Jay has made some important points;
a."One of D'Amasio's poignant ironies is his evidence, from neurological
dysfunction studies, that emotions are necessary to reasoning itself (the
capacity to feel emotions, neurologically, seems identical to the capacity
to have value preferences, and so make choices at the branch points of
possible chains of reasoning)."
Perhaps 30 - 35 years of living with"emotional" Mediterraneans has corrupted
my intellectual "cool" but it's impossible for me to regard any activity
that is emotionally neutral. Problem solving and intellectual creativity
are about choices, choosing is about evaluating alternatives, and evaluation
involves all the so-called parts of the individual. While there is much
value in restraining some of the extraneous effects of strong emotion in
favor of guiding attention to the issues to be treated, emotion is the
necessary motor for pushing the activity forward to its conclusion.
b."The denial of the importance of affective dimensions of life seems so
deeply rooted in middle-class and academic (esp. culturally north european
and descended therefrom) culture that we are left with very little in the
way of good analytical or explanatory discourses about emotions, feelings,
...and the closely related issue:
This is also a gendered disjunction in our/my culture. Emotion has been
denigrated as part of its association with women, children, the imagined
working class, the imagined south-european and culturally Other ... as part
of the discourse of justification for political domination by "rational"
adult males of politically dominant groups and castes."
It appears that somehow the Northern European (esp. "Anglo-Saxon")
intelligensia learned to confuse emotional restraint with total emotional
neutrality. Actually, this is somewhat "false consciousness;" push a N.
American teacher or professor hard enough and he'll explode - often badly
since he's never learned measured emotional expression (a technique we used
to use to delegitimize University staff in the student actions of the '60s).
There is no necessary relation between emotional expression and intellectual
dialogue. For example, Jewish Rabbinical debate is expected to be noisy,
excitable, and may even involve expressions of physical threats to one's
interlocutor. Not infrequently argumentative scholars can be seen shouting
and waving their hands about with only centimeters between their respective
noses. The rule here is that argument without feeling is argument without
serious purpose and the key restriction on expression is that no one touches
the other. And, I cannot think of a more intellectual community than that
of a gang of Jewish Rabbis. In fact, this kind of dialogue practice is very
characteristic of most Mediterranean cultures; Spanish, Italian, Greek, and
of course of the whole Middle east at all status levels.
and I would add a third:
c. The strictly subjective states of the individual - whatever they may
be - is a subject for medical biology, it is their expression
(objectification) and, even more important, their social impact, that is of
interest to me as both researcher and activist. These issues must be dealt
with by social theories that can explain relations between experience,
subjective efforts to understand world conditions and finally the
transformation of material world conditions through objectification.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jay Lemke" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2004 8:57 PM
Subject: Re: emotions/origins
> A classic in this area, still well worth reading, is by Charles Darwin
> (yes, THE Charles Darwin):
> The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
> A more messy question of course is just what should count as "an emotion".
> Do emotional states lie along continua in several dimensions? do we break
> up the feeling spectrum culturally just as we do the color spectrum, with
> named points of reference? Are there basic differences between emotions
> that come and go in a flash, vs. more persistent states? Surprise is not
> sustained, or sustainable I think in most circumstances. Neither probably
> is "fright", though fear and anxiety are often persistent. At the other
> of the scale is "depression" an emotion? Doesn't seem so to me.
> Antonio D'Amasio makes a distinction between emotions and feelings (the
> latter are felt bodily states, and some but not all arise from emotions,
> his view).
> This all seems a very murky area to me, though a very important one. Is
> "honour" an emotion? is "respect"? The denial of the importance of
> affective dimensions of life seems so deeply rooted in middle-class and
> academic (esp. culturally north european and descended therefrom) culture
> that we are left with very little in the way of good analytical or
> explanatory discourses about emotions, feelings, affect, etc.
> This is also a gendered disjunction in our/my culture. Emotion has been
> denigrated as part of its association with women, children, the imagined
> working class, the imagined south-european and culturally Other ... as
> of the discourse of justification for political domination by "rational"
> adult males of politically dominant groups and castes.
> One of D'Amasio's poignant ironies is his evidence, from neurological
> dysfunction studies, that emotions are necessary to reasoning itself (the
> capacity to feel emotions, neurologically, seems identical to the capacity
> to have value preferences, and so make choices at the branch points of
> possible chains of reasoning).
> I have trouble these days putting much credence in any purely cognitive
> theory of learning, action, rational-choice, etc. Without an account of
> role of emotional-affective bodily aspects in activity and meaning-making,
> what do we really know?
> At 08:01 PM 1/7/2004 -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
> >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
> > biological processes that link facial expressions of newborns to
> > 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.
> Jay Lemke
> University of Michigan
> School of Education
> 610 East University
> Ann Arbor, MI 48104
> Tel. 734-763-9276
> Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
> Website. www.umich.edu/~jaylemke
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