Posts Tagged ‘Phenomenology’

For the empirical sciences, the world consists of clearly identifiable objects with different sets of determinants such as size, shape, and colour, described independently of each other. This exists in its own right or somehow constituted by a transcendental status. The denial of the possibility of transcendental reduction of the life-world sets Merleau-Ponty apart from Husserl and goes beyond that, as it centres the body as not merely an object in the world. Perception for the empiricist tries to provide causal explanations for what is perceived. On the other hand, intellectualists try to reconstruct what is perceived by reference to the subject’s exercise of its cognitive powers. Merleau-Ponty sees this taking for granted of how humans perceive the world a fundamental error. This is not simply an ‘objective’ world, but a world consisting of objects whose determinants are not fully explainable.

Merleau-Ponty was accused of a kind of relativism in his emphasis of the body in perception. This comes from his claim that it is impossible to transcend history, we can never grasp the world in its totality but we grasp it according to the mode in which we inhabit it. Humans can only understand the world as it is revealed and uncovered to humans with our specific forms of being-in-the-world. There is a denial of any absolute truth about the world in this relativism; there is always only what is ‘absolutely for us’.[1] Merleau-Ponty shows that the body is not an ‘object ‘in the sense given to this term by objective thought. Its properties are not determinate; its activities defy the empiricist attempt to provide causal explanations which depend upon scientifically testable claims about external relationships; and its spatiality is that of situation, rather than location.

For Merleau-Ponty, perceptual objects have an impact on our consciousness that refers to actual things in the external world. This allows the individual to differentiate objects in the external world relative to time and space. The human body is a Being-in-the-world which attributes distinctness to the objects in the world and is characterized by individual actions. The “lived-body” is a medium for perceptual interpretation of the world. This goes against Heidegger in that ‘I do not have a body, I am my body’ and against Descartes Cartesian dualism in which he claims ‘I think therefore I am’ and conceives the body as nothing more than a machine. Through his examination of the phantom limb and brain damage, Merleau-Ponty shows that the empiricist and intellectualists are fundamentally wrong in their approach to the body in the objective sense and that this does not accurately represent a perceptual body. He also shows what is wrong with the intellectualist’s conception of the subject as a disembodied consciousness. Taking the case of Schneider, he notes that the empirical approach would be to provide a causal explanation of Schneider’s defective motility. The intellectualists, he notes, will regard Schneider as having effectively lost the basic powers of a human subject. He has lost the ability to perform spatially awareness tasks.

Merleau-Ponty overcomes this through his existential-phenomenological and psychological enquiry. Taking an example of a bird singing, we do not independently perceive the auditory stimuli and visual stimuli separately; it happens simultaneously and involves experienced consciousness through the participatory action of ‘Being-in-the-world’. There is a marginalisation between objective thought and the lived body for him which I have discussed in the last four blog posts. It is Merleau-Ponty’s essential contribution to the philosophical enquiry of perception. He remains one of the most important and profound phenomenological thinkers in modern philosophy.

Final Bibliography

– M. Hammond; J. Howarth; R. Keat, Understanding Phenomenology, Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford, 1991

– R. Kearney. Modern movements in European philosophy, Manchester University Press, 1984

– R. Kearney, Twentieth-century continental philosophy, Routledge, New York, 2003

– M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of perception. Humanities Press, 1962

– M. Merleau-Ponty, Primacy of Perception, Northern University Press, Translated by James M. Edie p. 12-42, 1964

– D. Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, Routledge, London, 2000

– J. Reynolds, Merleau-Ponty andDerrida: intertwining embodiment and alterity, Ohio University Press, 2004

[1] Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, p. 430

Read Full Post »

The lived body or “lived flesh” describes the role of sensation in perception. Our perceptual awareness is of real objects in the world. We are not altogether aware of our consciousness of our perceptions, for example visual stimuli. We see the object as a representation of the world through “lived flesh”.  This cannot be reduced completely as a rationalist approach attempts to, there are no pure sensations for Merleau-Ponty. The closest thing we get to a pure sensation is imagining the world around us, imagining the things in our world being around us. As Merleau-Ponty puts it:

“the greyness which, when I close my eyes, surrounds me, leaving no distance between me and it”.[1]

Photo by froodmat

Merleau-Ponty differs considerably from Husserl in this sense, whereby Husserl takes an approach of pragmatic representational accounts of perception. Sensations for Merleau-Ponty are the ‘unit of experience’. He wants to explore the ‘pre-objective realm’ of our lived experience. We cannot understand the ‘objective world’ without lived experience of the world. The senses in perceiving the objects in the world are not separate, but overlap and ‘transgress’ each other’s boundaries.[2] The lived body has an essential structure of its own which cannot be captured by the language and concepts used to explain inanimate objects in the world, that is the lived body is directed toward an experiencing world. The world of everyday experience is described as the “lived-through-world”.[3]

This is contrasts from Descartes idea of the body. Our lived and objective body allows us to perceive the world as one entity; Merleau-Ponty claims that the unity of experienced objects is not accomplished through the application of mental rules and categories, but through pre-conscious power of bodily synthesis. One does not separate the senses individually, such as auditory and visual experiences, the synthesis of the senses of the body allow us to perceive a unified world. This extends beyond the sense organs in that we move spatially in the world, extending sensation into perception. One can perceive objects in the world relative to their purpose and significance to the lived body’s needs and capacities. The objects in the world display themselves, in other words to look at an object is to inhabit it.[4]

In The Primacy of Perception, Merleau-Ponty speaks of the cogito in terms of grasping myself in terms of reflection outside of perception. This is achieved through the experience of being a living body in the world. When I say “I think” I do so immediately and without the possibility of being able to doubt it. Doubting it puts all possible objects of my experience into question.

“This act grasps itself in its own operation and thus cannot doubt itself.”[5]

The fact that I have a perceptual body means that I am engaging with the objects of the world. Through engaging with the objects I am certain of my existence. The primacy of perception attempts to get closer to living reality, which can be applied to language, knowledge, society and religion on man’s relation to perceptual experience. It places perception at the heart of human understanding.

[1] Merleau-Ponty, PP, p. 9

[2] Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, (Routledge, 2000) p. 422

[3] Merleay-Ponty, PP, p. 71

[4] Merleau-Ponty, PP, p. 68

[5] Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception, (Northern University Press, 1964) p. 22

Read Full Post »

The world which is given perception according to Merleau-Ponty is the concrete, inter-subjectively constituted life-world of immediate experience. He claims that there are “many ways to be conscious”. We never completely escape from the realm of perceptual reality and even the seemingly independent structures of categorical thought are ultimately grounded in perception. We are always immersed in the world and perceptually present to it. Merleau-Ponty is similar to Heidegger in that he agrees on the unitary character of ‘human reality’ as a world-directed active intentionality in whose experience in the world is constituted as the human-life world. They differ however in the primacy of perception and his recognition of the perceived world as the primary reality as giving us the first and truest sense of ‘real’. For Heidegger, it is not this world but the being of Beings which is the primary reality and any analysis of human experience, perceptual or otherwise is only a means to pose the more fundamental question of this Being.

In Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty concentrates on the formation of the human awareness of the world. He tries to re-establish the roots of the mind in its body and in its world, going against doctrines which treat perception as a simple result of the action of external things on our body as well as against those which insist on the autonomy of consciousness. Our interpretation of the world is manifested in our corporeal nature; our bodies and specific formation of the sense organs reveal the world for us in an extraordinary way. This pre-reflected awareness cannot be caught in transcendental reflection as Husserl had thought. Examining the body brings to light the hidden procedures that are assumed in our conscious state.[1] Objective thought fails to recognise the active, purposeful nature of one’s own body, its practical orientation toward something. To provide an adequate phenomenological description of one’s own body, one must attend to this.[2]

Merleau-Ponty studied the psychological impact of brain damage and explored its philosophical consequences. Schneider, a war veteran who was studied by Geld and Goldstein was a case which had philosophical consequences that were explored by Merleau-Ponty. Schneider was brain damaged and unable to perform bodily movements in the normal manner, although his motor abilities were intact. He could see shapes and outlines, however he had to infer the nature of objects by a process of reasoning. He was unable to infer mentally actual bodily moment and explore movements virtually before actually performing it. In other words, he was able to perform everyday, concrete tasks but was unable to perform abstract movements, unable to detach himself from immediate practical tasks at hand.  Merleau-Ponty notes that we instinctively have a ‘virtual body’ where we can explore our hands in space before actually moving them. We see his account of the ‘phenomenal body’ and not the ‘objective body’ which is moved when we imagine moving our hands in space. He portrays the inadequacy of empiricism in accounting for human experience. It objectifies the body in a sense that separates it from its sense organs. His expression of the ‘objective body’ with his account of the phantom limb describes the ambiguity of the ‘objective’ world described by the empiricists. The phantom limb phenomenon describes the way the amputee refuses to accept amputation questioning and creation of and feeling in the phantom limb. The body is a way of stating that my body is ‘in-the-world’ in the objective sense. Merleau-Ponty claims we should seek out the reasons we do this and not the human behaviour. He attempted to show that one’s own body cannot be described in the categories of objective thought. We must see the body as:

“an irresolvable consciousness which is wholly present in every one of its manifestations”.[3]

Human reflexes do not arrive from objective stimuli, but “moves back towards them”, and invests them with meaning which they do not possess taken singly as psychological agents, but only when taken as a situation. Perception of the stimuli is an intention of our whole being, which is a modality of a pre-objective view which is what we call being-in-the-world. Prior to the stimuli we must recognise the determinants that our reflexes and perceptions are able to aim at in the world.[4]

Merleau-Ponty starts by developing the intellectualist’s point of view and within the empiricists framework that Schneider’s difficulty performing abstract movements were caused by damage to his visual senses. This is overcome by Merleau-Ponty in that normal people with intact visual senses can perform abstract spatial tasks with their eyes shut [5] Schneider’s disability cannot come from a visual impairment alone. The empiricist argues that it may not be a visual impairment causing Schneider’s deficiency but tactile sense impairment. This is overcome in that:

“the facts are ambiguous… no experiment is decisive, and no explanation final”.[6]

No such experiences are purely visual and not purely tactile i.e. resting upon the sense of touch. Merleau-Ponty triumphs the empiricists and intellectualists argument. Schneider has lost the ability of ‘projective’ power. Another type of thought is required to investigate this further, that of existential-phenomenological investigation.

[1] D. Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, (Routledge, 2000) p. 419

[2] M. Hammond, J. Howarth and R. Keat, Understanding Phenomenology, (Basil Blackwell, 1991) p. 165

[3] M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, (Humanities Press, 1962)  p. 140

[4] Merleau-Ponty, PP, p. 79

[5] Hammond, Understanding Phenomenology, p. 169

[6] Merleau-Ponty, PP, p. 116


Read Full Post »

Merleau-Ponty is a French philosopher who has rejected both realism and idealism stating his work as a purely phenomenological enquiry. He defines phenomenology as the study of essences and that it is a method of describing our perceptual contact with the world. He offers an alternative standpoint to both intellectualism and empiricism and is strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl.

Merleau-Ponty’s most notable work: The Phenomenology of Perception, discusses the main theme of his phenomenology, that is, man’s body and Being as the source of meaning and human existence. He saw meaning as arising from man’s ‘insertion to Being’.[1] His phenomenology recognises that the body is not an object amongst objects, but that through our bodies we perceive the world and are entities of intentionality. He argued that we chose our world and that our world chooses us.[2]

This introduces the concept of a “lived-body” to existential-phenomenological thought.  He deals with the relation between corporeal sensation and overall perception, how preconscious and conscious perception functions and how conscious existence has its base in the preconscious physical existence. His existential-phenomenological epistemology and ontology shows how both empiricism and rationalism fail to account for the perceptual awareness of the world around us.

“Empiricism cannot see that we need to know what we are looking for, otherwise we would not be looking for it, and intellectualism (rationalism) fails to see that we need to be ignorant of what we are looking for, or equally again we should not be searching.”[3] He believes all consciousness to be perceptual. “The perceived world is the presupposed foundation of all rationality, all value and all existence.”[4] Merleau-Ponty makes the distinction between the intelligible body and the fleshed mind.

In the next three posts I will discuss the role of the body in perception through analysis of Objective thought in opposition to The Lived Body.

[1] R. Kearney, Modern Movements in European Philosophy, (Manchester University Press, 1986) p. 73

[2] Kearney, Modern Movements in European Philosophy, p. 74

[3] J. Reynolds, Merleau-Ponty andDerrida: intertwining embodiment and alterity, (Ohio University Press, 2004) p. 5

[4] R. Kearney, Twentieth-century continental philosophy, (Routledge, 1994) p. 109

Read Full Post »

A lot has been said on emotion theory in psychological literature. There is an emerging trend however, that it may be wholly unfeasible to generate a satisfactory account of what emotion actually is with traditional cognitivist accounts of mind. The problem of emotion is certainly an issue that has been the main focus of philosophers, psychologists and other natural scientists for quite some time. Griffiths (1997) proposed that the term ‘emotion’ is scientifically redundant, as we refer to so many different processes and components when we refer to emotion; perhaps the term should be replaced with the specific process of the emotional experience we refer to, such as appraisal, motivational aspects, valence, intensity and so forth. However, with emotion touching practically every aspect of our lives, and the relevance of phenomenological research becoming apparent, emotion may now be a problem to which we can contribute many important and interesting insights. Emotion will certainly be a contentious issue for the foreseen future, but for now we can hope to find some meaningful insights from contemporary trends in psychological and philosophical approaches to mind. Lewis (2005) also makes a very interesting point, in that psychological theory tends to gravitate to a level of description that is subordinate, global and functional; and this makes it difficult to form true explanations.

While philosophy has focused on the qualitative aspects of emotion, much of psychology has focused on empirical investigations. Current trends are noticing that emotion consists of intrinsically qualitative features that have been previously overlooked (Lewis, 2005; Colombetti, 2005; Slaby, 2007). As a result, there is a heated debate between theorists over what emotion might actually be. For this piece I am going to focus on the qualitative aspects of emotion while trying to remain aware of the criticisms of all that a qualitative approach entails. We must also realise that there may not be one thing to which we can refer to as an emotion, given its qualitative nature.

Most theories of human emotion are deficient in terms of phenomenological adequacy (Slaby, 2007). An important phenomenological term in emotion research is ‘intentionality’. Intentionality has been defined by Slaby (2007) as the mind’s capacity to be directed at something beyond itself. This is not a purely cognitive process, but constitutively feeling-involved in the sense that the feeling body is taking part in a world-directed activity. From this instance, emotions are experiences of significance. This relies on a bodily sensitivity to the world which is an integral part of our experience of the world. In this we can see that the concept is inextricably linked with embodiment. This alludes to the point of seeing emotion as a sense-making activity of an organism and its world.

Emotions and feelings are seen as overlapping concepts. For the purposes of this piece, I will make a very general distinction between the two, although research is quite divided on where the two concepts overlap. A predominant issue is that the two overlap on a number of levels, and it is at this level at which I wish to discuss, not necessarily the differences between them.

From this point, feelings are seen as intentional as they are not just directed at one’s body and its physiological changes, but also at the world beyond the body. Slaby (2007) distinguishes two categories of feeling, but here I am concerned with encompassing the important aspects which generally concern emotional experience; not neglect crucial aspects of feelings in emotion.

Intentionality, taken from the definition described above can be described as a ‘feeling toward’ activity. This has been discussed extensively in Goldie’s (2005) review of the feeling body. This concept can be seen as an awareness of significant events, situations or objects in the emotors environment. This is supported by empirical studies where even the outline of an actual object was enough to elicit an emotion in the individual (Lewis, 2005). In this, it can be argued that the felt body is resonating in specific ways that disclose the subjective significance of the event perceived (for example, an outline or image of a spider will not elicit the same emotional response in each individual, it would be expected that an individual with arachnophobia would elicit a different response in physiological and phenomenological ways). Emotional content of perception presents the world as being a certain way for the emotor.

There seems to be an emerging consensus that cognitivist views of emotion are entirely insufficient (Lewis 2005; Colombetti & Thompson 2005; Slaby 2007 and others). For many, cognitivist theories of emotion fail to make clear what is specific about emotions that distinguish them from non-emotional judgements of significance. Slaby (2007) and Goldie (2005) argue that this is due to an over-intellectualisation of the processes of perception. In doing so, aspects of human experience are getting lost. An emotion is essentially an embodied experience (Slaby, 2007). The importance of bodily nature is not a separable aspect that can be simply added to an otherwise purely intellectual appreciation of what is going on in emotional experience. This is precisely what Slaby argues against Prinz’s account of embodied emotion, which as Slaby sees it, falls victim to over intellectualising the issue and can be critiqued of generalising human cognition to zombie like states (Prinz’s notion of emotions being like smoke detectors for the individual cognisor). Prinz’s notion of emotions being ‘set up to be set off’ sees the body as a vehicle through which they fulfil a task and completely lacks the experiential nature of emotion. When we attempt to intellectualise this (reduce the process to an intellectual operation outside the head) we lose the quality that made it specifically an emotional content and meaning begins to break down.

Phenomenological works of Merleau-Ponty puts forward the notion of the ‘lived-body’. Important phenomenological and empirical studies are arguing that the lived-body is not merely a static sense of an embodied state from which cognition can be described. Current research is putting forward a notion of a ‘living-body’, in the sense that the individual is a living autonomous system by which sense-making occurs through experience. From this, we ‘are’ our body. We are a ‘feeling’ body and the vehicle of existential evaluations. Cognitivist accounts at present cannot account for this ‘feeling’ state.

From the phenomenological notion of intentionality, emotions can be considered as dynamical dispositions for action, rather than some inner state of being. That is, to experience an emotion is to relate or to ‘enact’ a property of the world, not just ourselves (Baerveldt & Voestermans, 2001). However, phenomenological notions can only take us so far. I mentioned previously that neurobiological research was important for the problem of emotion. Most phenomenological traditions fail to recognise that human action is consensually coordinated. People are involved in an ongoing flow of mutual adaptations. Baerveldt and Voestermans (2001) raise the issue that emotion is involved in consensually coordinated actions with other human beings (this is also seen in the enactive literature, DiPaolo & De Jaegher in particular). Emotions certainly play a central role in the establishment of the cooperative domains of interaction. An emotor has the ability to identify that there are other experiencing individuals who have their own unique experience about a similar situation, or more abstractly, the ‘same’ world accessed through experience. Emotions may be the faculty by which we make-sense of the world, recognising the experiential capacity of the other. In essence, people need people in order to make their own experience real, particularly their emotional experience.

Ellis and Newton (2000) suppose that ‘self-organising’ systems are stable systems, but essentially are thermodynamically ‘open’ systems. By this they propose that the system exchanges energy and material with their environment (a physical interaction) while maintaining constant patterns of activity by appropriating and replacing the needed substrata for their definitive patterns of activity (the dynamical system of self-organisation). Lewis (2005) sees self-organisation as the emergence of novel patterns or structures, the appearance of new levels of integration and organisation in existing structures, and the spontaneous transition from states of lower order to states of higher order.  Emotions, as understood as self-motivated activities, are caused by the individuals self-organising behaviour which uses objects in the environment to maintain the systems autonomy and continual organization (the process itself is part of the autonomous agent, for the agent and is constructed by the agent). The purpose of this is suggested as arising from a self-motivated drive of the system to attain a holistic equilibrium in the face of real or imaginary circumstances in the environment.

Nesse & Ellsworth (2009) state that different emotional states may correspond to the adaptive challenges encountered in different situations. This certainly follows from Ellis and Newton’s proposal of emotion as a self-motivated activity of the individual; however Nesse and Ellsworth approach emotion from an evolutionary perspective. They place functional significance of emotions in individual lives, and also place emphasis on intensity of emotions felt and valence as essential properties of emotional experience. This research can certainly be seen as providing interesting developments and important contributions for an enactive approach to the problem for a number of reasons. It highlights some intrinsic properties of emotion including the autonomous nature of the self-organisational process, and emotion can be interpreted as essential to sense-making for the individual.

Appraisal generally can be seen as the evaluative component of emotion (Colombetti 2005). Lewis (2005) states that appraisal processes identify aspects of a situation that direct toward what is important for the self. He also suggests that a variety of neural subsystems interact to produce appraisal and emotion processes that become coupled in a macroscopic emotion-appraisal state. The notion that higher cognitive aspects of appraisal may refine core emotion meanings is also particularly interesting. Colombetti and Thompson (2005) note that appraisal and emotion are so inextricably interconnected that they cannot be mapped onto separate brain systems. Nevertheless, research has shown that the amygdala is an essential structure involved in emotion elicitation (LeDoux, 2000). Other research has shown that the prefrontal cortical structures are involved in physiological emotional response (Damasio, 1999) as well as affective feelings. However, appraisal is often associated with higher systems (corticolimbic regions) (Lewis, 2005).

Colombetti (2005) raises an important point on valence: what is positive and what is ‘negative’ depends on one’s concerns. If this is true, then valence is intrinsic to emotional experience. Colombetti goes on to evaluate a number of different types of valence, each of which describes some aspect to which valence refers. Valence generally refers to the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ properties of an experience.  For current purposes, I am focusing on the general use of the term valence and how it can make significant contributions to understanding the problem of emotion.

Valence is certainly an important notion for emotion theory. However, it certainly oversimplifies the problem of emotion and de-intellectualises the issue to the point where it may not be compatible to daily lived emotions. Colombetti notes that valence dichotomises emotion generally into positive and negative, however an interesting insight from DiPaolo (2005) can be interjected here to clarify some of the problems of a valenced approach. DiPaolo introduces the notion of grades of meaning for autonomous systems; it can be generally understood and adapted that subjective experience can be valenced according to a grade of meaning for the individual. While this approach could be promising, a neuroscientific empirical investigation could be exhaustive and unfruitful.

Lewis (2005) applies dynamic systems principals to the process of appraisal in emotion in an attempt to connect emotion theory to neurobiology. In his review of emotion theory, he highlights the dynamic, distributed, nonlinear and emergent aspects of cognition. This is a step away from cognitivist approaches to emotion.

Lewis argues that cognition is self-organising in that it builds on itself – it biases its outcomes and moves with only partial predictability from moment to moment. He notes spontaneous emergence from multiple feedback cycles. This, in my opinion, is an interesting accompaniment to a phenomenological view of emotion. In the next section I am going to discuss the overlapping brain structures and evidence from neurobiological accounts of emotional experience that I think will certainly be a good starting point for progressing emotional theory.

Neuroscientific research on emotion elicitation has had many interesting insights to the problem of emotion. LeDoux (2000) has made important contributions to the understanding the process of fear elicitation in humans, referring to the amygdala as an essential structure for the experience. LeDoux also criticises some of the topics of phenomenological research such as ‘affect’, ‘hedonic tone’, and ‘emotional feelings’. While LeDoux is completely justified in criticising these concepts, he overlooks a key feature which the three aforementioned topics place central to their concern: experience. However, LeDoux remains optimistic that these topics can be built on and expanded to give important insight into the problem of emotion. He states: “by focusing on a psychologically well-defined aspect of emotion, by using an experimental approach that simplified the problem in such a way as to make it tractable, by circumventing vague and poorly defined aspects of emotion, and by removing subjective experience as a roadblock to experimentation” (LeDoux, 2000, p.177) we can overcome the problem of ‘affect’, ‘hedonic tone’, and ‘emotional feelings’ and make significant advances in the field. However LeDoux also notes that the amygdala is not the answer to how all emotions work. The role of the amygdala in emotion behaviour is still poorly understood. LeDoux concludes that unless we embrace spiritualism, emotion must happen inside the brain.

From the research presented here, what we mean by ‘emotions’ is often ambiguous. Formulating a clear definition is somewhat problematic. Extensive qualitative research conducted by Gilbert (2001) suggests that emotions refer to feelings, sensations, drivers, personally meaningful experiences; something that comes ‘from within ourselves’ (Gilbert, 2001, p.9) and that which makes us truly human. These descriptors lack clarity yet aim at describing something which is innate to human experience. We come to realise that emotions may be culturally defined and socially constrained. They guide our interpretations of what we experience and are shaped by our life experience (Gilbert, 2001). Gilbert also raises a key issue that is commonly discussed in phenomenological literature, yet it was not elaborated here. That issue is with bodily intersubjectivity. Harris & Huntington (2001) discuss that as we engage in an interpersonal interactions on the basis of hierarchical roles (in lab-based settings: experimenter and participant), reciprocal roles are being held. This will have significant influence when it comes to formulating a set of methodological procedures for empirical studies of emotion.

In this piece I wanted to highlight some interesting and often overlooked research on the problem of emotion. Emotion is an expansive topic in psychology, and one can certainly be intimidated by the diversity of the research. However, the issue is an essential and intrinsic property of human nature and a fascinating issue that requires further research. The enactive approach to emotion allows research to move in a new and interesting direction, namely a neurophilosophical investigation to the problem. We have seen that neuropsychological researchers are certainly resilient to the idea of a somewhat phenomenological approach to the problem, and their concerns are certainly justified. Clarification and further elaboration is needed on many of the topics that will certainly be brought up with a neurophilosophical and neuorphenomenological investigation of emotion.


Baerveldt, C., & Voestermans, P. (June, 3-8 2001). An enactive view on emotions. Paper to be presented at the 9th conference of the International Society fpr Theoretical Psychology (ISTP). Calgary.

Colombetti, G. (2005). Appraising Valence. Journal of consciousness studies, 12, No. 8-10 , 103-126.

Colombetti, G., & Thompson, E. (2005). Enacting emotional interpretations with feeling (A response to Lewis 2005). Behavioural and brain sciences , 200-201.

Ellis, R. D., & Newton, N. (2000). The interdependence of consciousness and emotion. Consciousness and emotion , 1-10.

Gilbert, K. R. (2001). Why are we interested in emotions. In K. Gilbert, The emotional nature of qualitative research (pp. 3-15). New York: CRC Press.

Goldie, P. (2002). Emotions, feelings and intentionality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. , 235-254.

Griffiths, P. (1997). What emotions really are. London: University of Chicago Press, Ltd.

Harris, J., & Huntington, A. (2001). Emotions as analytic tools: qualitative research, feelings, and psychotherapeutic insight. In K. B. Gilbert, The emotional nature of qualitative research (pp. 129-145). New York: CRC Press.

LeDoux, J. (2000). Emotion circuits in the brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience , 155–184.

Lewis, M. (2005). Bridging emotion theory and neurobiology through dynamic systems modeling. Behavioural and brain sciences , 169-245.

Nesse, R. M., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2009). Evolution, emotions, and emotional disorders. American Psychologist , 129-139.

Prinz, J. (2003). Emotions Embodied. In R. Solomon, Thinking about feeling. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Slaby, J. (2007). Affective intentionality and the feeling body. Phenomenological Cognitive Science , Online first. DOI 10.1007/s11097-007-9083-x.

Read Full Post »