Intentionality and Compound Accounts of the Emotions


  • Reid D. Blackman


Most philosophers of emotion endorse a compound account of the emotions: emotions are wholes made of parts; or, as I prefer to put it, emotions are mental states that supervene on other (mental) states. The goal of this paper is to ascertain how the intentionality of these subvening members relates to the intentionality of the emotions. Towards this end, I proceed as follows. First, I discuss the problems with the account Justin D'Arms and Daniel Jacobson offer of the intentionality of the emotions; I argue their account is fundamentally misguided by virtue of being motivated by a misunderstanding of the nature of propositional attitudes. Second, I argue against Peter Goldie's claim that an affective component of an emotion contributes to its intentionality. Third, I offer my own compound account of emotions. I argue (1) emotions are mental states that supervene on other mental states, (2) the mental states that constitute the subvenience base of emotion can have nonconceptual and/or conceptual representational content, and (3) an emotion's intentionality supervenes on (but is often not identical to) the intentionality of only one of its subvening members, specifically, the evaluative representation.