Mixed Feelings. Carl Stumpf's Criticism of James and Brentano on Emotions

In Fréchette D. Fisette and G. (ed.), Themes from Brentano. Rodopi. pp. 281-306 (2013)
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This study attempts to situate Carl Stumpf's theory of emotions with regard to that of his teacher, Franz Brentano, and to the sensualist theory of William James. We will argue that Stumpf's theory can be considered an attempt to reconcile James's sensualism, which emphasizes the role of bodily feelings, with what we will call, for the purposes of this study, Brentano's intentionalism, which conceives of emotions as intentional states. Stumpf claims that James's sensory feelings and Brentano's affective intentional states are two sides of the same coin in that they constitute two essential ingredients of a full-fledged theory of emotions. The question is whether Stumpf's ecumenism avoids the objections that he himself raises against James's and Brentano's theories. The paper is divided into four parts: the first part presents Stumpf's classification of psychical functions; the second part presents his criticism of James's theory of emotions; the third part is a summary of Stumpf's complex debate with Brentano on emotions and sensory feelings; the last part examines Stumpf's attempt to incorporate into his theory of affects the phenomenological and intentional aspects of emotions. I conclude with a note on the unity of consciousness.

Author's Profile

Denis Fisette
Université du Québec à Montréal


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