Dissertation, University of Warwick (2019)

The thesis brings together philosophical, psychological and neuroscientific theories of affect in developing a dual process account of emotion. Philosophers and psychologists who take a cognitivist view claim that emotions in humans and other mammalian species require intentionality, arising as the product of evaluations which bear upon our survival or wellbeing, whereas neuroscientists conclude from their research that emotion has its foundations in subcortical affect mechanisms by which behaviours may arise as spontaneous responses to valuable stimuli. Parts I and II of the thesis examine these two accounts, which are construed as cognitive-evaluative and primitive emotional processes respectively. It is further proposed that both these manifestations of emotion are to be found in mammalian species. Given that cognitive-evaluative and primitive emotional states can be demonstrated to coexist and function separately in mammalian species, how do we explain cases in which the two processes seem to be non-accidentally associated? To exemplify: how does it come about that an appraisal that I have been unfairly treated is accompanied by aggressive feelings and impulses towards the object of my anger? Cognitivists accept that the somatic changes accompanying emotions are associated with appraisals but argue that such changes play no role in emotion as an evaluative process other than that of marking the appraisal as significant for our wellbeing. In contrast, a dual process model of emotion is proposed for the interaction of primitive emotions and emotional appraisals whereby the appraisal process arouses a primitive emotion through the detection of patterns within complex external contexts which have a significance for an individual’s wellbeing. The neurophysiological changes associated with the primitive emotion when so aroused, will in turn, invest the appraisal with feelings, sensations characteristic of those neurophysiologies. These feelings influence evaluation in ways which are fundamental to the successful performance of everyday mental functions.
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Thought.Gilbert H. Harman - 1973 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.

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