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Emotions as Original Existences: A Theory of Emotion, Motivation and the Self

Whiting, Demian



This book defends the much-disputed view that emotions are what Hume referred to as ‘original existences’: feeling states that have no intentional or representational properties of their own. In doing so, the book serves as a valuable counterbalance to the now mainstream view that emotions are representational mental states. Beginning with a defence of a feeling theory of emotion, Whiting opens up a whole new way of thinking about the role and centrality of emotion in our lives, showing how emotion is key to a proper understanding of human motivation and the self. Whiting establishes that emotions as types of bodily feelings serve as the categorical bases for our behavioural dispositions, including those associated with moral thought, virtue, and vice.

The book concludes by advancing the idea that emotions make up our intrinsic nature - the characterisation of what we are like in and of ourselves, when considered apart from how we are disposed to behave. The conclusion additionally draws out the implications of the claims made throughout the book in relation to our understanding of mental illness and the treatment of emotional disorders.


Whiting, D. (2020). Emotions as Original Existences: A Theory of Emotion, Motivation and the Self. Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature).

Book Type Authored Book
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2020
Publication Date Sep 26, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2020
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature)
ISBN 9783030546816
Public URL