PHIL 242 - “Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology”
- ALISON JAGGAR
TWO KINDS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE
- Physiological reactions: usually involuntary and unintentional Judgments, beliefs, knowledge:
intentional, largely voluntary.
- Think of “intentionality” as “aboutness”—being directed toward something in the
- Don’t confuse with being voluntary, i.e. under our control.
THE “DUMB VIEW”: EMOTIONSAS UNINTENTIONALAND PHYSIOLOGICAL
- 1- The mental states related to knowledge are intentional (beliefs, judgments, etc.).
- 2- Emotions are merely physiological.
- 3- The only way emotions can interact with beliefs, judgments, etc. is by interfering with them
or disrupting them.
- (Jaggar connects this with positivism, an approach that only treats things as real if they can be
proven with logical demonstrations or scientific observation.)
THE DUMB VIEW IS IMPLIED BY SOME OF THE WAYS WE TALKABOUT EMOTION
- Notice linguistic connection between “the passions” and “passive”... ...and the implications of
the word “feelings.”
- Both imply that that emotions are things that happen to us, rather than things we do or use.
- Argue that emotions include both physical reactions and intentional judgments... ...so that the
intentional part determines what the emotion is about, and the
- physical part determines what it feels like.
- Jaggar thinks this is a good start, but that we shouldn’t separate the two parts so starkly: we
need to “explain the relationship between cognitive and affective aspects of emotion”
ARE EMOTIONS INVOLUNTARY PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTIONS? (SOME EVIDENCE
- Emotions are in large part socially constructed: our culture and upbringing make a major
difference in what circumstances make us feel certain emotions, • how we express those
emotions and even what the emotions feel like.
- It’s true that we don’t decide what emotions to feel, and when... ...but we can sometimes have
some effect on them... ...so our emotions are partly under our control...
- ...like habits that can be imposed by certain cultural surroundings, and which we may or may
not be able to break.
EMOTIONS AND KNOWLEDGE
SOME IMPLICATIONS OF COGNITIVISM
- 1- Emotions can be rational or irrational, held correctly or incorrectly, just like beliefs and
judgments. (Emotions are “cognitive”) - (Fear of bears is rational; fear of centipedes isn’t?)
- 2- Having a certain emotion can be an essential part of knowing certain facts, or understanding
- (If you don’t feel the right emotions under the right circumstances, you don’t understand the
whole truth about friendship, about slavery, etc.)
EMOTIONS AND VALUES
- Emotions presuppose values: We must, e.g., judge something to be good in order to happy
about it, bad in order to feel angry etc.
- And values presuppose emotions: We could not come to see some things as good and others as
bad if we didn’t at some point feel emotions about them...
- ...and this includes hard-nosed scientific values like impartiality rigour, careful testing of