The Feeling Body

The Feeling Body

Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind

By Giovanna Colombetti

A proposal that extends the enactive approach developed in cognitive science and philosophy of mind to issues in affective science.





A proposal that extends the enactive approach developed in cognitive science and philosophy of mind to issues in affective science.

In The Feeling Body, Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science—the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience.

In the course of her discussion, Colombetti focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. Drawing on enactivist tools such as dynamical systems theory, the notion of the lived body, neurophenomenology, and phenomenological accounts of empathy, Colombetti advances a novel approach to these traditional issues that does justice to their complexity. Doing so, she also expands the enactive approach into a further domain of inquiry, one that has more generally been neglected by the embodied-embedded approach in the philosophy of cognitive science.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262019958 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262533768 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Giovanna Colombetti's discussion of these topics effectively integrates scientific research and phenomenological descriptions of lived experience. What results is an insightful and genuinely interdisciplinary discussion of emotion that will be of interest to affective scientists, emotion theorists, phenomenologists, and proponents of enactivism....There are many topics in this thought-provoking book that merit further attention.

    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

  • Colombetti's a welcome addition the tradition of enactivism that was inaugurated by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch....The novelty of her proposal lies in its thematic focus....Colombetti is interested in exploring the enactive notion of living and lived embodiment.

    New Ideas in Psychology

  • Promising and provocative....Colombetti's book is a valuable contribution to this dialogue, a first sustained argument for enactivism as a unified and coherent understanding of the affects.

    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

  • An excellent read in enactivism....Colombetti develops her own enactive approach against the backdrop of careful reviews of other theories....a remarkably clear...source of knowledge for all those who wish to learn more about the mind as an embodied and thoroughly living phenomenon.


  • The Feeling Body is the book that I wish had been available at the beginning of my graduate studies. It will provide an excellent stepping-stone for researchers in this area to develop the nascent area of affectivity and embodiment yet further.

    Constructivist Foundations


  • Bodily affect, in a sense that goes deeper than basic emotions, has been underplayed in emotion theory and even in some of the most embodied approaches to cognition. Colombetti does a great service in exploring the dynamics of the affective life, gathering together empirical and theoretical perspectives to show that enactive theories need to be even more embodied than they are usually construed to be.

    Shaun Gallagher

    Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy, University of Memphis

  • In this clearly written and engaging book, Colombetti draws from approaches as diverse as phenomenology, dynamical systems theory, cognitive science, and neuroscience to make important new contributions to the fields of enactive cognition and affective science. She enriches the enactivist perspective—which focuses on the dynamic meaning-making activity of an organism in its environment—by revealing the primordial role of affective dimensions of cognition in all of our embodied ways of making sense of, and engaging, our world. At the same time, she expands emotion theory by exploring the deep affective patterns by which we engage our world at a level that precedes and underlies our conscious emotional experiences. The impressive result is an excursion through the depths of sometimes hidden processes of directed response and feeling that lie at the heart of our ability to navigate meaningfully within our physical, interpersonal, and cultural surroundings.

    Mark Johnson

    Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon