Osservazioni critiche sul modello delle emozioni di Antonio Damasio

Di Giorgio Rizzo

In: Verifiche, Anno XLVII, N. 1-2, 2018 XLVII , No. 1-2 ( 2018 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


My aim in this paper is, on the one hand, to point out the novelty and the great relevance of Damasio’s account of emotions and feelings, and, on the other hand, to focus on some persisting theoretical problems present in his new neurobiological model of mind and brain. More specifically, my contention is that the Portuguese neuroscientist does not take into a comprehensive consideration the role actively played – on the basis of our body as a whole – by the social and cultural contexts surrounding us (the world we share with others, in general). The last, in particular, are important not only in supporting and consolidating our inner life, as well as our description of it, but, importantly, in shaping and constituting it. Nowadays, this topic is subject to extensive research. In particular, I propose some relevant psychological, phenomenological and neurophenomenological paradigms that emphasize social and cultural ‘tools for feelings’ (music, for example). I also try to explain in which sense intentional and cognitive properties permeate emotional experience, highlighting the temporal structure involved in the neural dynamics of emotions. In the end, I provide a more general critique of Damasio’s assessment of emotions and their nature that, even if not incompatible de jure with the above mentioned theoretical approaches, would fail to abandon completely Descartes’ ‘solipsistic’ heritage.