasts having emotions). Whenever theorists of emotion try to cover intentionality adequately, they do so, according to Deigh, by forgoing the ability to explain emotion in non-human animals. Of course, cognitivists are historically seen as strong on fact one, while Jamesians/Darwinians are taken to be strong on fact two. We might equally observe that it is often taken to be the case that cognitivists face substantial difficulty in acknowledging fact two just as Jamesians, at least appear to, deny fact one.

8 A successful theory of emotions must account for both of these facts [Facts one and two]. It cannot skirt them. Yet accounting for both has proven to be surprisingly difficult. Some theories, particularly the cognitivist theories that have been so influential in philosophy and psychology over the last thirty years, use the first fact as their point of departure and leading idea, but they then have trouble accommodating the second. Other theories, particularly those that have developed under the‖influence‖of‖Darwin’s‖seminal‖work‖The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1998), take the second fact as their springboard, but then they have trouble accommodating the first. The reason in either case, is the way intentional states of mind are typically understood and the way primitive emotions are typically understood. The problem of closing this gap seems to outstrip the resources of these theories. The point is not generally recognised, however. It tends to‖lie‖beyond‖the‖theories’‖horizons. (Deigh, 2004: p. 10)

9 PAUL‖GRIFFITHS:‖THE‖ELIMINATIVIST’S‖RESPONSE Paul Griffiths (1997) has suggested that the problem is the very thought that one can, indeed, provide an account of emotion. For Griffiths, the term “emotion” does not pick out a natural kind, but rather two natural kinds (plus, possibly, one pseudo-kind of “disclaimed action ‘emotions’”). The vernacular concept ‘emotion’, should be eliminated, according to Griffiths, in favour of two new kind terms.‖

10 Two Natural Kinds The first kind of emotions are the “basic emotions”, best explained, according to Griffiths, by Ekman’s “Affect Program research” and complemented by the work of Damasio. These basic emotions are said to roughly correspond to the vernacular emotion concepts of “anger, surprise, joy, and disgust” The second kind of emotions are the “higher cognitive” or “complex” emotions, best explained, according to Griffiths, by evolutionary psychological explanation. These “complex” emotions are said to correspond roughly to the vernacular emotion concepts of “guilt, remorse, loyalty, and shame.”

11 Analogue / Homologue Distinction Griffiths’ response to the problem as identified by Deigh, therefore, is to simply say that providing one theory that covers both facts cannot be done; thus, trying to provide one is ill-conceived. Any‖likeness‖between‖the‖’basic’‖emotions and‖the ’complex’‖emotions is purely analogous. Griffiths imports here a distinction from the philosophy of biology between analogous correspondence and homologous correspondence: the former is merely superficial likeness (a likeness in function or purpose), claims Griffiths. While the latter, homologous correspondence, is real correspondence (a correspondence in essential structural form).

12 Blade Runner Let us imagine two beings who appear to share the same attributes. They look like two healthy human beings. They both feel pain, though one has a higher pain threshold than the other. They respond to loss and bereavement in the same way, though one has experienced much and is now more ‘hardened.’ they understand each other as on occasion being afraid and on having lost a loved one, being grief-stricken. One comforts the other and reports their grief in a certain tone of voice to friends and relatives. In‖this‖way‖they‖acknowledge‖one‖another,‖through acknowledgement of‖one‖another’s fears, grief, joy &c.. All things considered, they are the same sort of being in terms of their lives in the world, their interactions and transactions with others in their shared world. What changes for you about this story if one finds that one of these two beings has radically different biological mechanisms that physically facilitate certain of their typical fear behaviour or grief behaviour?

13 Prinz and the Emotion Problem So we have a serious puzzle. The fact that emotions are meaningful, reason sensitive, and intentional suggests that they must be cognitive. The fact that some emotions arise without intervention of the neocortex suggests that emotions cannot all be cognitive. The emotions that arise in this way seem to be meaningful. This seems to suggest that being meaningful does not require being cognitive. Noncognitive states are explanatorily anaemic and cognitive states are explanatorily superfluous. Noncognitive theories give us too little, and cognitive theories give us too much. Call this the Emotion Problem. (Prinz 2003a: 78)

14 Prinz’s Emotion Problem as a syllogism 1.Cognition is absent. [put Prinz’s‖way: nothing is taking place in the brain which involves the intervention of the neocortex] 2.(while‖‘cognition’‖is‖absent),‖the‖person‖is‖in‖an‖emotional state and‖this‖suggests that something akin to cognition—something that fulfils the outward criteria for being cognition—is taking place. [i.e. something akin to the perception and evaluation of an object] 3.the conclusion drawn is that something else, other than the involvement of the neocortex, must be playing the role of cognition; something noncognitive must give-forth meaning, and must be directed onto things in the world: must be intentional. [Since cognition-as- neural-activity-involving-the-intervention-of-the-neocortex (what Prinz takes to be cognition) is not present, but a meaningful emotional episode is, meaning must emerge from an embodied emotion having semantic properties which enable it to refer in the absence of cognition (in the absence of neocortical intervention).]

15 Prinz’s ‘solution’ to his ‘problem’ Emotions‖can‖be‖individuated‖by‖their‖reliable‖elicitors.‖This suggestion‖can be taken a step further. According to prevailing theories of mental representation, a mental state gets its intentional content in virtue of being reliably caused (or having the function of being reliably caused) by something (Dretske, 1981, 1988;‖Fodor‖1990). Let’s assume that‖a‖theory‖of‖this‖kind,‖whatever the details, is correct.[11] There is some causal relation that confers content. If emotions are perceptions of bodily states, they are caused by changes in the body. But if those changes in the body are reliably caused by core relational themes, then our representations of the body may also represent those themes. (Prinz, 2004: 55)

16 Responding to Prinz We‖are‖told‖by‖Prinz‖that‖cognition‖does not take place because the neocortex does not intervene in the brain processes; hence, we cannot make sense of our emotions having meaning when they occur in the absence of neocortical intervention. The solution is proposed that we have some inner concepts; i.e. the semantically endowed inner concepts of psychosemantics. But if our ordinary (public) concepts were not sufficient for meaning in the absence of neocortical intervention then why are the concepts of psychosemantics? What is the telling difference between our public concepts and those of psychosemantics? The only difference seems to be that the former are outer and public, and the latter are, in some sense, inner and private; this seems far from sufficient for the latter to have any powers over and above those we might predicate of the former.


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