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Abstract: For many years emotion theory has been characterized by a dichotomy between the head and the body. In the golden years of cognitivism, during the nineteen-sixties and seventies, emotion theory focused on the cognitive antecedents of emotion, the so-called “appraisal processes.” Bodily events were seen largely as byproducts of cognition, and as too unspecific to contribute to the variety of emotion experience. Cognition was conceptualized as an abstract, intellectual, “heady” process separate from bodily events. Although current emotion theory has moved beyond this disembodied stance by conceiving of emotions as involving both cognitive processes (perception, attention, and evaluation) and bodily events (arousal, behavior, and facial expressions), the legacy of cognitivism persists in the tendency to treat cognitive and bodily events as separate constituents of emotion. Thus the cognitive aspects of emotion are supposedly distinct and separate from the bodily ones. This separation indicates that cognitivism’s disembodied conception of cognition continues to shape the way emotion theorists conceptualize emotion
Abstract: The legacy of René Descartes' notorious dualism of mind and body extends far beyond academia into everyday thinking: "These athletes are prepared both mentally and physically," and "There's nothing wrong with your body--it's all in your mind." Even among those of us who have battled Descartes' vision, there has been a powerful tendency to treat the mind (that is to say, the brain) as the body's boss, the pilot of the ship. Falling in with this standard way of thinking, we ignore an important alternative: viewing the brain (and hence the mind) as one organ among many, a relatively recent usurper of control, whose functions cannot properly be understood until we see it not as the boss, but as just one more somewhat fractious servant, working to further the interests of the body that shelters and fuels it, and gives its activities meaning. This historical or evolutionary perspective reminds me of the change that has come over Oxford in the thirty years since I was a student there. It used to be that the dons were in charge, while the bursars and other bureaucrats, right up to the Vice Chancellor, acted under their guidance and at their behest. Nowadays the dons, like their counterparts on American university faculties, are more clearly in the role of employees hired by a central Administration, but from where, finally, does the University get its meaning? In evolutionary history, a similar change has crept over the administration of our bodies. Where resides the "I" who is in charge of my body? In his wonderfully written book, Antonio Damasio seeks to restore our appreciation for the perspective of the body, and the shared balance of powers from which we emerge as conscious persons
Abstract: Many philosophers sharply distinguish emotions from feelings. Emotions are not feelings, and having an emotion does not necessitate having some feeling, they think. In this paper I reply to a set of arguments people use sharply to distinguish emotions from feelings. In response to these people, I endorse and defend a hedonic theory of emotion that avoids various anti-feeling objections. Proponents of this hedonic theory analyze an emotion by reference to forms of cognition (e.g., thought, belief, judgment) and a pleasant or an unpleasant feeling. Given this theory,emotions are feelings in some important sense of "feelings", and these feelings are identified as particular emotions by reference to their hedonic character and the cognitive state that causes the hedonic feelings
Abstract: In one of the most frequently quoted passages in the history of emotion research, William James (1884: 189f) announces that emotions occur when the perception of an exciting fact causes a collection of bodily changes, and “our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion.” The same idea occurred to Carl Lange (1984) around the same time. These authors were not the first to draw a link between the emotions and the body. Indeed, this had been a central theme of Descartes’ exquisite opus, The Passions of the Soul. But James and Lange wanted to push things farther than most, suggesting that emotions are exhausted by bodily changes or perceptions thereof. Other kinds of mental episodes might co-occur when we have an emotion state. For James, an emotion follows an exciting perception. But the exciting perception is not a part of the emotion it excited (Ellsworth, 1994, reads James differently, but see Reisenzein et al.’s 1995 convincing response). The majority of contemporary emotion researchers, especially those in philosophy, find this suggestion completely untenable. Surely, emotions involve something more. At their core, emotions are more like judgments or thoughts, than perceptions. They evaluate, assess, or appraise. Emotions are amendable to rational assessment; they report, correctly or incorrectly, on how we are faring in the world. Within this general consensus, there is a further debate about whether the body should figure into a theory of emotions at all. Perhaps James and Lange offer a theory that is not merely incomplete, but entirely off base. Where they view judgments as contingent and non-constitutive concomitants of emotions, it is actually bodily perceptions that deserve this demotion. Perhaps emotions can be, and often are, disembodied in some fundamental sense