9780192853769 / 0192853767

Emotion: The Science of Sentiment


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

Attractively presented,Emotion is a fascinating survey of the "science of sentiment", as author Dylan Evans calls it. The whole question of the origin and purpose of our emotions has intrigued philosophers, poets and scientists for over 2,000 years. As a research philosopher at King's College in London, Dylan Evans largely concerns himself with the modern scientific investigation of emotions since Darwin's 1872 book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin recognised the deep evolutionary origins of basic emotions such as fear, anger, surprise, disgust etc., but thought that the overt outward expression of them is redundant for our advanced sentiment.

Evans illustrates this still prevalent attitude with the character of Star Trek's emotionless Mr Spock whom we are supposed to admire for his rationality. But to Dylan Evans this is all wrong and we would be much better off if we listened to our heritage of emotions because they still have important functions. Our hair no longer stands on end like that of a cat when we are frightened but we can still feel it do so. A cat's hair automatically stands on end when frightened in order to make it look bigger and become frightening itself. Indeed it can be useful to be frightened because it alerts us to potential danger and can lead to intelligent action rather than a knee-jerk over emotional response. In Emotion, Dylan Evans holds what he calls "a positive view of emotions" because "it maintains that the best recipe for success is a mixture of reason and emotion". Evans is the author of more technical books such as Introducing Evolutionary Psychology and is a regular contributor to The Guardian. He writes wonderfully well for the general reader and whether you under or over-emote, thoughts will be provoked and you will be entertained by Emotion. Further reading, source material and index are all there to help the inquiring mind.-- Douglas Palmer

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