Defining Concepts of Emotion: From Philosophy to Science

by   Changqing Liu, et al.

This paper is motivated by a series of (related) questions as to whether a computer can have pleasure and pain, what pleasure (and intensity of pleasure) is, and, ultimately, what concepts of emotion are. To determine what an emotion is, is a matter of conceptualization, namely, understanding and explicitly encoding the concept of emotion as people use it in everyday life. This is a notoriously difficult problem (Frijda, 1986, Fehr & Russell, 1984). This paper firstly shows why this is a difficult problem by aligning it with the conceptualization of a few other so called semantic primitives such as "EXIST", "FORCE", "BIG" (plus "LIMIT"). The definitions of these thought-to-be-indefinable concepts, given in this paper, show what formal definitions of concepts look like and how concepts are constructed. As a by-product, owing to the explicit account of the meaning of "exist", the famous dispute between Einstein and Bohr is naturally resolved from linguistic point of view. Secondly, defending Frijda's view that emotion is action tendency (or Ryle's behavioral disposition (propensity)), we give a list of emotions defined in terms of action tendency. In particular, the definitions of pleasure and the feeling of beauty are presented. Further, we give a formal definition of "action tendency", from which the concept of "intensity" of emotions (including pleasure) is naturally derived in a formal fashion. The meanings of "wish", "wait", "good", "hot" are analyzed.


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