Emotions and Emotionalism

....not wishing to give up their trappings easily, fought back with Inquisitions, mass murder, torture, and public burnings of humans.

In his work throughout the 1960's and 70's, anthropologist and psychiatrist Paul Ekman proposed that there were six facial expressions readily recognised fairly consistently across all human cultures. (Emotion in the Human Face, ed. Paul Ekman, 1982.) He listed these as:

  1. Happiness
  2. Sadness
  3. Disgust
  4. Surprise
  5. Anger
  6. Fear

This proposition was based upon scientific (well, anthropological) research into cross-cultural/cross-lingual familiarity with human facial expressions in a wide variety of settings.

Of the entire range (infinite when you think about it) of possible human facial expressions, only these 6 were considered to be truly, instantly recognisable by any human in any culture in either hemisphere.

Based on these findings, we (cofeq.com) have hypothesised that there are essentially only 6 universal elemental human emotions. And we reckon that the findings generate the knock on conclusion that all other facial expressions and associated emotions are derived from these 6 elemental emotions. That is to say: all non-elemental emotions are combinations, in varying ratios, of two or more elemental emotions - in much the same way as all colours are derived from a few primes.

For example, some might be tempted to ask where is Love in all this, but we reckon Love may simply be a mix of Happiness and Surprise with tinges of Sadness thrown in. (To quote Tina Turner, “What's love got to do, got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion?”)

Emotions can be very powerful determining factors in human affairs. From, roughly, the time we first stood up on our hind legs to the advent of language and then the written word, emotion (and its sister “intuition”) had the field pretty much to themselves.

However, with the advent of language and, more notably, the written word, emotion has lost much ground to “linear logic” in the form of lines of text flowing indisputably from one side of a page to the other and gradually filling up and filtering down towards the bottom of such pages. The written word allowed and encouraged the writing of “laws” and the establishment of complex contracts which became themselves elements of disembodied certainty over which there could be no doubt.

Our lives became governed by documents and treatises (including religious ones) and by the specialists who offered to interpret these for us - initially Priests (who were the only ones who could read) but more contemporaneously, Lawyers and Judges. In battles to determine “right” and “wrong” and to allocate blame, these people charge large amounts of money for more meticulous interpretation of these documents and treatises.

Many now believe that this literal Legalese has gone too far, serves only the rich, and is actually used to mystify the concept and process of “justice” rather than to get at any “truth”. Whereas it used to be said that Emotions often over ride logic and research and intelligent discourse and other less volatile factors, it is now often said that Legalese itself more often than not overrides these same factors.

In these left brain driven times, there is currently, among the social networking classes, a back lash which celebrates "intuition", "feelings", and, of course, sensitivity to emotions. We (cofeq.com) reckon that, in itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but we voice a note of caution.

This note of caution arises as we recall the black hole out of which we Europeans were eventually fortunate enough to climb. As we squirmed under the crushing weight of a “christian” hegemony gone mad – a system of insubstantiable belief-statements based largely on superstition, hysteria, and the urge of the few to control the many – the Renaissance brought news of other possibilities. Mathematics and libraries and logic and critical thinking began slowly to seep in from what was then the largely arab/muslim world to the south and east. These mischievous and subversive concepts began to undermine the belief-statements of the christian rulers who, not wishing to give up their trappings easily, fought back with Inquisitions, mass murder, torture, and public burnings of humans.

However, this note of caution aside, and assuming that belief-statements and superstition do not again become the ruling force, we welcome the re-advent of intuition and the subjective interpretation of events.


© 2013 Deacon Martin

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Comments 3 comments

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 14 months ago from San Diego California

Sounds interesting, I will have to investigate.


vrdm profile image

vrdm 14 months ago from Bristol, UK Author

Good point Mel. Have you read "The Goddess vs The Alphabet" (L Shlain)? A thoroughly good read in this topic area.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 14 months ago from San Diego California

I agree with the idea that lawyers have absconded with the language to serve their own interests and line their own pockets. I don't know if logic is so much the problem as the people who control the logic and pay its bills. Great hub!

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