Aesthetics and Emotions according to William James

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


There are two fundamental writings on emotions by William
James. One is from 1884 and the other is from 1890. The first is an article published in the 9th volume of the magazine Mind, whereas the second is the Chapter XXV of the Principles of Psychology. The article tries to answer a simple question, which is also its title: «What is an emotion?», while the chapter entitled «Emotions» in the Principles of Psychology develops the core hypothesis of James' first writing on the matter. Both were written in reaction to the insufficiency of former neurophysiological researches, as these have ignored what he calls «the aesthetic sphere of the mind, its longings, its pleasures and pains, and its emotions». They stress the physiological and embodied reality of our lives linking it to our aesthetic dimension and making us realize «more deeply than ever», through a description and an analysis of emotions, «how much our mental life is knit up with our corporeal frame, in the strictest sense of the term».
This communication exlored James' thesis and related them with contemporary questions concerning values in art.
Period5 Jul 2011
Event titleV Mediterranean Congress on Aesthetics : Art, Emotion and Values
Event typeConference
LocationMurcia, Spain
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Wiliam James
  • Emotions
  • Neurology
  • Values
  • Art
  • Empathy