Emotion Is a Network with Multiple Components

Emotion Is a Network with Multiple Components

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In this dissertation, I argue that having an emotion is having a network of multiple

components-typically feelings, bodily changes, evaluations, and action tendencies. I

came to this conclusion as I attempted to locate my view of emotions in the ocean of

various theories of emotions.

In Chapter 1, I first make clear that I set aside all theories that attempt to single

out the essential element of emotion and define emotion in terms of the single element. I

will call these theories 'Singular-Essential-Component Theories of Emotion' (or the SEC

theories for short). I found the SEC theories not promising because none of the elements

that the SEC theories identify emotions with can fully capture the crucial features of

emotions. Therefore, a proper kind of emotion theory should employ multiple elements to

explain emotion. I will call this kind of theories, 'Multiple-Essential-Component Theories

of Emotion (or MEC theories for short)'.

Once accepting that multiple elements mutually explain emotion, we face a series

of follow-up questions - exactly what and how many elements should be included in

emotion theory? Specifically, what is the relationship among those elements? Is there any

particular sequence in appearance of those elements in emotion? Do any elements rely on

any other elements, or are all elements independent from each other? Chapter 2, 3, 4, and

5 deal with these questions and various MEC theories will help to navigate the answers to

these questions.

In Chapter 2, I claim that all elements that the SEC theories mention as the

defining element of emotion, namely, feelings, bodily changes, evaluations, and action

tendencies are equally crucial for emotions. However, it is not that they conjointly

constitute the necessary and sufficient conditions for emotion. The prototype of an

emotion is a process that involves the four elements.

Chapter 3 elucidates a point that I make in claiming that all four elements are

equally crucial for emotions. That is, the claim that characteristic bodily changes alone

can define emotions is wrong. I argue in this chapter that the popular belief that basic

emotions have unique bodily signs is not well-supported. I also reject the view that

higher-cognitive emotions that are known to lack characteristic bodily changes are not

genuine emotions.

In Chapter 4, I reject that there is a fixed order among the four elements of

emotions; elements can come in any order. The interactions between elements are multidirectional

and circular, rather than linear. The multiple elements attract each other and

form a network.

In Chapter 5, I point out that none of the four elements of emotions are

independent from each other. They are all distinguished elements - no element can be

reduced to other elements, but they are not independent - they keep influencing each

other in making and develop emotions. I also stress that feelings have a somewhat

different status than other elements in that only feelings require the presence of at least

one of other three elements and only feelings reflect the changes of other elements in

their structure.







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