1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > EFFECTS OF FEELING

(Part 62)

(I) Emotional and Conative Action


We turn now from the causes of feeling to its manifestations or effects, and have here in like manner to inquire whether there is in these also any contrast corresponding to the opposing extremes of pleasure and pain. We have already seen reasons for dismissing reflex movements or movements not determined by feeling as psychologically secondary, the effects of habit and heredity, and for regarding those diffusive movements that are immediately expressive of feeling as primordial, – such movements as are strictly purposive being gradually selected or elaborated from them. But some distinction is called for among the various movements expressive of emotion; for there is more in these than the direct effect of feeling regarded as merely pleasure or pain. It has been usual with psychologists to confound emotions with feelings, because intense feeling is essential to emotion. But, strictly speaking, a state of emotion is a complete state of mind, a psychosis , and not a psychical element, if we may so say. Thus in anger we have over and above pain a more of less definite object as its cause, and a certain characteristic reactive display – frowns, compressed lips, erect head, clenched fists, in a word, the combative attitude – as its effect, and similarly of other emotions: so that generally in the particular movements indicative of particular emotions the primary and primitive effects of feeling are overlaid by what Darwin has called serviceable associated habits. The purposive actions of an earlier stage of development become, though somewhat atrophied as it were, the emotive outlet of a later stage; in the circumstances in which our ancestor worried their enemies we only show our teeth. We must, therefore, leave aside the more complex emotional manifestations and look only to the simplest effects of pleasure and of pain, if we are to discover any fundamental; contrast between them. [Footnote 72-2]


72-2 "Of the three principles Darwin advances in explanation of emotional expression that which he places last – perhaps because it admits of less definite lustration – seems both psychologically and physiologically more fundamental than the more striking principles of serviceable associated habits which he places first; indeed the following, which is his statement of it, implies as much: "Certain actions which we recognize as expressive of certain states of mind are the direct result of the constitution of the nervous system, and have been from the first independent of the will, and to a large extent of habit" (Expression of the Emotions, P. 66). It is in illustration of this principle too that Darwin described the movements expressive of joy and grief, emotions which in some form or other are surely the most primitive of any.

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