How Emotions Fade-And Why It Matters

Grace Helton (Princeton)



AbstractWhen one is in the grip of a very powerful emotion, it can seem hard to believe that one will ever feel anything else. But of course, such feelings do generally fade. In what follows, I will develop a three-part model of how emotions fade over time and will use the model to dissolve an epistemic puzzle about cases in which emotions fade even when the situation which they are about remains the same. According to the tripartite model I develop, emotions can fade over time with respect to: their felt intensity (i.e., with respect to their pleasantness/unpleasantness and their arousing vs. anti-arousing tendencies), their disposition to be triggered over time, and their constancy, i.e., their capacity for representing certain objective traits across changes in their subjective ‘feel.'