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The Ascent of AffectGenealogy and Critique$
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Ruth Leys

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226488424

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226488738.001.0001

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Richard S. Lazarus’s Appraisal Theory I

Richard S. Lazarus’s Appraisal Theory I

Emotions as Intentional States

(p.129) Chapter Three Richard S. Lazarus’s Appraisal Theory I
The Ascent of Affect

Ruth Leys

University of Chicago Press

The American psychologist Richard Lazarus played an important role in the post-World War II history of research on the emotions. This chapter offers an analysis of the challenges he faced in his attempts to account for the meaning of the emotions. Lazarus's ideas about the role of "appraisal" or cognition in emotion were often tentative and confused, in part because of the difficulty he had in deciding what kind of claim it is that emotions are intentional states or actions. Is the claim fundamentally a constitutive-conceptual one, according to which it belongs to the very "grammar" of the emotions that they are intentional states? Or is the claim a causal argument about how emotions are aroused? Are those two kinds of claims incompatible, or can one adopt both a conceptual-grammatical and a causal explanation of the affects? Lazarus did not find it easy to answer these questions, even as he pursued a major research program designed to do so. The aim of this chapter is to examine Lazarus's experiments on the emotions and appraisal in the light of these difficulties.

Keywords:   appraisal, Magda Arnold, Hubert Dreyfus, Paul Ekman, Anthony Kenny, intentionality, perceptual defense, stress films, subliminal perception, Ludwig Wittgenstein

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