The Feeling Body
In The Feeling Body, Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science—the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience.
In the course of her discussion, Colombetti focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. Drawing on enactivist tools such as dynamical systems theory, the notion of the lived body, neurophenomenology, and phenomenological accounts of empathy, Colombetti advances a novel approach to these traditional issues that does justice to their complexity. Doing so, she also expands the enactive approach into a further domain of inquiry, one that has more generally been neglected by the embodied-embedded approach in the philosophy of cognitive science.
About the Author
Giovanna Colombetti is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Sociology, Philosophy, and Anthropology at the University of Exeter, UK.
“Bodily affect, in a sense that goes deeper than basic emotions, has been underplayed in emotion theory and even in some of the most embodied approaches to cognition. Colombetti does a great service in exploring the dynamics of the affective life, gathering together empirical and theoretical perspectives to show that enactive theories need to be even more embodied than they are usually construed to be.”
—Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy, University of Memphis
“In this clearly written and engaging book, Colombetti draws from approaches as diverse as phenomenology, dynamical systems theory, cognitive science, and neuroscience to make important new contributions to the fields of enactive cognition and affective science. She enriches the enactivist perspective—which focuses on the dynamic meaning-making activity of an organism in its environment—by revealing the primordial role of affective dimensions of cognition in all of our embodied ways of making sense of, and engaging, our world. At the same time, she expands emotion theory by exploring the deep affective patterns by which we engage our world at a level that precedes and underlies our conscious emotional experiences. The impressive result is an excursion through the depths of sometimes hidden processes of directed response and feeling that lie at the heart of our ability to navigate meaningfully within our physical, interpersonal, and cultural surroundings.”
—Mark Johnson, Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon