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Emotions and bodily feelings 

Emotions and bodily feelings
Chapter:
Emotions and bodily feelings
Author(s):

Matthew Ratcliffe

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199206469.003.0001
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date: 27 October 2021

This chapter examines recent philosophical accounts of emotion and feeling, in order to make explicit some commonplace assumptions concerning the nature of bodily feeling. I begin by outlining two contrasting views, one being that emotions are bodily feelings and the other that they are judgements. The problem is that emotions seem to be both, and so the question arises as to how the feeling component can be united with the cognitive component. One solution is to maintain that emotions have at least two distinct ingredients, but this view does not accord with the relevant phenomenology; feelings seem to permeate the world-directed aspect of emotion. I therefore explore the possibility that feelings might be more than just experiences of bodily states, by focusing on three recent approaches that attempt to unite feeling with intentionality. I argue that all are incomplete in certain important respects. The chapter concludes by identifying existential feelings as an important phenomenological category and suggesting that an overhaul of some deep-rooted philosophical assumptions is required if we are to understand them. Central to this overhaul is the abandonment of the distinction between cognition and affect.

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