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Prolegomena : Journal of Philosophy, Vol.10 No.2 November 2011.

Original scientific paper

Posidonius on Emotions and Non-Conceptual Content

Bill Wringe ; Department of Philosophy, Bilkent University, Bilkent, Ankara, Turkey

Fulltext: english, pdf (208 KB) pages 185-213 downloads: 685* cite
Wringe, B. (2011). Posidonius on Emotions and Non-Conceptual Content. Prolegomena : Časopis za filozofiju, 10(2), 185-213. Retrieved from

In this paper I argue that the work of the unorthodox Stoic Posidonius - as reported to us by Galen - can be seen as making an interesting contribution to contemporary debates about the nature of emotion. Richard Sorabji has already argued that Posidonius' contribution highlights the weaknesses in some well-known contemporary forms of cognitivism. Here I argue that Posidonius might be seen as advocating a theory of the emotions which sees them as being, in at least some cases, two-level intentional phenomena. One level involves judgments, just as the orthodox Stoic account does. But Posidonius thinks that emotions must also include an element sometimes translated as an "irrational tug". I suggest that we see the "irrational tug" as involving a second level of intentional, but non-conceptual representation. This view satisfies two desiderata: it is a view which would have been available to Posidonius and which is compatible with the views reported to us; and it is a view which is independently attractive. It also makes Posidonius' position less far removed from that of orthodox Stoics than it might otherwise do, while remaining genuinely innovative.

Emotions; Galen; "irrational tug"; non-conceptual content; Posidonius

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