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 the Bastions (room B214). 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 email to the members).
- The Quodlibeta takes place on Wednesday, 14h15-16h00 at the Bastions (room B101).
- The Phileas talks usually takes place on Thursday in place of the Quodlibeta at the Bastions, 18h15-20h00.
February 24, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Julien Deonna & Fabrice Teroni (Geneva)
March 3, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Margherita Arcangeli (Paris, in collaboration with Jérôme Dokic)
Affective Memory. A Little Help From Our Imagination
When we remember a past situation, the emotional import of the latter often transpires in a modified form at the phenomenological level of our present memory. When it does, we experience what is sometimes called an “affective memory.” Theorists of memories have disagreed about the status of affective memories. Sceptics claim that the relationship between memory and emotion can only be of two types: either the memory is about a past emotion (the emotion is part of what is remembered), or it causes a present emotion (the emotion is a separable effect of the memory). We argue that there is a third option, which points to an emotional way of representing the past situation. Drawing from Peter Goldie’s account of mental narratives, we show that three levels of mental perspective are involved in memories: the perspective of the represented subject (the character, if there is one), the perspective of the representing subject (the author), and the intermediary perspective of the narrator (who may remain virtual). Affective memories are cases in which the narrator’s emotional perspective has direct implications for the author’s emotional perspective, even if the former typically differs from the latter.
March 10, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Eric Cullhed (Uppsala)
Critics often link yet distinguish between ‘moving’ and ‘touching’ artworks. Julien Deonna’s account of being moved as a response to the thin goodness of exemplified final, important and impersonal thick values presupposes either that the difference is simply a matter of varying intensity, or that being touched is an unrelated affective experience. This article challenges these views, drawing on two forgotten analyses of the relation and divergence between being moved and touched in the works of Dietrich von Hildebrand and Willard Gaylin. It is argued that Deonna’s characterization of being moved successfully delineates an affective experience, but one that amounts to a subtype of a somewhat broader emotion category. A satisfactory account of the good that moves us must include an analysis of two additional phenomena which we tend to label ‘being touched’: one responding to the personal value of being loved, the other to the particular value of individuals.
March 17, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Jonas Blatter (Bern)
What Considerations are Reasons for Affective Attitudes?
In a 2018 paper, Barry Maguire argues that the normative support relation for affective attitudes, what he calls the fit-making relation, does not exhibit the necessary features the fit-makers to count as reasons for affective attitudes. He argues that reasons are gradable and contributory, both features the fit-making relation lacks. He arrives at this conclusion by comparing the fit-making relation for affective attitudes to reasons for actions. I argue that this is a mistake and that we should rather draw the analogy to reasons for belief. Doing so, it becomes clear that the fit-making relation is more analogous to the relation between beliefs and their truth-makers, and not to reasons for belief, e.g. evidence. I argue further that there are supporting considerations, analogous to evidence for belief, that are both gradable and contributory. Hence, there are considerations that count as reasons for affective attitudes.
March 24, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Juliette Vazard and Steve Humbert-Droz (Genève)
Imagining with Hope
Descriptions of episodes of hope typically involve the presence of mental images or immersive imagination as an exploration of the hoped-for outcome, to the point that it seems hard to explain what goes on in the mind of a hopeful individual without referring to imagination. Accordingly, most contemporary philosophical accounts of hope involve an element of imagination or “fantasizing” as input, part, or output of hope. This being said, there is no systematic view of the interaction between the emotional processes constituting hope and the processes constituting imagination. How do the affective processes that are part of hope exactly interact with the processes required to produce a mental image, or even an immersive exploration of a desired outcome? In this paper we bring together the philosophy of mind literature on the nature of imagination and the philosophy of emotion literature on the nature of hope, in order to clarify the exact role and value of imagination in hope.
This talk is followed by Julia Langkau's PhilEAs Talk
March 25, 2022 – Michele Ombrato's Thesis Defence (Bâtiment Colladon, 14h15)
March 31, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Isabel Kaeslin (Fribourg)
Spontaneous Aversion and Attraction in 'Good Thinking'
I argue that spontaneous emotional responses, in the form of spontaneous aversion or attraction, have been a neglected kind of mental state in our philosophy of mind, and that this has led to overly cognitivist views in ethics and epistemology. Spontaneous aversions and attractions play the important role of keeping our character flexible, by disrupting engrained habits and beliefs. This gives rise to a hitherto neglected virtue, the virtue of flexibility.
Being flexible is not only a virtue in how we act, but also a virtue of our thinking and believing. I suggest that what is most characteristic about cognitive states is their impetus toward coherence. The better trained our cognitive capacities are, the more our cognitive states tend toward coherence. That is, a purely cognitive way of making decisions would tend to maximal coherence (between the various beliefs, but also between beliefs and other attitudes). By contrast, the nature of feeling states is best captured by a description of their phenomenology, that is, what it is like to be in that state. We can individuate and characterize the core features of a feeling state by ‘merely’ referring to how it feels to experience it. The better trained our feeling capacities are, the more clearly and more strongly a feeling state appears to us.
The argument I am going to give in this talk is roughly the following. If we took ‘the best way of thinking’ to be only done by our cognitive capacities, it would amount to the claim that the best way of thinking is ‘maximally coherent thinking’. However, as I will argue, the norms for good thinking are not exhausted by maximally coherent thinking. Other norms, even such that go against coherence, are just as essential in achieving virtue in thinking. And for some of them, we need our spontaneous emotional responses to get there.
April 7, 2022 – Thumos Seminar (exceptionally in Bâtiment Colladon)
Justin D'Arms (Columbus)
Sentimentalist theories hold that values like ‘funny’ and ‘prideworthy’ are response dependent. According to my preferred version, to be funny or prideworthy is to be a fitting object of amusement or pride. The Alethic View of emotional fittingness holds that emotions involve various thoughts, some of which are evaluative, and that for an emotion to be fitting/correct is just for those thoughts to be true. This talk will briefly explain Rational Sentimentalism and the Alethic View, and then discuss some problems for the Alethic View. Some of the problems are due to the response-dependence of various values. I’ll suggest a way for the Alethic View to cope with these problems by becoming more sentimentalist. But doing so abandons some of what made the Alethic View seem substantive and attractive to begin with. Moreover, the Alethic View seems to mis-characterize what is wrong with unfitting emotions. So we should try to understand the idea that emotions can be fitting/correct to their objects without the Alethic View.
April 14, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Cain Todd (Lancaster)
Are there Aesthetic Emotions?
There has been a recent debate about the existence of a class of purportedly distinctive aesthetic emotions. Interestingly, it has largely been carried out within an interdisciplinary context by empirical researchers and to some extent independently of traditional philosophical disputes concerning the nature and character of what is usually referred to as aesthetic experience. In this talk I examine the dispute, while considering more generally the relation between supposedly paradigmatic aesthetic experiences and (aesthetic) emotions. I will argue that there is no distinctive class of aesthetic emotions, but that both affective and non-affective states can be marked by a distinctively aesthetic ‘character’ or ‘mode’. In addition to articulating this ‘mode’, I will make some remarks about the relationship between empirical and philosophical explanations of the phenomena at issue.
This talk is followed by Lorenzo Cocco's PhilEAs Talk
April 28, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Edgar Phillips (Paris)
A Stain on one's character: Identity, change and the persistence of guilt
Philosophical discussions of moral responsibility for actions typically focus on articulating the conditions that must obtain at the time of acting for an agent to be, having acted, responsible for what they have done. Less has been said about how responsibility, along with related conditions such as blameworthiness and guilt, persists over time and what if anything might condition, and in particular lessen, our responsibility for our past actions. Recent treatments of the latter issue have claimed that responsibility is sustained over time by psychological continuity, meaning psychological change can render an agent no longer responsible for their past actions (Khoury 2013, Khoury and Matheson 2018, Matheson 2014). I argue that this view rests on a mistaken conception of blame and blameworthiness as concerned with the agent’s moral character (narrowly and individualistically construed) rather than the moral significance of their actions as such. I bring this out through considering the nature of a victim’s anger and of a wrongdoer’s remorse, and the ways in which such anger and remorse seek resolution not merely in a change in the wrongdoer's psychology but in their addressing the wrong through (for instance) repentance, atonement and reparative action.
This talk is followed by Giovanni Merlo's PhilEAs Talk
May 5, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Hanno Sauer (Utrecht)
Criteria of Moral Progress
Moral progress occurs when things change for the better, morally speaking. The topic of moral progress has recently experienced a resurgence of interest in several disciplines. However, making judgments of moral progress raises a number of epistemic questions which thus far have not been systematically addressed in the literature. We dub these criterial problems, and argue that addressing them is important if we want to avoid errors in making judgments about moral progress. In this paper we address four important criterial problems for making moral progress judgments. First, questions of what the unit of analysis is for moral progress judgments: what is undergoing morally progressive change? Second, questions of timescale: over what period of time is moral progress occurring, and is this relevant for justifying claims of moral progress? Third, what moral criteria are being used to make moral progress judgments and how are these criteria justified? Fourth, how should we make progress judgments when there has been morally progressive change from the point of view of one moral standard but morally regressive change from the point of view of another? We analyze each of these epistemic problems for making moral progress judgments, assess whether they lead to skepticism about such judgments, and suggest possible solutions to each problem.
May 12, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (Genoa, in collaboration with Ariele Niccoli)
Let the donkeys be donkeys: in defense of inspiring envy
Once upon a time, Aesop says, there was a donkey who wanted to be a pet dog. The pet dog was given many treats by the master and the household servants, and the donkey was envious of him. Hence, the donkey began emulating the pet dog. What happened next? The story ends up with the donkey beaten senseless, chased off to the stables, exhausted and barely alive. Who is to blame for the poor donkey’s unfortunate fate? Well, there could be disagreement upon this, but I think emulation is to blame. And it’s on the kinds of envy-related emulation that I focus on in this talk.
More analytically, I aim at vindicating the role of envy for moral exemplars within an exemplarist character educational framework. In the first section, I recall the central tenets of an exemplarist account of moral progress, and highlight how negative emotions, in general, have suffered a bad press within character education, with exemplarism being no exception. Then I provide a brief outline of standard strategies of defending envy by appealing to useful taxonomies of envy (e.g., Taylor 1988; Protasi 2016; Fussi 2018). After that, I put forward my 'Donkey Objection' by recalling Aesop’s fable on "foolish imitation", so as to show that when envy triggers mere emulation, it can bear devastating effects such as conformism and a lack of self-worth and personal integrity.
In response to this objection, I bring into play a distinction between two rival forms of imitation—emulation and inspiration—and I coin the label of "inspired envy" for those forms of imitation by inspiration triggered by envy that lead to self-improvement avoiding morally detrimental consequences.
This talk is followed by Sven Rosenkranz's PhilEAs Talk
May 19, 2022 – Thumos Seminar
Ronnie De Sousa (Toronto)
Attitudinalism and the Objectivity of Values
Two rival views of emotions and their relation to values have recently gained prominence. On the ‘perceptualist’ model (P), emotions are apprehensions of the values instantiating their formal objects. On the ‘attitudinal’ (A), each emotion is a distinct attitude, the evaluative force of which generates the value ascribed to the emotion's target. After framing the debate in Part I, I begin, in Part II, by defending (P) against Jean Moritz Müller's charge of is incoherence. Part III explains why I nevertheless endorse a view very close to Müller's own. Müller's version of (A), however, is not radical enough. Contrary to what he and others take for granted, formal objects are not value properties, but non-normative properties of situations, particulars or states of affairs. Part IV defends that more radical version of (A) against an argument adduced by Rossi and Tappolet against the version of (A) propounded by Deonna and Teroni. Contrary to Rossi and Tappolet's contention, there is no need for value properties to be represented in the content of emotional attitudes. Part V offers brief reflections on two consequences of this radical view. One is the problem of explaining what is commonly meant by a ‘value’, as distinct from an individual preference. The second is that insofar as any values deserve to be thought of as objective, some do so more than others.
May 23-25, 2022 - Conference in Honour of Ronald de Sousa
May 26, 2022 – No seminar (Ascension)
May 31 - Jun 02 – SoPhA Jeunes Chercheurs
Jun 22 - Symposium on 'The Philosophy of Envy'
Jun 23-24 - Conference on Political Emotions
July 11 - Mini-workshop on imagination