Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 615–635

Depression and motivation


DOI: 10.1007/s11097-012-9264-0

Cite this article as:
Smith, B. Phenom Cogn Sci (2013) 12: 615. doi:10.1007/s11097-012-9264-0


Among the characteristic features of depression is a diminishment in or lack of action and motivation. In this paper, I consider a dominant philosophical account which purports to explain this lack of action or motivation. This approach comes in different versions but a common theme is, I argue, an over reliance on psychologistic assumptions about action–explanation and the nature of motivation. As a corrective I consider an alternative view that gives a prominent place to the body in motivation. Central to the experience of depression are changes to how a person is motivated to act and, also as central, are changes to bodily feelings and capacities. I argue that broadly characterizing motivation in terms of bodily capacities can, in particular, provide a more compelling account of depressive motivational pathology.


Action Belief–desire psychology Body Depression Motivation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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