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date: 19 January 2022

p. 11. What is an emotion?locked

p. 11. What is an emotion?locked

  • Dylan Evans

Abstract

The word ‘emotion’ is fairly recent. Before the 19th century, people talked instead about ‘passions’, ‘sentiments’, and ‘affections’. ‘What is an emotion?’ begins by outlining the complex history of these words before exploring the variety of emotional experience in different cultures. However, our common emotional heritage binds humanity together in a way that transcends cultural difference. It is now widely accepted among anthropologists and emotion researchers that some emotions, at least, are not learned, but innate. The universality of basic and higher cognitive emotions argues strongly for their biological nature, shaped by our common evolutionary history.

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