This book has been in the making for a long time. Its first ideas about emotional authenticity began to take shape during my post-doc year 2001-2002 at the University of Texas at Austin where I had the privilege of developing my thoughts in discussions with Robert C. Solomon (1942-2007), a pioneer of the "emotional turn". Another stimulating philosophical companion was Verena Mayer who hosted my Alexander von Humboldt fellowship at the University of Munich 2006-2007 and again for a shorter period in the fall 2009.

Various other individuals have also given valuable feedback on my texts at various points of writing this volume and the articles that are included in it. These people include, in alphabetical order, Asa Carlson, Louis C. Charland, Julien A. Deonna, Kristin Klamm-Doneen, Rick Anthony Furtak, Felicitas Kraemer, Robert Roberts, and Fabrice Teroni. Moreover, an anonymous reviewer for the Consciousness & Emotion Book Series suggested for my penultimate manuscript several helpful amendments on the neurophysiological implementation of human emotions. The remaining shortcomings are of course solely my own. I am also grateful to Ralph Ellis, the Co-Editor of the Consciousness & Emotion Book Series, whose kind support I have been able to rely on. Finally, my deepest gratitude goes to my wife Liisa Lampi for her ceaseless support on my personal journey towards emotional authenticity.

Three chapters of the volume are revised versions of my previously published articles. These articles are "What is emotional authenticity?" (Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 35, 2005, 209-230); "True emotions," (The Philosophical Quarterly 56, 2006, 382-405); and "Authenticity and Occupational Emotions" (in M. Salmela and V. Mayer (Eds): Emotions, Ethics, and Authenticity. Consciousness and Emotion Book Series, Vol. 5, pp. 133-151, Amsterdam: John Benjamins). Also sections from my article "Can emotion be modeled on perception?" Dialectica 65 (2011), 1-29, are used in Chapter 2. I am grateful to Wiley and John Benjamins for permission to reprint this material in the present volume.


Emotion research is a diverse field of interdisciplinary scholarship that has emerged from the so called "emotional turn" in the sciences and humanities since the 1970s. This turn brought with it a fresh interest in the nature of emotions and their various roles in individual and social behavior. Philosophers rediscovered the intentionality of emotions as evaluative representations of objects that motivate the subject of emotion to act in accordance with the emotional evaluation. Yet this cognitive account that goes back to Ancient philosophy has been contested by feeling theorists who draw their inspiration from David Hume and, even more so, William James. In the meanwhile, psychologists studied, among other things, the various components of emotion - facial expressions, appraisal processes, action tendencies, physiological and hormonal changes, and subjective experiences - debating the causal relations of these components and their contingent or necessary role in human emotions and thus joining the philosophical debate on the cognitive or noncognitive nature of emotions. In this debate, social psychologists and sociologists have generally taken the former side as they have emphasized the influence of social processes, structures, and norms on the emotions of individuals on the one hand, and the constitutive role of emotions in binding people to socio-cultural structures and long-lasting relations - either amicable or antagonistic -on the other hand. Neuroscientists joined the "emotional turn" only in the 1990s, but they have compensated this later start with impressive findings on how the brain processes and implements emotions. Finally, the findings of historians indicate that the properties, functions, and mechanisms that other researchers have ascribed to emotions are more or less timeless as there have been emotional regimes and communities that set norms for emotions and their expression in past societies as well.

In an important sense, the "emotional turn" has then been a matter of turning the philosophical and scientific gaze to affective phenomena that have always been there even if their research has been neglected until recently. Yet it seems obvious that a concurrent multidisciplinary interest in emotions is not a coincidence but manifests a long and extensive cultural transition in which emotions and other affective phenomena have become more important to individuals; more cherished and trusted in building and maintaining evaluative meanings and attitudes about the self, the others, and the world. Love has replaced other arrangements as the ideal basis of marriage and family life, especially in Western culture but also elsewhere through its global influence. Happiness, fun, excitement, enthusiasm, feelings of togetherness and other rewarding affective experiences are also sought in other domains of life, such as work, hobbies, social life, and other recreational activities, both in the short and the long run. In this pursuit of happiness, we have come to rely on therapies whose common denominator is the focus on emotions and their regulation. The therapeutic narratives hold the promise of guiding the clients of therapy from suffering caused by interrupted "self-realization" to more "authentic" and "healthy" emotions. Yet by regarding emotions as something that people must continuously manage and control in order to successfully navigate the precarious social world of contemporary capitalism, therapies tend to end up reducing the ideal of authenticity into conforming to existing social roles and their situational norms of appropriateness, as the sociologist Eva Illouz observes in her insightful study Saving the Modern Soul (2008). Accordingly, sociologists and philosophers are pessimistic about the possibility of giving any plausible standards to such ideals as emotional authenticity whose debased and truncated forms pervade contemporary popular culture.

Even so, this pessimism is disturbing given that we live in a culture in which individuals rely on their emotions in making significant choices about their lives as well as in forming evaluative attitudes towards the world. The naive rhetoric of authenticity should not blind us to the fact that authenticity is an influential cultural ideal, whether or not we like this. Therefore, it may be more commendable to follow the example of Charles Taylor who in his Ethics of Authenticity (1991) took the ideal of authenticity seriously and proposed a robust philosophical account of authenticity in ethics as an alternative to simple subjectivism. In a like manner, I believe that the therapeutic travesties of authenticity have not removed the relevance of questions about the authenticity and appropriateness of emotions, including the question about the nature of emotions as states that are capable of being evaluated in terms of authenticity or appropriateness in the first place. These problems about the nature, authenticity, and appropriateness of emotions associate with three meanings of "true" in the context of emotions: what emotions really or truly are; what does it mean for an emotion to be true to the self; and what does it mean for an emotion to be true to the world? - thus the seemingly arrogant title of this book, True Emotions. All these problems are theoretical but they have important ramifications beyond the scope of philosophical emotion theory as I hope to show. This introductory chapter introduces the problems that are associated with these three meanings of "true emotion" and motivates their choice to the spotlight of this study, thereby laying out the synopsis for the rest of the book.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >