European Journal of Philosophy 22 (3):420-442 (2014)

Uriah Kriegel
Rice University
According to the old feeling theory of emotion, an emotion is just a feeling: a conscious experience with a characteristic phenomenal character. This theory is widely dismissed in contemporary discussions of emotion as hopelessly naïve. In particular, it is thought to suffer from two fatal drawbacks: its inability to account for the cognitive dimension of emotion (which is thought to go beyond the phenomenal dimension), and its inability to accommodate unconscious emotions (which, of course, lack any phenomenal character). In this paper, I argue that the old feeling theory is in reality only a pair of modifications removed from a highly plausible account of the nature of emotion that retains the essential connection between emotion and feeling. These modifications are, moreover, motivated by recent developments in work on phenomenal consciousness. The first development is the rising recognition of a phenomenal character proper to cognition—so-called cognitive phenomenology. The second is the gathering momentum behind various ‘connection principles’ that specify some connection that a given state must bear to phenomenally conscious states in order to qualify as mental. These developments make it possible to formulate a new feeling theory of emotion, which would overcome the two fatal drawbacks of the old feeling theory. According to the new feeling theory, an emotion is a mental state that bears the right connection to conscious experiences with the right phenomenal character (involving, among other elements, a cognitive phenomenology).
Keywords emotion  feeling  cognitive phenomenology  phenomenal intentionality
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2011.00493.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.

View all 67 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Emotions as Attitudes.Julien A. Deonna & Fabrice Teroni - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (3):293-311.
Emotion.Ronald de Sousa - 2007 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Phenomenal Intentionality.David Bourget & Angela Mendelovici - 2016 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Phenomenology of Kantian Respect for Persons.Uriah Kriegel & Mark Timmons - 2021 - In R. Dean & O. Sensen (eds.), Respect: Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Oxford University Press. pp. 77-98.

View all 24 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Standing Up for an Affective Account of Emotion.Demian Whiting - 2006 - Philosophical Explorations 9 (3):261-276.
The Feeling Theory of Emotion and the Object-Directed Emotions.Demian Whiting - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2):281-303.
Feeling an Emotion.Jennifer Wilkinson - 1998 - South African Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):62-74.
An Anti‐Essentialist View of the Emotions.Joel J. Kupperman - 1995 - Philosophical Psychology 8 (4):341-351.
What is an Emotion in the Belief-Desire Theory of Emotion?Rainer Reisenzein - forthcoming - In F. Paglieri, M. Tummolini, F. Falcone & M. Miceli (eds.), The goals of cognition: Essays in honor of Cristiano Castelfranchi. College Publications.
Reflections on the Neurobiology of Emotion and Feeling.Antonio R. Damasio - 2001 - In João Branquinho (ed.), The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 99--108.
The Feeling of Being.Matthew Ratcliffe - 2005 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (8-10):43-60.
Bodily Feeling in Emotion.Philip J. Koch - 1987 - Dialogue 26 (1):59-75.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,450 ( #3,575 of 2,505,158 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
123 ( #5,611 of 2,505,158 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes