Embodying emotions: What emotion theorists can learn from simulations of emotions [Book Review]

Minds and Machines 18 (3):357-372 (2008)


Cognitively-oriented theories have dominated the recent history of the study of emotion. However, critics of this perspective suggest the role of the body in the experience of emotion is largely ignored by cognitive theorists. As an alternative to the cognitive perspective, critics are increasingly pointing to William James’ theory, which emphasized somatic aspects of emotions. This emerging emphasis on the embodiment of emotions is shared by those in the field of AI attempting to model human emotions. Behavior-based agents in AI are attempts to model the role the body might play in the experiencing of emotions. Progress in creating such behavior-based models that function in their environments has been slow, suggesting some potential problems with Jamesian alternatives to cognitive perspectives of emotions. Heidegger’s and Merleau-Ponty’s conceptions of embodiment are suggested as alternatives to James’ and as means for addressing the shortcomings of the cognitive perspective.

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