What do we say when we say how or what we feel?

Berit Brogaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Discourse containing the verb 'feel', almost without exception, purports to describe inner experience. Though this much is evident, the question remains what exactly is conveyed when we talk about what and how we feel? Does discourse containing the word 'feel' actually succeed in describing the content and phenomenology of inner experience? If so, how does it reflect the phenomenology and content of the experience it describes? Here I offer a linguistic analysis of 'feels' reports and argue that a subset of 'feels' reports, when accurate, reflect the representational content of emotions, tactile experiences and bodily sensations. Because 'feels' reports may reflect the representational content of bodily experience, these types of report may be able to give us some insight into the structure of bodily experience. I argue that our descriptions of bodily experience, on the assumption that they are sometimes accurate, indicate that emotions and tactile experiences are experiences of bodily reactions to objects, whereas bodily sensations are partial descriptions of emotions and tactile experiences or other events of the body. At the end I address the concern that an adequate account of inner experience cannot be given in terms of an analysis of ordinary language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophers Imprint
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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