Emotion and Attention

Philosophical Studies (1):1-27 (2022)
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This paper first demonstrates that recognition of the diversity of ways that emotional responses modulate ongoing attention generates what I call the puzzle of emotional attention, which turns on recognising that distinct emotions (e.g., fear, happiness, disgust, admiration etc.) have different attentional profiles. The puzzle concerns why this is the case, such that a solution consists in explaining why distinct emotions have the distinct attentional profiles they do. It then provides an account of the functional roles of different emotions, as tied to their evaluative themes, which explains and further elucidates the distinctive attentional profiles of different emotions, so solving the puzzle of emotional attention. Following that, it outlines how such attentional profiles are reflected in the character of emotional experience and its attentional phenomenology. The resulting picture is a more detailed account of the connections between emotion and attention than is currently on offer in the philosophical literature.

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Jonathan Mitchell
Cardiff University


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