The unity of emotion: An unlikely Aristotelian solution

Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (2):101-114 (2007)
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Most researchers of emotions agree that although cognitive evaluations such as beliefs, thoughts, etc. are essential for emotion, bodily feelings and their behavioral expressions are also required. Yet, only a few explain how all these diverse aspects of emotion are related to form the unity or oneness of emotion. The most prevalent account of unity is the causal view, which, however, has been shown to be inadequate because it sees the relations between the different parts of emotion as external and contingent. I argue that an adequate account of unity would require internal or conceptual relations between the aspects of emotion, and I suggest that such an account can be found in Aristotle's metaphysics and theory of emotion, and specifically, in his form and matter distinction. After I show that emotions are intentional pleasures and pains or distresses, I argue that the characteristic intentional pleasure and pain of an emotion, along with its other intentional elements , are the form of the emotion, whereas the bodily feelings are its matter. Form and matter constitute a conceptual unity, which cannot be accounted for in conglomeration accounts that see emotions as mixtures of different parts related only through efficient causation.



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Maria Adamos
Georgia Southern University

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