1 The emotions can be considered either episodically or dispositionally. As an episode, an emotion is an occurrence: it is something felt, experienced or undergone at a certain time—as when someone blushes with embarrassment, is petrified with fear, finds a situation amusing or feels pity for another’s misfortune. Understood dispositionally, an emotion involves a tendency to undergo the emotion when certain thoughts are present to the mind: under these conditions episodes of the emotion are likely to occur—as when someone is envious of another’s talent and experiences envy when he thinks of that person’s success, or is afraid of somebody and feels fear when he finds himself in that person’s company. It is true that an emotion in the dispositional sense involves more than this tendency to undergo the emotion; but the tendency is essential to it. Hence, the idea of emotion as an episode—the experience or undergoing of emotion—is basic and it is this conception of emotion we need to understand.
2 There are at least three questions that can be asked about the nature of the emotions:
(i) What is emotion? (What is necessary, and what is sufficient, for an occurrence to be an instance of emotion? What separates the experience of emotion from the experience of other kinds of mental event?)
(ii) How are the different emotions distinguished from each other? (How are they individuated?)
(iii) How are the different emotions to be defined? (How are they constituted?)
Let us consider the following list of emotions: embarrassment, envy,