Emotions and Affects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives - Keynote Abstracts



Antti Kauppinen (Professor of Practical Philosophy, University of Helsinki)

It has recently become popular to think of happiness as consisting of positive emotions and moods. But what makes an emotion positive, and just how do such emotions contribute to happiness? There are various theories of affective valence, focusing on aspects like hedonic feel, approach or avoidance tendencies, congruence with desires, or intentional object. I defend a version of the last kind of view, emphasizing the match between how we implicitly construe affordances in the environment and our own abilities. Happiness can consequently be defined in terms of a particular kind of affective appearance of the world and ourselves.

Kaarina Nikunen (Professor of Media and Communication Research, University of Tampere)

In this talk I explore how emotions and affect have been understood in the field of media and cultural studies. I focus on the notion of affective practice to unpack the ways in which emotions and affect become available for social analysis in context of media. Through various case studies connected to the refugee debate and social media engagements, the paper highlights the ways in which emotions are connected and shaped by social, political, cultural, economic, and technological realms of our lives. Focus on affect as practice may sketch out the affective ‘canon’ of a particular social group or community, and uncover power relations and conditions that shape these practices. Digital media shape and make use of intimacy, emotions and affect in different ways. I argue here that these processes, accelerated in the digital age, are part of larger of developments in late capitalism, understood in terms of affective economy or affective capitalism. In the end of the talk, I discuss the possibilities and limitations of emotions of hope and solidarity.

Mikko Sams (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Aalto University)

I will describe the research done in Brain and Mind Laboratory (BML) on emotions using both classical well-controlled and very rich naturalistic stimulation paradigms. These include using stimuli from standard emotional stimulus databases such as IAPS to measuring physiology and behavioral responses from two individuals having a conversation. I will emphasize the importance of multidisciplinary research in understanding the nature of human emotional and other experiences, here. I will also describe our theoretical approach in connecting emotions to other aspects of cognitive functions.