[SydPhil] CAVE/Philosophy Seminar: Albert Newen (Bochum), Tuesday 15 March

Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics arts.cave at mq.edu.au
Fri Mar 11 09:44:45 AEDT 2016

Hi all,

You are invited to the CAVE/Macquarie Philosophy Work-in Progress seminar. All welcome, no registration required.

Albert Newen (Bochum), "The Individuation and Recognition of Emotion"

Date: Tuesday 15 March 2016

Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Venue: W6A 107

In the metaphysical debate we have two extreme positions: emotions are individuated as social constructs (Lutz 1986, Harré 1986), on the one hand, or they are individuated as evolutionary anchored affect programs (Ekman 1972, Griffith 1997), on the other. Both accounts have severe deficits. Let us mention only the two main deficits: psychoevolutionary accounts state that shared evolutionary history is the only criteria to identify types of emotions. They do not provide any classificatory schemes which do not refer to each category's evolutionary history but for many emotion categories referred to not only in everyday speech but also in psychological theories, it is far from clear whether their members share the same evolutionary history. Thus, the psychoevolutionary account has difficulties providing adequate classificatory schemes, for example for studying emotions in a social context. In principle, psychoevolutionary accounts of emotions can easily account for basic emotions but have problems to account for the role of cognitive contents in so-called cognitive emotions (author 2008). On the other hand, the social constructionist can easily account for the latter including the cultural variety of emotion phenomena but they underestimate the strong overlap of the emotion repertoire despite the cultural variation. Here Ekman (1972) has shown that basic emotions like joy, fear, anger, sadness etc. are accompanied with the same facial expression. There is an open debate which phenomena are basic emotions but a strong part of the community presupposes that there are basic emotions which are evolutionary old, shared with animals and develop early in ontogeny (Ekman 1999, Griffiths 1997). The evolutionary anchor of basic emotions constraints our emotion repertoire and undermines the social constructivist view that emotions are entirely created by cultural factors. What could be an alternative? We need to do justice to both features, the evolutionary anchor of basic emotions and the cultural dependence of some emotions. I suggest that the claim that emotions are individuated as pattern is the best alternative: 1. pattern can easily involve both, evolutionary anchored as well as culturally shaped features and thus account for both observations; 2. this view especially helps to distinguish emotion concepts in a society and their natural basis, i.e. some emotions concepts are categorizing only conventional constructs while others are actually anchored in natural kinds (which empirical science has to discover). 2. The account of emotion as pattern is nicely connecting with our folk psychological way of thinking about emotions (noticing the many faces of emotions), 3. the best reductive scientific accounts of emotions have (at least so far) not succeeded in reducing emotions to a very few necessary features which are constituting a type of emotion. In the second part of the talk, I argue that emotion recognition relies on the same type of pattern recognition as is typical for object recognition.

Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics (CAVE)
Department of Philosophy
Macquarie University
Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
CAVE website: mq.edu.au/cave<http://cave.mq.edu.au>

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