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Abstract

The content of an emotion, unlike the content of a perception, is directly dependent on the motivational set of the subject experiencing the emotion. Given the instability of this motivational set, it might be thought that there is no sense in which emotions can be said to pick up information about the environment in the same way that perception does. Whereas it is admitted that perception tracks for us what is the case in the environment, no such tracking relation, it is argued, holds between one's emotions and what they are about. It is to this worry – that the construal of the emotions as perceptions inevitably raises – that this paper tries to respond. In this paper, I suggest that when it is realized that one dimension of perception itself is directly dependent on the perceiver's perspective on her environment, then emotion, which is also essentially perspectival in this sense, bears the comparison with perception very well. After having clarified the nature and the role that perspective plays in perception, I argue that, in the case of emotions, the same perspectival role can be played by agents’ long-standing evaluative tendencies and character traits. The resulting conception of emotion as perception is then tested against possible objections.