HFIK04081U FILO Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind

Volume 2020/2021

Teachers:         Thomas Szanto and Mikko Salmela

Emotions are arguably constitutive parts of our lives and play a key role in our social interactions. They render salient what matters to us and imbue our lives with significance. Intuitively, we know what it is like to experience joy, fear something, feel remorse, shame or envy, be proud, jealous, angry, or bored. We usually know when and which emotions we undergo and why, and also know how and when to ascribe emotions to others.

Yet, after centuries of theorizing, ever since the Ancient Greeks, the nature and function of emotions is still contested in philosophy as well as in interdisciplinary emotion research. Are emotions natural kinds or socially constructed? How do they relate to other mental states such as judgements, beliefs or desires on the one hand, and to other affective states such as feelings, moods, and sentiments on the other? Are emotions biasing rational thought, or are they rational and even can contribute to epistemic insight? What is the relation of emotions to perceptions, evaluative judgments or values? Can emotions be inappropriate or inauthentic? What role do norms play in our emotional life, and how can we regulate what we feel and when and how we express our emotions? Are emotions some private, effable mental states of single individuals or are they ‘scaffolded’ by the material and social world and thus ‘extend’ into the environment? Can individuals even literally ‘share’ emotions and ‘feel together’? Finally, what political relevance do emotions have?

The aim of this course is to present and critically discuss answers to these questions from classical and contemporary accounts of emotions. The main focus will be on philosophical theories, both from the analytic (e.g., Goldie, Helm, Griffiths, de Sousa) and the phenomenological tradition (e.g., Scheler, Sartre, Schmid). We will also cover some key figures from the history of philosophy (Aristotle, the Stoics, Spinoza, and James) and reassess them in light of recent theories (Nussbaum, Prinz, and affect theory). Furthermore, we will discuss central topics in emotions research from the social sciences, in particular, from psychology (appraisal theories, psychological constructionism, emotion regulation), cultural studies (affect theory), sociology (emotions norms) and political theory (political emotions).

Learning Outcome

At the examination, the student can demonstrate:
Knowledge and understanding of:
 selected subjects within phenomenology and philosophy of mind, in-cluding placing them in their historical and systematic context
 comparison and evaluation of different traditions’ discussions of the subjects
 the way the subjects are covered in the relevant literature.
Skills to:
 analyse theories with a view to their definition of and treatment of concepts
 conduct specific analyses in order to discuss a concept and relate it to a conceptual context
 evaluate new theories in the relevant sphere of awareness of a given philosophical problem.
Competencies to:
 reflect on the different definitions of philosophical subjects and their relationship to each other
 analyse theories based on awareness of philosophical problems.

To be announced 

Lectures and class teaching, or a combination of both, with oral exercises and group discussions.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Exam registration requirements


Exam period

June 2021


August 2021

Criteria for exam assesment