2.1  Defining emotion

Until now I have, like the authors I have quoted, presumed that my readers have a general understanding of what is meant by emotionEmotion is the word which is currently used to describe the kind of phenomena which have also been discussed variously as affection, appetite, desire, feeling, lust, passion, sensation, sentiment,  and other related words or cognates in English and other languages.   An examination of these terms, whether from a synchronic or diachronic perspective, would seem to show that there is some sort of common reality behind all these concepts. However, most societies, cultures and individuals, and the languages they use, or used,  have chosen to carve up that reality and focus specific parts of it rather differently.   A proper discussion of what philosophers, linguists and, later, psychologists and others - not to mention their interpreters and translators - have meant by all these terms down the centuries warrants a book on its own.    The focus of this book is what  psychologists today describe as emotion, so I shall concentrate on the already complex task of describing what emotion, and the Portuguese equivalent, emoção, mean, both in general use and specific disciplines today.

Dictionary definitions of emotion  vary according to the background of the lexicographer.  It seems generally agreed that earlier meanings derived originally from the Latin exmovere, with the idea of 'move out', and later, in English, from the French émouvoir, with the idea of "excite" or "move the feelings of". Current meanings tend, like that already quoted from the  S.O.E.D. (1973), to be classified as belonging to psychology, and the definitions in the better dictionaries will usually reflect the point of view of a certain school of psychology.  However, the more modern the dictionary, the more careful the definition.  This is true too of emoção,.  The Novo Dicionário Aurelio (1986), for example, is well aware of the term's use in psychology, and attributes its etymology to the French émotion. However,  Cândido de Figueiredo's dictionary (1939) dismisses the more modern meaning as a "gallicismo dispensável"!  Thesauri and general lexicons of English seem to consider emotion  to be a sub-class of feeling and Webster's Dictionary  refers one to  feeling  for synonyms for emotion

Feel  and feeling  are the everyday words in English which cover meanings varying from the physical sense of touch, the consciously experienced physical and psychological phenomena associated with the psychologists' emotion, and even subconsciously generated intuitions and presentiments.  Used by psychologists or philosophers in relation, or opposition, to emotion, its scope of reference is usually to the physically felt indicators of emotion.   Not all such specialists would agree, and psychoanalysts of the Jungian school will describe feeling  in opposition to thinking, and both as one of the four psychological functions of which intuition  and sensation make up the other opposing pair. From this point of view, Hillman (1971: 90) claims that "the feeling function is that psychological process in us that evaluates". However, given the breadth of meaning of feeling, although this interpretation is perfectly valid, it shows, perhaps, the influence of the German fühlen.

Portuguese  usually translates the more central senses of feel   by sentir-se  but it has no noun equivalent in scope to feeling, the more psychological interpretations of this word being roughly translatable by sentimento and the more physical, or subconscious, by sensação.  Sentimento  is more widely used than its English cognate sentiment, and is not marked by the latter's connotation of superficiality in certain circumstances.  Sensação is also wider in its usage than sensation.  For example,  Tenho a sensação que estou a ser observado  would be a normal translation for I have a feeling  I am being watched.

Given that, in more popular usage, feeling  is often seen as a less pedantic, and possibly less violent, synonym for emotion,  one could suggest that English speakers who are not specifically aware of the psychologists' view of emotion  find it less easy to see the distinction between the physical and psychological aspects of these phenomena than Portuguese speakers. 

However, emotion, emoção, émotion and their cognates in other languages, like many other, often Latin or Greek based, words that acquire a specific, internationally agreed, technical usage[1], will tend to vary in meaning in relation to the different specialist schools of thought using them, rather than in relation to synonyms in the individual languages. Therefore, when emotion  is discussed in its more technical sense here, a similar interpretation can be understood for emoção.

Definitions of emotion  by specialists tell one as much about the world view of the definer as the concept.   Strongman (1987: 1-3) describes how Kleinginna and Kleinginna (1981) collected several hundred definitions and categorised them, before coming up with their own all-embracing definition:

"Emotion is a complex set of interactions among subjective and objective  factors, mediated by neural/hormonal systems, which can (a) give rise to affective experiences such as feelings of arousal, pleasure/ displeasure; (b) generate cognitive processes such as emotionally relevant perceptual effects, appraisals, labelling processes; (c) activate widespread physiological adjustments to the arousing conditions; and (d) lead to behaviour that is often, but not always expressive, goal-directed, and adaptive".

Strongman comments that "this definition suffers because it embraces all possibilities, it includes too much."  However, unless one is conscious of the width of interpretation that can be given to emotion, it is difficult to judge the literature on the subject.  Emotion  tends to be used by contemporary writers when interpreting what writers in the past, or in other languages, have to say about the general phenomenon under discussion, even though, as was stressed in the first paragraph of this section, these writers may have been using other terms and somewhat different criteria on which to base their judgements, both in regards to the more general concepts and those relating to specific emotions.  I shall also, therefore, use emotion in similar circumstances, and  use emotion names in English, for textual convenience, and to avoid constant reference to the many translators' footnotes to be found in translated versions of the works quoted.  

2.2  Emotion before Psychology

The view that Man has two sides to his nature which are in opposition, the rational or civilised, and the irrational or animal-like, underlies much of Western philosophy.   Much of what we call emotion has traditionally been considered a manifestation of the latter.  Plato believed  this irrational side of our nature, which English philosophers and translators significantly render as appetite, was inimical to the formation of the ideal person, who should learn to exercise the power of reason at all times, controlling the appetites of the body.  Aristotle, more pragmatically, argued for a more relative position in his Ethics ; true happiness is seen as the ultimate goal of man, and as such is good, whereas pleasure can be morally negative; fear should be controlled by courage, ignoring it being rashness, and succumbing to it being cowardice; love can be interpreted positively as philia  (roughly friendship ), or love between parents and children.  Sexual love is given less attention for, according to J.A.K. Thomson in Aristotle (1953: 227), "the ancient Greeks looked on the physical attraction of sex for sex as a biological phenomenon" on a level with hunger or thirst.  Pride, in moderation, was positive, but vanity negative, and to despise someone for the right reasons was perfectly justifiable.  Emotion for Aristotle, therefore, often has a positive contribution to make.

The debate about these and other  phenomena, which today some classify as emotion, continued down the centuries, attitudes often varying according to the personality and background of the writer expressing himself, as Russell (1946) demonstrates so well.  The arguments always revolve around questions of ethics and morality,  the right or wrong, or relative goodness or badness,  of the appetites, passions or natural instincts of Man.  The extent to which they are mental or physical phenomena is discussed, as well as the problem of whether they are controllable by free will, and to what extent this control is possible, desirable or necessary. Aristotle's idea, that certain emotions in certain circumstances merited a higher interpretation than mere physical appetite, is also debated down the ages. The Mind/Body problem is argued out in terms of Soul/Body, Mind/Matter,  over and over again, with emotion as its leitmotif.

The scholastics, like St. Thomas Aquinas, described the appetitive faculties as passio, which were physical and usually necessary for survival, and were external to the disembodied spirit, or soul. They were seen as an undesirable but inevitable part of human nature, and the aim of the good, rational man should be to control them, or at least the less desirable behaviour resulting from them.  The bodily manifestations of the emotions were seen as their materia  but, according to Xavier(1985), neither the passio  nor the materia  were seen as connected to causality of emotion.    

Spinoza's theory of emotions is often quoted nowadays in support of some sort of evolution of the emotions.  He seems to have believed that the emotions were essentially bound up with the needs and way of life of the species in question, and that those observed in animals must be different from those in human beings.   According to Russell's (1946: 557) description, he also seems to have distinguished between emotion  and passion  and to have believed that "an emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it."   This draws attention to the way we interpret the symptoms of our emotions and is quoted in favour of a cognitive view of emotions. 

According to Kenny (1963: 2-3), Descartes, in his Les Passions de L'Âme deals with "fear, anger, joy, love, admiration, respect, scorn, pride, humility, bravery, pity, sadness" and defines them as "perceptions, sentiments or emotions of the soul, which are referred particularly to the soul itself, and which are caused, continued and strengthened by some movement of the animal spirits".  The proposer of dualism of mind and matter would seem to see these passions as relating to both.  In Kenny's (1963: 4) interpretation,  Descartes argued that the passions "are received into the soul in the same fashion as the objects of the exterior senses, and are known by it in exactly the same manner", but they are felt in the soul itself.  The information that leads to an emotion is therefore perceived like other information.  However, it appears that Descartes held, because "on sent les effets comme en l'âme même" (ibid: 5),  that the mental perception of emotion enjoyed a certain infallibility of judgement because it was internal to the individual and not dependent on outside factors.  Most emotions were recognised by the soul before action was taken, and, although his physiology allowed for certain reactions, like fainting, to be attributable to some more direct stimulus-response explanation, he maintained that  "the commonest effect of the passions is to incite the soul to will a course of action for which they merely prepare the body" (ibid: 7).   Descartes' analysis of the emotions, like his explanation of the pineal gland relating body to soul, may seem to be based on rather naïve physiology, but it was instrumental in preparing the ground for modern psychology.

2.3   Psychology and Emotion

Modern psychology dates the scientific study of emotion from the appearance of Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), and James's What is an Emotion?  (1884).  Darwin was in search of further proof of his theory of evolution and therefore stressed overt action as the biologically significant aspect of emotion and emphasized the importance of causative environmental stimulation.  James' contribution was to reverse the generally accepted idea, supported by such as Descartes, that the course taken by emotion begins with an object in the environment which is perceived by the senses; that the information about this object is apprehended by the soul, or mind, which then prompts the body into appropriate action.  In other words, one sees the lion, feels afraid and runs away.  James' (1884) proposal, quoted by Strongman (1987: 5) was that "the bodily changes follow directly the  PERCEPTION of the existing fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur  IS the emotion" [italics and capitals in original], or, that one sees the lion, runs away, and then recognises one is afraid.  Although cognitive psychology seems to have come full circle and would now seem to prefer a modernised version of the former point of view to James', the latter's influence was crucial to the way psychological research was conducted for the next sixty or seventy years. 

The various theories that developed within psychology about emotion since Darwin and James are already the subject of several books, so, rather than analyse specific theories, I shall outline instead the main issues that have been discussed over the last century.  The rise and fall of Behaviourism and the advent of Cognitivism were by no means simple, clean-cut processes, but a certain sequence of events can be traced with the benefit of hindsight.

2.3.1  The Physiology of Emotion

James' affirmation that Emotion was the observable physiological changes an individual undergoes in such a situation allowed the study of this phenomenon to be conducted on what was considered a respectable scientific basis.  In the early stages of this research, the two areas  of physiological change that were studied most were what were referred to as a) the viscera, or internally felt heart or pulse beat, nausea or "butterflies in the stomach", sweating or crying, and b) the skeletal muscles, which produced the facial expressions, gestures and other more visually observable physical indicators of emotion.  These physiological changes are generally considered to be hard to control or produce voluntarily, particularly those of the viscera. 

Visceral change is the way in which we sense our own emotions, and there are plenty of expressions with which we describe these sensations.  My heart thumped/turned over/ raced/stood stillI was sickened by his behaviourI was in a cold sweat,  not to mention the various signs of sexual excitement no modern novelist can fail to describe, are expressions of this kind.   Psychologists have conducted considerable research into these changes, both by physically monitoring the changes, and by getting people to describe what they feel when under the influence of a particular emotion.  This type of research tends to show that there are definite physiological changes associated with emotion generally, which psychologists refer to as 'arousal' but that no specific change can be definitely attributed to any specific emotion. Strongman (1987: 12) says,  "A necessary condition for emotion to occur must be an aroused organism, but arousal need not imply emotion.  A similar set of physiological changes may be seen in hard physical exercise".  Certain chemical substances can produce the physical symptoms typically associated with particular emotions. Experiments by Schachter[2] with such substances, however,  suggested that, although they may produce the appropriate physical symptoms, experimentees only actually made the connection between the symptoms and the emotion when there was some real emotional situation from which such a conclusion could be drawn. 

However, the type of psychological experiment which is based on asking people to describe what they feel physically when in a state of general or particular emotion was not considered a test of what objectively happens to them.  The results will reflect the social and cultural background which influences them to focus one or another aspect of arousal, and the linguistic conventions used for expressing awareness of this arousal will also vary for similar reasons.   As Davitz (1969: 141) claims, "The language of emotion reflects, somewhat abstractly and with less than perfect precision, the referent experiences; but it is also influenced by the nature of the language used to report experiences, linguistic habits and variables related to the reporting process".    His work showed that individuals vary quite widely in the way in which they report physical emotional experience. 

Studies of visceral changes would seem to show that we rightly associate physical arousal with emotion.  However, the Behaviourists saw these changes as the cause of the recognised emotion, whereas the Cognitivists believe them to be the effect of certain cognitive processes.  Cognitivists may argue about the extent to which the changes result from genetically programmed or culturally acquired responses, from the brain's hardware or software, from the workings of the unconscious or consciousness, but they will agree that some cognitive process precedes them. 

There is no clean-cut difference between the type of physiological change which is only recognised by the Emoter and that which is externally observable.  This is because people tend to vary considerably both in their ability to control and dissimulate their own emotions, and in their capacity to recognise and interpret emotional signals in others.    Some people control their emotions so successfully that only a trained psychologist can detect the signs, others 'let it all hang out' in a way that only the most crassly unobservant can fail to notice.   However, the other focus of interest for psychologists, and others, in the physiological changes induced by emotion has been the behavioural consequences, and there seem to be two main lines of research in this area, although they have much in common.   There are those who have continued Darwin's interest in studying the evolutionary aspect of emotions, and others who concentrate on the way emotional behaviour is related to social interaction. 

The way human beings express themselves through what has become known as body language, has developed in part from Darwin's early attempts to show an evolution of emotional expression in various species.  The evolutionary interest has been continued largely by ethologists like Lorenz, Tinbergen and Krebs, as part of their interest in animal behaviour, and anthropologists like Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1970), who has shown how the physical expression of Love and Hate is very similar among man and the higher primates, and can also be observed in other animals.  The observations by these scientists show that the strong correlation between the way humans of all cultures, as well as other species, physically express emotion suggests at least a fair measure of innateness of this type of behaviour.  This type of research is supported by findings on children born blind and deaf and who, as McNaughton (1989: 43) explains, "smile, laugh, weep, stamp their feet, clench their fists and frown like normal children" .  Eibl-Eibesfeldt goes further and suggests that "more is innate than is often supposed" quoting in support of this the reaction of a ten-year-old girl born blind, but with perfectly good hearing, who, in response to a compliment, "immediately blushed and turned her face briefly towards me and then looked down, just as a sighted girl does when she feels bashful" [3]

The idea of innateness of emotions has been tested in several different ways in order to discover if emotion develops as the result of experience or follows some independent maturation process.   The type of testing involved is complicated because so many factors are involved, and  it covers everything from  perinatal studies, which show that there is truth in the folk wisdom that the emotional state of the mother during gestation can influence her child's disposition, to all the complexes that psychoanalysts spend their time unravelling by leading their patients back through their experiences in life to discover what incident or treatment in childhood triggered off that individual's differentiation from the norm.   However, the very fact that some sort of general norms in emotional development can be posited, regardless of cultural, social and individual tendencies, shows that there must be some measure of innateness of emotions.  McNaughton (1989:104) concludes that "the developmental data show that there are indeed, in the neonate, separate innate systems which form the basis for separate adult emotions.  However, they also suggest that the normal form of each adult emotion depends on the appropriate moulding, during development, of a number of innate components".

Those social psychologists who study facial expression and body language usually take the evolutionary aspect for granted or as introductory to their own study.  Argyle (1988: 58) considers that "one of the main functions of non-verbal communication in animals and men is to communicate emotions and attitudes." Facial expression has been used to support theories of innate emotion by scientists like Ekman (1982) who believes  that  there are facial behaviours specific to each emotion and that these relationships are invariant across cultures.  Morris (1977: cover), in a popular cross-cultural study, shows the extent to which  people "signal to each other their attitudes, desires and innermost feeling more powerfully through unconscious bodily movements than by word of mouth".  Morris et al  (1979), however, are careful to point out that signals like nodding, shaking one's head and beckoning are culturally learnt.  Strongman (1987: 47-48) describes Tomkins' theory of 'affect', which helped to modify the view that human motivation can be attributed simply to those 'drives' evolutionarily necessary for survival, was influenced by the observation of  facial expression and body language.

Cross-cultural studies have shown differences, but they tend to be cultural variations of intensity of expression, and the interpretation given to these expressions, rather than anything fundamental.  Ekman (1982: 142) describes how experiments have shown that certain general categories of emotion can be communicated by facial expression and body language between people of such different cultures and languages as Westerners and preliterate New Guineans.  However, the appropriateness and acceptability of expressing any specific emotion tend to vary from culture to culture,  and tend to be so conditioned by that culture that the overt behaviour is probably controlled by the unconscious. From personal experience, I would point to my own inability to weep spontaneously at funerals, due to the cultural pressure to be restrained from my English background, a fact which meets with a certain incomprehension in a Portuguese context.

Apart from the cultural factors involved, this type of research is complicated, as it involves the problem of obtaining 'spontaneously' generated facial expressions, not easy under laboratory conditions.  For example, Ekman (1982: 141) described how Japanese and American subjects behaved in experiments.  When watching a film, and not conscious that their behaviour was being filmed, subjects of both cultures showed fairly similar reactions.  However, in situations where they were conscious of being observed or were in groups, the public face they presented varied:  Japanese culture expects happy smiling faces for the world, whereas Americans feel free to show negative responses.   Although most of us can feign emotional behaviour, it is difficult in a case like this to say how far the Japanese behaviour is unconsciously or consciously produced, because the cultural influences will have been internalised since childhood.

The study of physically verifiable data on emotion also progressed in relation to the brain.  It became clear that the brain too could be checked by electroencephalogram, EEG, for electrical signals showing emotional stress, and it soon became obvious that emotions were not simple physical Stimulus-Response (S-R) systems.  As the geography of the brain has become better understood, it has been found that electrical stimulation of certain areas of the brain can produce the physical symptoms of emotion.  Neurochemistry has revealed that certain substances affect relevant parts of the brain to produce depression or euphoria, or to alleviate stress and anxiety,  and most of us are aware of the potentially beneficial as well as dangerous results this type of treatment can produce.  

 The relationship between the brain and the rest of the body is highly complex and by no means fully understood.  As McNaughton (1989: 53) says, "there is a huge amount of evidence for the involvement of the autonomic nervous system in emotion - none of it particularly clear as to psychological implications".  Hormonal changes, whether produced or controlled naturally or artificially, often accompany emotional phenomena.  Although few would now argue that autonomic and hormonal responses are emotions as James did, there seems to be grounds for arguing that, just as the brain processes information using some sort of 'looping interaction', feedback from physiological changes can contribute to the feeling component of emotion and possibly affect the interpretation of the emotion.  McNaughton (1989: 56) goes on to show how this seems to be supported by a study by Hohmann (1966), a paraplegic who, on evidence of his own experience and that of fellow sufferers, found that the spinal lesions they suffered from contributed to "significant decreases in experienced emotional feelings associated with sexual excitement, anger, fear... compared to those experienced before injury", but that  this corresponded to a "significant increase in emotional feeling related to sentimentality" and "overt emotional behaviour may continue to be displayed", probably for more complex psychological and social reasons. 

2.4  Cognition and Emotion

At this point it is necessary to examine what exactly the terms cognition and cognitive  mean in the present academic context.  These   terms have their roots in the past. The S.O.E.D. (p. 363), for example, gives the definition "the action or faculty of knowing; knowledge, consciousness" but labels it with the symbol meaning "obsolete".  However, although modern dictionaries will define them as "the mental process of knowing, learning, understanding and representing knowledge", they are careful, like the Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary (p.263 -4), to emphasize that they are 'technical' words. At a broad level they are used to describe the reaction in psychology against the more mechanistic forms of Behaviourism, a reaction which both accompanied and encouraged the more general rejection of the simpler forms of cause-and-effect materialism in other scientific fields.  This does not mean, however, that these now popular terms are interpreted in the same way by all who employ them to describe their work. 

To start off with, the use of these words does not necessarily imply that their users in any way reject materialism or related concepts.   For example, at the more mechanistic edge of the spectrum of meaning we find the AI people and certain psychologists referring to themselves as cognitive scientists, when they mean that they are trying to make their computers imitate, and work in conjunction with, the human brain, by analysing the brain's (mind's?) processes with a view to making them computable. 

There still seem to be a number of people in psychology, and related areas, who describe themselves as cognitivist,  but whose approach is not so far removed from the Behaviourists as they like to think. As more complex experiments were carried out, it soon became clear that the Behaviourist method of studying emotion as a purely physiological phenomenon was no longer viable.  Much of the research done so far was all right as far as it went - but it did not go far enough.  

            Although the physiological studies of both arousal and behaviour were important, Schachter's study had shown that emotions need to be examined as cognitive phenomena related to situations that could be cognitively, or even consciously, appreciated by the experimentee as giving meaning to the artificially induced physiological factors associated with the emotion.  This led to investigation into understanding how the individual appraised the situation which prompted the emotion. This appraisal was based on the perceptual information received on the occasion, and the information stored in the mental structures, some possibly innate, which might, directly or indirectly, influence that emotion.  It was also realised that the behaviour resulting from the emotion was intimately connected with a system of feedback contributing to modify and control it.    As it became clear that cognition was involved in emotion, the problem became to discover what was the nature of this cognitive function, or appraisal, as psychologists chose to label it. 

When discussing the relationship between cognition and emotion, the terms are used by more mainstream psychologists who favour the notion of  analysing the human Self, at either the conscious or unconscious level, as somehow processing emotion.  They reject the radical Behaviourist thought, which saw emotion as a simple S-R  situation in which the Self is  non-existent, irrelevant, or, at best, passive.  Instead, they view it as a highly complex process which involves not just the accumulation of sensory information, but also its interpretation and evaluation, which in its turn leads to some form of consequent decision over what emotion is actually felt, and what reaction is ultimately conveyed about the interior state to the outside world through resultant behaviour.  Although these processes are called cognitive, they often function at a subconscious level.   Since the experiments involved in this type of research range from the more brain orientated ones of neurophysiology to the more mind orientated ones on the border between psychology and psychiatry, it is obvious that the individual academic's interpretation of the word must be examined in context. 

It is one thing to recognise that emotion must involve some kind of cognitive process, but quite another to understand how the relationships between cognition and arousal and behaviour work. Once the idea of appraisal began to be discussed, the problem was how to explain it.  The notion that some account should be given for cognition in emotion was not exactly new, but it had been obscured in an academic world dominated by those who rejected any notion of mind as unscientific.  Some pre-cognitive  theorists had tried to account for the function of emotion, and theories had been built round affect, or emotion, as motivation.  Others, including Sartre, argued that emotion, rather than being a disorganising force, as popularly believed, was in fact the way people coped with unusual happenings in their lives.  They felt that much of day-to-day-living is carried on with a minimum of consciousness, but then, when something unusual happens, the emotions galvanize our consciousness into appropriate action.  This view of emotion is now supported by many cognitivists.

Acknowledging a role for cognition in emotion probably posed as many problems as it expected to solve. One such problem was that of the time factor. Since emotional responses, particularly for the stronger emotions, follow the stimulus so rapidly, and do not seem to require conscious reasoning, appraisal must require ultra-quick access to the (unconscious?) memory and cognitive processes. This has led to the type of argument about the nature of mind discussed earlier and to Penrose's speculations about the nature of time in relation to consciousness, but it has also led to arguments within psychology as to how to approach the problem.  

An argument that continues to excite those involved is - which comes first, cognition or emotion?  Also, must the two phenomena be necessarily interacting, or are they independent?  Can one argue for some sort of autonomy for emotion from cognition in the case of strong emotions that produce an immediate response, as in the case of fear when the lion suddenly appears in front of one, and a bigger cognitive role for the milder or more long-lasting emotions, such as pride in one's achievements?  To what extent is immediate emotional response due to innate structures or to  cultural conditioning of the subconscious?   If one calls these more spontaneous phenomena emotions,  to what extent can one consider more long-lasting ones, like love, in the same category, and where do moods like depression fit in?   These are problems that have worried others in the past in other ways, but which are particularly relevant to cognitive psychology. They must also be borne in mind when analysing how we use language to describe our emotions. 

2.5  Cognitivism and linguistics

Cognitive  and cognition  are fashionable words, so it is only natural that different schools of thought within linguistics should also describe their work as based on cognitive  premises.   However, I should point out that their interpretation of the terms varies in the same ways as do those of their counterparts in psychology.   Although psychologists no longer see behaviour as a crude S-R process, there is still a strong emphasis in their work on the role of the physical perception of the outside world, and linguists in this field still try to discuss abstract notions in terms of physically realizable or understandable factors.  These people still favour analysing emotion as a physically caused, felt and expressed  phenomenon.

Phonologists may well analyse the production and reception of language sounds in terms of physical perception and behaviour.  At a fairly abstract level work in both neurology and linguistics seems to show that certain structures or parts of speech are processed in identifiable areas of the brain.  Most of this sort of work can be construed of as being in the more mechanistic area of the cognitive spectrum.  However, once we begin to scratch the surface of meaning, the whole problem of how it fits in with cognition has to be viewed more flexibly.

Components of language can be analysed in terms of meaning independently of a context, and these components can be further analysed either in terms of other more basic components of meaning or as 'mental images', all of which may quite possibly be interpreted in terms of relatively simple information and memory processes in the brain.   In an abstract sense, this information could probably be formalized in increasing degrees of sophistication for the cognitive scientists so that they can work on the artificial intelligence of their robots. The work of linguists like Jackendoff(1985) and Langacker(1987 & 1991) is based on this assumption.

Linguistic theorists like M.A.K. Halliday, however, maintain that meaning exists at all linguistic levels in a real-life language situation.  This position, with which I sympathize, favours the interpretation of cognitive processes as an intricate combination of the sensorial input from the exterior with the interior processes of interpretation, which, in turn, involve reference to, and feedback from, stored information of an extremely complex kind.  This information results from a lifetime of existence in, and communication with, multiple aspects of an outside world.  My linguistic interpretation of cognition is, therefore, at the less mechanistic side of the spectrum - that which tries to understand how language both reflects and expresses the human brain, or mind's, beliefs about the world at a situational level.

2.6  The implications of Cognitivism for emotion

The development of Cognitivism has meant that Psychology has had to broaden its horizons beyond the strictly empirical and physiologically observable data on which it worked in the early part of this century.  As we have seen, understanding of the neural wiring is by no means simple and requires ever more sophisticated experimental methods and equipment.  The metaphor of the computer is often used, and there is talk of 'neural networks'  and 'parallel distributed processing' for computers and brains. On the other hand, the understanding of all the external factors which go to make up individuals is still considered too dangerously subjective for many psychologists to attempt.  Experiments in this area tend to be based on the analysis of groups of individuals, or carried out in the name of social psychology. Yet there are those, like Gardner (1987), who see Cognitive Science as bringing together findings from philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, anthropology and neuroscience, and providing a wider background against which to study the Brain/Mind.  More attention is also being paid to how to prepare scientific methods using ideas taken from these disciplines, and approaches through psychoanalysis and phenomenology, previously condemned as unscientific, are felt to have something to offer.   It is no longer so terrible to ask individuals to use introspection to describe certain mental phenomena, providing one can devise some suitably 'objective' criteria for them to use. 

            Although cognitive scientists and neurologists give the impression that the full understanding of the brain is only a matter of time, one should realise that the time span involved is considerable, and that even the most optimistic would probably refer to a future well into the next century, if not the following one.  Star Trek, for example, which tackles several of the problems discussed here under the guise of science fiction, is still having serious reservations about allowing their human type robot Lieutenant Data to have emotions in a future some centuries from now.   Although, at this stage, neurology can help understand the problems of people with brain lesions, and make suggestions that illnesses like schizophrenia and epilepsy could be attributed to faulty electrical connections or electrical storms in the brain,  it is a long way from being able to do much to help the people concerned definitively.  Yet the help for these people is probably more forthcoming than that so many less afflicted people search for to help them cope with living problems.  For these, the psychiatrist still has to try and supply the answers.

Psychiatrists would seem to use a combination of treatment aimed at the physics of the brain, through electrotherapy, for example, or the chemistry, using drugs, as well as the methods which we understand as being aimed at what is traditionally known as the psyche[4]. Neurology does not have to justify its interest in the physical aspects of the brain, and modern psychology, as a discipline, would seem to be strictly conditioned by the norms of empirical experiments.  However, psychiatry, while drawing on the research in both areas, is inevitably eventually forced by the nature of the clinical work entailed to resort to methods which the other two disciplines consider to transgress the borders of pure science.

Psychoanalysis has long since lost its standing as a science, a fact which the ghost of Freud, who always looked upon the method he pioneered as strictly scientific, must lament.  This is because  most of the hypotheses of psychoanalysis are based upon observations made during psychoanalytic treatment, and such observations cannot be scientific as, according to Storr (1987: 75) they are "contaminated with the subjective experience and prejudice of the observer, however detached he tries to be". Attempts by people such as Wundt in the nineteenth century to establish an understanding of psychological processes by strictly controlled methods of introspection had already been discredited as unscientific.   In this century, Behaviour therapy, which is derived from learning theory and the principles of conditioning through reward and punishment expounded by B.F. Skinner, claimed that it was based on scientific principles rather than on interpersonal interaction, but these claims, as Storr (ibid: 79) observes,  are "less strident than they were".

Not everyone is convinced, however, that pure science can hope to solve the problems of everyday living of the individual.  Psychoanalysis continues to deal, with a certain success, with helping people understand their lives and interpersonal relationships.   It can be considered not as a causal theory, uncovering causes of behaviour, but as a semantic one,  or as "seeing the task of psychoanalysts as ... a means of making sense of, and understanding, the personalities and communications of patients" (ibid: 85).    Storr believes that, now that we are beginning to correct the general over-valuation of the exact sciences, more credit can be given to psychoanalysis and the insights it provides.  Farrell (1987), too, would sympathise with this point of view, and thinks what he terms the Science-man could learn from psychoanalysis[5]

Emotion is central to much of the psychiatrists' and psychoanalysts' work, as the problems they deal with can often be seen as some form of emotional disfunction, or as the individual's inability to cope with his emotions enough to lead a normal life.  The line between normal and abnormal is notoriously hard to draw and often depends on the criteria of the society in which the individual lives.   An individual may seek, or need to seek, professional help from a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a psychoanalyst with a view to solving apparently internal problems, but such problems are intimately connected with the way the individual relates to society.

 Cultural and social influences contribute to the reasons why we have emotions, and why we interpret them in the way we do. There are pressures from all the sociologically defined categories such as race, class, sex, peer and family groups, which exert pressure on how we behave, and these factors contribute to, or limit, our emotional lives.   This can be seen in Davitz (1969) where he compares the way in which groups studied in the United States and Uganda vary in the way they experience emotions and the phenomena to which they attribute these emotions.

The idea that the analysis of Emotion concepts should take the individual's experience as a starting point is what the phenomenologists have been saying all along, and there are those who could be termed phenomenological psychologists. These people have always pursued the search for understanding of human emotion by analysing what individual human beings report on their emotional experiences, rather than the physiological aspects of emotion.   For them, human consciousness is the key to the way we understand anything, let alone emotion, but this has meant that mainstream psychologists, used to working with only physically verifiable or observable phenomena, have dismissed phenomenology as unscientific. 

 As Strongman (1987: 120), whose original behaviourist beliefs in 1978 have given way to a recognition of the importance of cognition, has put it, "phenomenological and existential theories of emotion .... are limited to human experience and for the most part depend on intuitive, non-quantifiable data.  They are dubious and seem to put psychology back on a pre-scientific footing".  However, he now concedes that these theories, which he prefers to consider philosophical rather psychological, "have performed the valuable service of at least attempting to come to terms with the subjective experience of emotion" and that "their ideas are not as far from the possibility of something like conventional empirical test as was once thought." (ibid: 140)  Like other cognitive psychologists, he maintains that the physiological and neurological data already acquired will serve as a sound scientific basis from which mainstream psychology may now proceed to analyse the subjective experience of emotion. 

As philosophers such as Heidegger have pointed out, to discuss anything like Emotion one must resort to the concepts conventionally used for this purpose, a process which in itself begs a lot of questions and can complicate communication.  However, Wittgenstein (1953) claimed that "an inner process stands in need of an outward criterion", and that criterion must necessarily mean some form of shared experience.  The social and cultural situation in which each of us finds ourselves contribute to our individual understanding of emotions and to our emotional behaviour.  However, providing this  understanding and this behaviour do not depart from the norms, including linguistic norms, of the society and culture in which we find ourselves, and providing we allow for changes when examining less familiar societies and cultures, there is no reason why more individual reports of emotion should not contribute to a deeper understanding of the subject.  One way or another, it all comes back to understanding more fully the tool that is used to report any kind of experience - language.  


[1]  Certain schools of thought in psychology and psychiatry have opted for the term affect - translated as afecto in Portuguese - but emotion would still seem to the most generally used term.

[2] These experiments, described by Strongman (1987), are the subject of Schacter's publications in 1959, 1964 and 1970

[3]  Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1971).  Quoted here from McNaughton (1989 : 43) from the English version. 

[4]  When pursuing the Mind/Brain problem, I asked three psychiatrist friends of mine what they understood they were treating in their patients, a mind  or a brain.    What was the electro-therapy, drugs, behaviour therapy and psychoanalysis all aimed at?  I should point out that it is not my intention to extend the discussion of emotional behaviour in this thesis to what would be classified clinically as pathological.  However, their responses showed that they made a clear distinction between those cases which needed the attention of a neurologist, because of some physical abnormality, and those which involved apparently healthy 'brains' and sick 'minds', which they considered their responsibility.  Naturally, they, agreed, the distinction is not always so easy to make, and there is often cooperation between the two specialities.

[5]  However, Farrell also draws attention to the abuse certain Arts-men have made of psychoanalysis by basing their analysis of individuals on shaky psychoanalytical premises, or making sweeping generalisations about history and society based on their own interpretation of psychoanalysis.    On these occasions "the Science-man is doing the unpopular thing of helping us to face reality - the reality of our still enormous ignorance about ourselves."    However, he sees the tension between the Arts-man and Science-man as creating an excitement and interest that is ultimately beneficial to human knowledge.


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