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Term 2 introduction

'Modern' emotion

  • Flight through the Universe
  • The human subject: mind consciousness, body consciousness
  • Phantom limbs ('second consciousness' or 'blood consciousness')
  • Phenomenology, study of structures of experience and consciousness (the embodied mind)
  • Cogmotion: neuroscience and experimental psychology (Luiz Pessoa, The Cognitive-Emotional Brain: From Interactions to Integration: researcher on the amygdala, argues that emotion and thought are the same thing)


  • Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)
  • Certainty and Familarity
  • Oxytocin: produces the feelings associated with the emotion ‘love’: increased levels of this hormone in newly partnered couples and mothers and newborn babies
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Therapy: psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, group therapy, counselling, CBT, mindfulness, animal-assisted, person-centred, integrative, transactional analysis, poeticotherapy, art/music/drama therapy etc etc etc (there are hundreds of types of therapy)
  • Learning to Hug and Mimetic Desire
  • Modern Stoicism (Stoicon)
  • Contemplative studies
  • Emotional objects and Museum of Broken Relationships
  • Social media and 'friendship'

Some definitions

Thomas Dixon: ‘An emotion is a felt judgement. It is your body’s way of telling you, quickly, that the world is or is not how you want it to be. Any general description of emotions must capture both feeling and cognition. A cool and detached mental state cannot count as an emotion. There must be a sweaty palm, a lurching stomach, a thumping heart, a tingle, at least a momentary shiver. However there is more to an emotion than mere sensation. Nausea is not an emotion if it is caused by food poisoning, but it can be if it is caused by a sudden conviction of the meaninglessness of life.’

Barbara Rosenwein: ‘There are many definitions of emotion, and most of them make good sense if you take them in the context of the theoretical orientation of the writer. For me, one of the most useful definitions comes from cognitivist psychology. It postulates that an emotion is the result of a certain kind of assessment--an instantaneous judgment that something or someone affects my wellbeing in some way. If I see a lion and judge that it is brown and furry, I am not making an emotional assessment. But if I see a lion and judge that it is not good for my wellbeing, and I quickly climb a tree, I am indeed making an emotional assessment, and the emotion (in this instance) is fear.’

Keith Oatley: ‘An emotion, I think, has a personal and an inter-personal aspect; research on emotions has tended to concentrate on the former, and a good way of describing an emotion from this point of view follows Aristotle. An emotion is a kind of judgement, an evaluation of an event in relation to a concern. . . . More importantly, emotions are interpersonal; they set up particular kinds of relationships with other people. Happiness sets up a relation of cooperation, sadness involves, typically, withdrawal from something or someone lost, and also elicits others' sympathy, anger sets up a relationship of conflict, fear tends to spread socially, and engender in others a wariness of danger, and so on.'