What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories

Paperback | August 12, 1998

byPaul E. Griffiths

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In this provocative contribution to the philosophy of science and mind, Paul E. Griffiths criticizes contemporary philosophy and psychology of emotion for failing to take in an evolutionary perspective and address current work in neurobiology and cognitive science. Reviewing the three current models of emotion, Griffiths points out their deficiencies and constructs a basis for future models that pay equal attention to biological fact and conceptual rigor.

"Griffiths has written a work of depth and clarity in an area of murky ambiguity, producing a much-needed standard at the border of science, philosophy, and psychology. . . . As he presents his case, offering a forthright critique of past and present theories, Griffiths touches on such issues as evolution, social construction, natural kinds (categories corresponding with real distinctions in nature), cognition, and moods. While addressing specialists, the book will reward general readers who apply themselves to its remarkably accessible style."—Library Journal

"What Emotions Really Are makes a strong claim to be one of the best books to have emerged on the subject of human emotion."—Ray Dolan, Nature

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From Our Editors

Paul E. Griffiths argues that most research on the emotions has been as misguided as Aristotelian efforts to study "superlunary objects" -- objects outside the moon's orbit. Such objects exist, of course, but studying them as a group produces no useful results because they share no traits other than an arbitrarily defined location. Sim...

From the Publisher

In this provocative contribution to the philosophy of science and mind, Paul E. Griffiths criticizes contemporary philosophy and psychology of emotion for failing to take in an evolutionary perspective and address current work in neurobiology and cognitive science. Reviewing the three current models of emotion, Griffiths points out the...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:293 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:August 12, 1998Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226308723

ISBN - 13:9780226308722

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1: Introduction
2: Philosophy and Emotion—The Poverty of Conceptual Analysis
3: The Psychoevolutionary Approach to Emotion
4: Affect Programs and Emotion Modules
5: The Higher Cognitive Emotions: Some Research Programs
6: The Social Construction of Emotion
7: Natural Kinds and Theoretical Concepts
8: Natural Kinds in Biology and Psychology
9: What Emotions Really Are
10: Coda - Mood and Emotion
References
Index

From Our Editors

Paul E. Griffiths argues that most research on the emotions has been as misguided as Aristotelian efforts to study "superlunary objects" -- objects outside the moon's orbit. Such objects exist, of course, but studying them as a group produces no useful results because they share no traits other than an arbitrarily defined location. Similarly, Griffiths shows that "emotion", as currently defined, groups together psychological states of very different, and thus not comparable, kinds.Some emotions, such as a brief flaring up of anger in response to some immediate experience, are evolutionarily ancient, reflex-like responses that appear insensitive to culture. Others, like moral guilt, differ importantly across cultures despite their long history in humans and affinities to behavior seen in other species. Still other emotions appear to be the acting out of today's psychological myths, just as ghost possession acted out the metaphysical myths of past centuries. These three kinds of responses have different evolutionary origins, different adaptive functions, differen