Different ways of being emotional about the past

Journal Filosofia Unisinos - Unisinos Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):1-14 (2022)
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(written in 2017) According to Dorothea Debus (2007), all emotional aspects related to an act of remembering are present and new emotional responses to the remembered past event. This is a common conception of the nature of the emotional aspect of personal memories, if not explicitly defended then at least implicitly accepted in the literature. In this article, I first criticize Debus’ arguments and demonstrate that she does not give us valid reasons to believe that all the emotional aspects related to a memory are present and new emotional responses to that past event. I then criticize Debus’ thesis tout court for being a direct consequence of assuming a particular conceptualization of the nature of emotions: emotions as physiological changes. Finally, based on a different conceptualization of emotions that focuses on their relational nature, I propose an alternative framework for analyzing the different possible emotional aspects of our personal memories. This leads me to conclude, contrary to Debus, that some emotional aspects of our memories are not occurrent emotions but are better conceived as quasi-emotions.

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