Theories of Emotion: Integrating philosophy and the social sciences

The study of emotion is being taken on by many different fields of research. In particular, the social sciences are providing many new areas of development within the field. Philosophy is specially equipped to add to the research on human affective experience by synthesizing the many different fields’ work on emotion and providing a critical assessment of the current research. Two primary approaches to understanding emotion are (1) viewing emotion as a product of evolution and (2) viewing emotion as a product of social and cultural interaction. I argue, however, that while each of these approaches accurately explains a particular aspect of affective experience, they should work towards a more compatibilistic theory of emotion which views affective experience as a system that includes both evolutionary and socio-cultural influences. The concept of a looping effect is particularly helpful in illustrating the systemic nature of emotion, and I put forward the concept of a looping effect as a way to assess a theory’s ability to incorporate the two distinct aspects of affective experience (i.e., evolutionary psychology and social constructionism and their debate over the role cognitive and non-cognitive processes play in affective experience) which traditionally have been opposed to each other in the effort to present a clear theory of emotion.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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