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Embodied and situated moods

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Marta Halina.

There is a certain tendency, among affective neuroscientists, to present the brain as the physical basis, or ‘core machinery’, of moods (sometimes even to claim that moods are ‘in the brain’). In my talk I will criticise this brain-centric view of moods. Empirical evidence shows that brain activity not only modulates, but is in turn continuously modulated by, physical activity taking place in other parts of the organism (such as the endocrine and the immune system). It is therefore not clear why the core machinery of moods ought to be restricted to the brain. I propose, accordingly, that moods are best conceived as embodied rather than just ‘embrained’, i.e., their physical basis should be enlarged so as to comprise not just brain but also bodily activity. Second, I emphasise that moods are situated in the world. By this I do not just mean that moods are influenced by the world (an uncontroversial claim), but that they are complexly interrelated with it, in at least three different ways: i) they are shaped by cultural values and norms, ii) they are materially and intersubjectively ‘scaffolded’, and iii) they can even come to ‘experientially incorporate’ parts of the world, i.e., include the experience of parts of the world as parts of oneself.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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