“How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” by Lisa Feldman Barrett is straight up Immanuel Kant and his ilk. It is fundamentally invalid, in both content and method.
She does not do science, but, like the Scholastics who rejected a heliocentric view of the solar system and like the Communists in Russia who rejected Darwin and evolution, she tries to make reality and science conform to her preconceived notions and philosophy: she takes her Kantian ideas and tries to make reality conform to them. A real scientist, in contrast, works by conforming their ideas to reality. As Dr. Richard Feynman said: “The job of a scientist is to listen carefully to nature, not to tell nature how to behave.”
The author shows, in the negative, how philosophy is fundamental to science: good philosophy produces truth and human thriving, bad philosophy produces nonsense and human suffering and books like hers.
Her epistemology and metaphysics are invalid, causing her whole theory and her “scientific” work to be invalid.
She starts the book by “muddying the waters to make them appear deep” (to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche) and to try to confuse folks, then gives us an invalid theory of consciousness (representationalism and its ilk), sets up Platoninc essentialism as the only type of “essentialism” to “show” “essentialism” is “wrong,” then goes on to say such illogical, unscientific nonsense as (to paraphrase her; not an exact quote) “first we have fear, then we see it as a snake. The snake does not come first, but is a conscious creation of our fear.” Does that apply to her existence, your existence, and her theory, as well? Or is she special? A Platonic Philosopher-Queen?
I reject the claims of Descartes and BF Skinner that animals are not conscious, and that I should deny the evidence of the senses and my scientific reasoning from it. So also, I reject the claims of Lisa Barrett. In the real world, are responses to values, things in the world, things we are conscious of. The nonsense of Barrett to the contrary notwithstanding, the fact is that things come first and emotions come second. And consciousness identifies the things in the world, it does not create them. The world, and the people in it, are not figments of each our own imagination.
It’s been a while since I slogged through this on Audible. It was painful. I’ll have to try to get some quotes from the book, from the “bookmarks“ I left in the Audible edition I have.
But the author and the book are good examples of how we need to judge “science” and “scientists” by their methodology and philosophy, and not just take someone’s word as true because they are a “scientist” or because “it’s science.”
One example of many in our culture and through history. We should study such things — the right and the wrong — in school so we can better understand science, bad thinking, fallacies, good thinking, logic, and human survival.