Modularity and the Politics of Emotion Categorisation

A Tribute to Ronald de Sousa (2022)
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Abstract

Empirically-informed approaches to emotion often construe our emotions as modules: systems hardwired into our brains by evolution and purpose-built to generate certain coordinated patterns of expressive, physiological, behavioural and phenomenological responses. In ‘Against Modularity’ (2008), de Sousa argues that we shouldn’t think of our emotions in terms of a limited number of modules because this conflicts with our aspirations for a life of greater emotional richness. My aim in this paper is to defend de Sousa’s critique of modular emotion taxonomies from some obvious rejoinders, and to develop his positive proposal as to how we might reconcile the evidence for emotional modularity with an attitude of disapproval towards rigid emotion taxonomies.

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Raamy Majeed
University of Manchester

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