Emotions as emergent properties

Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 4 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In recent decades, affective scientists have begun using concepts and tools from dynamical systems theory (DST) to characterise emotional processes. This article considers how the concept of emergence might be used to develop this approach. Emotions are explicated as ‘emergent products’ that diachronically constrain the operations of their parts in virtue of feedback loops (a classical feature of nonlinear dynamical systems). The explication is shown to be broadly consistent with what is sometimes called ‘pattern’ emergence. Casting emotions as emergent patterns is shown to shed light on a major conceptual and empirical challenge emotion theorists have faced over the past century: identifying and measuring the presence of emotional episodes (Lindquist et al., 2012; Hollenstein & Lanteigne, 2014), dubbed here the ‘boundary problem’ (following Colombetti, 2014). In particular, the explication suggests seeing the emotional ‘signatures’ thought to accompany emotional episodes as fragile and context-bound: likely to hold under a relevant class of interventions (Woodward, 2005), but not without exception beyond that class. This in turn may suggest a need to significantly revise the statistical methods currently used to measure the presence of emotional ‘signatures’. The casting of emotions as emergent patterns also functions as a further case study supporting the value of ‘pattern emergence’ (Winning & Bechtel, 2019) as a powerful vehicle for characterising the objects of investigation — compound and context-sensitive — ubiquitous in the biological sciences.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,873

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

A Dynamical Account of Emergence.John Collier - 2008 - Cybernetics and Human Knowing 15 (3-4):75-86.
The Reemergence of 'Emergence'.Bryon Cunningham - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):62-75.
The reemergence of 'emergence'.Bryon Cunningham - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):S63-S75.
Chaotic emergence and the language of thought.James W. Garson - 1998 - Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):303-315.
Emergence in Physics.Patrick McGivern & Alexander Rueger - 2010 - In Antonella Corradini & Timothy O'Connor (eds.), Emergence in science and philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 213-232.
Generating predictions from a dynamical systems emotion theory.Ralph D. Ellis - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):202-203.
Modular Organization and Emergence in Systems Biology.Marc-Thorsten Hütt - 2019 - In Lars H. Wegner & Ulrich Lüttge (eds.), Emergence and Modularity in Life Sciences. Springer Verlag. pp. 37-49.
From affect programs to dynamical discrete emotions.Giovanna Colombetti - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (4):407-425.
Complexly organised dynamical systems.John D. Collier & Clifford A. Hooker - 1999 - Open Systems and Information Dynamics 6 (3):241–302.
On the Import of Constraints in Complex Dynamical Systems.Cliff Hooker - 2013 - Foundations of Science 18 (4):757-780.


Added to PP

4 (#1,639,155)

6 months
2 (#1,250,447)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references