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[Xmca-l] Re: Questioning universal core emotions

Perhaps of interest is Amelie Rorty's edited volume Explaining Emotions. In any case, emotion is a large category as is expression.

In any case, I admit to some confusion. Is the ongoing conversation about 'expressing' emotion or about 'feellng' or, perhaps, 'experiencing' emotion.

Ed Wall

On May 6, 2014, at  2:28 PM, Elinami Swai wrote:

> I believe that pain, just like feeling is universal. But I also
> believe that emotion (which we can also call expression) is learned
> and thus may differ from one individual to another. We make
> interpretations of emotion and expression from our own points of view.
> On 5/6/14, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> David, although I am sure that sensations cannot be taken as universal
>> either, since it is unlikely that there is anything remaining after the
>> interprettion of the "sensation" is abstracted. However, it is
>> nonetheless a different claim to say that human sensation is not
>> universal, as to say human emotion (by which is meant I think "feeling")
>> is not universal. Let's suppose all are experiencing pain: they are all
>> clearly feeling different about it.
>> Or was that your point?
>> Andy
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> David Kellogg wrote:
>>> Suppose I put together a set of pictures of people undergoing torture, in
>>> which some people appeared to be experiencing the torture stoically,
>>> others
>>> with resignation, still others with agony, and some with something that
>>> appears to be laughter.
>>> I think I could probably crop the photographs and pose questions in such
>>> a
>>> way that I could very convincingly demonstrate that pain is not a
>>> universal
>>> human sensation. Not only that, I could probably put together a sorting
>>> exercise that would come to the same conclusion.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>> On 5 May 2014 01:24, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> I have a colleague down the hall, David Crandall, that has been working
>>>> among the Himba for almost 30 years. I also have three students headed
>>>> to
>>>> do research among the Himba in a month. So I've been picking up some
>>>> interesting details about the Himba.
>>>> It seems like it is true that they have increasingly had contact with
>>>> Western culture, as evidenced by recent protests in some of the larger
>>>> cities that were staged by Himba opposed to the building of a dam that
>>>> would cause flooding of some of the burial sites of their ancestors (
>>>> http://www.huntingtonnews.net/84854).
>>>> At the same time, they are non-numerate people that lack some of the key
>>>> Western institutions where kids learn (oddly enough) about "emotions"
>>>> (think of those pictures of happy and sad faces that Western schooling
>>>> takes into the classroom as the MEANS by which they teach literacy -
>>>> these
>>>> means of teaching literacy always entail certain cultural ends - such as
>>>> "emotion" - concepts that are not emic concepts).
>>>> Among the western institutions that the Himba lack, the Himba lack the
>>>> Western model of schooling (one of my students is doing research on this
>>>> very issue). It is only in the last 15 years or so that Himba have begun
>>>> sending their children to school, and now only in small numbers. The
>>>> Himba
>>>> are very skeptical of schools since, in their opinion, the schools don't
>>>> teach their children anything worthwhile. Knowing how to count is
>>>> unimportant to them since although they are non-numerate they are able
>>>> to
>>>> keep track of large herds of cattle because they know each of their
>>>> cattle
>>>> individually and can recognize when one is missing. But what really
>>>> matters
>>>> are things like knowing how to properly honor one's ancestors. If one
>>>> fails
>>>> to do that properly, then then ancestors will cause bad things to happen
>>>> to
>>>> oneself. That is much more important than knowing how to count.
>>>> Carol, I also agree with your concerns with the methodology of the
>>>> study,
>>>> it may not be reasonable to assume that this research is the same as the
>>>> Ekman tasks and of-course it is a Western-type task (but one might argue
>>>> that it is less so than the Ekman tasks since it is more open,
>>>> arguable).
>>>> So Carol, I wonder what conclusions you would draw from your critique.
>>>> Are
>>>> emotions universal?
>>>> I wonder if there is a further possibility that these psychologists are
>>>> missing. Is it possible that "emotions" are not universal in quite a
>>>> different sense? Perhaps that the very category of "emotion" is not
>>>> universal?
>>>> I think this research points in that direction - when viewing a picture
>>>> of
>>>> a face, people do not necessarily assume that the person in the picture
>>>> is
>>>> "emoting". I assume that this would be true among Westerners as well,
>>>> but
>>>> that possibility doesn't present itself in the research methodology
>>>> since
>>>> Westerners are asked "what emotion is this?" The task is already defined
>>>> by
>>>> the domain called "emotion" (with which they are already very familiar).
>>>> Anthropologists have done great work to show the problems with taking
>>>> Western defined domains into non-Western contexts (e.g. the domain of
>>>> "kinship" - David Schneider, the domain of "color" - John Lucy). The
>>>> argument is that even though this research turns up results that seem to
>>>> suggest that the domains are real even in non-Western contexts, the
>>>> findings are plagued by the fact that they assume these domains and
>>>> force
>>>> these non-Western subjects into choosing within the pre-defined domain.
>>>> But then again, perhaps "emotion" is a universal category?
>>>> -greg
>>>> On Sun, May 4, 2014 at 7:55 AM, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Well Mike
>>>>> I am here working in Namibia for the year, and I would like to know
>>>>> where
>>>>> these Himba people are.  I mean the ones referred to in the article: I
>>>>> am
>>>>> not sure they are *so *isolated - they are well recognised as one of
>>>>> the
>>>>> language groups.  And I think there is also an elephant in the room
>>>>> here.
>>>>> This is a western-type task, and Luria would have been quick to point
>>>> that
>>>>> out. What makes this woman think that this task would be the equivalent
>>>> to
>>>>> the others.
>>>>> Just a couple of basic principles to cast a small aspersion on this
>>>>> research.
>>>>> Carol
>>>>> On 4 May 2014 14:16, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> Perhaps of interest
>>>>>> mike
>>>> http://www.psypost.org/2014/03/the-six-universal-facial-expressions-are-not-universal-cross-cultural-study-shows-23471
>>>>> --
>>>>> Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
>>>>> Developmental psycholinguist
>>>>> Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
>>>>> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
>>>> --
>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> -- 
> Dr. Elinami Swai
> Senior Lecturer
> Associate Dean
> Coordinator, Postgraduate Studies
> Faculty of Education
> Open University of Tanzania
> P.O.Box 23409
> Dar-Es-Salaam
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>        ...this faith will still deliver
>        If you live it first to last
>        Not everything which blooms must
>        wither.
>        Not all that was is past