Interdisciplinary Research on Emotions in Neuroscience and Philosophy

Subproject 1: Theory of Existential Feelings

The core of this subproject is a comprehensive analysis and systematization of existential feelings. The group of existential feelings is similarly versatile as the group of emotions, but so far there are no fine-grained concepts available, which would correspond to the grade of differentiation of emotions such as fear, joy, sadness, and disgust. In daily life, especially when no major disorders occur, we hardly perceive existential feelings on a conscious basis. Still, as subtle background feelings, they decisively shape our affective and other intentional relations to the world; furthermore, they play a central role in our self-understanding (Ratcliffe 2008; Slaby and Stephan 2008). This becomes particularly obvious when psychological disorders cause massive changes of our orientation in the world. Therefore, we extensively investigate the phenomenology of existential feelings to subsequently develop a systematization, which allows for insights about their basic varieties. To sufficiently analyze existential feelings, we both consider their great variation in psychopathologies and classify them with respect to their range and temporal dimension.


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