How can emotions be both cognitive and bodily?

Michelle Maiese

pp. 513-531

The long-standing debate between cognitive and feeling theories of emotion stems, in part, from the assumption that cognition and thought are abstract, intellectual, disembodied processes, and that bodily feelings are non-intentional and have no representational content. Working with this assumption has led many emotions theorists to neglect the way in which emotions are simultaneously bodily and cognitive-evaluative. Even hybrid theories, such as those set forth by Prinz (2004) and Barlassina and Newen (2013), fail to account fully for how the cognitive and bodily elements of emotion are integrated. As a result, such accounts are unable to provide an adequate characterization of the intentionality or phenomenology of emotions. I will argue that an enactive account of emotions, one which characterizes them as a way of engaging with and making sense of one's surroundings, can help us to overcome this false dichotomy between cognitive and body elements. What I call "affective framing' is at the core of emotional experience. It is the way in which we engage with and appraise our surroundings in and through bodily feelings of caring, so that the bodily and cognitive elements of emotion necessarily are fused. The notion of affective framing not only helps to clarify the relationship between bodily and cognitive elements of emotion, but also offers a useful way to make sense of both the intentional directedness and phenomenal character of emotional experience.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-014-9373-z

Full citation:

Maiese, M. (2014). How can emotions be both cognitive and bodily?. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (4), pp. 513-531.

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