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The Emotions - Biology,Language and Culture

Bird, Angela (2014) The Emotions - Biology,Language and Culture. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Philosophers, and theorists in other disciplines, have disagreed over the character, function and mechanisms of emotions. Amongst the persistent issues that have arisen is the question of what exactly emotions are. Are they a vivid perceptual awareness of physiological processes? Evaluative judgments? Dispositions? Neurophysiological states? Or perhaps an aggregate of some or all of the above? Typically, theorists who study the emotions have tended to divide into two camps. On the one hand there are those who adopt a broadly biological / adaptationist perspective, which emphasises the corporeal nature of emotions. On the other side of the divide are those who adopt a socio-constructivist perspective, which emphasises the cognitive nature of emotions. Proponents of the biological stance have tended to favour universal, basic emotions whilst socio-constructivists tend to favour the more exotic. In support of the latter approach a significant literature has emerged from ethnography, anthropology and cognitive linguistics. This literature adopts a “lexicocentric” perspective on the emotions. The biological/adaptationist perspective seems to capture something important and right about the essential nature of emotions. However, the aim of my thesis is to demonstrate that the basic emotions theory, as characterised by Ekman, is weakened by its failure to pay attention to, and fully to engage with, the literature regarding the effect of language on our emotional landscape, an area which has ostensibly been the domain of the social constructionist. I argue that what is required is a linguistically inclusive theory of emotion. Such a theory acknowledges that any coherent and comprehensive theory of emotion must include a robust linguistic and cultural element.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Philosophy (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.701733
Depositing User: Miss Angela Bird
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2017 09:29
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:33
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7596

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