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Depression and Motivation

Smith, Benedict

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Among the characteristic features of depression is a diminishment in or lack of action and motivation. In this paper, I consider a dominant philosophical account which purports to explain this lack of action or motivation. This approach comes in different versions but a common theme is, I argue, an over reliance on psychologistic assumptions about action–explanation and the nature of motivation. As a corrective I consider an alternative view that gives a prominent place to the body in motivation. Central to the experience of depression are changes to how a person is motivated to act and, also as central, are changes to bodily feelings and capacities. I argue that broadly characterizing motivation in terms of bodily capacities can, in particular, provide a more compelling account of depressive motivational pathology.


Smith, B. (2012). Depression and Motivation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 615-635.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 1999
Online Publication Date Jun 3, 2012
Publication Date Dec 1, 2012
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 19, 2016
Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Print ISSN 1568-7759
Electronic ISSN 1572-8676
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 4
Pages 615-635


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