“What Emotions Are (and Aren’t)”

Link from New York Times

Very interesting cognitive scientific points in this article. The functional aspects of the author’s theory seem to have implications in philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The article explains that emotions are not distinctive brain-states, and they are also not distinctive body-states, but are each a set of many brain and body states which contextually perform the function which corresponds to the emotion word.

Now, I have twisted this into my own words a bit, but the larger implication is not about emotion words.Emotions may just be words which approximate a set of loosely defined mental states, this is fairly uncontroversial. The larger point is in mental states other than emotions. For philosophers of language, the state of meaning one thing and not another. If these are not brain or body states, then must they be functional states?

If meaning something is a contextually defined notion, this supports a highly pragmatic view of language, in which use of a word is far more important that semantic meaning.


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