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j.M. CAMERON The Description of Feeling That we feel as well as reason, have qualms and inner delights as well as caleurate, seems to be as well established as anything can be. Much of the conduct we praise and censure would be impossible if we didn't feel; it is possible to construct amusing stories about relations between computers because in them we find the analogue of reasoning; but the analogue of feeling is in them hard to discover and it is therefore hard to give such stories moral weight. The definition of the gentleman includes unwillingness to hurt the feelings of others; people often say today, in discussing some particular action or practice: 'It's all right so long as he/she/they isn't/aren't flU,·I' ; and this doesn't usually mean hurl in the physical or sensational sense, and even if it does the physical hurt is resented on account of its bringing about or representing some psychic hurt. The headmaster's famous 'This hurts me more than it hurts you' may be humbug but it makes perfect sense. That in the world we feel jealous or angry or resentful or happy, or that we have feelings, strange, familiar, curious, hateful, desirable, seems beyond question, and of course it is. If claims and statements about feelings are not clear, nothing in our language is clear. There are, aUthe same, a number of puzzles, just as there are puzzles about 'mind' and 'thinking.' We are tempted to assimilate the concept of feeling to that of sensation, and there are many cases where this can scarcely be wrong, for I certainly feel pains and tickles; but there are other cases (quite apart from the cognitive uses of feel-I feel certain, I feel you may be right, and 50 on) where it is plain this won't work, as in I feel happyII feel depressed, etc. These claims don't entail that I have any sensations, certainly not any particular sensations, even in those cases where it might be a plausible hypothesis that there are connections between feeling happy/depressed and the sensations I happen to have. I might suspect that I am depressed on account of my arthritic pains but of course I might be wrong; even when people claim to be certain in such matters such claims may in principle turn out to be ungrounded, as when people say: [should be perfectly happy if X, and then X and they're not happy. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME XLVU, NUMBER) , SPRINC 1978 0042-0247178/°500-0214 $01 .50/0 © UNIVERSITY OJ'TORONTO PR£SS1978 THE DESCRIPTION OF FEELING 215 I I begin by distinguishing, so far as this can be done, between naming and describing, and again, so far as this can be done, between describing and reporting. These distinctions are necessarily imprecise, and what is to count as one or another is often a matter of the context and even of the particular natural language one is using. In some languages what are descriptive phrases containing names are, in English, just names. 1 understand there are some primitive languages that don't contain a name for water; there are various names we should have to translate as water in the pot, water from the sky, water in the river, and so on. While 1 don't rely upon English usage I shall suppose that it has sufficient authority for most of the problems I want to discuss. I shall assume what in some philosophical contexts would be absurd - that naming doesn't pose special problems. Pain is a name, happiness, depression, nausea, jealousy, anger are names. ames commonly require verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech to convey thoughts, though there are many exceptions, as, e.g., Water! 'The troops are ready for embarkation' is a report; 'The men in khaki, each leaning on his rifle, were formed up in groups of eight all along the quay' is a description. Of course, descriptions can also be reports; in the case just cited the man listening could say: Why are you giving me such an elaborate report? I just wanted to know if the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 214-227
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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