The Feeling Body
Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The MIT Press
Title Page, Dedication, Copyright
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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...
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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...
1. Primordial Affectivity
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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...
2. The Emotions: Existing Accounts and Their Problems
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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...
3. Emotional Episodes as Dynamical Patterns
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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...
4. Reappraising Appraisal
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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...
5. How the Body Feels in Emotion Experience
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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...
6. Ideas for an Affective “Neuro-physio-phenomenology”
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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...
7. Feeling Others
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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...
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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...
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013