Against basic emotions, and toward a comprehensive theory

Journal of Mind and Behavior 26 (4):229-254 (2005)
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According to recent literature in philosophy and psychology, there is a set of basic emotions that were preserved over the course of evolution because they serve adaptive functions. However, the empirical evidence fails to support the claim that there are basic emotions because it fails to show that emotions can be identified with specific functions. Moreover, work on basic emotions lacks the conceptual space to take emotional experience into account and so fails to amount to an adequate theory of emotion: in the literature basic emotions are identified with emotional responses, but these responses — even if they did exist as characterized — are not emotions or emotional. That said, recent empirical discoveries about the brain structures responsible for emotional responses, discoveries that are often cited in the basic emotions literature, nevertheless form the foundation for a comprehensive theory of emotion — a theory that is broadly Jamesian in that an emotion is the experience and interpretation of a prior, physiological response



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Marc A. Cohen
Seattle University

Citations of this work

Hysteria, race, and phlogiston. A model of ontological elimination in the human sciences.David Ludwig - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):68-77.
Hysteria, Race, Phlogiston. A Model of Ontological Elimination in the Human Sciences.David Ludwig - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (1):68-77.

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