The Thing Called Emotion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The question "What is an emotion?" has haunted philosophers and psychologists for many years. The typical replies proposed to this question reduce emotions to one of their components, such as state, capacity, feeling, or action readiness, or to something else, such as brain state. The perplexity surrounding this issue indicates that simple answers will be of little value. In order to capture the complexities and subtleties of emotions, this article uses two major methods: firstly, describing a typical emotion, and secondly, defining emotions as a mental mode. In different ways, both approaches answer the question "What is an emotion?" By combining the two approaches, one might arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577116
ISBN (Print)9780199235018
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The several contributors 2010. All rights reserved.


  • Action readiness
  • Brain state
  • Emotions
  • Mental mode
  • Nature of emotions
  • State capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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