We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Feeling Body

Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind

Giovanna Colombetti

Publication Year: 2013

In <I>The Feeling Body</I>, Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science -- the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience. In the course of her discussion, Colombetti focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. Drawing on enactivist tools such as dynamical systems theory, the notion of the lived body, neurophenomenology, and phenomenological accounts of empathy, Colombetti advances a novel approach to these traditional issues that does justice to their complexity. Doing so, she also expands the enactive approach into a further domain of inquiry, one that has more generally been neglected by the embodied-embedded approach in the philosophy of cognitive science.

Published by: The MIT Press

Title Page, Dedication, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (23.0 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.9 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.6 KB)
pp. ix-xii

I began working on some of the ideas advanced in this book already during my Ph.D. dissertation. I thus owe a big intellectual debt to my supervisor, Andy Clark, for his many suggestions and his encouragement. I also benefited at the time from the interdisciplinary environment of COGS at Sussex University, and from a short but inspiring visit at Indiana University, where...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (39.5 KB)
pp. xiii-xviii

This book takes several ideas from the so-called enactive approach developed in cognitive science and philosophy of mind over the last twenty years or so and applies them specifically to the field of affective science. The result is both a further development of the enactive approach itself, by extending it to a further domain of inquiry, and a reconceptualization...

read more

1. Primordial Affectivity

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.2 KB)
pp. 1-24

Affective scientists, as their name implies, study affective phenomena. As we shall appreciate in more detail as the book unfolds, they focus especially on emotion, understood as a psychological faculty of its own, distinct from but also importantly linked to other faculties, such as perception, attention, memory, and so on. This emotional faculty manifests itself in a variety of...

read more

2. The Emotions: Existing Accounts and Their Problems

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.0 KB)
pp. 25-52

The primary object of study of affective science is not affectivity as characterized in the previous chapter but relatively short-lived and bounded episodes during which specific feelings are experienced, and specific changes in one’s body and behavior become apparent. These episodes are what affective scientists usually refer to as the emotions. To some extent, this use of the...

read more

3. Emotional Episodes as Dynamical Patterns

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.5 KB)
pp. 53-82

The best way to conceptualize emotional episodes, I believe, is as dynamical patterns. More precisely, emotional episodes should be understood as self-organizing patterns of the organism, best described with the conceptual tools of dynamical systems theory (DST). DST is a branch of mathematics used to model a variety of complex temporal phenomena. In the mind sciences, it...

read more

4. Reappraising Appraisal

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.5 KB)
pp. 83-112

I now leave the debate around basic emotions and turn to the so-called cognitive approach in affective science and its central notion, appraisal. In particular, in this chapter I focus on the relationship between this notion and what are usually seen as the bodily aspects or components of emotion (e.g., autonomic arousal, expression, action tendencies). As we shall see, in...

read more

5. How the Body Feels in Emotion Experience

pdf iconDownload PDF (88.6 KB)
pp. 113-134

A long-standing question in affective science concerns the bodily character of emotion experience. Do we always experience our body when we experience an emotion? William James famously thought so; indeed, he argued that it is necessary to experience “bodily symptoms” to feel an emotion:

If we fancy some strong emotion, and then try to abstract from our consciousness...

read more

6. Ideas for an Affective “Neuro-physio-phenomenology”

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.4 KB)
pp. 135-170

According to the enactive approach, phenomenological analyses are useful not just to clarify the nature of lived experience per se but also to make sense of patterns of brain and bodily activity as measured in the laboratory. Varela (1996) proposed the term neurophenomenology to refer to a research program aimed at integrating the “third-person methods” of neuroscience...

read more

7. Feeling Others

pdf iconDownload PDF (107.2 KB)
pp. 171-202

The discussion so far has centered on the individual. It is now time to rectify this solipsistic trend and turn our focus on our relationship to others. We are social beings and spend much of our existence interacting with other embodied agents, whose presence affects us in various ways, both experientially and physiologically.
A lot has already been written in the philosophy...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (22.3 KB)
pp. 203-204

The chapters of this book have addressed several topics in affective science (primarily the psychology and neuroscience of emotion) from an enactive perspective. Of the various themes that make up this complex framework, I have emphasized the deep continuity of life and mind; the autonomous and adaptive nature of organisms (including their immanent purposefulness...


pdf iconDownload PDF (104.2 KB)
pp. 205-228


pdf iconDownload PDF (112.2 KB)
pp. 229-260


pdf iconDownload PDF (60.1 KB)
pp. 261-270

E-ISBN-13: 9780262318419
E-ISBN-10: 0262318415
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262019958

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013