apolliana: (Default)
It is perhaps ironic for someone writing a dissertation about self-knowledge to have been very wrong about whether something was love. But really it isn't, given that I spend most of my time arguing for fallibility.

But this raises the question: If it turns out that someone did not love you after all, despite your own strong belief to the contrary, and strong (apparently reciprocal) love, is the latter somehow dissolved by the absence of the former?

In practice, it may or may not be. But perhaps when being loved is an implicit or explicit condition of your reciprocal love, it is. Being in a love-state depends upon being in an appropriate belief-state.

Perhaps love is not just belief-dependent, however, but object-dependent, and therefore stands or falls with your conception of the object (e.g. as loving you back, or not, as the case may be). And perhaps it's also generally object-dependent: if the object of the love does not exist.... What? It doesn't refer? Has no content? These seem harsh. Is it the case that if the lover learns that the object does not exist, the love loses content? Probably, yes. And it might even seem that it never had any content at all.

This is an odd thing to say about an affect. Certainly expired love retains its feeling-content; that is easy enough to recall in memory. But characterizing its content otherwise may be impossible. It's very hard to give voice to the content of love without being in it.
apolliana: (Default)
It's a dogma of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that emotions surreptitiously house beliefs, which beliefs when shown to be false or unjustified will defuse said emotions. For example, if I conclude from stubbing my toe that "I am clumsy and inept and no good at anything I do," and proceed to feel terrible about myself, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapist will aim to show me that this belief generalizes beyond my evidence.

My feeling terrible about myself, then, seems irrational because it rests on an unjustified belief. Troubling emotions need not always be the result of epistemic irresponsibility, however; in other cases, an emotion might remain troubling precisely because one does not have the evidence that would support the belief that might defuse it. In this way it does not reflect irrationality, but a less-than-ideal epistemic situation. I will call emotional defeaters beliefs that, for a given instance of an emotion, if the subject came to hold them through accumulating adequate evidence, would defuse the emotion. These inferential connections an emotion has--the facts that, being true, would defuse the emotion--need not be evident to the person experiencing the emotion until they are made clear by the subject acquiring the evidence and coming to hold the belief.

Not all troubling emotions, then, are the results of faulty inferences. Some are the result of imperfect access to the facts. I conclude that though emotions are not equivalent to beliefs, they may sometimes be causally dependent (irrationality case), or inferentially dependent (emotional defeater case) upon beliefs about the way the world is. And these dependencies need not be transparent to the emoting person. Sometimes they are dependent upon unjustified beliefs, but often they are not--they are dependent upon justifiably refraining from believing what isn't justified.

(My evolving position on what emotions are: events or processes, which do possess inferential connections to beliefs, and which perhaps dispose one to make certain value judgments, but which are not themselves to be analyzed in terms of beliefs (generally) or beliefs as value judgments. Like perceptual illusions, emotions may persist in spite of the defeat of beliefs that we believe to contradict them, and in spite of the subject holding value judgments that seem to contradict them. In the former case, the emotion might well be an indication of an imperfect epistemic situation (a sign that one does not know all one needs to know), and in the latter, it might well be a sign that one's value judgment isn't accurate.)


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