Workshop „Affordances and Emotions“
with Andrea Scarantino (Georgia State University)
Tuesday, June the 21st, 9:00 – 12:45
Charlottenstraße 42/Corner Dorotheenstraße, 3rd floor, Seminarroom
Collegium for the Advanced Study of Picture Act and Embodiment
(in cooperation with Jan Slaby/Cluster Languages of Emotion, FU Berlin)
contact: Joerg Fingerhut (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rebekka Hufendiek (email@example.com)
9:15 – 10:45 Talk:
The Metaphysics of Affordance Properties
Response: Joerg Fingerhut
Abstract: I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. I first illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson’s theory of perception, and then argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. Finally, I explain how we can understand affordances with respect to emotions rather than actions. The purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity enriched by Gibson’s visionary insight, but independent of the most controversial claims of the Gibsonian movement, and available for novel applications to the affective domain.
10:45 – 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 – 12:45 Talk:
Emotions and Affordances: A New Perspective for Affective Science
Response: Rebekka Hufendiek
Abstract: The two leading theories of emotions in contemporary philosophy – cognitivism and Neo-Jamesianism – conceive of emotions as internal states or processes and the role of the environment is confined to providing stimuli and receiving actions. Cognitivists identify emotions with representations of the stimulus situation, or ‘evaluative judgments’. Neo-Jamesians identify emotions with states of bodily arousal, which are detected by the brain as affect. In a further parallel with traditional views of cognition, both cognitivists and neo-Jamesians focus on the contributions that emotions make to the organism’s internal, psychological economy. The primary function of emotions, on both accounts, is to provide the organism’s decision making systems with information about the significance of a stimulus situation. In this talk, I outline a different perspective on emotion, according to which emotions are strategies to reconfigure a relationship by delivering a social signal. The key novelty of this perspective, which provides an affective parallel to situationist ideas about cognition, is that the appraisal processes that lead to emoting are dynamically sensitive to emotional affordances, namely opportunities for successful emoting. This perspective also calls into question the traditional dichotomy between actions and passions.