Archives de catégorie : Annonces

Une session sur l’histoire des émotions au colloque annuel de l’ISCH

Le colloque 2010 de la “Société internationale pour l’histoire culturelle” se tient cette année à l’université de Turku en Finlande du 26 au 30 mai. Le 29 mai, une session sera consacrée aux “Émotions de l’historien et les émotions dans l’histoire”, voir programme ci-dessous:

Session 7: Historian’s Emotions and the Emotions in History

  • Prof. Peto Andrea, Central European University: Exceptional court, exceptional analyses? Performativity, emotions and post WWII jurisdiction
  • Ms. Leena Rossi, Cultural History, University of Turku: Historians’ feelings
  • Prof. Greg Shaya, College of Wooster: Empathy, Indifference and the Emotional Life of Modernity: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century French Visual Culture
  • Prof. Curie Virag, University of Toronto: Emotions, subjectivity and power: Narratives of cultural history in China and Europe

Amour et Raison au bûcher (Colloque Marguerite Porete, 30 mai-1er juin 2010)

A l’occasion du septième centenaire de l’exécution de Maguerite Porete le 1er juin 1310 en place de Grève, un colloque international est organisé à Paris, du 30 mai au 1er juin prochain, sur celle qui fut l’une des figures emblématiques de la spiritualité des béguines, conjuguant pensée théologique de haut vol et poétique amoureuse, en marge de l’institution ecclésiastique et des milieux universitaires.

Argument et programme du colloque : cliquer ici

Attention, il est nécessaire de s’inscrire au préalable auprès de Sylvain Piron (EHESS) à : sylvain.piron[à]

“Désir, émotion et esprit” : programme quadriennal du groupe Thumos

Le groupe de recherche en philosophie Thumos (université de Genève) propose deux bourses de thèse de 4 ans à partir d’octobre 2010, en lien avec le programme de recherche “Désir, émotion et esprit” présenté ci-dessous. Le profil des postes et les modalités de recrutement sont disponibles sur le site de Thumos.

Desire, Emotion and the Mind


Philosophy Department of the University of Geneva

Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences

1. Summary of research plan

We commonly explain emotions by means of desires, and explain desires by means of emotions. For instance, we say things like “He admires Maria so much, he wants to spend most of his time with her” and “Sam wanted to have this book so badly, he is now overjoyed”. On the traditional belief-desire model of the mind, however, it is not clear that there is a clear distinction between desire and emotion given that the so-called category of the pro-attitudes tends to lump together many different phenomena, and among these, desires and emotions. This holds also for many philosophical and psychological accounts of the emotions in which desires and emotions are not clearly distinguished. If so, how are we to make sense of these very ordinary types of explanations in which, on the face of it, one type of mental state is appealed to in explaining another type of mental state?

In light of these problems, the present project sets itself the task of explaining why and how emotions and desires should be distinguished, and proposes an account of how the relation between them should be conceived. The hypothesised account posits not only that emotions are distinct from desires, but also that the emotions, conceived as evaluative experiences of one’s environment, explain desires – causally, ontologically and epistemically – and that this fact has important consequences for our general understanding of the mental realm.

I start (§2.1 State of research) by introducing the topic and aim of the project (§2.1a). I first summarise the research on desire and emotion in the context of the goals pursued in the project (§2.1b), and subsequently discuss part of the debate in moral psychology relevant for the explanation of action in terms desire (§2.1c). On this basis (§2.2. Detailed research plan), I motivate and clarify the aforementioned overarching hypothesis. Because our emotions are trackers of values, they play a non-eliminable role in our psychology: they rationalise our desires (standardly conceived as triggers of action). Next (§2.2a), I single out four challenges for the hypothesis that open up four directions for research, i.e. four distinct sub- projects. The first concerns the very possibility of emotions constituting reason-giving states (2.2b), the second is concerned with the different ways in which emotional phenomena can be said to rationalise desires (with a particular focus on temperaments, sentiments, personality traits, etc.) (§2.2c), the third is concerned with how fruitful the proposed hypothesis is in providing a taxonomy of the pro-attitudes (§2.2d), the fourth is concerned with confronting the hypothesis and its framework with work conducted in empirical psychology (§2.2d).

The crux of the hypothesis put forward in this project is not only that emotions have, as it is often observed, a crucial regulatory role to play in our lives, but that without them we would be blind to a whole dimension of our environment, i.e. its evaluative dimension. This, if true, militates in favour of reconsidering the fundamental architecture of the mind as including emotions in addition to beliefs and desires. It is thanks to emotions that our desires and our (evaluative) beliefs get to be intelligible from a rational or normative perspective.

  1. 2.Research plan

2.1. State of research

a. Topic and Aim. Desire is a key concept in contemporary philosophy of mind, one which is fascinatingly understudied. In the framework of so-called belief-desire psychology (Davidson, 1963), also sometimes referred to as Humeanism (Smith, 1994), in which most contemporary philosophy of mind is couched, there is nothing special about desires. Desire is regarded as one type of many mental states or perhaps even just a cover term for all the phenomena that motivate and cause action, sometimes called conations or pro-attitudes: drives, instincts, appetites, needs, impulses, urges, desires, wants, values, motives, will, volitions, strivings and tryings, efforts, obligations, goals, intentions, choices, decisions, principles, normative beliefs, sentiments, character traits, temperaments, wishes, yearnings, expectations, hopes AND emotions generally. Of course, these phenomena might be different in some way or other, but for most philosophical purposes within the belief-desire model of the mind, they are the same inasmuch as they serve to propel us to action. The present project is motivated by the following worry about this view: by mixing all the phenomena listed here – note that it lumps together psychological states, processes and dispositions, but also states and processes that on the face of it might not be psychological at all – are we not missing differences which might ultimately produce a completely different picture of the mind when we really attend to them? In particular, and this is crucial for this project, the category of “pro-attitude” does not distinguish between desire and emotion. This should give us pause. Why?

We are familiar with the following folk-psychological explanations: “She desires to visit her mother because she misses her”, “He admires Maria so much, he wants to spend most of his time with her”, “Sam wanted to have this car so badly, he is now overjoyed”, “Maria wanted to go with me on holidays, what a disappointment it is for her!”. These examples illustrate a common type of explanation: emotions cause and motivate desires, and desires cause and motivate emotions. These explanations seem to make sense of one type of mental states by appeal to another type. On the belief-desire model of the mind, however, this might in fact be an illusion. For, on many popular and important psychological (Brehm, 1999) and philosophical (e.g. Marks, 1982, Searle, 1983; Gordon, 1987; Green, 1992, Wollheim, 1999, Gordon, 1987) accounts of emotions, the latter are explicitly or implicitly understood in conative terms. If this is true, then the type of explanation offered above, contrary to appearances, would not appeal to the occurrence of one type of mental states to explain the occurrence of another type of mental states; indeed, in the end, it might seem that conative phenomena explain other conative phenomena. Is this correct? Couldn’t it be rather that desire is in fact one type of emotion; or perhaps more plausibly, that desire is distinct altogether from emotion?

The hypothesis at the centre of this project rests on the claim that emotions and desires are distinct types of mental phenomena playing radically distinct roles in our mental economy. The aim of the proposed research is thus to provide an account of the way the relations between desires and emotions should be articulated, together with a theory of the relations between these phenomena and action. In a nutshell the hypothesis is the following: desires, regarded as they are in the traditional belief-desire model of the mind as inner causes of action, can and do rationalise action when they are grounded, directly or indirectly, in emotions conceived of as reason-sensitive states. The present project tries to cash out this hypothesis by bringing together three areas of research on desire that are too often insulated from one another: (i) straight philosophy of mind of the so-called pro-attitudes and its concern with the nature of mental states and their interrelations, (ii) moral psychology with its concern to characterise desire in ways that are relevant for rational and/or moral action, and (iii) empirical psychology of emotion and motivation with its concern to pin down the processes and mechanisms explaining behaviour.

This first part of the project articulates the framework and prepares the ground necessary to formulate the aforementioned hypothesis. In section B, I motivate the claim that emotions should neither be conceived in terms of desires nor desires in terms of emotions. This will provide the occasion for presenting the ideas driving present-day philosophical research on desire and motivation on the one hand and presenting present-day philosophical research on emotion on the other hand while introducing distinctions and themes necessary for motivating the main hypothesis of the project. With these distinctions in hand, I move on to discuss, in section C, debates in moral psychology on the role desires might or might not play in our ordinary explanations of action in terms of reasons. In this section, I motivate the claim that the solutions proposed in the literature on how the belief-desire model of the mind should be modified or abandoned to account for our ordinary explanations of action are not satisfactory as they stand. This, as we shall see, opens the door to the idea that a satisfactory account of the mind must regard emotions not only as distinct from desires but also as an essential and non-eliminable ingredient of our mental economy.

b. Three intuitions about desires and their link to emotions. In philosophy, research on desire is very scattered (desires are often treated in passing and in relation to other phenomena) and this is particularly true of research on desire and its link with emotions. It is fair to say though that three fundamental intuitions have traditionally driven the theory of desire, intuitions that continue to drive present-day research on this topic. And as we shall see, we seem to have analogous intuitions with respect to emotions. (1) A first intuition with respect to desire, especially strong when focusing on the experiential dimension of the phenomenon is related to the pleasures and pains coming with its satisfaction or its frustration. We might think that desires are essentially states that are oriented towards pleasure and thus that they should be compared and contrasted with aversions that are oriented towards the avoidance of pain (Duncker, 1941; Dretske, 1966; Gosling, 1969; especially Strawson, 1994), (2) A second intuition, at the other end of the spectrum, would have it that desires are evaluative representations. They represent the desired object as good in some way. This ancient and venerable way of looking at desire is congenial to the moral philosopher whose primary objective is to understand the link between action and value (Aristotle, Aquinas, and for instance Stampe, 1987; Helm, 2001; Oddie, 2005). (3) Finally, a third intuition, perhaps the first that comes to mind, insists on the link between desire and action. Desires are simply those mental states that dispose subjects to bring about the content of these states. Accounts based on this intuition are widespread in contemporary philosophy of mind and can be considered to represent the standard view (Armstrong, 1968; Searle, 1983; Stalnaker, 1987; Smith, 1994).

Now, at the first approximation at least, are these intuitions not precisely those we also have regarding emotions? If we think of emotion as being the locus of pleasures and pains (e.g. Russell, 1980 and 2003; Goldstein, 2003), as being forms of evaluations of the world and of oneself (e.g. deSousa, 1987; Tappolet, 2000) and as having intimate links with action (Frijda, 2003), it is no surprise that desires and emotions are often put in the same box. But should they really? A further look at these intuitions and the research that ground them reveal that they should not.

(1) The conception of desire/aversion as dispositions to feel pleasures or pains is perhaps one that is most congenial to the empirically minded philosopher trying to think of desire as a ‘natural kind’. For while it is difficult to even start looking for desires in the brain, the mechanics of pain and pleasure might turn out easier to detect (e.g. Morillo, 1990). On this view, the distinctive feature of desires and aversions, beyond the various states of affairs towards which they might be geared, is the pleasures and pains that the desired state of affairs brings to the subject. To desire a car is to be disposed to feel pleasure when getting it, to feel pain when not getting it. This is an elegant and simple way of conceiving of desire, one that is likely to be applicable to higher animals as well as humans and thus thought to be easily accommodated within a naturalist framework of the mind. Note however a crucial feature of the proposed account. On this way of characterising desire, the link between the latter and motivation/behaviour is indirect at best. If I desire that p, I might, if possible, try to bring about that p. But that is not at all essential to the theory (Strawson, 1994). On this view, I can desire that it rains, i.e. be disposed to feel pleasure when it does, while there is nothing I will or can do to bring it about. While this is a conceivable view of desire, it is not one that will be congenial to the belief-desire theorist who thinks of it as essentially propelling action.

Be that as it may, once this conception of desire is stated, it might immediately gain plausibility and appeal when it is realised that a variety of possible theories of the emotions is already incorporated into it. If we put together the idea that desires are dispositions to pleasures or pains and the very common and intuitive idea that emotions are nothing but pleasures and pains (valence), perhaps felt with various intensities (arousal) (Russell, 1991), then the link with emotions might be thought to be immediate. Why not say that the positive emotions are pleasures associated with or representing the satisfaction of desires and negative emotions are pains associated with or representing the frustration of desires (Wollheim, 1999)? Or similarly –and this is for example how the most important and empirically informed recent philosophical publication on desire has it– emotions are conceived of as representations of net changes in desire satisfaction  (It should be stressed that in Schroeder’s theory, desire satisfaction/frustration is associated directly with reward/punishment, and that the latter, for empirical reasons, should not be identified straightforwardly with pains and pleasures) relative to expectation (Schroeder, 2004). Note that we face here one way in which to articulate the relation between desires and emotions. While emotions here are not directly assimilated to desires, they are analysed in terms of their fate.

This being said, the view of desires suggested by the first intuition cannot be the whole story about them – nor about emotions for that matter (it makes little sense for example to say that an emotion is satisfied or frustrated). First of all, it is not clear that all states that dispose me to feel happy in some circumstances can be described as desires. Second, say, something totally unforeseen and not even imaginable by me happens and makes me really happy. In this case, wouldn’t it be really strange to say that I desired that thing even tacitly or unconsciously? If you do not think it strange –after all we might have desires with very general and vague contents– you should think of the converse case. I might very well desire something whose satisfaction brings indifference or displeasure. Should we say in this case, and even though the desire has not disappeared, that because it was not a disposition to feel pleasure in the relevant circumstances, it was not truly a desire at all?

(2) This brings us to the second intuition: the idea that it is not pleasure that is at the centre of desire, but the representation of a state of affairs as falling under the good (the value of the good), pleasure being one of the good that one might represent by desires. Perhaps, what distinguishes the motivations that, say, a robot might have from the real desires that mental beings might have is that mental beings construe the desired state of affairs as being worth pursuing (Helm, 2006). On this view, desires are representation of states of affairs as being good in some way or other, representations that have the power to move one to action. To desire a cigarette is to view smoking as worth pursuing, to desire helping your friend is to view this action as a good thing to do. In both cases, these positive representations are thought of as enough to dispose one to action.

Now here again we face a conception of desire which possesses all the ingredients for thinking of desires and emotions as having very similar structures. Although the idea of desires as presentations of values is more congenial to the philosopher than to the psychologist, the latter is familiar with the idea that emotions are presentations of values or at least forms of evaluations. Since the cognitive revolution in emotion theory (e.g. Lazarus, 1966; Solomon, 1976; Scherer, 1984), it is common to think of emotion as having as one of its fundamental functions to make subjects sensitive to what is significant for them, or of value to them, given what they care about. On this view of the emotions, objects and situations are affectively presented in evaluative terms, e.g. as being dangerous (fear), self-degrading (shame), obstructive or offensive (anger), etc. Emotions are sensitive to the evaluative dimensions of our environment given our cares, concerns, goals, etc., and as such, tend to motivate us to distinct types of actions (Frijda, 2007). In this context, then, we have of course another reason to believe that desires, this time understood as representations of objects, states and processes as good, are very much like emotions. This, together with the intuitions that desires have intimate relations with pains and pleasures, might convince someone that there is no interesting distinction between emotions and desires.

While the present project endorses the claim that emotions are indeed forms of evaluations of the world, it holds that it is wrong to think of desires in such terms. To say that desiring something implies in some sense that the subject views that thing in some favourable light is probably correct, but it is doubtful that desires in themselves represent the object in that light. First of all, many desires, instrumental desires for example, might be thought not to be in themselves representations of state of affairs as being good. Second, and crucially, on most accounts of desires, they have the wrong nature to have a representative role. If a desire is a state that has the function to change the world in the way the desire represents it to be, it is bizarre to think that it is also and in itself a representation of the world as good. Desires, many philosophers would argue, have the world-to-mind direction of fit (e.g. Searle, 1983; Humberstone, 1992; Smith, 1994; Zangwill, 1998; the initial intuition comes from Anscombe, 1957). Desires, in stark contrast with emotions, aim at the realisation of their content (see Goldie 2000 for caution on this point). It makes no sense to say, for example, that my joy at seeing the cake (as opposed to my desire to eat it), aims at the realisation of its content. As a result and with such a picture of desire, we end up with an account which downplays what is usually considered to be the most important trait of desire: its essential link to action.

(3) Insisting on the third of these intuitions, i.e. the link between desire and action, is perhaps the most secure way of bringing to the fore the differences between desire and emotion. On this view, a desire that p is essentially this state that propels us to do p. This way of thinking of desire is one that is most natural for the functionalist philosopher of mind interested in the links between belief, desire and action, and one which grounds the belief-desire model already alluded to. The philosopher who insists on the link between desire and action will emphasise those features of desires that make them the natural candidates for being essentially dispositions to action. First, and in addition to what has already been said about the direction of fit of desires, she will argue that desires, contrary to appearances, are always directed at states of affairs. Indeed, desiring an object (a car) is always, ultimately, desiring that some state of affairs involving the object obtains (possessing the car) (Searle, 1983; Humberstone, 1990). Second, she will point out that desires are always directed at a state of affairs that is believed to be non-actual, i.e. future (Kenny, 1963). It is very bizarre to desire something the subject believes is already the case. It can be argued indeed that what looks like desires concerning past events, if they are not the emotional attitudes of regret, guilt, etc., are desires that these events still be ahead of one. This is why desires are said to be concerned only with future state of affairs. Finally, she would likely insist that the bringing about of the state of affairs must be believed to be in the power of the desirer – one cannot desire bringing about something one believes one has no control over whatsoever (Anscombe 1957; Kenny, 1963). Hence, this set of claims, combined with the idea that the performance of an action has a special feel to it when it is desired, a feel that is associated with the feedback the world is exerting on us as a result of trying to make an impact on it, (O’Shaughnessy, 1980; Bayne, 2006; Pacherie, 2008), lead us to a picture of desire which essentially links it to action. All these features now indeed point towards the idea that desires are essentially states of the subject that dispose her to act so as to realise the state of affairs represented by the desire. And if this is so, then there are good reasons to think that desires are states that are very different from emotions. Why?

While emotions certainly have links with motivation and action, it cannot be as intimate as the link between desire and action that is suggested here (e.g. Prinz, 2004). First, emotions, it is often said, can be directed at objects rather than states of affairs. It seems wrong to say, for example, that admiring someone can be reduced to a case in which the subject admires one, or a collection of, states of affairs. Second, although they can and are often directed at future events, emotions are often directed at present or past events. Regret, guilt, or nostalgia are all examples of emotional phenomena that are essentially concerned with the past. And finally, emotions – unlike desires – can be about objects that are not believed to be in the power of the subject. One can feel and often feels emotions about things over which one has absolutely no control. In fact, it is often said that what is called ‘coping potential’, which can vary from ‘very much’ to ‘none at all’, is a key determinant in distinguishing emotions (e.g. Scherer, 1994). Now, what these issues point towards is that the link between emotion and action is not as intimate as that between desires and action. This of course should not come as a surprise if, as we have suggested, emotions present the world in evaluative terms, i.e. if they have, contrary to desires, the mind-to-world direction of fit.

This quick and partial review of the ideas and intuitions regarding desire and their link to emotions and emotion theories shows at the very least that understanding the latter with the help of the former is not very promising. Now, if looking at the structure of these two types of mental states should make us think that it might be a mistake to lump them together in the pro-attitude category, looking at them from the perspective of action explanation in moral psychology provides further and different reasons not to do so.

c. Desire in Moral Psychology. There is one area of philosophy, often called moral psychology, which has long insisted that there is something wrong with the ‘belief-desire model’ as it stands, and insisted that lumping all these states together under the umbrella of the conative or pro-attitude will not do. The thought in this literature is that there must be restrictions on the kind of behaviour that can be evaluated from the point of view of morality or rational behaviour, and that these restrictions are likely to have to do with the type of state that brought about the behaviour (e.g. Nagel, 1970; Dancy, 1993; Schueler, 1995, 2003). The point is often put like this: actions, at least those that are relevant for morality are done for reasons. However, not all the states that we lump together in the pro-attitude box will count as reasons for actions. My impulse to eat as opposed to my intention to go to a gourmet restaurant, for example, might not count as a reason for my action and might therefore fare differently with respect to evaluations from the point of rationality or morality. If a desire that p, say, is just a propeller of action, i.e. a triggering cause as opposed to a structuring cause (Dretske, 1988) that just happens to be operative in the subject, then the intuition is that the desire in question will perhaps explain causally the action, but will fail to provide a rational explanation or justification for it. People at least sometimes act for reasons that are not reducible to simply desiring performing the action. The idea is often put this way: it is only when the desire is appropriately connected to the world, that is, connected to it in such a way that the projected action is intelligible from the point of view of rationality or morality that it now might count as a reason for the action, as opposed to just a brute tendency towards performing it. My desire to help Jack is perhaps intelligible as a reason to help him if it is, or is grounded in, an understanding of Jack’s plight and the role I see myself having with regard to Jack’s fate.

This debate, which traditionally opposes the Humean and the Non-Humean with regard to motivation, is a rare domain of philosophy in which emphasis is put on the fact that the crucial distinctions must be made within different types of pro-attitudes. But the truth is that for obvious and legitimate reasons, this debate has not gone very far in producing an interesting taxonomy of the conative realm. As things stand now, fundamentally, mainly two strategies to get out of the limitations of the belief-desire model for the purpose of the explanation of action have surfaced.

The first consists in rejecting the model altogether with its distinction between two states (desire and belief) to which two different functions are ascribed, and reverting to the ancient and venerable idea (corresponding to one possible reading of the second intuition presented above in section B) that evaluative cognitions are in themselves sufficient for motivation. Believing that x is good is enough for motivating one to pursue x (e.g. Nagel, 1970; McDowell, 1978 and 1979; Smith, 1994; Dancy, 2000). Although the motivations for this view are extremely varied, it is fair to say that the driving idea is the following: a rational explanation of action must make reference to reasons. And whether we are internalist or externalist about reasons (Williams, 1981), only so-called cognitive states –such as believing that x is a good thing– can put us into contact with reasons and rationally motivate action. The picture (sometimes called “the deliberative model”) is one in which we deliberate about the various reasons there are/we have, on the basis of which we form intentions or make decisions. And the upshot of this view (admittedly barely sketched here) has generally been to put aside efforts to provide an account of motivation which tries to reconcile our Humean mechanistic picture of the mind with the fact that action explanations are rational explanations. In light of the many reasons we adduced for thinking that desires have an essential role to play in our understanding of how action comes about, abandoning altogether the belief desire-model might be considered to be too much of a price to pay.

The second strategy, one that can be endorsed in reaction to the first, has consisted in accepting the framework of the belief-desire model – desires are required because evaluative cognitions are not in themselves sufficient for having the motivation to act in accordance with what they recommend – while supplementing it by reconfiguring desires so as to make them apt to play the double role of propeller and reason-giver. That is how strange and new mental states, such as ‘Besires’ (Altham, 1986), ‘motivated desires’ (e.g. Nagel, 1970; Schueler, 1995), ‘second-order desires’ (Frankfurt, 1988), ‘reason providing desires’ (Platts, 1991), etc. were born. These are states that in themselves can play the double role of giving a reason for an action and causally propelling it.

This latter idea is very attractive since it combines the two intuitions according to which desires must represent the thing desired as good in some way while disposing one to act. It promises that desire will be able to play the double role of giving a reason for the action (the state of affairs is perceived to be good in some way) while also performing its duty of propelling the subject to action. It is an attractive idea, but there are good reasons to resist it at least in some versions of the view. Some of these reasons have already been adduced. Many desires, we said, might not in themselves be representations of states of affairs as good and, and could not even be so, as the considerations regarding their direction of fit have suggested. But perhaps most importantly, desires seem to be the wrong kind of state to represent the world in more diverse evaluative terms. Although we might perhaps want to say that desires are experiences of things as desirable, they are definitely not experiences of things as elegant, as admirable, as funny, as majestic, as offensive, etc. But for desires to play the kind of reason-giving role we want them to play, we would expect them to be sensitive to a wide range of evaluative properties, a sensitivity that it would be very artificial to ascribe to them. Even when we think of those desires that have a phenomenological dimension to them, it makes little sense to say that their phenomenology is such that it makes differences between these distinct values. Finally and most importantly, the idea in question rules out the possibility of a type of explanation we constantly have recourse to. We say things as “I desire this cloth because I experience/judge, etc. its elegance”, “I want to eat it because it looks tasty”, explanations that are not available if the desire itself is an experience of the elegant or of the tasty.

The arguments sketched here militate thus in favour of distinguishing what I desire from what motivates me to desire something. And this takes us back to square one: if we are not ready to abandon altogether the Humean model of the mind for the reasons adduced, and if we are not happy with the proposed amendments to it that have been proposed to make it suitable to account for the fact that action explanations are rational forms of explanations, what are we to do? In the next part of the presentation of this project I propose a solution which emphasises the epistemic role emotions plays in desire and action explanation.

2.2 Detailed research plan

The presentation of this part of the project is structured around a broad hypothesis (section (a)) that provides the framework for four distinct sub-projects (section (b), (c), (d) and (e)) each treating a specific issue or challenge arising from trying to build the case for the hypothesis.

a. The hypothesis: Emotions as causes and reasons for desires. The starting point of the presentation of the state of research regarding the topic of this project was the following: not all the phenomena that the belief- desire model of the mind puts under the pro-attitude category appear to be playing the same role in our mental economy. A rationale for this claim was provided on the basis of the sketch of two unrelated arguments emanating from two different areas of research. From straight philosophy of mind, we found good reasons to distinguish within the category of the pro-attitudes those that are emotions from those that are desires. From moral psychology, we found good reasons to distinguish within the category of desires those that might count as reasons for actions from those that are just causes of actions, leaving room, perhaps, for those that might play both roles. If the conclusions of these two arguments are to be taken seriously, then a natural manner of combining them into one single and coherent picture presents itself. The hypothesis at the centre of this picture is that emotions and desires have radically distinct roles. The idea in a nutshell is that desires, conceived of as they are traditionally as triggering causes of action can and do rationalise action when they are grounded, directly or indirectly, in emotions conceived of as reason- sensitive sates. This radical division of labour between emotions and desires makes sense in the light of (a) the epistemic status of the two types of mental sates, (b) the way they are both connected with action, and (c) the epistemic and metaphysical relations existing between the two types of states.

(a) First, the epistemic status of emotions and desires are distinct. Emotions, conceived as experiences of the world in evaluative terms may be claimed to be reason-sensitive states, and as such provide reasons for both axiological judgements and for desires to act. These desires to act, by contrast and insofar as they are essentially geared towards their realisation, do not present the world in any given way and as such cannot in themselves rationalise actions. This is the sense in which they are very different from an epistemic standpoint. (b) Because emotions are cognitive states, namely presentations of the world in axiological terms, they have only an indirect link with action. We can characterise it by saying that emotions can present at most possibilities for action, constraining, through the axiological properties it reveals, what it makes sense to desire in the circumstances. The desires born of these emotional experiences, by contrast, have a direct, in fact necessary, link with action since they are in themselves dispositions to realise their content. This is the sense in which emotions and desires differ with respect to their link with action. (c) Now, the following understanding of the epistemic and metaphysical relations existing between the two naturally suggests itself: when a desire to act directly stems from an emotion or an emotional inclination, as when I desire to hit Jack because I felt offended by his remark, then we have good reasons to think that the desire can inherit its rationalising role from the rationalising role of the emotion that gave rise to it. My desire to take revenge on Jack can rationalise my hitting him when it is understood that it is born out of my having been offended by his unfair treatment of me. At the centre of the present picture, the case in which our desires are caused and justified by our emotions enjoys a privileged explanatory status.

Now the following clarifications are in order. Whereas the case in which a desire to act is caused and rationalised by an emotion enjoys a privileged explanatory status within the present picture, this does not amount to claiming that all desires to act are causally and rationally grounded in actual emotional experiences. First, nothing in what has been said rules the possibility of (a) desires being caused and rationalised by other types of mental states, nor (b) that desires might cause and rationalise emotions and other states, for example other desires. The crucial and simple idea is that the explanation of someone’s desire proceeds in terms of what she takes to be axiologically the case and this leaves room for a variety of possible scenarios. The attitude of taking something to be axiologically the case can be an emotion, but it can also be and often is, an axiological belief, an axiological memory or an axiological imagining, etc. On the present hypothesis, however, given that a person’s emotions or emotional profile is what gives him access to the evaluative properties of the world, his beliefs, memories and imaginings with axiological content will ultimately (if at all) be rationalised through this person’s emotion or emotional tendencies. The point here is not (or not only) that many present-day desires can still be rationalised by long gone and even forgotten emotional experiences, but that desires are often made intelligible via reference to a person’s possible or likely emotional response. My desire not to accompany you to this exhibition is intelligible in the light of my contempt for contemporary art. My being disposed to feel contempt in this case can still be invoked to explain my (negative) desire in the absence of any felt emotional experience. (b) For the same reasons, if a desire causes and rationalises an emotion, for example my disappointment at the cancellation of this or that professor’s lecture, then the disappointment is made sense of through the mention of my desire to attend the lecture, which is in turn and ultimately rationalised through the mention of, say, the admiration I feel for the professor in question. Also a desire for a certain end (an intrinsic desire) will typically cause and rationalise the desires for the means (extrinsic desire) for this end as long as the initial desire is rationalised by an emotion or an emotional tendency.

Note too that the present hypothesis is prima facie compatible with the idea that some of our desires have no grounding at all, be it in emotions or in other types of mental states. These will typically be difficult or impossible to consider from a rational point of view, i.e. regarded as reason-sensitive and reason-giving. Conversely, the hypothesis is compatible or even encourages the idea that an emotion might cause and rationalise many different desires in the same subject at the same time. My admiration/awe of the professor has caused both my desire to greet and meet him but also my desire to stay at a respectable distance, etc. In addition, while the model of desires as dispositions to act, as we have seen, probably puts many constraints on what can be desired (only state of states, that are viewed as non-actual, future, believed to be in the power of the subject, etc.) the content of the desire can be as ‘open’ as we want. Jane’s distaste of this journalist’s question might cause and rationalise her desire to stop this very interview right now and/or also and more generally stop talking to journalists altogether.

On the present hypothesis, emotions are claimed to have a non-eliminable role within our mental economy. Insofar as it is what gives us sui-generis access to a world of axiological properties, emotions are said to justify our axiological judgements and our action through our desires that could not be provided by other means. It is also in virtue of this role that the hypothesised model can accommodate the intuitions of both the Humean who thinks of desires as inner causes of action with a world-to-mind direction fit, as well as the intuitions of the anti-Humean who insists that proper explanations of actions must appeal to mental states that are sensitive to reasons. The hypothesis accommodates these intuitions by avoiding the purely mechanistic picture of the Humean (emotions can constitute reasons for our desires) while steering clear of the over-intellectualist picture of the mind typically provided by the anti-Humean (acting for a reason need not result from a deliberative process in which our axiological or normative beliefs play the essential reason-providing role). In its present state, however, the hypothesis constitutes only a framework for research. Here are four crucial areas in which the hypothesis can be put to the test.

b. Emotions as reasons. A crucial and foundational claim motivates the present hypothesis: emotions track objects’ values and as such can be said to track reasons for judging and desiring. This claim is controversial and one aim of this project is to defend it in some details. The point of departure here is usefully apprehended with the help of an analogy with perception. The idea is that in the same way that perceptions track objects’ perceptual properties for us, emotions track evaluative properties (De Sousa, 1987; Tappolet, 2000, Deonna, 2006, Doering, 2007). In the same way that perception gives us a sui-generis and non- eliminable access to the perceptual environment, emotions gives us a sui-generis and non-eliminable access to the evaluative properties of our environment. While this has to be true for the hypothesis of this project to get off the ground, it faces a number of challenges. The main one can be stated as follows. While it makes no sense to ask why (in a normative sense) I saw this or that object in front of me, it often (or perhaps always) does make sense to ask why I felt this or that emotion over this or that object. And the thought behind this observation is that the disanalogy is to be explained by the fact that, contrary to the claim, emotions are not access to reasons, but reactions to them. It makes sense to ask why you are afraid of the dog, because the danger represented by it is accessed to independently of and prior to the emotional reaction. If this is the case then emotions are reactions to reasons and not detectors of reasons and as a result will not be apt to play any reason-giving role.

A good strategy to answer this challenge should proceed in the following way. If there is a disanalogy between perception and emotion in this respect, it is not because one is access and the other reaction. The fact is that emotions have indeed non-evaluative cognitive bases (a perception, a belief, a testimony, a memory, etc.) and are metaphysically and epistemically dependent on them. My fear of the dog depends metaphysically and epistemically on my perception of the dog. This however does not rule out, far from it, the fact that it is through my fear that I become aware of the danger of the dog as given in my perception of it (Teroni, 2007). If the disanalogy is now explained in this new and different way, then another explanation can be given perhaps of why we ask reasons for emotions in a way that we do not for perceptions. Because emotions have non-evaluative bases, many questions can arise with regard to what the non-evaluative facts are. Have you met the dog before? Do you know him for being vindictive and erratic? Etc. Developing this two-tier strategy to answer the challenge is the central aim of this sub-project.

c. Emotional reasons and affective dispositions. Even if it can be shown that emotions have the right kind of structure to be reason-giving states rationalising our desires, judgements and actions, the very idea of a world imbued with evaluative properties which would be given through our emotion and which would justify our judgements and desires for actions needs to be elaborated and clarified. In particular, one might think that our emotions are so dependent on what can be called our motivational set (and in particular our personality traits, our sentiments and other idiosyncratic tendencies) that they might be the wrong candidates for rationalising our desires and judgements. How should this challenge be addressed? To explain a person’s judgement, desire or an action by mentioning an emotion is to make reference to this person’s affective sensitivity to certain values. To explain for example his desire to flee by reference to her fear is to explain the desire through this person sensitivity to danger. To explain someone’s desire to help through mention of his compassion is to explain his desire through his sensitivity to the plight of others. To explain his desire to go and see this exhibition of Pollock through mention of his enthusiasm or love for conceptual art is to explain the desire through his sensitivity to some aesthetical properties of this form of art. Hence to explain a judgement, a desire, or an action in terms of distinct emotions is always to explain in terms of distinct inclinations to see the world in distinctive evaluative terms. What these examples illustrate is that the weight and intelligibility of the explanation might rest variously either on the side of the world and its evaluative properties or on the side of the person’s emotions or emotional profile. What does that mean? In many cases, such as when we explain Jack’s desire to flee from the lion by mentioning his fear, the emotions are entirely intelligible solely in the light of the relation existing between some objects/situations and their obvious axiological dimensions. It is just a fact that lions are for most of us dangerous. At other times, however, the particular emotional profile of the person’s whose desire we try to understand has to be invoked. My desire to go see a Pollock exhibition might make sense only given that I am the kind of person who has a particular attachment to Pollock or a general interest in contemporary art. While explanations in terms of emotions on the whole rationalise judgements, desires, and behaviours in the same way for all of us – distinct emotions give us access to distinct families of values –, appeal to our idiosyncratic emotional profiles (personality traits, sentiments, affective dispositions) explain our desires, action and judgments in terms of our axiological priorities, i.e. in terms of the distinct weight we put on distinct values (see Goldie, 2000; Deonna & Teroni 2009).

The upshot of all this for the project is thus twofold: first, (a) the reason-providing nature of the emotions that ground our desires appears to come from two different sources. To put it bluntly, the way the world is constrains what axiological properties can be in it given, on the one hand, the kind of creatures we are, and given, on other hand, the kind of specific or individual person we are understood in terms of our specific emotional profiles, i.e. our axiological priorities. Now, making sense of these explanations in terms of these two sources of axiological pressures, and the dynamics between them, is the aim of this sub- project. Second, (b) the emotional profiles which are here claimed to be one source of justification for our desires to act have been cashed out in terms of affective phenomena such as people’s sentiments, personality traits and other affective dispositions. Now you will remember that all these had pride of place in the list of the pro-attitudes with which we started. This confirms that not everything that this category contains should be apprehended in the same manner, and this observation favours a more refined treatment of the various phenomena being lumped together.

d. A taxonomy of the conative domain. We embarked on this project by observing that the category of the pro-attitudes lumps together a great variety of phenomena (mental states and non-mental states; emotional and conative phenomena). The framework of the present hypothesis naturally suggests means through which some order can be brought to the category. While of course the present effort at classification must leave room for the inherent fuzziness of ordinary language –many of the terms listed (such as ‘motivation’ for example) have very ambiguous or vague meanings– the hypothesis driving it indicates clearly how to proceed in this effort. Here are a few important examples.

First of all, and in the spirit of the belief-desire model, some of the terms listed there are naturally understood as being equivalent to the way the term desire has been used throughout this document. Wants and volitions, but also perhaps crucially tryings and strivings are cases in hand (for tryings, see in particular O’Shaugnessy, 1980; Hornsby, 1980). They are states with content that dispose subjects to act so as to make these contents true. Other phenomena listed, such as principles or obligations or rules of conducts are naturally interpreted within the present perspective as being types of evaluative or normative beliefs. They have the mind-to-world direction of fit.

More interestingly, other phenomena often associated with the lower or animal parts of our motivational structure and commonly classified in the conative domain, might on the present hypothesis best be regarded on the model of the emotions as it was sketched here. Indeed, it is fair to say that at least some of the phenomena that we refer to using terms such as appetites or urges seem emotional in nature. The idea here is that we often want to distinguish between, for example, a general positive attitude towards eating or sex in general (having appetite or an urge) from wanting to eat some particular piece of food or wanting to indulge in some specific sexual act (desire). From the perspective of the present hypothesis, reference to appetites and urges so understood looks like reference to states that present the world in evaluative terms, i.e. attention seems to be focused on the actual world construed as offering possibilities for causing and grounding particular desires (for an account of appetitive desires, see Davis, 1987, and, for emotional desires, Goldie, 2000).

At the other hand of the spectrum in the list of the pro-attitudes, we have all these states –of which we have said very little– that we variously refer to with the terms intentions, choices, decisions, and the like. As Bratman (e.g. Bratman, 1987), for example, has shown, these should not be confused with desires, or a mix of beliefs and desires. While I can easily have two desires that I know are incompatible, I cannot form two intentions that I know are incompatible. And this is because intentions, in contrast with desires, are not only dispositions to act, but commitments to act. Now the present hypothesis is entirely neutral with respect to this, and can thus be accommodated within any philosophical project which looks at motivation from a broader perspective. In fact, the study of action from the perspective of a person’s short and long- terms plans, life-driving projects, etc., the manner in which deliberation and intentions are formed in the process of acting out these plans and projects is of particular interest given the emphasis on emotions and emotional profiles within the present framework. To give just one example, Bratman’s notion of ‘personal policies’ – which is associated to the desires with which the subject identifies (see in particular Bratman, 1989 and 2000) – underpinning people’s acting out of strategies and plans might be enlightened if understood in the framework of what I called our emotional profiles (sentiments, personality traits and other affective dispositions). Other refinements of the taxonomy can focus on the status of imaginative desires, wishes or fictional desires insofar as these attitudes can be described as specific counter-factual dispositions to act.

What these examples illustrate is that the hypothesis driving this project offers a potentially very powerful tool for providing an appealing taxonomy of the conative domain, which is the central aim of this sub-project.

e. Emotion, desire and empirical psychology. The proposed hypothesis faces numerous philosophical challenges, as we have just seen, but it also faces challenges of an empirical nature. In this section, I pin down areas which illustrate the necessity of working within an interdisciplinary framework for progress to emerge with regard to the central topic of this project. (1) First, for emotions to play their reason-giving role, as has been already emphasised, they must be conceived as states that are sensitive to a certain kind of information in the world: evaluative information. They thus cannot simply be a mix of pleasures and pains as, for example, both the dimensionalist (Russell, 1995) and the constructionist (Barrett 2006), conceive of them, nor can they easily be understood in terms of representation of desire satisfaction and desire frustration (Schroeder, 2006; Wollheim, 1999). Now, in the philosophical theories of the emotions, the various options within this evaluative model are well-known and the same can be said about the so-called appraisal model of the emotion in empirical psychology. When this is understood, it is obvious that there are roads for mutual exploration that would be very beneficial for both philosophy and psychology. Two areas in particular are worth mentioning: (i) within appraisal theory (Scherer, 1984), or so the philosopher would think, it is unclear whether emotions are conceived directly as experiences of values or whether they are reactions to antecedently perceived values. The so-called appraisal checks within the sequence of evaluations constituting an emotion within appraisal theory are not clearly singled out as affective phenomena describable as experiences of values. (ii) From the other direction, the idea within appraisal theory that an emotion is a dynamical process (going from checks to checks and reappraising the eliciting condition on the basis of these checks while the process unfolds) is something that does not have much echo in philosophical theories of the emotions, but that should be taken into account. The theory of emotions grounding this project can thus both inform and be informed by extensive collaborations, including empirical means to decide these issues, with those directly working in appraisal theory. (2) Second, it might be thought that the suggested account of desire promotes a picture of desire that reduces it to an empty shell. That is, once the emotions or the appetites have done their job of presenting an end as worth pursuing or avoiding, what role, if any, is left for desires to play except satisfying the urge of the Humean to postulate such states ? This challenge has to be met by the Humean. The fact that desires are essentially dispositions for actions is indeed a necessary condition but not a sufficient one to distinguish it from other motivational states. But here the Humean does not lack resources: there might be rational constraints on what can qualify as the content of a desire –the desire is not only directed towards the desired state of affairs, the state of affairs is intended by the subject (Dretske, 1988)– as well as experiential or phenomenal constraints linked to the already mentioned feedback inherent in the idea of desire as trying or a striving to accomplish something (Armstrong, 1967, O’Shaughnessy, 1980; Bayne, 2006; Pacherie, 2008). And here exchange and collaboration with empirical scientists working on the motivational dimension of emotion should be of much help. Within appraisal theory, psychologists distinguish between a subject’s detection of ‘intrinsic pleasantness’ from the detection of ‘goal conduciveness’ (Frijda & Zellenberg, 2003), a distinction that, on one interpretation at least, could be mapped onto the distinction made here between emotion (and appetite?) on the one hand and intentions and plans on the other. Here, emotions and appetites detect positive and negative values and/or saliencies (intrinsic pleasantness) which are then either confronted with existing generic intentions or plans (goal-conduciveness). However, it is not clear within this picture of motivation, articulated around the distinction between intrinsic pleasantness and goal-conduciveness, what room is left for desires conceived as dispositions to make true their contents with their characteristic feedback. Ways to test empirically this manner of conceptualising the structure of the motivational processes, in particular by exhibiting behavioural dissociations between the manifestations of these alleged processes, are presently sought. (3) Third, recent empirical data (e.g. Berridge & Robinson, 1998; Berridge, 2003) strongly suggest that distinguishing between the conative and the affective makes sense. Although the evidence is very difficult to interpret, the data suggest that in pathologies of motivation of various sorts, either artificially induced in animals or naturally occurring in human (e.g. drug addiction), neural structures associated with ‘wanting’ (reward system) and neural structure associated with ‘liking’(valence), two structures that work usually in tandem start to operate in isolation. While these data certainly seem to favour the general hypothesis underlying this project, i.e. that conation and affect are not to be identified with one another, at this stage it is not clear at all that these data fit into to the model proposed here. This kind of evidence and in particular how pathologies of motivation can inform the theory of motivation must be integrated in a general theory of the relations between emotion and desire.

In these three areas, researchers within the NCCR in affective sciences, scientists with whom existing collaborations on other issues have proved either very successful or very promising have indicated their interest in pursuing the questions and problems they raise.

2.3. State of personal Research

My interests have always been principally in the philosophy of mind, and more particularly in the philosophy of emotion. My focus in this and related areas started during my undergraduate studies (University of Geneva, 1992-1996 and one year at the University of St-Andrews), and became the principal subject of my work during my PhD years at the University of Bristol (1998-2002) where I wrote my dissertation on the subject of empathy. As a post-doc in Cambridge (UK), in UC Berkeley, and in Oxford (2002-2004), I continued working, writing, and teaching in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of psychology and moral psychology with particular attention paid to the nature of emotions and their link to morality. I mention this trajectory because this extensive travelling between universities and philosophy departments in various parts of the world has shaped the specific brand of philosopher of mind I am. While there are many ways of philosophising about the mind, I do not privilege any particular one, apart perhaps from a residual concern to practice philosophy with an eye to respect our ordinary ways of thinking about the topic at hand. I believe the present project reflects this general attitude.

I returned to Switzerland towards the end of my post-doc years (2004) to take up a non-permanent teaching and research position at l’EPFL which I still hold (a position directly affiliated with the philosophy departments of the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne) with the title of Maître d’enseignement et de Recherche Suppléant (more or less equivalent to supply assistant professor). While occupying this position, I was also enrolled as, and still am, a (part-time) researcher at Centre Interfacultaire en Sciences Affectives (CISA), an inter-faculty centre of the University of Geneva which is the leading institution of the FNS funded National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Affective Sciences. This still characterises my present-day professional situation.

The core of my research and the publications2 associated to it have thus been concerned with three interrelated topics: (1) the subject of empathy and more generally the manner in which we come to attribute psychological states to one another [Deonna, The Transparency of Emotions, PhD Dissertation, 2002; Deonna, The structure of Empathy, 2007; Deonna&Nanay, The simulation vs. Theory-theory debate: plea for an epistemological turn, submitted]; (2) the subject of mental content, and in particular the idea that we may represent the world in non-conceptual ways [Deonna&Creese, Les Liaisons Dangereuses or How not to construe non-conceptual content, 2006];(3) and the nature and structure of emotions [Most relevant publications are: Deonna, Emotion, Perception and Perspective, 2006; Deonna&Teroni, Qu’est-ce qu’une emotion ? 2008, Deonna&Scherer, The intentional object disappearing act: constraints on a definition of Emotion, 2009; Deonna&Teroni, Taking affective explanations to heart, 2009], the links of emotions to morality [Most important are, Deonna, Evolution, émotion et morale, 2007, Deonna&Teroni, Distinguishing Shame from Guilt, 2008]

Although the topics of research (1), (2) and (4) have obvious and important connections with the material and arguments at the centre of this project, I shall focus here on the research accomplished directly on the topic of the emotions as it obviously constitutes the groundwork for the concerns of the present project. All the publications listed under (3) defend from various perspectives the conception of the emotion that is presupposed by the hypothesis of this project. First, they all develop on the idea that emotions are intentional states with content that represent the world in evaluative terms. The article co- written with psychologist K. Scherer, a leading appraisal theorist of the emotions, constitutes one of the rare efforts existing in the literature on the manner in which philosophy and psychology speak of emotions as states that indicate the significance the environment has for us. More importantly, my article Emotion, Perception and Perspective (2006) is of crucial importance for the present project. It is an attempt at defending an analogy between perception and emotion at various levels, the most important one being that they can be both conceived as sui-generis means of picking up information about the world, respectively perceptual and evaluative information. This article thus constitutes important groundwork for sub-project (a), although it does not directly address the main challenge at its core. My book, Qu’est-ce qu’une emotion ?, co-written with F. Teroni and now contracted with Routledge for an English translation, is a very well- received and broadly used (in the francophone world) introduction to the philosophical theories of the emotions. It is particularly relevant for the present project as it contains an important discussion of the links between emotion, desire and motivation. Starting with a criticism of the so-called belief-desire theory of emotion, it goes on to show that no theory of the emotion that presupposes that desire is an essential component of it can explain the ordinary structure of our folk-explanations in terms of emotions. To a large extent, then, this discussion in the book constitutes the point of departure of the overarching claim of the present project. Finally, the article Taking affective explanations to heart (2009), again co-written with F. Teroni, provides the basic distinctions relevant for sub-project (b) which is concerned with the explanation of our desires in terms of our emotional dispositions or our emotional profiles. It proposes a characterisation of the phenomena of emotions, moods, temperaments, personally traits, and sentiments and how they relate to one another. The work accomplished in this article can constitute a springboard for meeting the challenge of understanding why explanations of desire, action and judgement in terms of some, but not all, of these phenomena, do constitute rational or normative explanation of action.

The accomplished research and the ongoing one, i.e. the publication just described as well as the numerous participations at workshop and meetings on the same or related topics (see complete CV) over the years puts me, I believe, in a excellent position to attain the aims set out in the present project. This belief is reinforced by the fact that it will be conducted in the same context in which the work for the most recent portion of these publications has been conducted, i.e. the Centre Interfacultaire en Sciences Affectives (CISA). The NCCR “Affective Sciences: Emotions in individual behaviour and social processes”, directed by Klaus Scherer, is one of the first interdisciplinary research networks worldwide to study emotions in a comprehensive manner. Its very active research teams in the neuroscience and psychology of emotion and motivation, and in particular its philosophy unit (the Thumos group) of which I am already a member with its direct connection with the very active and productive philosophy department of the University of Geneva, is the ideal setting for the successful pursuit of such a project.

2.4 Schedule

The detailed research plan of this project (2.3) is structured around a broad hypothesis (a. The hypothesis: Emotions as causes and reasons for desires) and four distinct sub-projects (b. Emotions as reasons; c. Emotional reasons and affective dispositions; d. A taxonomy of the conative domain; e. Emotion, desire and empirical psychology) each treating a specific aspect of the framework generated by the hypothesis. As a general fact, it must be expected that progress in all the sub-projects will contribute to build the case in favour of the broad hypothesis underlying this project. More specifically, while two of them ground the hypothesis at the centre of the project (sub-projects (b) and sub-project (c)), another explore the fruitfulness of the account in related areas of the philosophy of mind (sub-project d.). Sub- project (e) has a distinct status as progress within it is directly dependent on ongoing or emerging collaborations within the NCCR in Affective Sciences.

The overarching long-term aim of the project (after 4 years) is to be ready to publish a philosophical monograph on the relation between emotion and motivation along the lines sketched in the present document. Consistent with my being embedded in an interdisciplinary setting for the duration of this project, the intended audience for this book is the philosophical and non-philosophical academic community interested in these issues. Given this long-term aim, here is how I foresee the schedule of the work to be accomplished in all of the sub-projects. Sub-projects (b) and (c), which ground the claim at the centre of the project, will naturally be tackled first. Although crucial to the aims of the project, this can be completed quickly given that the material and lines of arguments in each of them, resting as they do in part on already published material (Deonna, 2006, Deonna & Teroni, 2009), are at an advanced stage of preparation. I should thus be in a position to publish two articles (one in each of the sub-projects) in peer- reviewed international philosophy journals by the end of the first year (autumn 2011). Preparation of the material and lines of argument for the overarching claim of the project, with particular focus on sub-project (c) and (d), should also start immediately at the onset of the project. However, progress here is expected to be slower especially given that the lines of exchange and understanding between our team and the other scientist of the NCCR and elsewhere, although already into place, must be firmly anchored. Nevertheless, I expect the publication of a major article in one of the top philosophy journal on the overarching topic of this by project (on the relation between emotion and motivation) between the second and third year of the project (2012-2013), and another article on the topic of sub-project (d), i.e. on the way the conative domain should be conceptually reconfigured, around the same period. These journal articles should serve as the groundwork culminating in the publication of the aforementioned monograph at the end of the grant (2014).

The viability of the present schedule depends on the possibility of operating within a team of both young and more experienced researchers, presenting their work on a regular basis, and meeting with academics interested in this or related topics from other universities. Regarding the team, my intentions are that the two doctoral students supervised within this project will be attached to sub-projects (c) and (d) respectively. International comptitions will be open for both positions. The doctoral student attached to sub-project (d) is expected to be a straight philosopher working on the various aspects of motivation from a philosophical perspective, while the doctoral student attached to project (e) should have a background in empirical psychology with a focus on psychological theories of motivation. There shall be two regular formal seminars a week. One seminar (Emotion and Desire) will consist in either a meeting of the restricted team working directly within the project and presenting their work or in meetings with the empirical scientists working in related areas or common projects within the CISA. The other seminar (Cardialogical problems) consists in the ongoing weekly regular meeting of the philosophy team of the NCCR (Thumos group) on various topics touching philosophical aspects of the affective sciences. In addition, I plan to organise at least four international gatherings (three international workshops during the first three years and one major conference the fourth year on the relation between emotion and motivation). The doctoral students will play some part in the organisation of these gatherings, and more generally will participate in the numerous events, activities and conferences of the CISA in order to broaden their horizon in the field of the affective sciences.

2.5. Importance of the research

Many aspects of the importance of the project research have already been mentioned and I will not go over them again. Also, the expected form in which results will be published has already been mentioned in the previous section (2.4. Schedule). Let me here stress two very different aspects which constitute a big part of the motivation for pursuing it. (a) While there has been obviously great interest in the emotions and related phenomena in recent years, and correspondingly a great many publications surrounding this topic, the present project focuses on emotions to defend a very bold conception of the mind in which they play an indispensible role. It is not only that emotions have, as it is often observed, a crucial regulatory role to play in our lives, but that without them we would be blind to a whole dimension of our environment, i.e. its evaluative dimension. This, if true, militates in favour of reconsidering the fundamental architecture of the mind as including emotions in addition to beliefs and desires. (b) A second important aspect of the present research which was not perhaps sufficiently brought out in this document and which is difficult to measure concerns the interdisciplinary setting in which it will be conducted. Although philosophical through and through, the thinking and motivation behind the project has been enormously influenced by working and communicating with scientists tackling the same or related issues from an empirical perspective. And this influence not only consists in integrating material, arguments, distinctions or ideas coming from their work, but also manifests itself in what philosophy has to bring to research on these topics in general and the value it (sometimes and increasingly) has for those working on these issues in other disciplines. Working within the philosophy unit of the NCCR in Affective sciences thus provides a fertile environment for collaboration and dissemination of ideas and results across disciplines. This is not quantifiable but extremely important.


Altham, J.E.J., (1986) ‘The Legacy of Emotivism’ in Graham Macdonald and Crispin Wright (eds) Fact, Science and Morality: Essays on A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 275-288.

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Pockett, W. P. Banks and S. Gallagher (eds.) Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?, Cambridge, MA:

MIT Press, pp. 169-186. Berridge, K.C., (2003) ‘Pleasures of the Brain’, Brain and Cognition, Jun., 52 (1), pp. 106-28. Berridge, K.C. & Robinson, T.E., (1998) ‘What is the Role of Dopamine in Reward: Hedonic Impact,

Reward Learning, or Incentive Salience?’, Brain Research Reviews, Dec., 28(3), pp. 309-69. Brehm, J., (1999) ‘The Intensity of Emotions’, Personality and Social Psychology Review, Volume 3, No.

1, pp. 2-22. Bratman, M. E., (2000) ‘Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency’, Philosophical Review

109 (1), pp. 35-61.

Bratman, M. E., (1989) ‘Intention and Personal Policies’, Philosophical Perspectives 3: pp. 443-469. Bratman, M. E., (1987) Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason, Harvard, Harvard University Press. Dancy, J., (2000) Practical Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Dancy, J., (1993) Moral Reasons, Oxford, Blackwell.

Davidson, D., (1963) ‘Action, Reasons and Causes’, repr. in Essays on Actions and Events (1980), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Davis, W., (1987) ‘Two Senses of Desire’ in The Ways of Desire, Chicago, Precedent. Deonna, J.A. & Nanay, B. (submitted) ‘The simulation vs. Theory-theory debate: plea for an

epistemological turn’.

Deonna J.A. & Scherer, K., (in press) ‘The Intentional Object Disappearing Act: Constraints on a Definition of Emotion’, Emotion Review.

Deonna J.A. & Teroni F., (2009) ‘Taking Affective Explanations to Heart’, Social Science Information, Vol. 48, n° 3, pp. 359-377.

Deonna J.A. & Teroni F., (2008) Qu’est-ce qu’une émotion?, Col. Chemins Philosophiques, Paris, Vrin. Deonna J.A. & Teroni F., (2008) ‘Distinguishing Shame from Guilt’, Consciousness and Cognition,

Volume 17, Issue 4, pp. 1063-1400. Deonna, J.A., (2007) ‘Evolution, émotion et morale’, in Morale et évolution biologique (dir. C. Clavien & C. El-Bez), Lausanne, Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes. Deonna, J.A., (2007) ‘The Structure of Empathy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy, 4.1, pp. 99-116. Deonna, J.A., (2006) ‘Emotion, Perception and Perspective’, Dialectica, 60 (1), pp. 29–46. Deonna, J.A. & Creese A., (2006) ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses or How not to Construe Non-conceptual Content’, European Review of Philosophy 6.

Deonna, J.A., (2002) The Transparency of Emotions, PhD Dissertation, Bristol UK: De Sousa, R., (1987) The Rationality of Emotions, Cambridge, Mass., MIT. Doering, S. (2007) ‘Seeing What to Do: Affective Perception and Rational Motivation’ in Dialectica, vol. 61, 3, pp. 395-415. Dretske, F., (1988) Explaining Behavior. Reasons in a World of Causes, Cambridge, Mass., MIT. Dretske, F., (1966) ‘Ziring Ziderata’ Mind 75, pp. 211-223. Duncker, K., (1941) “On Pleasure, Emotion, and Striving”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research .

Vol. 1, pp. 391-430. Frankfurt, H., (1988) The Importance of What We Care About, Cambridge University Press. Frijda, N. & Zellenberg, M., (2003) ‘Appraisal – What is the Dependent?’ in Appraisal Processes in

Emotion: Theories, Methods, Research, Klaus R. Scherer, Angela Schorr and Tom Johnstone, eds.,

Oxford University Press, pp. 141-55. Goldie, P., (2004) On Personality, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Goldie, P., (2000) The Emotions. A Philosophical Exploration, Clarendon Press, Oxford. Goldstein, I., (2003) “Are Emotions Feelings? A Further Look at Hedonic Theories of Emotions”,

Consciousness and Emotions, 3, pp. 21-33. Gordon, R. M., (1987) The Structure of Emotions. An Investigation in Cognitive Philosophy, Cambridge,

Cambridge University Press. Gosling, J., (1969) Pleasure and Desire: The Case for Hedonism Reviewed, Oxford, Oxford University

Press. Green, O.H., (1992) The Emotions, Dordrecht, Kluwer. Helm, B. W., (2001) Emotional Reason: Deliberation, Motivation and the Nature of Value, Cambridge,

Cambridge University Press. Hornsby, J., (1980) Actions, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul. Hume, D., (1888) A Treatise of Human Nature, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Humberstone, I. L., (1992) ‘Direction of Fit’, Mind, 101, pp. 59-83. Humerstone, I.L., (1990) ‘Wanting, Getting, Having’, Philosophical Papers, Vol. XIX, n°2, pp. 99-118. Kenny, A., (1963) Emotion, Action and the Will, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul. Lazarus, R. S., (1991) Emotion and Adaptation, New York, Oxford University Press. Marks, J., (1982) ‘A Theory of Emotions’, Philosophical Studies 42, pp. 227-42. Marks, J. (dir.), (1987) The Ways of Desire, Chicago, Precedent. McDowell, J., (1978) ‘Are Moral Requirements Hypothetical Imperatives?’, Aristotelian Society

Proceedings, suppl. Vol. 52; pp. 13-29. McDowell, J., (1979) “Virtue and Reason”, Monist 6, pp.333-350. Morillo, C. R., (1990) “The Reward Event and Motivation”, Journal of Philosophy 87 (4), pp.169-186. Nagel, T., (1970) The Possibility of Altruism, Oxford, Oxford University Press. O’Shaughnessy, B., (1980) The Will: a Dual Aspect Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Oddie, G., (2005) Value, Reality, Desire, Oxford University Press. Pacherie, E., (2008) ‘The Phenomenology of Action: A Conceptual Framework’, Cognition 107 (1), pp.

179 – 217.

Platts, M., (1991) Moral Realities: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology, London, Routledge. Prinz, J., (2004) Gut Reactions, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Roberts, R. C., (2003) Emotions. An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology, Cambridge, Cambridge University

Press. Russell, J. A. (2003), ‘Core Affect and the Psychological Construction of Emotion’, Psychological Review,

110, pp. 145–172. Russell, J.A., (1980) ‘A Circumplex Model of Affect’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, pp. 1161–78. Scherer, K.R., (1984). ‘On the Nature and Function of Emotion: a Component Process Approach’, in Klaus R. Scherer and Paul Ekman (Ed.), Approaches to emotion, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 293–317.

Schroeder, T., (2005) Three Faces of Desire, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Schueler, G. F., (1995) Desire, Cambridge/London, MIT Press. Schueler, G. F. (2003) Reasons and Purposes, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Searle, J., (1983) Intentionality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Smith, M., (1994) The Moral Problem, Oxford, Blackwell.

Solomon, R., (1976) The Passions, Doubleday. Stalnaker, R., (1987) Inquiry, Cambridge, MIT Press. Stampe, D., (1987) ‘Defining Desire’ in The Ways of Desire, Chicago, Precedent. Stampe, D., (1987) ‘The Authority of Desire’, The Philosophical Review, pp. 335–381. Strawson, G., (1994) Mental Reality, Cambridge M.A., MIT Press, chap. 9. Tappolet, C., (2000) Emotions et valeurs, Paris, PUF. Teroni, F., (2007) ‘Emotions and Formal Objects’, Dialectica, vol. 61, 3, pp. 395-415. Velleman, D., (2000) ‘The Possibility of Practical Reason’, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Williams, B., (1981) ‘Internal and External Reasons’, Reprinted in Moral Luck, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Wollheim, R., (1999) On The Emotions, Yale, Yale University Press. Zangwill, N., (1998) ‘Direction of Fit and Normative Functionalism’, Philosophical Studies, 91, pp. 173- 203.

Project leader : Julien Deonna

(click here for a pdf version of the project)

Histoire des émotions au Max Planck Institute : programme des conférences (printemps-été 2010)

Colloquium History of Emotions

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its summer semester 2010 colloquium.

When: Tuesdays 17.00

Location: Conference rooms of the MPIB, on 94 Lentzealle, 14195 Berlin.

Info: Christina Becher,, Tel. 030 82406262


20.4.2010 David Abraham

What Happened to ‘Zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl’? The Liberal Dilemma in Immigration Policy

4.5.2010 Annegret Fauser

Harnessing Music’s Emotional Power: Music as Therapy in the U.S.A. During World War II

18.5.2010 Andreas Bähr

Die Furcht vor Gewalt und die Gewalt der Furcht im 17. Jahrhundert

25.5.2010 Ruth Leys

Affect in Theory: History and Critique

1.6.2010 Benedikt Stuchtey

Aspects of the History of Child Adoption

15.6.2010 Angelika Linke

Grief, Happiness and the Construction of Social Relations. Changes in the Emotional Contextualization of Birth and Death from 1950 Until Today

29.6.2010 Hubertus Büschel

Shame and Colonial Remorse: Discourses of Power in Colonial and Post-

Colonial Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

20.7.2010 Nile Green

The Menu of Emotions: Reciprocal Dining between Persia and England, 1800-35

Le corps des émotions au Moyen Âge (Rencontre EMMA4, Aix-en-Provence, 23-24 avril 2010)

Luca Signorelli, La résurection de la chair (détail), cathédrale  d'Orvieto, v.1500

Depuis son lancement en 2005, le programme de recherche EMMA (« Pour une anthropologie historique des émotions au Moyen Âge ») s’est donné pour objectif de construire une histoire des émotions au Moyen Âge en dialogue avec les sciences humaines et sociales. Après avoir traité la question des enjeux historiographiques d’une histoire des émotions (2006), le programme EMMA s’est intéressé à la subjectivité émotionnelle (2007) puis à l’usage public de l’émotion dans les rapports de gouvernement (2008).

Dans le prolongement de ces travaux, EMMA lance un nouveau chantier qui porte sur la communication émotionnelle au Moyen Âge, dont le premier volet sera consacré à l’expression corporelle des émotions. Les émotions sont incontestablement des faits culturels et sociaux : il n’existe aucune société humaine sans émotions, de même qu’il n’y a aucune expérience émotionnelle qui soit asociale. C’est là un fort consensus vers lequel convergent les diverses sciences humaines de l’émotion aujourd’hui : au-delà de la question de savoir s’il existe des émotions universelles et transculturelles, des manifestations physiques automatiques exprimant des émotions spontanées, l’évidence de l’interaction sociale s’est imposée. Il n’est pas de ressenti émotionnel, a fortiori d’expression sociale de l’émotion, qui ne soit en interaction immédiate avec un interlocuteur (individuel ou collectif) ou bien, à tout le moins, avec les règles culturelles (display rules) qui concernent la façon d’afficher ses émotions.

Sur cette base, les modalités de la communication émotionnelle et du partage social des émotions sont multiples. Dans tous les cas, la place du corps est déterminante, selon une double dynamique : l’expression corporelle se manifeste comme le reflet, plus ou moins fidèle, de l’émotion intérieure tout en étant simultanément un message adressé à autrui. Dans la communication émotionnelle, le corps est ainsi à la fois émetteur et récepteur. C’est pourquoi notre projet abordera l’expression corporelle des émotions au Moyen Âge dans sa dimension fondamentalement intersubjective.


IVe rencontre EMMA

23-24 avril 2010


Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme

Salle G. Duby


Vendredi 23 avril


– Ouverture par Damien Boquet (UMR TELEMME – IUF) et Piroska Nagy (UQÀM)

– « L’expression de l’émotion ou le reflet de l’activité relationnelle » (Anna Tcherkassof, Université de Grenoble)

– « Le corps en émoi : « corpographie » des émotions au Haut Moyen Âge » (Nira Pancer, Université de Haïfa)

– « Vultus velatus ou la figuration positive de la tristesse dans l’iconographie de la fin du Moyen Âge » (Robert Marcoux, Université Laval, Québec)

– « Leper Beggars in Late Antiquity: embodying emotions » (Dionysios Stathakopoulos, King’s College, Londres)

Samedi 24 avril


– « Le corps de l’affect scolastique. L’exemple de Jean de la Rochelle » (Piroska Nagy, UQÀM, Montréal)

– « Évaluation émotionnelle d’un crime d’honneur au couvent gilbertin de Watton (v.1165) » (Damien Boquet, UMR TELEMME / IUF)

– « Toucher et être touché : l’emploi des gestes dans les batailles judiciaires et le façonnement des émotions dans la résolution des conflits » (Klaus Oschema, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg / Universität Bern)

– table-ronde animée par Ingrid Kasten (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Bibliographie choisie:

L’expression corporelle des émotions

– Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872.

– J.A. Deonna et F. Teroni, Qu’est-ce qu’une émotion ?, Paris, Vrin, 2008.

– E. Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling. Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity, Durham et Londres, Duke UP, 2003.

– C. Plantin, M. Doury et V. Traverso (éd.), Les Émotions dans les interactions, Lyon, PUL, 2000.

– W.M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling. A Framework for the History of Emotions, Cambridge UP, 2001.

– B. Rimé, Le Partage social des émotions, Paris, PUF, 2005.

– J.A. Russell et J.-M. Fernandez-Dols (éd.), The Psychology of Facial Expression, Cambridge UP, 1997.

– K. Scherer et H. Ellring, « Are Facial Expressions of Emotion Produced by Categorical Affect Programs or Dynamically Driven by Appraisal », Emotion 7.1, p. 113-130.

– Anna Tcherkassof, Les Émotions et leurs expressions, Grenoble, PUG, 2008.

– A. Tcherkassof et Alii, « Facial Expressions of Emotions : A Methodological Contribution to the Study of Spontaneous and Dynamic Emotional Faces », European Journal of Social Psychology, 37 (2007), p. 1325-1345.

Les émotions au Moyen Âge

– G. Althoff, « Empörung, Tränen, Zerknirschung. ‘Emotionen’ in der öffentlichen Kommunikation des Mittelalters », Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 30 (1996), p. 60-79.

– G. Althoff, « Tränen und Freude. Was interessiert Mittelalter-Historiker an Emotionen ? », Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 40 (2006), p. 1-11. [trad. franç. « Du rire et des larmes. Pourquoi les émotions intéressent-elles les médiévistes ? », Écrire l’histoire, 2 (2008), p. 27-39.

– D. Boquet et P. Nagy (éd.), Le Sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge, Paris, Beauchesne, 2009.

– M. Garrison, « The Study of Emotions in Early Medieval History : Some Starting Points », Early Medieval Europe, 10/2 (2001), p. 243-250.

– C. Jaeger et I. Kasten (éd.), Codierungen von Emotionen im Mittelalter – Emotions and Sensibilities int the Middle Ages, Berlin/NY, Walter de Gruyter, 2003.

– P. Nagy (dir.), Émotions médiévales, numéro thématique de la revue Critique, 716/717 (2007).

– L. Perfetti (éd.), The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, University Press of Florida, 2005.

– B.H. Rosenwein, « Worrying about Emotions in History », American Historical Review, 107/3 (2002), p. 821-845.

– B.H. Rosenwein, Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages, Ithaca/Londres, Cornell UP, 2006.

– R. Schnell, « Historische Emotionsforschung. Eine mediävistische Standortbestimmung », Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 38 (2004), p. 173-276.

L’expression corporelle des émotions au Moyen Âge

– G. Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale. Symbolik und Herrschaft im Mittelalter, Darmstadt, 2003.

– G. Bolens, Le Style des gestes. Corporéité et kinésie dans le récit littéraire, Lausanne, Editions BHMS, 2008.

– D. Boquet (dir.), Histoire de la vergogne, numéro thématique de la revue Rives nord-méditerranéenne, 31 (2008).

– Y. Carré, Le Baiser sur la bouche au Moyen Âge, Paris, Le Léopard d’Or, 1990.

– E. Crouzet-Pavan et J. Verger (dir.), La Dérision au Moyen Âge, Paris, PUPS, 2007.

– Klaus van Eickels, Vom inszenierten Konsens zum systematisierten Konflikt. Die englisch-französischen Beziehungen und ihre Wahrnehmung an der Wende vom Hoch- zum Spätmittelalter (Mittelalter-Forschungen 10), Stuttgart, 2002.

– Klaus van Eickels, « ‘Homagium’ and ‘Amicitia’. Rituals of Peace and Their Significance in the Anglo-French Negotiations of the Twelfth Century, Francia 24.1 (1997), p. 133-140.

– S. Jaeger, Ennobling Love. In Search of a Lost Sensibility, Philadelphie, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

– J.-M. Moeglin, « ‘Performative Turn’, ‘Communication politique’ et rituels au Moyen Âge. A propos de deux ouvrages récents », Le Moyen Âge, 113/2 (2007), p. 393-406.

– P. Nagy, Le Don des larmes au Moyen Âge, Paris, Albin Michel, 2000.

– N. Pancer, Sans peur et sans vergogne, Paris, Albin Michel, 2001.

– B.H. Rosenwein (éd.), Angers’s Past : The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages, Cornell UP, 1998.

– J.-C. Schmitt, La Raison des gestes au Moyen Âge, Paris, Gallimard, 1990.

– D.L. Smail, « Emotions and Somatic Gestures in Medieval Narratives. The Case of Raoul de Cambrai », Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 138 (2005), p. 34-48.

Myths and Rites as Cultural Expression of Emotion

Dans le cadre du programme “Myths and Rites as Cultural Expression of Emotion”, le prof. James Redfield donnera deux conférences à l’université de Genève, le 12 mars 2010:

Egkrateia and the Parts of the Soul
Vendredi 12 Mars 2010
de 10h15 à 12h
UniBastions, salle B111, 1er étage

Eros in the Phaedrus
Vendredi 12 Mars 2010
de 14h15 à 16h

Bâtiment Landolt, L107, 1er étage

Michel Foucault et les médiévistes

Michel Foucault à l’épreuve

Regards de médiévistes

Samedi 27 mars 2010

Salle Alphonse-Dupront, 10 rue Monsieur-le-Prince, Paris, 75006

9h15-12h30 :


Université de Provence

« Le souci de l’autre de même sexe :

Foucault et l’homosexualité médiévale »

Pauline LABEY

EHESS- Université de Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines

«  Réflexion sur la notion foucaldienne de pratique :

autour du cas du malade au Moyen Âge »

Marie-Pascale HALARY

Paris IV- Sorbonne

« Michel Foucault et l’étude du contexte médiéval des œuvres littéraires :

un discours de la méthode ? »

14h30-17h30 :



« Techniques juridiques et technologies de pouvoir »


ENS – Lyon

« Le christianisme dans l’optique de la gouvernementalité »



« De Figeac à Rodez :

Foucault, le Moyen Âge et l’enfermement »

Journée d’étude organisée dans le cadre de l’Atelier des médiévistes de l’EHESS

par Blaise DUFAL et Pauline LABEY

avec le soutien du Centre de Recherche Historique et de l’École Doctorale de l’EHESS

EMMA aux “Lundis de l’histoire” de Jacques Le Goff

image lundis de l'histoirePiroska Nagy et moi serons aux “Lundis de l’histoire” de Jacques Le Goff, sur France Culture, le 1er février à 15h00 pour y présenter Le Sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge (Beauchesne, 2009). L’émission pourra ensuite être podcastée ou écoutée en streaming sur le site de France Culture (rubrique “archives” de l’émission).

Représentations des émotions divines (colloque)

(Images et textes : expressions, gestes et postures)
Journées Internationales organisées par l’Université de Genève et le Groupe de Recherche
Européen (GDRE, CNRS) « FIGVRA. Représentation du divin dans les sociétés grecque et
romaine »
10-12 décembre 2009
B111, UniBastions

B111, UniBastions
Jeudi 10 Décembre 2009

17h-19h Conférence de Clifford ANDO (Chicago) : « Incarnation »
Vendredi 11 décembre 2009
9h-9h30 Philippe BORGEAUD : accueil et ouverture
Présidente de Séance : Corinne BONNET (Toulouse)
9h30-10h15 Jean-Daniel DUBOIS (EPHE) : La tristesse et les larmes de Sophia dans
la gnose valentinienne
10h15-11h François VOEGELI (Lausanne) : Les dieux védiques sont-ils des
émotifs ?
11h-11h30 Pause
11h30-12h15 Francesco MASSA (Modène/EPHE) : Relectures philosophiques et
chrétiennes des émotions de Dionysos
12h15-14h15 Repas
Président de Séance : Jean-Pierre ALBERT (Toulouse)
14h15-15h Iwo SLOBODZIANEK (Toulouse) : Fureur, complainte et terreur
d’Inanna/Ishtar: dynamiques de l’émotion dans les représentations
religieuses littéraires paléobabyloniennes
15h-15h45 Marie-Christine VILLANUEVA (Paris) : Dionysos: repos et transe
15h45-16h15 Pause

16h15-17h Mariano TROIANO (EPHE) : La colère de Dieu: blke et le démiurge des

17h-18h Discussion Générale

Groupe de Recherche Européen (GDRE, CNRS)
« FIGVRA. Représentation du divin dans les sociétés grecque et romaine »
Samedi 12 décembre 2009
Présidente de Séance : Vinciane PIRENNE-DELFORGE (Liège)

9h30-10h15 Anne-Caroline RENDU LOISEL (Genève) : Dieux, Démons et colère dans
l’ancienne Mésopotamie

10h15-11h00 Yann BERTHELET (Paris) : Colère et apaisement des dieux : qui décide,
sous la République romaine, de l’expiation des prodiges ?

11h-11h30 Pause

11h30-12h15 Youri VOLOKHINE (Genève) : Grimaces et rictus en Egypte ancienne.
Bêtes, hommes et dieux

12h15-14h15 Repas
Présidente de Séance : Francesca PRESCENDIMORRESI (Genève)

14h15-15h Jean-Pierre ALBERT et Corinne BONNET (Toulouse) : La colère de
Yahvé contre son peuple

15h-15h30 Discussion générale
Unité d’Histoire des Religions de l’Université de Genève
Département des Sciences de l’Antiquité Faculté des Lettres,
5, rue de Candolle 1211 GENEVE 4
Centre Interfacultaire en Sciences Affectives
7, rue des Battoirs – CH -1205 Genève

Université de Genève, B111, 5 rue De Candolle, 1205 Genève


« Figura » est le nom donné à un Groupe de Recherche Européen (GDRE) qui étudie la représentation du divin
dans les sociétés grecque et romaine. Cette représentation passe par des voies multiples : plastiques (les
figurations des dieux), politiques (le rôle attribué aux puissances supérieures dans la conduite de la collectivité),
symboliques (les rituels), conceptuels (les systèmes théologiques), narratifs (les récits mythiques), etc. Ces
différentes voies d’approche seront explorées lors de rencontres internationales qui auront lieu en l’Allemagne,
en Belgique, en France et en Suisse, entre 2008 et 2011.
Les rencontres de Genève s’intéresseront à la question des émotions ou de leur absence dans les représentations
divines ; en Egypte, en Grèce, à Rome, en Mésopotamie, les dieux ne sont pas volontiers en proie à des états
émotifs évidents. Les représentations littéraires révèlent pourtant une large palette d’émotions. Les dieux, ou
certains dieux, sont habités par la colère, le deuil, la peur parfois. Certains dieux peuvent être sujets à leur propre
pouvoir. On les voit passer par des états extrêmes de colère ou de tristesse, ou au contraire, on les représente
comme impassibles, jouissant d’une sérénité imperturbable. Une gamme émotive plus ou moins explicite ou
détaillée, ou parfois au contraire totalement refusée, nous est signalée par des épithètes, des qualificatifs, ou
simplement des modes et des champs d’action.
Par rapport à ces données littéraires ou mythologiques, l’approche des dossiers iconographiques revêt une
importance particulière. On y observe des gestes, des postures, des expressions faciales plus ou moins codifiées.
Les statues ou autres images de culte sont dites parfois animées. Ce sont ces configurations émotives (ou au
contraire le refus de toute expression émotionnelle) que nous souhaitons questionner. Une de nos tâches
consistera à confronter ce qui se passe à ce niveau-là dans différents contextes culturels, en Grèce, à Rome, dans
le Proche-Orient et en Egypte, la perspective comparatiste étant appelée à s’expliciter dans nos discussions.

Les passions cognitives

Colloque International

Les Passions Cognitives.

Enquêtes sur les dimensions pragmatiques et politiques de l’aimer connaître.

7-8 janvier 2010,  Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne

34 rue Francis Baulier, Salle du Conseil

Organisateur : MODYS CNRS

Responsables scientifiques : Jacques Roux, Florian Charvolin, Aurélie Dumain

En réunissant les contributions de chercheurs de différents horizons théoriques et disciplinaires, ce colloque se donne pour objectif de documenter la zone de recouvrement entre régimes de passion et activités de connaissance. L’étude des déplacements induits par la radicalité de la passion, en tant qu’elle œuvre dans les

différents régimes de l’activité cognitive, sera privilégiée. Du côté du laboratoire comme du côté de la société, la passion invite à transgresser les frontières. En instruisant le dossier déraisonnable de l’irruption de la passion dans l’univers cognitif, le colloque examinera ce qu’une tradition de pensée a établi comme digues, pour protéger le travail de la connaissance raisonnable du déferlement des passions. Les attendus du colloque sont d’apporter une contribution tant dans le domaine de la sociologie des sciences et des savoirs, que du côté de la compréhension des enjeux politiques attachés aux reconfigurations sociales des lieux et des opérateurs de connaissance en régime de passion.

Programme des séances

Jeudi 7 janvier, 9H-12H30. Dépassionner, repassionner : prises et emprises du connaître

* Jean Baptiste Fressoz (Mexico) : La dialectique des passions et des intérêts dans la construction de l’objectivité expertale, France, XVIIIème-XIXème siècles.

* Aurélie Dumain  (Lyon) : Repassionner la question alimentaire, pour en finir avec le manger insensible et une agriculture « folle ».

* Dominique Vinck (Grenoble) : Dynamique du passionnement et du dépassionnement collectif dans la recherche en nanosciences et nanotechnologies.

Président : Isabelle Mauz (Grenoble)

Jeudi 7 janvier, 14H-17H30. Hériter des passions : le cognitif dans la tempête

* Francis Chateauraynaud (Paris): La colère légitime, entre émotion et argumentation. Les apports d’une pragmatique de la protestation.

* Dominique Belkis (Saint-Etienne), Spyros Franguiadakis (Lyon) : Enquête sur l’asile et « cause de l’autre » ; réflexions sur les formes de l’attachement et du faire connaissance.

* Michael Lynch (Cornell) : Placed and displaced passions : experts, lawyers, and lay persons in the adversary courtroom.

Président : François Mélard (Liège)

Vendredi 8 janvier, 9H-12H30. Passions savantes, passions profanes : la mutabilité des attachements cognitifs

* Florian Charvolin (Saint-Etienne) L’amour d’observer dans les sciences citoyennes : entre injonction managériale et satisfaction de l’homme ordinaire.

* Jérôme Lamy (Toulouse) : L’ambivalence des passions savantes : les astronomes toulousains du siècle des Lumières et la gestion des affects.

* Véronique Servais (Liège) (communication introduite par Jérôme Michalon) : Comment diviniser son dauphin. Modèles de relation, régimes d’activité et savoirs anthropo-zoologiques.

Président : Fabien Locher (Paris)

Agenda d’EMMA et des émotions médiévales (du 13 au 25 novembre 2009)

Une actualité des émotions médiévales assez animée ces prochains jours:


13 et 14 novembre 2009 : colloque à l’occasion du septième centenaire de la mort d’Angèle de Foligno : “Il Liber di Angela da Foligno, temi spirituali e mistici” (convento s. Francesco, Foligno). Piroska Nagy et moi-même y présenterons une réflexion sur “L’efficacité religieuse de l’affectivité dans le Mémorial (passus priores) d’Angèle de Foligno”. Programme complet: cliquer ici.

18 novembre 2009 : présentation du livre “Le sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge” (D. Boquet et P. Nagy dir., Beauchesne 2009) dans le cadre du séminaire d’Alain Boureau à l’EHESS, 105 Bd Raspail, 17h-19h, salle 4.

20 et 21 novembre 2009: colloque “Emotions / Emotionen” à l’Institut historique allemand de Paris. Renseignements et programme : cliquer ici.

25 novembre 2009 : “Une histoire des émotions est-elle possible?” ; causerie animée par Piroska Nagy et Jean Pichette (sociologue, professeur à l’École des Médias de l’UQAM) à la librairie-bistro Olivieri (Montréal), à partir de 19h00. invitation

The Theory of Impulse in Christian Anthropology (c. 300-1300) : From Rebellion to Submission

This paper, read at the International Medieval Congress (Leeds, 12 july 2006), is a short and preliminary version of my article: “Des racines de l’émotion. Les préaffects et le tournant anthropologique du XIIe siècle”/”The Roots of Emotion: the Pre-affects and the Anthropological Turn of the Twelfth Century”, in D. Boquet et P. Nagy (ed.), Le Sujet des émotions au Moyen Âge, Paris, Beauchesne, 2009, p. 163-186.

Damien Boquet ©

It is difficult to find in medieval categories an acceptable equivalent of our elusive emotions. However, we can feel more confident in investigating a partial definition of emotion, its original and inchoate form that ancient Greek authors called propatheia because it precedes pathos. Latin philosophers and theologians used multifarious words to translate propatheia, namely propassio, antepassio, commutatio, affectio, impulsus, impetus, suggestio or else primus motus, a phrase which flourished in the scholastic era.

To make things simpler, I will call this first symptom of emotion “impulse”, which is to be distinguished from emotion itself.

What I wish to show is how the Latin Fathers exploited the ambiguous character of the definition of impulse in stoic philosophy to construct their own dialectic notion of human nature. Then, I will argue that a tentative synthesis was made between the 11th and 13th centuries, which paradoxically led to accentuating the discrepancy between emotion and cognition within theories of human nature.

The patristic notion of impulse

The Greek tradition left Christian authors with a dual approach to impulse. Indeed, depending on philosophical schools or even authors, impulse was presented in the following manners:

1)                      either as a spontaneous surge of sensibility which favoured the emergence of passion but was exerted far from rationality

2)                      or as the first sign of passion in the rational soul itself

This double position, which is partly self-contradictory, is to be found for instance in Seneca who defines primus motus sometimes as the first shock of passion in the rational soul, sometimes as a stirring of the irrational soul which precedes passion.

It is the task of historians of philosophy to understand and perhaps resolve those contradictions. However, if one aims at a history of representations and sensibilities, the existence of such contradictions should be taken into account in its own right. As a matter of fact, it is probably this very ambivalence that made the philosophical concept of impulse so popular with Latin theologians.

We must bear this in mind when approaching the ambiguous notions of impulse in Jerome’s and especially in Augustine’s work. On the surface, Jerome’s position seems to be clear: only with consent does sin begin. Therefore, propassio being a first and involuntary shock of suggestion (cogitatio), is not a sin. Nevertheless, Jerome says that propassio contains fault in its origin. The origin of the fault thus referred to is but a consequence of original sin which upset man’s desiring faculties. Augustine’s view proceeds from the very same reasoning.

Later, one can understand why monastic theology in the early Middle Ages went so far as to consider that impulse was systematically imputable. Thus, for Gregory the Great, impulse (suggestio) is in itself a sin. Gregory narrowed down the historic ambivalence of impulse by taking over Augustine’s theory that spontaneous impulses were the original cause of sin.

(The notion of) impulse in cloisters and schools

When the debate on the value of impulses makes it back to centre stage at the end of the 11th century, discussions still revolve around the question of personal responsibility in connection with original sin; however, religious sensibilities have changed.

The legacy of the Fathers still runs deep. Indeed, at the end of the 11th century, Anselm of Laon, Abelard’s master, expresses a point of view that is directly inspired by that of the Fathers. In a highly classical fashion, he likens suggestio to an impulsive representation that may lead to involuntary delight (delectatio). This delectatio or propassio is a minor sin, according to the Gregorian reading of Augustine, but it becomes a mortal sin if it is taken over by a consent of the will (consensus). It is at this time that the stoic phrase primus motus reappears, especially in Peter Lombard who also follows the Gregorian interpretation of Augustine by considering that the involuntary impulses of sensitive appetite are sins.

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 12th century appears a more optimistic interpretation of impulse, according to which it is only with the consent of the will that sin begins. This is actually a new version of the following ancient principle: without consent there is no sin. Such is the opinion of Anselm of Canterbury, Abelard and also William of Champeaux. It means that impulses are not sins, not even minor ones; this is intimated in Abelard’s Ethics through his theory of intention. It would be pointless to distinguish between the position adopted in schools and cloisters on these questions. As a matter of fact, the Cistercian Aelred of Rievaulx, drawing on his reading of Augustine, clearly denies the imputability of impulse. He admits in a sermon that a feeling of delight (delectatio) may be provoked by a thought (cogitatio) about a memory of carnal pleasure (voluptas carnalis). However, such a process is nearly impossible to control and operates apart from the consent (consensus) of deliberation (deliberatio) supported by will (voluntas). In his Mirror of Charity, he makes it clear that to be excited (pulsari) by these involuntary impulses is neither “commendable when they are good, nor punishable when they are bad.” Impulses must therefore be kept in check but their appearance should be no cause for alarm.

In point of fact, in the 12th century there are two opposing sides, each claiming an Augustinian legacy, which testifies to the ambiguity of Augustine’s position:

–        some defend the non-imputability of impulses on the grounds that only consent breeds sin. That is the position of Anselm of Canterbury, Abelard, William of Champaux and Aelred of Rievaulx and, to a lesser extent, Bernard of Clairvaux and Hugh of Saint-Victor.

–        others, like Anselm of Laon and later Peter Lombard and his disciples, consider impulses to be minor sins.

The reduction of possibilities

But, beyond this opposition between an imputable and a non-imputable impulse, the effects of a more or less well worked-out conceptual schism within the sensitive appetite itself are to be observed on both sides. I think this trend is the most important historical factor in the evolution of the Christian anthropology of affectivity.

Thus, as early as the middle of the 12th century, Gilbert of Poitiers proposed a solution which had the great advantage of solving a paradox that was more and more difficult to accept, namely the fact that impulses were supposedly both involuntary and morally imputable. Gilbert of Poitiers identifies two kinds of impulses:

–        a motus primo primitivus (primary first movement)

–        a motus secundo primitivus (secondary first movement)

This schism within the notion of impulse was completed at the beginning of the 13th century by William of Auxerre who elaborated a theory of duplex sensualitas, distinguishing between a purely animal form of sensibility and rational sensibility. The pattern of double sensuality is in perfect accordance with the new duality of impulses and it solves the question of imputability: primary impulses, which emanate from sheer natural causality, are not imputable; however, secondary impulses come under moral responsibility.

Nevertheless, even the advocates of the non-imputability of impulses were interested in this schism within sensibility. As a case in point, Simon of Tournai, who was the first to contradict Peter Lombard on the question of imputability in the middle of the 12th century, toys with the idea of a dualism of sensibility when he distinguishes two types of impulses apart from consent: a non-imputable primus primitivus which corresponds to the impulse of titillatio carnis and a secondus post primitivum when the soul derives pleasure from the idea but still does not consent to it.

Thus, the shift towards double sensuality covertly contributed to support Peter Lombard’s thesis since impulse had long been considered as the original movement of the sensibility of the soul. Actually, the secondary impulse of scholastics is nearly the exact equivalent of its counterpart in tradition. Eventually, by endorsing the non-imputability of the primary impulse only, Peter Lombard’s disciples did nothing less than take over Gregory the Great’s pessimistic interpretation. At the end of the 13th century, the exemption of imputability in the name of spontaneity was over: the impulses of human sensibility may be involuntary but reason can nonetheless keep them in check. Therefore, the one who lets them assail him evinces weakness.


The ancient and medieval notions of impulse correspond to only a part of what we mean by emotion today. Impulses are neither joy nor anger, sadness, etc. but the original moment when those affective phenomena spring up in a human being. Primus motus is an impulsive movement towards anger, joy, pleasure etc. Impulses, which were strongly mistrusted by the Ancients, did not fare much better in Christian anthropology. However, nothing was written in advance.

At the time of the Fathers, this subjection of the impulses to the rational will was exacted in the name of the moral danger represented by impulses, an aftermath of the upset of affectivity that was provoked by original sin. In the 13th century, the theory of impulse shifted notably. It was unthinkable for scholastic thinkers to let these spontaneous movements of sensitive appetite dethrone reason. Augustine called for a radical subjection of these rebels in the soul; Thomas of Aquinas later turned them into submissive slaves of reason.

If impulses played a part in the Christian theory of the balance of human nature in the Middle Ages, it was almost always the part of the vanquished, doomed to either submission or rebellion. True, there were attempts at integrating impulses in a new harmonious vision of human nature at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th centuries. They led to nothing but a further dismantling of the notion of human being.

What are the consequences of the naturalization of impulses in the 13th century? The first one is of course the perpetuation in western culture of the mistrust toward emotions that are not severely held in check by reason. But the most important one may be the widening of the gap between emotion and cognition. The moment when emotion is inchoate is subsumed under the notion of animality while sensibility itself is more and more separated from intellect. The new anthropological order created by scholastic thinkers in the 13th century entailed a reduction of possibilities.

Translation: Clara Mallier