Contemporary orthodoxy in philosophy and psychology of emotion construes emotions as falling into two distinct groups, one being largely innate, the Basic Emotions and, the other, being largely socially-constructed, the Higher Cognitive Emotions. In addition, current orthodoxy construes emotions as operating primarily in individual psychological economies, that is, as individualistic. In this thesis, and using contemporary intracranialist/transcranialist debates in philosophy of mind as a framework, I argue that both of these construals are mistaken. I argue that Basic Emotions and, subsequently, Higher Cognitive Emotions develop from inborn emotion precursors (affect expressions) concurrently with language and, by implication, symbolic thought and through the same developmental mechanisms. I argue, further, that emotions operate primarily in social economies to enable human social life, firstly through interpersonal regulation and, subsequently, through intrapersonal regulation. In light of these analyses, I also argue that emotional ontogenesis, which includes the ontogenesis of emotional intentionality, is a world-to-brain transcranial achievement, that is, it is radically externalistic.
The development of human emotionality, language and thought is dependent upon the deep functional integration of two exquisitely complementary repertoires of constraints, one neonatal and, the other, maternal (or primary caregiver). The human neonate is equipped with a very limited range of coarse-grained sensory-motor competencies (e.g., motor mimicry), species-typical behaviour patterns (e.g., ’prespeech’, ‘punctuated’ suckling) and, crucially, referentially opaque affect expressions (e.g., unfocused crying). Complementary endowments in the caregiver include coarse-grained interpreter skills, exaggerated affect mirroring and ‘motherese’ (collectively termed intuitive parenting skills). Drawing on insights primarily from developmental psychology, metaphysics, biosemantics and psycho-linguistics, I show how a limited range of shared developmental mechanisms results in the concurrent development of at least some aspects of human emotionality and language.
I argue that the progressively synchronised and mutual modulation of the relevant causal processes in caregiver and neonate, to which both are preadapted, provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for the development of full human emotionality, language and thought but only within a close, linguistically-mediated social relationship. The sensory-perceptual stimulation provided during mundane, repetitive caring/nurturing activities triggers the release in both partners of endogenous opioids and prosocial neuropeptides. These endogenous opioids and prosocial
neuropeptides, in turn, induce feelings of delight and of close bonding in both partners; they also excite intraneural genetic products into neurogenesis and neural connection. The mutual modulation of the differing causal processes in caregiver and neonate results in the development of the neural substrata of discrete emotions, both Basic and Higher Cognitive Emotions, and language development in children and the refinement/elaboration of the neural substrata underpinning caregivers’ intuitive parenting skills. In light of this analysis, and using a relevance-theoretic approach as framework, I also argue that the coarse-grained primitive indicative-imperative intentional icons in neonates, i.e., affect expressions, sensory-motor competencies and species typical behaviour patterns (and caregivers’ intuitive parenting skills), are progressively elaborated and fine-tuned into full-blown indicative, imperative and metaphorical representations during this process. Intentionality is defined by the way intentional icons function in extended cognitive systems which include icon-producing devices, objects in the environment to which they refer and icon-consuming devices. There is nothing in the head which is intentional, just as such.