Emotions : an Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology by Robert C. Roberts

By Robert C. Roberts

In a single of the main wide investigations of the feelings ever released, Robert Roberts develops a singular notion of what feelings are after which applies it to a wide variety of sorts of emotion and similar phenomena. This ebook is aimed mostly at philosophers and psychologists.

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Let us say that some state or syndrome of states that we could call “fear” in human beings can be shown to be present (with variations) in all animal species that bear a certain evolutionary proximity to us (say, the primates, or, less proximately, the mammals). This would yield a causal explanation of human fear in terms of the mechanism of descent: Humans have this syndrome because their ancestors had something like it. That humans’ ancestors had something like it and that we have retained the trait can perhaps be explained by a second explanatory strategy, adaptation: Because fear involves avoidance of and escape from dangers, fear seems to promote survival.

And I can assure you, gentlemen, I suffered terribly. In my heart of hearts, of course, I did not believe that I was suffering, I’d even sneer at myself in a vague sort of way, but I suffered agonies none the less, suffered in the most genuine manner imaginable, as though I were really in love. I was jealous. I made scenes. 17 The underground man’s got-up emotions are strategic, with at least two aims: making life miserable for others and dispelling his own boredom. But the strategy works best when the emotion is not mere play-acting, but the passivity of the emotion supervenes, as it often does in his case.

4. Deconstructing Emotion via the Life Sciences 21 largely unconscious and not susceptible to direct modification by higher cognitive processes. This is one of the chief ways in which Griffiths keeps the affect program responses distinct in kind from the “higher cognitive” emotions. Griffiths and Ekman both stress that states strongly homologous to these six emotions can be found in species evolutionarily close to homo sapiens. Joseph LeDoux’s neuroscientific work on fear13 is a good example of the kind of emotion research that Griffiths commends.

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