Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 45–65

Emotional clichés and authentic passions: A phenomenological revision of a cognitive theory of emotion


DOI: 10.1007/s11097-010-9160-4

Cite this article as:
Maclaren, K. Phenom Cogn Sci (2011) 10: 45. doi:10.1007/s11097-010-9160-4


This paper argues for an understanding of emotion based upon Merleau-Ponty's conceptions of embodiment and passivity. Through a critical assessment of cognitive theories of emotion, and in particular Solomon's theory, it argues (1) that there is a sense in which emotions may be judgments, so long as we understand such judgments as bodily enactments of meaning, but (2) that even understood in this way, the notion of judgment (or construal) can only account for a subset of emotions which I call "emotional clichés," and not for authentic passions. In contrast with Solomon's account which conceives the subject as constituting, this account of emotion requires us to understand subjectivity as moved by meanings in the world, and as sometimes, in an authentic passion, dispossessed by those meanings.



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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada