Public Philosophy Network

Encouraging and Supporting Publicly Engaged Philosophical Research and Practices

Physiological theories of emotion, according to R S Peters characterize emotion in terms of arousal of consciousness and therefore cannot conceivably be described as “educational” at least if we are going to define the latter in terms of ” a family of experiences through which knowledge and understanding develop”. Peters goes on to argue in an Aristotelian fashion that such theories can interestingly provide some of the conditions necessary to facilitate cognitive development. They can, that is, be aids to education as can altering the temperature of the classroom or smiling at the pupils when they enter the class but they “have no necessary connection with knowledge understanding or belief”. Stimulation or conditioning is not in itself education. This connection with cognition is critical for Peters who notes that physiological theories like to pick the emotions they study, preferring fear and anger to sorrow and pride. This selectiveness occurs exactly because of the failure to see the conceptual relationship between the physiological and behavioral responses and their cognitive components. What are these components? Firstly the Wittgensteinian notion of “seeing as” operative when we see certain movements of the face as a wince requires that we possess the concept of a wince. The concept is also connected to the normative appraisals we make, i.e. whether the aspects of the situation we are reflecting upon are agreeable or disagreeable. The differences in the emotions, Peters argues is due to the differences in the situation which is being appraised: “Seeing something as threatening differs from seeing it as thwarting, and these different appraisals have different consequences both physiologically and in the behavior which might be their outcome.” Peters concludes by claiming: “In other words emotions are basically forms of cognition. It is because of this central feature which they possess that I think there is any amount of scope for educating the emotions.”

Views: 138


You need to be a member of Public Philosophy Network to add comments!

Join Public Philosophy Network

© 2019   Created by Sharon M. Meagher.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service