Some Classical Conceptual Issues

It seems clear by now that ordinary explanations of behavior involving emotions are ubiquitous and are often found in many of the traditional theoretical models. Indeed, a skeptical outsider could be forgiven for believing that many of the traditional emotion theories differ from each other only by virtue of playing word games with the various terms and metaphors that paraphrase our experience and common-sense knowledge of emotion and affect. For us this means that, before going any further, an inventory is needed of conceptual difficulties and issues. Indeed, unless one holds that measuring replaces understanding, we need to have a clearer focus on what is at stake in measuring. To many people, scientific investigations of emotion seem doomed, mainly because the topic of emotions is at the intersection of major questions that have baffled philosophers and biological scientists alike: that of the relation between mental and physical reality and that of the communication between two minds, each in possession of its own physical and mental reality. We believe that investigating the bodily expressions of emotion holds the promise of progress on these two fronts.

Two major classical questions in philosophy of mind concern the relation between mind and body and that between mind and mind. These two questions are also directly relevant for understanding emotions since they define the landscape of scientific question about emotions.

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