Emotions, Language and the (Un-)making of the Social World

Emotions and Society 1 (2):215-230 (2019)
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What are the motivational bases that help explain the various normative judgements that social agents make, and the normative reasoning they employ? Answering this question leads us to consider the relationships between thoughts and emotions. Emotions will be described as thought-dependent and thought-directing, and as being intimately related to normativity. They are conceived as the grounds that motivate social agents to articulate their reasoning with respect to the values and norms they face and/or share in their social collective. It is argued that because they are modes of thinking, emotions generate cognitive activities that relate to the making of evaluative and deontic judgements, the utterance of speech acts, the mastering of normative concepts and the building of arguments. Furthermore, each type of emotion generates its own constitutive judgements and structures normative thinking according to its own logic. The main thesis is that emotions provide sociological explanations for social agents’ thinking and speech, for emotions are precisely what motivate and, especially, structure normative reasoning and language. Being observable in language, emotions allow us to explain a) how social subjects reason and argue through norms and values, and b) how social subjects through their speech acts can contribute to the (un-)making of the social world.
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