Chasing the Bear: William James on Sensations, Emotions and Instincts

ANNA STOKLOSA

ABSTRACT

William James’s account of emotions is frequently categorised as a feeling theory of emotions. Consideration of James’s views about sensations, however, reveals that this categorisation is untenable. Instead, many of James’s emotions are more appropriately categorised as instincts. The categorisation of emotions as instincts entails that emotions do have a function–contrary to a criticism often levied against James’s account.

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