The Content of Emotional Thoughts

  • Tim Bloser


In this paper I examine Peter Goldie's theory of emotional thoughts and feelings, offered in his recent book The Emotions and subsequent articles. Goldie argues that emotional thoughts cannot be assimilated to belief or judgment, together with some added-on phenomenological component, and on this point I agree with him. However, he also argues that emotionally-laden thoughts, thoughts had, as he puts it, ‘with feeling,' in part differ from unemotional thoughts in their content. The thought ‘the gorilla is dangerous' when thought with an emotional feeling of fear differs in its content from the thought ‘the gorilla is dangerous' when thought without actually feeling fear. I argue that Goldie offers no good reason to think that the difference between emotional and unemotional thoughts is found in their contents. In fact, the analogies Goldie presents to help make his case actually suggest that the contribution feelings make to the distinctive role played by emotional thoughts consists solely in their influencing the way we think emotional thoughts. However, this position is consistent with Goldie's broader point: that theories which treat emotional feelings as phenomenological afterthoughts should be rejected.

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eISSN: 0556-8641