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[Xmca-l] Re: Questioning universal core emotions



On universality of emotions. There is no substitute for reading the
original, but here is a quick summary of a discussion of litost, a Czech
term.
mike
------
http://archives.dailynews.lk/2008/11/07/fea15.asp


On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 6:35 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> David, I have tinnitus. That is, 24/7 there is a ringing in my ear. You
> could ask me any moment if it is there and I would have to confirm, I hear
> it. (I hear it now, as I write). But 99.99% of the time "it does not exist
> for me." Obviously what is happening on my auditory nerves is the same all
> the time, but according to whether my attention is on it, it exists or
> doesn't, for me. (Thank Christ! Some people find it hard to ignore and go
> into therapy to learn how to ignore it).
> You call that idealism? OK. Then I am happy to wear the label.
> https://www.academia.edu/1968768/Hegels_Psychology_-_The_Subjective_Spirit
>
> And on the matter of emotion and feeling. I was just following Manfred
> Holodynski's usage of these terms.
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/pdfs/20-1-holodynski.pdf
> Admittedly, different writers use "feeling" and "emotion" in opposite
> senses. "Expression" is something else again.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>
>
> David Kellogg wrote:
>
>> I think that Barrett is taking an easy pot-shot at the founding
>> fathers--Titchener, James, and Wundt--who believed in six fundamental,
>> irreducible emotions and who set out to isolate them in laboratories and
>> describe them in minute detail. But as Mike says, I think the problem is
>> methodological, or even definitional.
>>
>> And to me the real problem is not the word "sensation", or "feeling", or
>> "emotion". I am perfectly willing to accept that for example pain is a
>> biological universal (something we share with other species, in fact), and
>> that "sensation" is somewhat less so, at least biologically (although I
>> think Andy's idea that nothing remains when we abstract away the
>> interpretation of sensation is almost chemically pure idealism, on a par
>> with his statement that material reality is "what is given to us"). I
>> agree
>> with Elinami: there are higher emotions which are highly mediated by
>> language (Elinami reminds me of this by including a snippet of Fet that I
>> once translated into English at the bottom of her email, and when I read
>> it
>> I experience almost the exact feeling I had while translating it,
>> including
>> a certain dissatisfaction with the facile sing-song of the second line).
>> But I am not at all sure that the fact of language mediation means that
>> they are somehow more subjective and less universal.
>>
>> For most people, as soon as we say something is mediated by language, this
>> implies that it cannot be universal. For example, even I find myself
>> shaking my head when I read that Barrett and her group went through
>> several
>> translators in the course of their fieldwork. If you are using a
>> translator, and you are doing linguistic research, in what sense are you
>> doing fieldwork? (I know, in the sense that you are in the field and you
>> can tell what people are feeling by their intonation--but of course that's
>> exactly what this fieldwork is trying to disprove!)
>>
>> Vygotsky says (in Lecture Number Two of his "Lectures on Pedology", which
>> we are currently translating) that what distinguishes speech from every
>> other sound in nature is signifying. That seems rather banal until you put
>> it in context. We know that children often assume that animals that make
>> noises are "talking" to each other, and even Binet and Ribot believed that
>> if somehow we knew the grammar and vocabulary then we could do as Doctor
>> Doolittle did (or perhaps do as Doctor Ouch did in Chukovsky's version of
>> the story for Russian children) and "talk to the animals".
>>
>> It wasn't until Wittgenstein that anybody made the point that if a lion
>> could talk we would simply not be able to understand it, because we would
>> not be able to grasp the experiences to which the lion's speech referred
>> (e.g. when the lion refers to your or me, his "meaning" probably includes
>> an attractive meaty odor). One of the less pleasant features of the
>> domestic life of the lion is that after giving birth to cubs, the lioness
>> has to keep the the male lion from devouring the cubs. We may share pain
>> with lions, but we do not share emotions.
>>
>> For Vygotsky--who was working in the great tradition of Spinoza and
>> Vico--the fact of signifying did not mean that language was somehow
>> "subjective" and thus not even potentially universal. Quite the contrary.
>> I
>> think that for Vygotsky signifying is even more objective than, say,
>> seeing. This isn't simply because unlike seeing (and unlike pain),
>> signifying MUST be shared. As Halliday says, what distinguishes language
>> as
>> language is that language does not contain the conditions for its own
>> understanding; unlike a scream of pain or a giggle of laughter or a sob of
>> unhappiness, the social relations by which language functions as language
>> are quite external to it, like money (what makes gold a metal is in the
>> gold, but what makes gold money is not, as we can clearly see in the
>> example of paper money).
>>
>> To me, what this suggests is that higher emotions are not, potentially,
>> less universal than lower ones. On the contrary--as the example of Himba
>> ancestor worship indicates--it suggests that higher emotions are actually
>> more universal, precisely because they are intrinsically sharable. It
>> seems
>> that all human cultures treat ancestors as important in some way (and no
>> lions do; lionesses also have to guard against hungry grandmothers). So I
>> think reverence for ancestors, like language, may be a precondition for
>> culture. Together with language, it is rather like the other great
>> bifurcations in phylogenesis: inanimate-animate, vegetable-animal,
>> nonarticulate animal-articulate animal. Each great bifurcation is messy,
>> non-empirical, but ultimately quite universal as far as the branch
>> concerned goes in time and in space. It is, of course, true that there is
>> no universal language, but that is simply our way of ensuring that
>> language
>> is universally human.
>>
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On 7 May 2014 07:15, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>> and speaking to my previous point about problems with methods for
>>> studying
>>> this kind of thing, consider the following from the Psy Science piece
>>> that
>>> Mike forwarded:
>>>
>>> "Himba participants appeared to have a cultural tendency to describe
>>> vocalizations in behavioral terms initially; that is, on most trials,
>>> they
>>> first identified the action instead of making a mental-state inference….
>>> For example, instead of describing a vocalization as fearful, they often
>>> used a term that translates to 'scream.'" (p. 913).
>>>
>>>
>>> Woohoo!
>>>
>>> -greg
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> Hi Ed.
>>>>
>>>> I started the trouble here by posting the following story which
>>>> purported
>>>> to report on the work of Lisa Barrett.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>> http://www.psypost.org/2014/03/the-six-universal-facial-
>>> expressions-are-not-universal-cross-cultural-study-shows-23471
>>>
>>>
>>>> That post started a discussion that began with methodology and appears
>>>> to
>>>> have morphed into personal views of the matter.
>>>>
>>>> I promised in the original post to find the article referred to in the
>>>> story, but got caught up in other matters and let it go. I should have
>>>>
>>>>
>>> done
>>>
>>>
>>>> so BEFORE I posted the story, which was, in my view now, misleading with
>>>> respect, at least, to this published paper. The paper in Emotion has not
>>>> appeared so far as I can tell.
>>>>
>>>> Back to methodology?
>>>> mike
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>> 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
>>>>>> Tell:255-022-2668992/2668820/2668445/26687455
>>>>>> Fax:022-2668759
>>>>>> Cell: (255) 076-722-8353; (255) 068-722-8353
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Womens-Empowerment-Africa-Dislocation/dp/
>>>
>>>
>>>> 0230102484
>>>>>>        ...this faith will still deliver
>>>>>>        If you live it first to last
>>>>>>        Not everything which blooms must
>>>>>>        wither.
>>>>>>        Not all that was is past
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>> --
>>> 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
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>