Andrius Kulikauskas

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Accepted for Emotions: Rationality, Morality and Social Understanding, Tartu, Estonia, September 7-9, 2017.

Expecting What We Don't Wish: The Source of Anger, Hate, Relief and Depression.

What is the simplest way of evoking the experience of basic emotions? Consider an alphabet block where we see the letter on top and we try to guess the letter on the bottom. If we don't know the block very well, then if we guess right, we feel excited, but if we guess wrong, we feel surprised. However, if we know the block very well, then if we guess wrong, we feel distraught, but if we guess right, then we feel content.

We thus see that happiness is a symptom that our expectations are correct. If our goal is to be happy, then we may understandably try to alter our expectations accordingly. However, when we expect what we don't wish, then our emotions take on negative moral tones. If I expect that my bicycle will be stolen, and that is confirmed to be the case, then I will be angry, but if it turns out not to be the case, then I will feel relieved. But if I expect that my dreams can't come true, then I will feel hate, if that is confirmed, but I will feel depressed if it turns out otherwise. For example, if I turn my back on my dream of becoming a movie director, and I commit myself to working in a factory in Ireland, then I will feel depressed, entrenched and incapacitated if I do have the chance of going to film school.

In this way, we apply a phenomenology of our imagination to evoke pure instances of various emotional responses. We likewise define emotional afterglows such as love as the absence of hate, beauty as the absence of disgust, and intimacy as the absence of fright.


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