Emotion

No aspect of our mental life is more important to the quality and meaning of our existence than the emotions. They are what make life worth living and sometimes worth ending. So it is not surprising that most of the great classical philosophers had recognizable theories of emotions. These theories typically conceived of emotions as a subject’s phenomenologically salient responses to significant events and as capable of triggering distinctive bodily changes and behaviors. But it is surprising that throughout much of the twentieth-century, scientists and philosophers of mind tended to neglect the emotions—in part because of behaviorism’s allergy to inner mental states and in part because the variety of phenomena covered by the word “emotion” discourages tidy theorizing. In recent decades, however, emotions have once again become the focus of vigorous interest in philosophy and affective science. Our objective in this entry is to account for these developments, focusing primarily on the descriptive question of what the emotions are, but tackling also the normative question of whether emotions are rational. In view of the proliferation of exchanges between researchers of different stripes, it is no longer useful to speak of the philosophy of emotion in isolation from the approaches of other disciplines, particularly psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. This is why we have made an effort to pay significant attention to scientific developments, as we are convinced that cross-disciplinary fertilization is our best chance for making progress in emotion theory.

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The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory

Emotion has a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. Emotion has a particularly strong influence on attention, especially modulating the selectivity of attention as well as motivating action and behavior. This attentional and executive control is intimately linked to learning processes, as intrinsically limited attentional capacities are better focused on relevant information. Emotion also facilitates encoding and helps retrieval of information efficiently. However, the effects of emotion on learning and memory are not always univalent, as studies have reported that emotion either enhances or impairs learning and long-term memory (LTM) retention, depending on a range of factors. Recent neuroimaging findings have indicated that the amygdala and prefrontal cortex cooperate with the medial temporal lobe in an integrated manner that affords (i) the amygdala modulating memory consolidation; (ii) the prefrontal cortex mediating memory encoding and formation; and (iii) the hippocampus for successful learning and LTM retention. We also review the nested hierarchies of circular emotional control and cognitive regulation (bottom-up and top-down influences) within the brain to achieve optimal integration of emotional and cognitive processing. This review highlights a basic evolutionary approach to emotion to understand the effects of emotion on learning and memory and the functional roles played by various brain regions and their mutual interactions in relation to emotional processing. We also summarize the current state of knowledge on the impact of emotion on memory and map implications for educational settings. In addition to elucidating the memory-enhancing effects of emotion, neuroimaging findings extend our understanding of emotional influences on learning and memory processes; this knowledge may be useful for the design of effective educational curricula to provide a conducive learning environment for both traditional “live” learning in classrooms and “virtual” learning through online-based educational technologies.

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Preschoolers: Tips for Supporting Learning at Home

How to help young children keep developing new skills.

During the coronavirus crisis, parents whose children usually attend preschools are now managing the enrichment and education of their young children at home. We know most parents can’t replicate a full day of preschool, along with all their other responsibilities. But here are some guidelines and principles to help you nurture your 3-5-year-old student at home in whatever time you have available.

Learning during this period takes place almost effortlessly as children interact with responsive caregivers, explore the environment around them, and play. The human brain was built to learn, and children at this age are strengthening neural connections as they use them.

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Curiosity and Wonder: Cue Into Children’s Inborn Motivation to Learn

Children are born eager to learn. Curious by nature, you can’t keep them from
exploring as they try to comprehend their environment. Everything is a wonder.
Children’s curiosity is first focused on you: mom and dad. You’re an amazing miracle to gaze upon, touch, and smell; just like baby is for you! The unique pattern of your face and sound of your voice captures rapt attention. Quite literally, you are baby’s doorway into the world of love and learning. From warm, responsive interactions with you, children develop a love of learning, too.

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Towards Social Capital in a Network Organization

Due to the complexity of an open multi-agent system, agents’ interactions are instantiated spontaneously, resulting in beneficent collaborations with one another for mutual actions that are beyond one’s current capabilities. Repeated patterns of interactions shape a feature of their organizational structure when those agents self-organize themselves for a long-term objective. This paper, therefore, aims to provide an understanding of social capital in organizations that are open membership multi-agent systems with an emphasis in our formulation on the dynamic network of social interactions that, in part, elucidate evolving structures and impromptu topologies of networks. We model an open source project as an organizational network and provide definitions and formulations to correlate the proposed mechanism of social capital with the achievement of an organizational charter, for example, optimized productivity. To empirically evaluate our model, we conducted a case study of an open source software project to demonstrate how social capital can be created and measured within this type of organization. The results indicate that the values of social capital are positively proportional towards optimizing agents’ productivity into successful completion of the project.

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The Extended Theory of Cognitive Creativity

This edited volume focuses on the hypothesis that performativity is not a property confined to certain specific human skills, or to certain specific acts of language, nor an accidental enrichment due to creative intelligence. Instead, the executive and motor component of cognitive behavior should be considered an intrinsic part of the physiological functioning of the mind, and as endowed with self-generative power. Performativity, in this theoretical context, can be defined as a constituent component of cognitive processes. The material action allowing us to interact with reality is both the means by which the subject knows the surrounding world and one through which he experiments with the possibilities of his body. This proposal is rooted in models now widely accepted in the philosophy of mind and language; in fact, it focuses on a space of awareness that is not in the individual, or outside it, but is determined by the species-specific ways in which the body acts on the world. This theoretical hypothesis will be pursued through the latest interdisciplinary methodology typical of cognitive science, that coincide with the five sections in which the book is organized: Embodied, enactivist, philosophical approaches; Aesthetics approaches; Naturalistic and evolutionary approaches; Neuroscientific approaches; Linguistics approaches. This book is intended for: linguists, philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, scholars of art and aesthetics, performing artists, researchers in embodied cognition, especially enactivists and students of the extended mind.

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The biological origins of rituals: An interdisciplinary perspective

Ritual behavior is ubiquitous, marking animal motor patterns, normal and psychopathological behavior in human individuals as well as every human culture. Moreover, formal features of rituals appear to be highly conserved along phylogeny and characterized by a circular and spatio-temporal structure typical of habitual behavior with internal repetition of non-functional acts and redirection of attention to the “script” of the performance. A continuity, based on highly conserved cortico-striatal loops, can be traced from animal rituals to human individual and collective rituals with psychopathological compulsions at the crossing point. The transition from “routinization” to “ritualization” may have been promoted to deal with environmental unpredictability in non-social contexts and, through motor synchronization, to enhance intra-group cohesion and communication in social contexts. Ultimately, ritual, following its biological constraints exerts a “homeostatic” function on the environment (social and non-social) under conditions of unpredictability.

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The Social Functions of Group Rituals

Convergent developments across social scientific disciplines provide evidence that ritual is a psychologically prepared, culturally inherited, behavioral trademark of our species. We draw on evidence from the anthropological and evolutionary-science literatures to offer a psychological account of the social functions of ritual for group behavior. Solving the adaptive problems associated with group living requires psychological mechanisms for identifying group members, ensuring their commitment to the group, facilitating cooperation with coalitions, and maintaining group cohesion. The intersection of these lines of inquiry yields new avenues for theory and research on the evolution and ontogeny of social group cognition.

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Collective Responsibility

The notion of collective responsibility, like that of personal responsibility and shared responsibility, refers in most contexts to both the causal responsibility of moral agents for harm in the world and the blameworthiness that we ascribe to them for having caused such harm. Hence, it is, like its two more purely individualistic counterparts, almost always a notion of moral, rather than purely causal, responsibility. But, unlike its two more purely individualistic counterparts, it does not associate either causal responsibility or blameworthiness with discrete individuals or locate the source of moral responsibility in the free will of individual moral agents. Instead, it associates both causal responsibility and blameworthiness with groups and locates the source of moral responsibility in the collective actions taken by these groups understood as collectives.

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Modest Sociality, Minimal Cooperation and Natural Intersubjectivity

What is the relation between small-scale collaborative plans and the execution of those plans within interactive contexts? I argue here that joint attention has a key role in explaining how shared plans and shared intentions are executed in interactive contexts. Within singular action, attention plays the functional role of enabling intentional action to be guided by a prior intention. Within interactive joint action, it is joint attention, I argue, that plays a similar functional role of enabling the agents to act in a collaborative way such that their actions are rationally guided by a prior shared intention. This understanding of joint attention – as having a key functional role of enabling the rational guidance of joint intentional action by a prior shared intention – allows for an alternative understanding of the kind of minimal cooperation that infants can engage in. On this understanding, infants’ capacity to engage in joint actions is already an incipient capacity to engage in rational and intentional joint actions, albeit a capacity that is necessarily scaffolded by an adult rational co-partner.

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