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Re: [xmca] about emotions

But you still need a distinction between a physiological reaction and a cognitive disposition, don't you, Achilles?

What is the specific problem you are trying to solve?


Achilles Delari Junior wrote:

Thank you very much.

Something near to this distinction between feelings and emotions
was posed by William James too, according Vygotsky, but James
saw this distinction in terms that these social dimension of affective
world, the higher feelings, have almost nothing related to biological, physiological, material, body, conditions. And Vygotsky criticizes this like a way of dualistic thinking - this dualism can be understood
as based in ideological motivations too: "the human is not an animal,
nor a material been, but a divine been, in his higher, superior feelings..."
A distinction between feelings and emotions is present in Damasio too
in neurofunctional terms... But Vygotsky proposed the question of
a systemic inter-relationship in that the lower can turns higher, and
vice versa... I don't know what we can thing about this... In this case, distinction between feelings and emotions are useful, but if
we want to understand the entire human been, his/her whole personality,
the integration and inter-functional relations between feelings and
emotions turns relevant too, In my point of view.

Best wishes.

From: jaylemke@umich.edu
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: Re: [xmca] about emotions
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2009 19:28:26 -0800
CC: I am certainly one of those people interested in emotion, or feeling, or affect, or whatever we choose to make of the phenomenon.

The topic seems to have historically accumulated a lot of ideological baggage. And while its expression may be more sophisticated today than in times past, there doesn't seem to be that much less of it (as for example in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy review noted by someone earlier).

Emotion tends to be seen as bad in our philosophical tradition. As the enemy of reason, the motor of self-deception, etc. It links us to the animals, to our "baser" nature, etc. A bit of this in the pagan tradition, a lot of it in christian asceticism, and tons of it in Enlightenment rationalism and its successors.

Emotions are also associated with the unreliable feminine vs. the cool and collected masculine, with the passions of the mob vs. the thoughtful elite, with peasants, workers, and children, and pretty much every social category whose oppression needs some legitimation. Indeed one of the near universal legitimations of elite power is "we know what's good for you", not just because of what we know, but because you can't be trusted to see your own best interests through the haze of your emotions.

Useful as this is to elite interests, it combines further with the cult of individualism to make emotions a purely individual, mental, subjective matter. Non-material, non-social, non-cultural, and universal (the easier to apply the stigma of emotionality to non- European cultures). It is rather hard to crawl out of this pit of mud.

As I've been trying to do for the last year or two. There would be too much to say for a short post on this list, but here are a few basic suggestions:

Feeling is a broad enough category to get back to the phenomenology of affect/emotion, whereas "emotion" is too narrowly defined within the tradition of animal-like and universal.

There are a LOT of different feelings, and that is more important than efforts to identify some small number of basic emotions.

Many feelings are associated with evaluative judgments and this may be a key link to re-unify affective and cognitive.

Feelings do differ significantly across cultures, and are part of a larger system of meanings-and-feelings specific to a community.

You can't make meanings across any longer term process of reasoning without feelings and evaluative judgments.

It is likely that feelings have histories, both in cultures and in individuals.

Feelings are often reliable guides to survival, to adaptive action, and to finding ways to meet our needs.

Feelings are just as situated and distributed as are cognitions. And just as active and actively made and produced.

In short -- pretty much everything in our dominant tradition about emotions and feelings is exactly wrong -- and for the worst possible ideological-political reasons, I believe.


Jay Lemke
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Visiting Scholar
Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
USA 92093

On Nov 26, 2009, at 8:08 AM, mike cole wrote:

With so much interest in achieving an integrated understanding of emotion, cognition, and development, Achilles, your focus on this topic is a helpful
reminder of its continued importance.

Seems like one of those many areas in psychological research where we cannot
keep from murdering to dissect.
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