Re: emotions/origins

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Wed Jan 07 2004 - 20:16:22 PST

Thanks Mike.
It seems to me that emotions are like smells and music. We have a small
range of basic senses and their gradations which can be mixed and moved
between and perfumes or pieces of music play with these senses together
with the cognitive structures we associate with them, and it is these
latter which are most clearly culturally and historically constructed. I
think it unlikely that the basic sense/perceptions are variable (cf
Vygotsky on the hearing of the blind etc).

One thing that interests me is that according to Scheff the shame family of
emotions is not only present in the animal-person as a biochemical affect,
but it is a specifically social sense, representing the threatened loss of
a social bond. C.f. grief the feeling of actual loss of a social bond and
anger the feeling of physical threat. He mentions disgust, love and joy as
apparently different complexes (or families) or emotions with their own
biochemical bases and cultural stimuli. Your reports, to me, confirm that
there is a basic set like this in the new born.

The way he explains shame/honour is totally congruent with Hegel's
conception of self-consciousness: it is the feeling of imagined or imputed
perception in the other.

Andy :)

At 08:01 PM 7/01/2004 -0800, you wrote:

>What follows is my own understanding of origins of emotions. Its a very
>story which is never, so far as I know, discussed in sufficient detail and
>d fear differentiate from discontent at about 4 months and 6 months,
>respectively (Lewis 1998).
>mple, the mothers interviewed in one study reported that their infants
>were expressing several emotions by the age of 1 month, including joy,
>fear, anger, surprise, sadness, and interest (Johnson et al., 1982).
>. To a somewhat lesser extent, they also agreed on which expressions
>showed anger, disgust, and contempt.
>[Insert Figure 4.18 about here; From 4e, Fig. 4.16, p. 143]
>s of actors posing the different expressions, the adults from different
>cultures also agreed on the photographs that represented happiness,
>sadness, anger, and disgust. Nontheless, culture-specific experience must
>play some role in judging emotional expressions because people are more
>accurate in judging emotions displayed by members of their own culture
>group (Elfenbein and Ambady 2003)
> and ages (Witherington, Campos et al. 2002).
> interaction among the higher brain centers. None of these aspects of
> emotion are present at birth. Consequently, some of the psychological and
> biological processes that link facial expressions of newborns to emotions
> may differ from those reflected by the same facial expressions in older
> infants, children, and adults.
>fants act, think, communicate, and relate to others in new ways. Thus, in
>the chapters ahead, we will frequently find ourselves considering the
>development of emotions in connection with the development of the
>intellectual, social, and physical aspects of development.

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