Emotion as Position-Taking

Philosophia 46 (3):525-540 (2018)
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It is a popular thought that emotions play an important epistemic role. Thus, a considerable number of philosophers find it compelling to suppose that emotions apprehend the value of objects and events in our surroundings. I refer to this view as the Epistemic View of emotion. In this paper, my concern is with a rivaling picture of emotion, which has so far received much less attention. On this account, emotions do not constitute a form of epistemic access to specific axiological aspects of their objects. Instead it proposes that they are ways of taking a stand or position on the world. I refer to this as the Position-Taking View of emotion. Whilst some authors seem sympathetic to this view, this it has so far not been systematically motivated and elaborated. In this paper, I fill this gap and propose a more adequate account of our emotional engagement with the world than the predominant epistemic paradigm. I start by highlighting the specific way in which emotions are directed at something, which I contrast with the intentionality of perception and other forms of apprehension. I then go on to offer a specific account of the valence of emotion and show how this account and the directedness of emotions makes them intelligible as a way of taking a position on something.

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Jean Moritz Müller
University of Tübingen


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