I argue that the state of boredom (i.e., the transitory and non-pathological experience of boredom) should be understood to be a regulatory psychological state that has the capacity to promote our well-being by contributing to personal growth and to the construction (or reconstruction) of a meaningful life.
By presenting and synthesizing findings on the character of boredom, the article advances a theoretical account of the function of the state of boredom. The article argues that the state of boredom should be understood as a functional emotion that is both informative and regulatory of one's behavior. Boredom informs one of the presence of an unsatisfactory situation and, at the same time, it motivates one to pursue a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive or (...) meaningful. Boredom ultimately promotes both movement and the restoration of the perception that one's activities are meaningful and congruent with one's overall projects. (shrink)
Despite great progress in our theoretical and empirical investigations of boredom, a basic issue regarding boredom remains unresolved: it is still unclear whether the construct of boredom is a unitary one or not. By surveying the relevant literature on boredom and arousal, the paper makes a case for the unity of the construct of boredom. It argues, first, that extant empirical findings do not support the heterogeneity of boredom, and, second, that a theoretically motivated and empirically grounded model of boredom (...) (the functional account) supports the view that the construct of boredom is a unitary one. (shrink)
Introspection presents our phenomenal states in a manner otherwise than physical. This observation is often thought to amount to an argument against physicalism: if introspection presents phenomenal states as they essentially are, then phenomenal states cannot be physical states, for we are not introspectively aware of phenomenal states as physical states. In this article, I examine whether this argument threatens a posteriori physicalism. I argue that as along as proponents of a posteriori physicalism maintain that phenomenal concepts present the nature (...) of their referents in a partial and incomplete manner, a posteriori physicalism is safe. (shrink)
This essay provides an analysis of the role of affectivity in Martin Heidegger's writings from the mid to late 1920s. We begin by situating his account of mood within the context of his project of fundamental ontology in Being and Time. We then discuss the role of Befindlichkeit and Stimmung in his account of human existence, explicate the relationship between the former and the latter, and consider the ways in which the former discloses the world. To give a more vivid (...) and comprehensive picture of Heidegger's account of mood, we focus on the experience of anxiety by articulating both its function within fundamental ontology and, relatedly, its revelatory nature. We conclude by considering the place of emotions in Heidegger's thinking from this period. In a companion essay, ‘Affectivity in Heidegger II: Temporality, Boredom, and Beyond’, we complement our present analysis by revisiting the issue of affectivity in terms of Heidegger's discussion of temporality in Division II of Being and Time. We also expand our present discussion by considering the fundamental mood of boredom and other specific moods that Heidegger considers within his later thinking. (shrink)
By synthesizing research from psychology, economics, and philosophy, Propelled criticizes notions of well-being that overly focus on positive emotions and experiences. Against a tradition that has condemned boredom and frustration to be emotional obstacles that hinder human flourishing, Propelled shows that to live a good life we must experience and react appropriately to both. In addition, it argues that we need to anticipate, wait for, and even long for future events. Boredom, frustration, and anticipation are not unpleasant accidents of our (...) lives. Rather, they are vital psychological states that illuminate our desires and expectations, inform us of when we find ourselves stuck in unpleasant and unfulfilling situations, and motivate us to furnish our lives with meaning, interest, and value. (shrink)
Despite the impressive progress that has been made on both the empirical and conceptual fronts of boredom research, there is one facet of boredom that has received remarkably little attention. This is boredom's relationship to morality. The aim of this article is to explore the moral dimensions of boredom and to argue that boredom is a morally relevant personality trait. The presence of trait boredom hinders our capacity to flourish and in doing so hurts our prospects for a moral life. (...) -/- . (shrink)
The aim of this editorial introduction is twofold. First, Sects. 1–8 oﬀer a critical introduction to the metaphysical character of physicalism. In those sections, I present and evaluate different ways in which proponents of physicalism have made explicit the metaphysical dependence that is said to hold between the non-physical and the physical. Some of these accounts are found to be problematic; others are shown to be somewhat more promising. In the end, some important lessons are drawn and different options for (...) physicalists are presented. Second, in Sect.9, the six papers that comprise the special issue are introduced and summarized. (shrink)
The essay argues that boredom is an affective state that monitors and regulates our behavior. Boredom informs us when we are out of tune with our interests and motivates us to engage in situations that are perceived by us as fulfilling or meaningful. Boredom is thus important. It promotes our interests by trying to keep us in touch with what we care about. And it safeguards us from emotional traps and long-term dullness. -/- .
By examining boredom through the lens of Sartre’s account of the emotions, I argue for the significance of boredom. Boredom matters, I show, for it is both informative and regulatory of one’s behavior: it informs one of the presence of an unsatisfactory situation; and, at the same time, owing to its affective, cognitive, and volitional character, boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful. In the absent of boredom, one (...) would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, thereby missing out on many rewarding experiences. In helping us to articulate the function and significance of boredom, Sartre’s account provides a much-needed counterbalance to accounts of boredom that portray it as a distinctively negative state. (shrink)
I respond to Chalmers’ (2006, 2010) objection to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) by showing that his objection is faced with a dilemma that ultimately undercuts its force. Chalmers argues that no version of PCS can posit psychological features that are both physically explicable and capable of explaining our epistemic situation. In response, I show that what Chalmers calls ‘our epistemic situation’ admits either of a phenomenal or of a topic-neutral characterization, neither of which supports Chalmers’ objection. On the one (...) hand, if our epistemic situation is characterized phenomenally, then Chalmers’ demand that PCS should explain our epistemic situation is misplaced. PCS can explain our epistemic situation only if there is a reductive explanation of consciousness. But according to PCS, no reductive explanation of consciousness can be given. On the other hand, if our epistemic situation is characterized topic-neutrally, then PCS is not only physically explicable, but it also explains our epistemic situation. Either way, PCS is safe. (shrink)
In ‘Affectivity in Heidegger I: Moods and Emotions in Being and Time’, we explicated the crucial role that Martin Heidegger assigns to our capacity to affectively find ourselves in the world. There, our discussion was restricted to Division I of Being and Time. Specifically, we discussed how Befindlichkeit as a basic existential and moods as the ontic counterparts of Befindlichkeit make circumspective engagement with the world possible. Indeed, according to Heidegger, it is primarily through moods that the world is ‘opened (...) up’ and revealed to us as a world that is suffused with values and entities that already matter to us. In this companion essay, our aim is to expand our analysis of affectivity in the following ways: first, we revisit our discussion of Befindlichkeit in light of Heidegger's discussion of temporality in Division II of BT; second, we discuss the basic or fundamental mood of boredom and its ontological significance; we conclude by providing a brief characterization of how Heidegger's notion of mood changes in his later thinking. (shrink)
Many of our endeavors -- be it personal or communal, technological or artistic -- aim at eradicating all traces of dissatisfaction from our daily lives. They seek to cure us of our discontent in order to deliver us a fuller and flourishing existence. But what if ubiquitous pleasure and instant fulfilment make our lives worse, not better? What if discontent isn't an obstacle to the good life but one of its essential ingredients? In Propelled, Andreas Elpidorou makes a lively case (...) for the value of discontent and illustrates how boredom, frustration, and anticipation are good for us. Weaving together stories from sources as wide-ranging as classical literature, social and cognitive psychology, philosophy, art, and video games, Elpidorou shows that these psychological states aren't unpleasant accidents of our lives. Rather, they illuminate our desires and expectations, inform us when we find ourselves stuck in unpleasant and unfulfilling situations, and motivate us to furnish our lives with meaning, interest, and value. Boredom, frustration, and anticipation aren't obstacles to our goals--they are our guides, propelling us into lives that are truly our own. (shrink)
In this paper, I articulate Heidegger’s notion of Befindlichkeit and show that his phenomenological account of affective existence can be understood in terms of contemporary work on emotions. By examining Heidegger’s account alongside contemporary accounts of emotions, I not only demonstrate the ways in which key aspects of the former are present in the latter; I also explicate in detail the ways in which our understanding of Befindlichkeit and its relationship to moods and emotions can benefit from an empirically-informed study (...) of emotions. (shrink)
Phenomenological approaches to affectivity have long recognized the vital role that emotions occupy in our lives. In this paper, I engage with Jean-Paul Sartre's well-known and highly influential theory of the emotions as it is advanced in his Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions. I examine whether Sartre's account offers two inconsistent explications of the nature of emotions. I argue that despite appearances there is a reading of Sartre's theory that is free of inconsistencies. Ultimately, I highlight a novel (...) reading of Sartre's account of the emotions: one that is both phenomenologically accurate and supported by textual evidence. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger is often credited as having offered one of the most thorough phenomenological investigations of the nature of boredom. In his 1929–1930 lecture course, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude, he goes to great lengths to distinguish between three different types of boredom and to explicate their respective characters. Within the context of his discussion of one of these types of boredom, profound boredom [tiefe Langweile], Heidegger opposes much of the philosophical and literary tradition on boredom insofar (...) as he articulates how the experience of boredom can be existentially beneficial to us. In this chapter, we undertake a study of the nature of profound boredom with the aim of investigating its place within contemporary psychological and philosophical research on boredom. Although boredom used to be a neglected emotional experience, it is no more. Boredom’s causal antecedents, effects, experiential profile, and neurophysiological correlates have become topics of active study; as a consequence, a proliferation of claims and findings about boredom has ensued. Such a situation provides an opportunity to scrutinize Heidegger’s claims and to try to understand them both on their own terms and in light of our contemporary understanding of boredom. (shrink)
There is little question as to whether there is good boring art, though its existence raises a number of questions for both the philosophy of art and the philosophy of emotions. How can boredom ever be a desideratum of art? How can our standing commitments concerning the nature of aesthetic experience and artistic value accommodate the existence of boring art? How can being bored constitute an appropriate mode of engagement with a work of art as a work of art? More (...) broadly, how can there be works of art whose very success requires the experience of boredom? Our goal in this paper is threefold. After offering a brief survey of kinds of boring art, we: i) derive a set of questions that we argue constitutes the philosophical problem of boring art; ii) elaborate an empirically informed theory of boredom that furnishes the philosophical problem with a deeper sense of the affect at the heart of the phenomenon; and iii) conclude by offering and defending a solution to the problem that explains why and how artworks might wish to make the experience of boredom key to their aesthetic and artistic success. (shrink)
Sartre’s account of the emotions presupposes a conception of human nature that is never fully articulated. The paper aims to render such conception explicit and to argue that frustration occupies a foundational place in Sartre’s picture of affective existence.
Phenomenal concepts are the concepts that we deploy when – but arguably not only when – we introspectively examine, focus on, or take notice of the phenomenal character of our experiences. They refer to phenomenal properties (or qualities) and they do so in a subjective (first-personal) and direct (non-relational) manner. It is through the use of such concepts that the phenomenal character of our experiences is made salient to us. Discourse about the nature of phenomenal concepts plays an important role (...) in the philosophy of mind. For one, phenomenal concepts have been used to explain the epistemological relation that holds between a subject and her conscious mental states. Most prominently, however, discussions of phenomenal concepts figure in the on-going and multifaceted debate concerning the metaphysical status of consciousness. Even though some theorists have utilized phenomenal concepts in arguments purporting to show that consciousness is ontologically distinct from physical entities and processes, most accounts of phenomenal concepts are advanced having the opposite objective in mind: a proper articulation of the nature of phenomenal concepts, it is held, can defend the view that consciousness is physical against epistemic arguments to the contrary. The present entry focuses on the nature of phenomenal concepts as this is articulated and developed in attempts to defend the contention that conscious states are identical to (realized by, metaphysically necessitated by, or supervenient upon) physical states. (shrink)
I defend the claim that physicalism is not committed to the view that non-phenomenal macrophysical truths are a priori entailed by the conjunction of microphysical truths , basic indexical facts , and a 'that's all' claim . I do so by showing that Chalmers and Jackson's most popular and influential argument in support of the claim that PIT ⊃ M is a priori, where 'M' stands for any ordinary, non-phenomenal, macroscopic truth, falls short of establishing its conclusion. My objection to (...) Chalmers and Jackson's argument takes the form of a nested dilemma. Let 'Conceptual Competence Principle ' stand for the following claim: for any complete microphysical description D of a world w, a subject who is in possession of and competent with a macrophysical concept C is capable of determining a priori the extension of C. Either Jackson and Chalmers accept CCP or not. If the latter, then they cannot demonstrate that the conditional PIT ⊃ M is a priori. If the former, then they have a choice: they can either cite reasons that support the principle or argue that the principle should be taken for granted since it is entailed by the very notion of conceptual competence. But both alternatives are problematic. In regard to the first horn of this latter dilemma, I show not only that there are no good reasons to support the principle, but that there are also reasons to reject it. In regard to the second horn, I show that it cannot be the case that CCP is part of the very notion of conceptual competence. The conceptual capacity expressed by CCP requires that certain bridge principles or conditionals, which link the microphysical level to the macroscopic level, are either implicitly or explicitly given to the subject. But, as I argue, Chalmers and Jackson have no way of accounting for these bridge principles or conditionals in a manner that does not trivialize their position. (shrink)
The Phenomenal Concept Strategy offers the physicalist perhaps the most promising means of explaining why the connection between mental facts and physical facts appears to be contingent even though it is not. In this article, we show that the large body of evidence suggesting that our concepts are often embodied and grounded in sensorimotor systems speaks against standard forms of the PCS. We argue, nevertheless, that it is possible to formulate a novel version of the PCS that is thoroughly in (...) keeping with embodied cognition, focuses on features of physical concepts, and succeeds in explaining the appearance of contingency. (shrink)
Bernard Williams has famously argued that an immortal life would necessarily be boring. Despite the obvious importance that boredom occupies in Williams’ argument, he says very little about the nature of boredom. In this paper, I argue that attention to the empirical literature on boredom reveals a serious flaw in Williams’ argument. Specifically, I show that there is no available explication of boredom that is supported by the empirical research and which at the same time establishes Williams’ conclusions.
Phenomenology's central insight is that affectivity is not an inconsequential or contingent characteristic of human existence. Emotions, moods, sentiments, and feelings are not accidents of human existence. They do not happen to happen to us. Rather, we exist the way we do because of and through our affective experiences. Phenomenology thus acknowledges the centrality and ubiquity of affectivity by noting the multitude of ways in which our existence is permeated by our various affective experiences. Yet, it also insists that such (...) experiences are both revealing and constitutive of human nature. It is precisely this last point that marks an important distinction between a phenomenological study of affectivity and perhaps all others. For phenomenology, one cannot understand the nature of human existence without coming to terms with the character of affectivity and at the same time, one cannot come to terms with the character of affectivity without understanding the nature of human existence. Practical and social engagements, scientific endeavors, familial and political interactions are all predicted on the fact that we are beings who are capable of being affectively attuned to ourselves, to the world, and to others. In this entry, we discuss Martin Heidegger's and Jean-Paul Sartre's respective accounts of affectivity. In the first section, we present Heidegger's understanding of affective existence. In this context, we discuss the significance of moods and offer an analysis of the affective phenomena of fear, anxiety, and boredom. In the second section, we present an overview of Sartre's account of emotions and advance a Sartrean interpretation of fear and boredom. We conclude by raising some brief concerns with both accounts. (shrink)
The functional theory of boredom maintains that boredom ought to be defined in terms of its role in our mental and behavioral economy. Although the functional theory has recently received considerable attention, presentations of this theory have not specified with sufficient precision either its commitments or its consequences for the ontology of boredom. This essay offers an in-depth examination of the functional theory. It explains what boredom is according to the functional view; it shows how the functional theory can account (...) for the known characteristics of boredom; and it articulates the theory’s basic commitments, virtues, and limitations. Ultimately, by furthering our understanding of the functional theory of boredom, the essay contributes to a better theoretical grounding of boredom. (shrink)
Given the importance of emotions in our everyday lives, it is no surprise that in recent decades the study of emotions has received tremendous attention by a number of different disciplines. Yet despite the many and great advantages that have been made in understanding the nature of emotions, there remains a class of emotional states that is understudied and that demands further elucidation. All contributions to this issue consider either emotions or aspects of emotions that deserve the label ‘neglected’. In (...) doing so, they break new theoretical ground and further our understanding of the nature of the emotions that they consider. The aim of the present paper is to introduce the special issue on neglected emotions by articulating the different ways in which emotions can be said to be neglected. (shrink)
Consciousness and Physicalism: A Defense of a Research Program explores the nature of consciousness and its place in the world, offering a revisionist account of what it means to say that consciousness is nothing over and above the physical. By synthesizing work in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of science from the last twenty years and forging a dialogue with contemporary research in the empirical sciences of the mind, Andreas Elpidorou and Guy Dove advance and defend a novel (...) formulation of physicalism. Although physicalism has been traditionally understood to be a metaphysical thesis, Elpidorou and Dove argue that there is an alternative and indeed preferable understanding of physicalism that both renders physicalism a scientifically informed explanatory project and allows us to make important progress in addressing the ontological problem of consciousness. Physicalism, Elpidorou and Dove hold, is best viewed not as a thesis (metaphysical or otherwise) but as an interdisciplinary research program that aims to compositionally explain all natural phenomena that are central to our understanding of our place in nature. Consciousness and Physicalism is replete with philosophical arguments and informed, through and through, by findings in many areas of scientific research. It advances the debate regarding the ontological status of consciousness. It will interest students and scholars in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of science. And it will challenge both foes and friends of physicalism. -/- . (shrink)
I critically examine Adams and Garrison’s proposed necessary condition for the mark of the cognitive (Adams and Garrison in Minds Mach 23(3):339–352, 2013). After a brief presentation of their position, I argue not only that their proposal is in need of additional support, but also that it is too restrictive.
The aim of this chapter is to articulate the ways in which our social standing, and particularly our socio-economic status (SES), affects, even transforms, the experience of boredom. Even if boredom can be said to be democratic, in the sense that it can potentially affect all of us, it does not actually affect all of us in the same way. Boredom, I argue, is unjust—some groups are disproportionately negatively impacted by boredom through no fault of their own. Depending on our (...) social position and self and others’ perceptions of our SES, we can experience it more frequently, more intensely, and in ways that either leave us incapable of alleviating it or push us to harmful and maladaptive responses to it. Hence, seen in a socio-economic light, boredom can become a serious threat to our physical and psychological well-being. Insofar as freedom to pursue and achieve one’s well-being is essential to human life and a primary concern of contemporary liberal societies, boredom should be considered to be a social justice issue. The disproportionately negative effects of boredom on lower SES groups indicate the profound ways that boredom affects individuals and further disadvantages those who are already in marginalized positions. Contrary to many historical accounts, boredom is not only the experience of the elite, the wealthy, or those with ample free time. In our current political, social, and economic climate, boredom is primarily the experience of the less privileged, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized. (shrink)
The commentaries by Contesi, Hardcastle, Pismenny, and Gallegos pose pressing questions about the nature of boredom, frustration, and anticipation. Although their questions concern specific claims that I make in Propelled, they are of broad philosophical interest for, ultimately, they pave the way for a better understanding of these three psychological states. In my responses to the commentators, I clarify certain claims made in Propelled; provide additional support for my understanding of frustration; articulate the relationship between effort and value; defend the (...) claim that boredom is an emotion and discuss its formal object; and finally, consider the relationship between boredom (ordinarily understood) and deep or profound boredom. I am grateful to the commentators for engaging with Propelled. (shrink)
This is the introductory chapter to The Moral Psychology of Boredom (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021). It discusses the various ways in which boredom is morally significant and offers a summary of the experiential profile of boredom.
This paper explores the nature of emotions by considering what appear to be two differing, perhaps even conflicting, approaches to affectivity—an evolutionary functional account, on the one hand, and a phenomenological view, on the other. The paper argues for the centrality of the notion of function in both approaches, articulates key differences between them, and attempts to understand how such differences can be overcome.
This volume identifies and develops how philosophy of mind and phenomenology interact in both conceptual and empirically-informed ways. The objective is to demonstrate that phenomenology, as the first-personal study of the contents and structures of our mentality, can provide us with insights into the understanding of the mind and can complement strictly analytical or empirically informed approaches to the study of the mind. Insofar as phenomenology, as the study or science of phenomena, allows the mind to appear, this collection shows (...) how the mind can reappear through a constructive dialogue between different ways—phenomenological, analytical, and empirical—of understanding mentality. (shrink)
The aim of this entry is to provide the reader with a philosophical map of the progression of the concept and experience of boredom throughout the Western tradition—from antiquity to current work in Anglo-American philosophy. By focusing primarily on key philosophical works on boredom, but also often discussing important literary and scientific texts, the entry exposes the reader to the rich history of boredom and illustrates how the different manifestations of boredom—idleness, horror loci, acedia, sloth, mal du siècle, melancholy, ennui, (...) monotony, and emptiness—are grounded in the historical context in which they arise. (shrink)
I defend the view that it is not impossible to see the impossible. I provide two examples in which one sees the impossible and defend these examples from potential objections. Theories of depiction should make room for impossible depictions.
I critically examine Adams and Garrison’s proposed necessary condition for the mark of the cognitive :339–352, 2013). After a brief presentation of their position, I argue not only that their proposal is in need of additional support, but also that it is too restrictive.
Physicalism demands an explication of what it means for something to be physical. But the most popular way of providing one—viz., characterizing the physical in terms of the postulates of a scientifically derived physical theory—is met with serious trouble. Proponents of physicalism can either appeal to current physical theory or to some future physical theory (preferably an ideal and complete one). Neither option is promising: currentism almost assuredly renders physicalism false and futurism appears to render it indeterminate or trivial. The (...) purpose of this essay is to argue that attempts to characterize the mental encounter a similar dilemma: currentism with respect to the mental is likely to be inadequate or contain falsehoods and futurism leaves too many significant questions about the nature of mentality unanswered. This new dilemma, we show, threatens both sides of the current debate surrounding the metaphysical status of the mind. (shrink)
I argue that Manzotti and Pepperell’s presentation of the New Mind not only obfuscates pertinent differences between externalist views of various strengths, but also, and most problematically, conflates a distinction that cannot, without consequences, be conflated. We can talk about the contents of the mind and/or about the vehicles of those contents. But we should not conflate the two. Conflation of contents and vehicles comes with a price. In Manzotti and Pepperell’s case, it undermines claims they make about the implications (...) of the New Mind. (shrink)
Phenomenology, perhaps more than any other single movement in philosophy, has been key in bringing emotions to the foreground of philosophical consideration. This is in large part due to the ways in which emotions, according to phenomenological analyses, are revealing of basic structures of human existence. Indeed, it is partly and, according to some phenomenologists, even primarily through our emotions that the world is disclosed to us, that we become present to and make sense of ourselves, and that we relate (...) to and engage with others. A phenomenological study of emotions is thus meant not only to help us to understand ourselves, but also to allow us to see and to make sense of the meaningfulness of our worldly and social existence.Within the last few decades, the emotions have re-emerged more generally as a topic of great philosophical interest and importance. Philosophers, along with psychologists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists have engaged in inter- and intra-disciplina .. (shrink)
Do our minds extend beyond our brains? In a series of publications, Mark Rowlands has argued that the correct answer to this question is an affirmative one. According to Rowlands, certain types of operations on bodily and worldly structures should be considered to be proper and literal parts of our cognitive and mental processes. In this article, I present and critically evaluate Rowlands' position.