Is tiredness an emotion, and if not, why not?

I'm too exhausted to answer this one. (Anyone have more energy?) I am angry at myself because I'm too exhausted to answer it; I feel remorse over being too exhausted to answer it; and I even fear that some will criticize me for not really being too exhausted to answer it but for being lazy, or a wiseacre, or both. In a Doonesbury strip years ago (see a footnote in Patricia Greenspan's book on the emotions for a slightly different version), a football team, the offense, is in a huddle, arguing over the meaning of "emotion" and its extension (or the things that count as emotions). "Horniness!" opines the fullback. "Horniness is NOT an emotion, you dummy," retorts the quarterback. So, is being tired more like being horny or more like being angry that I haven't answered the question?

Energized as I am by a good night’s sleep and sweet dreams, I’ll givethis question a shot. (I’m hoping also that the inadequacy of myresponse will inspire Alan Soble, who knows far more about these mattersthan I, to answer the question!)

Plato drew a distinction (in RepublicIV) between feelings like pain, pleasure, hunger, lust, and thirst, andmental states like anger. Anger, he said, was answerable to reason inat least two ways. First, in order to be angry, I must have certainviews about what the world is like. For example, I am angry that myfriend revealed my deep, dark secrets. My anger presupposes my beliefthat my friend did reveal my deep, dark secrets. Second, Platobelieved, in order to be angry, Ihave to have certain views about how the world should be. Myanger is caused not only by my belief that my friend revealed my deep, dark secrets, butalso by my belief that my friend should not have done so. Feelingslike pain, pleasure, hunger, lust, and thirst, Plato thought, are notlike that: I can have these feelings without having any particularviews about what the world is like and without any particularevaluations of the way the world is. To distinguish these two types ofmental states, some philosophers have reserved the term “emotion” formental states that are more like anger than like pain– states likepride, shame, jealousy, and joy. It seems to me that, on this taxonomy,tiredness would not count as an emotion.

There is nothing quite like a swift kick to the fanny to get one energized. I thank Professor Gentzler for arousing me from my stupor. All I did last night, of course, was to suggest that tiredness was not an emotion because it didn't look much like standard emotions such as anger, remorse, and fear. I did not explain the difference. But Professor Gentzler is too modest about her own contribution to this thread, and exaggerates my ability to improve its quality. What she taught us about Plato is superb, while I merely dabble in the theory of the emotions. Nonetheless, here goes. (Maybe another panelist can help by telling us something about the Solomon-Schachter experiments.)

On a currently popular model of emotion (see Daniel Farrell and O. Harvey Green, for starters), emotions are composed of three elements: a belief (the cognitive feature), a desire (the conative), and a feeling (the affective). I believe that the animal is a hyena and that it is about to strike; I desire not to have my limbs torn off; I experience the feeling of fright. In addition, emotions have behavioral correlates: I run, or I draw my pistol (or, being stunned, frozen like a deer in headlights, I am mauled.) The point that Professor Gentzler makes, relying on Plato, is that emotions are about something; they are directed at an object (the ontology of which is a matter of some dispute); or they have "intentionality," at least in the sense of depending on beliefs and being eliminable in response to changes in belief. If I come to believe that the hyena is really my daughter in her halloween costume, my fear dissipates. (I had better be right.) A technical issue: when Professor Gentzler brings up, in Plato's account of emotion, "views about how the world should be," might we assimilate or equate that to the contemporary conative feature of emotion? Or did Plato not want to include desire in his account of emotion? (More about "intentionality": I am angry that something happened. But I cannot be tired that. . . . The thing about which I am angry is the "intentional object" of the emotion. Tiredness has no intentional object. There is nothing "about which" I am tired. I am just tired.)

Being tired seems not to exhibit intentionality: my being exhausted is not about something, a state of affairs; it seems not to depend on any beliefs which, if altered, would eliminate my being tired (getting sleep does that, with or without sweet dreams). Being tired seems to be only a feeling or sensation, or have only an affective dimension, brought on primarily by the biochemical state of our bodies (lactates, and so forth). It is not rich enough a phenomenon to rise to the level of an emotion.

Can animals have emotions? They can be tired, as we can, and from similar causes. But there is no intentionality in animal exhaustion. This is not to deny that some animals might have sufficient cognition and conation to exhibit emotions. A dog, for example, might show pride in having accomplished a task set for it.

One question in the theory of emotions is whether each emotion has it own distinctive or constitutive beliefs, desires, affects, and behaviors and, if so, what they are. We can, for example, distinguish fear from jealousy in terms of their respective beliefs, desires, and so forth. The model works well in many cases. Does it always? (See below, on hate versus love.) What would be the constitutive belief of being tired, such that without that belief one would not be tired?

Another question has to do with completing the taxonomy. There are feelings, sentiments, attitudes, moods, and emotions, all of which apparently have some things in common but also differ in various ways. For example, is being depressed a mood or an emotion? Some say it is a mood, when or because it lacks "aboutness." We cannot pin down the belief in which it is grounded, or the beliefs are too amorphous, or there are no beliefs at all involved, but only disturbed seratonin distributions. Does this mean that for a phenomenon to be an emotion, the beliefs must be conscious? Couldn't we have unconscious emotions? (Freud thought so.) Being tired might well put us in a bad mood or cause us to have an emotion (frustration-anger), but having this causal power doesn't make it an emotion. Further, being tired is sometimes phenomenologically indistinguishable from being depressed. But this should not make us think that being tired is either a mood or an emotion.

Yet another fascinating question about the emotions has to do with Professor Genztler's expression "answerable to reason." Some think that emotion is not the kind of thing that can be judged as being rational or irrational, or that reason has little to do with passion. Professor Genzler's account of Plato shows this to be weak. Emotions can be judged in terms of rationality at least in the sense that the beliefs underlying the emotion can be judged as being rational or irrational. If I believe irrationally (on the basis of poor evidence) that John is out to get me, then my fear of John is irrational. Whether emotions can be irrational also in virtue of a defect in the conative element is unclear. Might certain desires be irrational? In jealousy, I believe that a third party is drawing the attention of my lover away from me, and I desire my lover's exclusive attention. If my belief that the interloper is or might be successful is irrational, then so is my jealousy; and it should go away upon my finding out the truth. But could my jealousy be irrational, instead, because my desire for my lover's exclusive attention is irrational? Might someone talk me out of that desire and dispell my jealousy?

Finally: hate and love. In paradigmatic cases of hatred, it is an emotion, having cognitive, conative, and affective features. Even if the cognitive feature is difficult to state precisely, hate seems to be distinguished from other emotions by the sort of belief it involves, a negative judgment about the person hated, a dislike about certain characteristics of the person hated. We might say that hatred is reason- or property-dependent: something about the person hated instigates the hate or, better, something we believe about the person hated does so. That property we perceive or believe exists is or provides the reason we hate the person, and the hate can be judged rational (or not) depending on the accuracy of the perception or belief. Rational hate, on this view, should dissipate were the truth to be revealed.

Is love the same? If it is an emotion, and if the belief-desire-affect model is correct, then we should be able to say quite similar things about love: that it is instigated by the properties of the beloved, or at least by our believing he or she has those properties, and that love can be judged rational (or not) on the basis of the rationality of its underlying beliefs.

Many philosophers raise serious questions about this account of love. For one thing, they argue that it gets things backwards: I do not love Jane because (I believe) Jane is gorgeous and smart (as in Platonic eros); rather, I judge her gorgeous and smart (or attribute other values to her) because I love her. Second (as a corollary?), they claim that just because my beliefs about my beloved change, that does not mean (or should not mean) that my love should disappear. Quite the contrary. If I genuinely love you, I will continue to do so no matter what you are (or no matter what I believe about you). Love is constant: A love that changes in response to changes in the beloved was not love to begin with. (See one of Shakepeare's sonnets.) Third, it makes no sense (in contrast to hate) to speak of love as rational or irrational. If it is not grounded in beliefs, then it cannot be faulted for being cognitively irrational.

Whether we should conclude that love shows that the belief-desire-affect model of emotions is wrong, or that love is not an emotion at all (but a mood, like depression), or that love is an emotion about which we believe many silly things, I will leave to other panelists to ponder.

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