Varieties of Extended Emotions

I offer a preliminary defense of the hypothesis of extended emotions (HEE). After discussing some taxonomic considerations, I specify two ways of parsing HEE:  the hypothesis of bodily extended emotions (HEBE), and the hypothesis of environmentally extended emotions (HEEE). I argue that, while both HEBE and HEEE are empirically plausible, only HEEE covers instances of genuinely extended emotions. After introducing some further distinctions, I support one form of HEEE by appealing to different streams of empirical research—particularly work on music and emotion regulation. However, I register skepticism about a second and more radical form of HEEE.

To conclude, I have offered a sketch of some arguments supporting the possibility of various kinds of extended emotions. After spelling out different ways of understanding this idea, I have argued that there are cases where some emotions are partially constituted by factors and feedback external to the agent. Specifically, I have argued that, at times, music is part of the vehicle necessary for an individual to realize certain emotions. I have also argued for the limited possibility of collectively extended emotions—cases in early infancy, for example, where the infant might be said to be part of a numerically single emotion that extends across the infant-caregiver system. Despite my openness to the possibility of individually and collectively extended emotions, however, I registered skepticism about the possibility of collectively extended emotions after infancy. Specifically, I argued that there are non-transferable phenomenal aspects of emotional experience in adulthood that seem to preclude their being collectively realized. While emotions may quite often be individually extended, this fact should not lead us to overlook or underemphasize the extent to which they are often comprised of crucial features specific to our individual experience.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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