Boosting Cooperation. The Beneficial Function of Positive Emotions in Dialogical Inquiry
The aim of the paper is to discuss and evaluate the role of positive emotions for cooperation in dialogical inquiry. I analyse dialogical interactions as vehicles for inquiry, and the role of positive emotions in knowledge gain is illustrated in terms of a case study taken from Socratic Dialogue, a contemporary method used in education for fostering group knowledge. I proceed as follows. After having illustrated the case study, I analyse it through the conceptual tools of distributed cognition and character-based virtue epistemology, focusing on the two functions that emotions seem to play in the process of knowledge-building. These functions are (1) motives for joint inquiry, and (2) building blocks of the affective environment where the inquiry takes place. Positive emotions such as love and gratitude foster knowledge generation by providing an environment for posing questions and exploring aspects of a specific topic that a subject would not investigate outside of a group. This analysis helps me defend the thesis for which positive emotions are beneficial for cooperation. Because cooperation is the process that leads a group to cognitive transformation, emotions that support cooperation are beneficial for group knowledge creation as well. I assume that the beneficial function that positive emotions play within dialogical inquiry is the one of enhancement of cooperation. A beneficial factor not only comprises positive emotions that facilitate and strengthen cooperation among the agents in their epistemic practices, but also consists of such emotions that nurture the epistemic agents, enhancing their responsibility to generate epistemic goods, as propositional knowledge or explanatory understanding, for example. Thus, the responsibility toward the epistemic practice disclose the ethical dimension of group inquiry.
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