How Can You Be Sure? Epistemic Feelings as a Monitoring System for Cognitive Contents

  • Sara DellantonioEmail author
  • Luigi PastoreEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 49)


We explore the view that subjective experiences, termed epistemic feelings in the literature, accompany reasoning, intuition and other cognitive processes. These epistemic feelings are considered to have a wide range of functions, providing us with information about many aspects of our cognitive content. For instance, they can tell us whether something we know is certain, uncertain, interesting, boring, doubtful, ambiguous, correct, plausible, informative, relevant, coherent or related to other cognitive content. To understand how epistemic feelings work is therefore essential in comprehending any kind of thinking process, including any kind of reasoning process. In this work, we first analyze epistemic feelings with the aim of describing their nature and functions. Secondly, we explore the analogies and differences between somatic, emotional and epistemic feelings and try to show that epistemic feelings are not the same as epistemic emotions and that although somatic, emotional and epistemic feelings all make use of the same kinds of signals, they are triggered by different monitoring systems. Finally, we show that epistemic feelings guide us to choose specific kinds of reasoning processes and determine whether we rely on intuitions rather than on analytic reasoning. Finally, although epistemic feelings do not necessarily lead us to make the best choice in every context, they can be trained to provide us with better guidance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.University of BariBariItaly

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