The elements of emotion

Philosophical Psychology 31 (2):163-186 (2018)
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I join the growing ranks of theorists who reject the terms of traditional debates about the nature of emotion, debates that have long focused on the question of whether emotions should be understood as either cognitive or somatic kinds of states. Here, I propose and defend a way of incorporating both into a single theory, which I label the “Integrated Representational Theory” of emotion. In Section 2 I begin to construct the theory, defining and explaining emotions in terms of three pieces of content: representations of the emoter’s body, something in the world, and a relevance relation between the objects of these first two pieces of content. I describe four general advantages I think the IRT offers. Finally, in Section 3, I elucidate and defend my account by contrasting it with another, similar proposal: Barlassina and Newen’s Impure Somatic Theory. In so doing, I explain two additional advantages of my view: first, it supports a unified explanation of all types of emotional response; and second, it offers the best framework for explaining how the representational contents of an emotion are integrated.
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2017, 2018
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First archival date: 2018-02-02
Latest version: 3 (2018-02-10)
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