Synthesis Philosophica 23 (1):53-71 (2008)

This article examines recent developments in cognitivist theories of the emotions, and seeks to develop an original theory within that approach. The article specifically considers the criticism that such theories over-intellectualise emotions by reducing them to attitudes towards propositions and by excluding feelings. I argue that few cognitivists have ever held the former position, and that it is possible to claim that emotions are partly-constituted by feelings and remain within the parameters of a cognitivist theory. This is possible in virtue of the fact that cognitivists take emotions to be composed of intentional states. If we define a feeling as a perception of the state of one’s body, then a feeling can be counted as one of the intentional states, alongside, say, a belief of a judgement, which partly constitute any emotion. I call this position ‘complex cognitivism’
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