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Philosophical Foundations of Emotion

Philosophical Foundations of Emotion. Dualism across the centuries. The Recent Interest in Emotion.

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Philosophical Foundations of Emotion

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  1. Philosophical Foundations of Emotion Dualism across the centuries K.Kafetsios 1999

  2. The Recent Interest in Emotion • "the emotions are excellent examples of the fictional causes to which we commonly attribute behaviour. The names of the so-called emotions serve to classify behavior with respect to various circumstances whichaffect its probability" (Skinner, 1953) • "Emotions are organized, meaningful, generally adaptive action systems. Emotions are complex, functional wholes, including appraisals or appreciations, patterened physiological processes, action tendencies, subjective feelilngs, expressions, and instrumental behaviours. None of these features is necessary for a particular instance of emotion" (Fischer, Shaver & Carnochan, 1990) K.Kafetsios 1999

  3. Some Basic Questions • How many basic emotions ? • What distinguishes emotions from moods, personality traits etc ? • What is the function of emotions ? • What is the relationship between emotion and cognition ? • What is the difference between normal and abnormal emotion ? K.Kafetsios 1999

  4. Structure of the Lecture: The two main discourses • Dualistic • Plato - : Divine soul vs. Earthly body • & René Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, William James • Functional • Aristotle - : “Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to become angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way- this is not easy” Nicomachean Ethics • , Thomas Acquinas, Baruch Spinoza K.Kafetsios 1999

  5. Emotions are in the soul Soul has three parts: reason desire appetite Emotions are uncontrollable and in direct contrast with reason The seeds of two influencial modern ideas: rationality and emotionality are in direct contrast they are central to psychological conflict, (see Freud) Plato’s view of emotion K.Kafetsios 1999

  6. Plato : The republic, 1977b, 644 • “What if a man believes himself wronged ? I asked. Is the spirit within him not boiling and angry, fighting for what he believes to be just ? Will he not endure hunger and cold, and such things and carry on till he wins out ? • In Plato’s writings we have the seeds of two influencial modern ideas: • rationality and emotionality are in direct contrast • they are central to psychological conflict, (see Freud) K.Kafetsios 1999

  7. René Descartes, The Passions of the Soul (1649) • Bodily organs (nerves, blood etc.) are controlled by the bodily spirits • The soul is in touch with the bodily spirits via the pineal gland. • Experiences such as : seeing, hearing, feeling pain, hunger, fear, angry, are all forms of movement of bodily spirits via the pineal gland • Soul: - actions of the soul & passions K.Kafetsios 1999

  8. Descartes had a good idea of neurophysiology K.Kafetsios 1999

  9. 1. A. Sees the Bear and this causes bodily spirits (BS) 2. BS flow via the pineal gland and ‘inform’ the soul 3. Consequently, the soul experiences fear. This idea of emotions as arising from bodily reaction in an epiphenomenal way without and functional relationhip to the external cause has been termed the FEELING THEORY OF EMOTION (FTE) Why is Anna afraid of the Bear ? (acc. To Descartes) K.Kafetsios 1999

  10. Criticisms of the FTE (usually by cognitivists) • Dualistic, hence traditional (ie. Following Plato and the Christians) • Ok, feelings cause emotions, but don’t emotions cause feelings (eg.Anna is angry with her husband and wants to hit him) • Are there appropriate or inappropriate emotions (functionalism), Descartes does not tackle this • How is one emotion different from another ? • Wittgenstein: private meanings of words and terms K.Kafetsios 1999

  11. Aristotle : Rhetoric • Emotions are connected to what we believe • “The emotions are all those feelings that so change [people] that as to affect their judgments, and are also attended by pain or pleasure” ( 1378a, 1.20) • Emotion and belief: “when people are feeling friendly and placable they think one sort of thing; when they are feeling angry or hostile, they think either something totally different or the same thing with different intensity” (1377b, 1.29) K.Kafetsios 1999

  12. The Aristotelian (functionalist)view of emotion/s I • Distinguishes between matter and form (eg. Chair: matter-wood, form- sit on) • Functionalism analyses concepts in terms of their form • Why do we have emotions ? so that we can act (retaliate when angry, approach when in love etc.). • How many emotions ? 10: 4 positive- calm, friendship, flavour, pity // 6 negative - anger, fear, shame, indignation, envy and jealousy K.Kafetsios 1999

  13. The Aristotelian (functionalist)view of emotion/s II • What gives rise to emotions ? • Individual in appropriate state of mind • Correct ‘stimulus’ • Correct object • Individuals who are in the state of mind of smth. dangerous happening to them • when confronted with a rival of something they expect (object) • might evaluate the situation as danger (stimulus) K.Kafetsios 1999

  14. Aristotle’s Contributions • Emotions are strongly related to cognition • Emotions are pleasant or unpleasant • Emotions lead to action • “Anger can be defined as an impulse accompanied by pain” • ‘Καθαρση- Katharsis’ in drama: clarification, uploading of emotional weight. K.Kafetsios 1999

  15. FEELING Plato Descartes (bodily movements Thomas Acquinas (approach-avoidance) COGNITIVE Aristotle Descartes (evaluation of the soul) Acquinas (secondary evaluation : fear) Spinoza Overview of philosophical approaches to emotion K.Kafetsios 1999

  16. William James’ Feeling Theory • ‘What is an Emotion ?’ (1884) & The Principles of Psychology (1990) • Follows the Cartesian model • “Bodily changes follow directly from the exciting fact” (1890 p743) • Emphasis on physiological aspects • Hence, amenable to measurement (e.g. Lie detector) • ‘if we fancy some strong emotion and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its bodily symptoms, we find we have nothing left behind’ (p/451, 1890) K.Kafetsios 1999

  17. James and Feelings • Emphasised the embodiment of emotions (feelings) • Bodily sensations (affect I will call it) contribute to the intensity of emotion. • E.g. Vallins (1966) experimented with the heart beat. • Understanding your feelings is a way in reducing negative ones. • Emotion gives ‘colour’ to experience K.Kafetsios 1999

  18. William Jame’s view of emotion K.Kafetsios 1999

  19. References • Aristotle (1984). Complete works. Revised Oxford translation in 2 volumes • (J.Barnes, Ed.) Princeton, NJ: Princenton University Press. • Descartes, R. (1649). Passions of the soul. In E.L. Haldane & G.R.Ross (Eds.), The philosophical works of Descartes. New York: Harper & Row# • De Souza, R. (1987). The rationality of emotion. Cambridge: MIT Press • Jenkins,J. M., Oatley, K., and Stein,N.L. (1998), Human Emotion: A reader. Oxford: Blackwell. • Spinoza, B. (1675). The ethics (R.H.M.Elwes, Trans.) New York: Dover • Plato (375BCE). The republic. Middlesex: Penguin • Power, M.& Dalgleish, T. (1997). Cognition and Emotion. Hove: The Psychology Press (Chpt 2, pp. 17-38). • James, W. (1884). What is an emotion? Mind, 9, 188-205. • Freud, S. (1937). The ego and the mechanisms of defense. London: Hogarth Press • Cannon, W. (1927). The James-Lange theory of Emotions: A critical examination and an Alternative Theory”. American Journal of Psychology, 39, 106-124. • Mandler, G. (1984). Mind and Body: Psychology of Emotions and Stress. NY: Norton. K.Kafetsios 1999

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