Schedule of upcoming events
On this page, we advertise the research activities that are of interest to members and friends of Thumos, especially the Thumos seminar, which is the main research activity of our group. Thumos seminars take place on Thursdays, 16h15-17h45 at UniPhilosophes (PHIL116). Archives of the seminar are available here.
Members of the Swiss Doctoral School in Affective Sciences get credits if they participate to the seminar and their travel expenses can be reimbursed within Switzerland.
We also indicate events that may be of interest to students of the emotions or that happen on the same day :
- The CISA Lecture series take place on Tuesday, 12h15-13h15 at the Campus Biotech (seminar room will be communicated by e-mail to the members).
- The Quodlibeta takes place on Wednesday, 14h15-16h00 at the IFAGE (IF408).
- The Phileas talks usually takes place on Thursdays, 18h15-20h00 (PHIL001)
September 21, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Andrea Rivadulla Duró (Geneva)
Iconic Prioritization and Representational Silence in Emotion
Emotions can be insensitive to certain attributes of a situation: Fear of flying is not always reduced by remembering air crash probabilities. A large body of evidence shows that information on probabilities, large numerical counts, or intentions is frequently disregarded in the elicitation and regulation of emotions. To date, no existing theory comprehensively accounts for the features that tend to be overlooked by emotion. In this talk I call attention to the common denominator of such features: they cannot be perceived nor contribute to the iconic representation of events. For instance, the exceedingly low probability of a plane crash does not affect its imagistic representation (i.e., the iconic representation of the event is silent about the event’s probability). This paper introduces the Iconic Prioritization Hypothesis, positing that the prioritization of the iconic format in emotion can explain the neglect of information that is representationally silent in this format. Delving into the causes of this format prioritization, I argue that emotion may favour iconicity as it is the format of immediate information about our surroundings (perception) and of stored first-hand evidence (episodic memory). Lastly, the hypothesis's compatibility with philosophical theories of emotion causation and its implications for experimental research are examined.
September 28, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Radu Bumbacea (Geneva)
An Acquaintance Principle in Ethics
I will argue for what I call ‘an acquaintance principle’ when it comes to our ethical judgments of attachments, such as those involved in love and friendship. The claim is that the value of an individual attachments is revealed in that instance and is only minimally connected to a general description of it. It will follow that if we want to understand the value of attachments in human life, we should not ponder on the value of general characteristics of such attachments, but rather acquaint ourselves with remarkable instances, such as those depicted in great works of literature.
October 5, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Benjamin Matheson (Berne)
This paper investigates collective guilt, including its nature, whether it is ever fitting to feel, and its ethical and political significance. As we’ll see, to understand collective guilt, we must not only understand guilt, but also the nature of collectives. Thus, this paper also investigates the nature of collectives. I will develop and defend an account of collective guilt according to which it is felt by a member of a group about a group wrong. I will consider whether such guilt can ever be fitting, but I will also argue that whether it is fitting misses its point. I argue that collective guilt is valuable because it can lead to a person taking responsibility for the wrongs of their group and because it aims to steer the attitudes, in particular the values, of a group.
October 12-13, 2023 – Conference in Aix-en-Provence
Venue: Université d'Aix-Marseille, Bât. Multimédia, Salle de colloque 2.
October 19-20, 2023 – Warwick-Geneva-Leipzig Interdepartmental Workshop
Venue: Université de Genève, Espace Colladon, Rue Jean-Daniel-Colladon 2.
October 26, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Agnès Baehni (Geneva)
Let Me Blame Myself
The tendency to treat other-blame as the paradigmatic form of blame has provided fertile ground for various misunderstandings about the nature and norms of self-blame. As a result, two objections have recently been directed against self-blame. The first, championed by David Shoemaker, targets the coherence of moral self-blame by claiming that neither moral self-anger nor guilt can constitute self-blame. The second, raised by Patrick Todd and Brian Rabern, targets the moral dimension of self-blame by claiming that it is always inappropriate to blame oneself because one always lacks the standing to do so. In this presentation, I argue that both objections stem from a similar misconception of the links between self-blame and other-blame and that they can both be overcome if one treats self-blame as a distinct phenomenon.
November 2, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
André Sant'Anna (Geneva)
Deweyan Experiences and the Aesthetics of Remembering
In Art as Experience, John Dewey offered what is arguably the most influential pragmatist account of the nature of aesthetic experience. A crucial feature of this account, which has been at the core of much contemporary interest in Dewey’s work in aesthetics, is the idea that aesthetic experiences are not restricted to the objects of the “fine arts”. For Dewey, even the most ordinary of experiences, such as enjoying a meal at a restaurant or having a conversation with a friend, can have an aesthetic quality as long as it has a specific internal structure—that is, one in which there is rhythmic progression between phases that ends in a culmination point. Building on this idea, my goal in this paper is to argue that some occurrences of personal remembering have the relevant internal structure that, according to Dewey, makes an experience aesthetic in nature. More specifically, I will argue that occurrences of remembering can be “Deweyan experiences” when they have narrative structure. In discussing the role played by narrative structure in attributing aesthetic quality to remembering, I will identify some key features of remembering that make it particularly suited to being experienced aesthetically. These features, I will argue, highlight crucial differences between remembering and other forms of narrative thinking vis-à-vis their aesthetic character.
November 9, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Rebecca Wallbank (Geneva)
Trust and Aesthetic Authenticity
It has been argued that many of us are committed to a certain kind of aesthetic ideal wherein we ought to live our lives with aesthetic authenticity. It has also been argued that deference to aesthetic testimony undermines our pursuit of this kind of aesthetic ideal. This paper will argue that this kind of argument operates on a flawed conception of what it is to live our lives with aesthetic authenticity, and relatedly a flawed conception of what it means to trust others when conducting deferential engagements. Such misconceptions have had significant consequences, many have failed to see the real problem with deference to aesthetic testimony, and more interestingly, the real virtues.
November 16, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Angela Abatista (Geneva/Grenoble)
Positive Emotions and Feeling of Meaning in Life
This presentation aims to address the limitations of current psychological models of subjective well-being in fully comprehending the role of positive emotions within the context of eudemonic well-being. The discussion will focus on integrating existing research on self-transcendent positive emotions into the framework and assert that positive emotions extend beyond mere pleasurable experiences. Instead, they can serve as foundational elements for the self-transcendent experience of imbuing life with a sense of meaning. The theoretical framework presented here will draw support from three experimental studies, collectively suggesting a distinct and noteworthy connection between a specific category of self-transcendent positive emotions and experiencing meaning in life.
November 23, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Julia Langkau & Mathilde Cappelli (Geneva)
Is Fantasizing a Kind of Creative Imagining?
In this talk, we aim to distinguish creative imagining from fantasizing. Fantasizing is usually understood as a form of pleasurable imagining: fantasizing seems to always involve a positively valenced affective component, whereas imagining can be emotionally neutral. Creative imagining can be defined as imagining according to what one values, which can but does not have to be pleasurable. So, are cases of pleasurable creative imagining simply cases of fantasizing? To answer this question, we will look at intuitive cases of both and then explore more ambiguous cases in which it is unclear whether we are concerned with fantasy or creative imagination.
November 30, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Patrizia Pedrini (Geneva)
Normative Abuse in Personal Relationships (and Its Many Subtleties)
Abusing relationships are a dramatic reality, and are of diverse sorts. Psychologists are generous in instructing us about how to identify abusing techniques and how to counteract them and protect us from them. We all have the intuition that abusing techniques involve the violation of something absolutely fundamental of us qua persons and agents—centrally, some basic form of respect which is instrumental to grant us an integrity that grounds our psychological and practical well-being. But what does this integrity exactly amount to?
In this paper I wish to explore the nature of such integrity and the many ways in which it can be attacked by forms of abuse that need not reach egregious cases of psychological and/or physical violence, although the latter can (and dramatically do) happen. By taking stock of some of the main tenets of recent works on “normative isolation” (Bagnoli 2023) and on the perturbance of the “normative landscape” (Sliwa, forthcoming), I will suggest that such integrity is best qualified as normative integrity and that all attempts to produce a morally illegitimate modification of the normative field within which we live count as a normative abuse targeting normative integrity. I will distinguish legitimate and illegitimate attempts to produce modifications of the normative field of others, and I will show how all forms of morally illegitimate modifications belong to one unique spectrum of violations, ranging from egregious to less egregious forms.
My aim and hope is to contribute to a general increase of ethical awareness and self-awareness about forms of abuse that, given their subtleties, may well escape our moral and psychological attention, not only as potential (more or less conscious) victims, but also as potential (more or less conscious) perpetrators.
December 7-8, 2023 – Trusting State, Trusting Science Conference
Venue: Université de Genève, Espace Colladon, Rue Jean-Daniel-Colladon 2.
December 13, 2023 – Supplemental Seminar (16h30 -18h00 | Campus Biotech, Room H8-01-C)
Artūrs Logins (Laval), in collaboration with Benoît Guilielmo
Suspension as Mood
Suspension of judgement is a ubiquitous phenomenon in our lives. It is also relevant for several debates in contemporary epistemology (e.g. evidentialism/pragmatism; peer-disagreement/higher-order evidence; inquiry). The goal of this paper is to arrive at a better understanding of what suspension of judgement is. We first question the popular assumption that we call the Triad view according to which there are three and only three (paradigmatic) doxastic attitudes, namely, belief, disbelief, and suspension of judgment. We elaborate a cumulative argument regarding crucial differences between belief/disbelief and suspension and conclude tentatively that suspension is not a doxastic state. On the constructive side, we defend the positive thesis (with special attention to justification/rationality and reasons for suspension) that suspension is rather an affective phenomenon, viz. a sort of mood. Finally, we consider further consequences of our view for contemporary debates in epistemology, and how it relates to ancient skepticism.
December 14, 2023 – Thumos Seminar
Alex Grzankowski (London)
Emotions as Transitions
One task of psychology is to identify cognitive capacities. We have a capacity to parse sentences, to identify faces, to sort things by their colour, and so on. Capacities serve as theoretical data – they are observed phenomena that one then seeks to better understand. One thing we might wish to understand is how these capacities are implemented. Take sentence parsing. Is this something achieved through some compositional process or, more like Natural Language Processing AI (e.g. GPT), by predicting the next word or token based on the previous words and training data? What structures underly our ability to parse sentences? There are likely to be many candidates, at least in principle.
In order to uncover the inner workings of our capacities, we look to ‘effects’. Most of us have the capacity to distinguish between spoken ‘ba’ and ‘fa’ sounds. One thought is that this is achieved through aural sensitivities that detect changes in vibration picked up by the eardrum. But the McGurk Effect suggests that there is more to the story. Without changing the incoming vibrations, sound experience can be modulated by showing a video of a mouth making a ‘ba’ sound or a ‘fa’ sound with a consistent sound overlaid. We learn that our overall auditory experiences are at least in part determined by visual cues in addition to what’s first picked up by our eardrums. The McGurk Effect gives us a hint into the inner workings of audition and helps us better understand the capacity to discriminate sounds of a certain sort.
In the present paper, the focus is on emotional capacities and a well-known effect – recalcitrance. Recalcitrant emotions, such as fearing the dog even though one knows that the dog is harmless or being angry with one’s partner even when one realises it was only in a dream that the partner was nasty, have played the role of effect in much theorising about emotions. But in my view, we’ve stayed a bit too close to home, aiming to fit the effect into a paradigm – the representationalist paradigm – that isn’t fit for purpose. I will use this criticism as a launching off point to introduce a different way of thinking about emotions that is better suited to making sense of recalcitrance. I will argue that emotions are transitions between representational states rather than being representational states themselves. The view is better suited to make sense of recalcitrance and, at the end of the paper, I will offer reasons for thinking that main points that speak in favour of a representationalist approach to emotion can be recaptured or explained away by the transitions view.
December 21, 2023 —Thumos Seminar
Emma Tieffenbach (Lugano/Zürich)
Is Warm Glow Giving Self-Defeating?
Why do people choose to give part of their hard-earned income away? A scientifically popular answer, known as “the warm glow from giving”, is that donors seek praiseworthiness. I first contrast the related warm-glow givers’ desire for deserved praiseworthiness with the non-reflective desire to do good to others, on the one hand, and with the dubious desire to be praised by others. I then characterize warm glow giving as deliberately attempting to act in the way that is required for being the virtuous — i.e. the generous, efficient, charitable or righteous — donors one desires to be. In light of the proposed characterization, I then consider an objection raised against warm glow giving: its alleged vanity. If the desire to be praiseworthy is doomed to fail, there is a paradox: if generosity is a virtue, and if knowledge is a virtue, why isn’t knowledge of one’s virtue also a virtue, and, in fact, why is it a vice, known as moral self-complacency? I review and argue against various ways of making sense of the related paradox.