How to do things with emotions

Journal of Mind and Behavior 23 (4):393-412 (2002)

J.L. Austin described speech acts as utterances which are themselves actions, and not simply descriptions of actions or states of affairs. It is suggested that emotions are also actions, and not simply results of actions. Emotions may be conceived as attunements in the phenomenological tradition, as means of experiencing the world. Understood as attunements, emotions are actions in the sense that they do not simply result from appraisal processes or social constraints, but are themselves our engagements with the world. Three insights into the nature of emotion achieved through the comparison of speech acts and emotions are discussed: emotions may best be studied as acts, and not as elements such as cognitive appraisals, characteristic feeling states, or states of physiological arousal which often accompany emotions; the study of emotions as acts may best be viewed as an exercise in uncovering rather than discovering knowledge; and emotions are commitments to world views and, as such, are susceptible to moral evaluation
Keywords Emotion  Philosophy  Speech Act  Austin
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