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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

eine kleine pedantry

A little note to myself about the emotions. Remember, o readers of mine, that I would like comments, if you have any, about the 'negative' and 'positive' emotions.


In the early modern period, there were three points of view that determined the discourse of the passions. Firstly, there was the medical view, based on a system of four internal humors. Second, there was the characterological view, which projected a gallery of different human types: the miser, the jealous man, the hypocrite, the clown, etc. A disposition and a role, from this point of view, were tightly bound. And thirdly, there was the religious view, which impressed upon the emotions a certain moral order. As the social foundations for this three fold view changed - as a new system of production and a state assisted free market arose - the discursive modes changed: for instance, the Galenic physicist gave way to the physiologist, just as – as a creator of character types – astrology gave way to physiognomy and various proto-anthropologies, and the church gave way – to an extent - to a whole, competing set of institutions – businesses, the state, political movements, etc. – but the threefold structure remained.

9 comments:

northanger said...

this reminded me of Psalms 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

searched Strong's for "friction". xestes, "as if from xeo (properly, to smooth, by implication [of friction] to boil or heat); 1) a sextarius, a vessel for measuring liquids, holding about a pint (.5 litre); 2) a wooden pitcher or ewer from which water or wine is poured, whether holding a sextarius or not". appears twice in Mark 7 as "pots" (more xestes/xeo). and from Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, "War is work, not mystery," Xeo laments.

Pharisees complaining about dirty hands & the tradition of washing hands, cups & pots. poterion = cups (Tarot cups = emotions), "metaph. one's lot or experience, whether joyous or adverse, divine appointments, whether favourable or unfavourable, are likened to a cup which God presents one to drink: so of prosperity and adversity". parable here is nothing outside makes you clean because it goes to the stomach not the heart. but what comes out of the heart makes you unclean. complaint here involves bypassing spiritual commandments to observe human traditions. eg, Corban nullifies the first commandment with a promise.

roger said...

Damn. I wrote a comment and it just went through the memory hole.

Anyway, North, you, I have decided, are a forty niner, as per the essay by Roberto Calasso in The Forty Nine Steps. It is on Google books, hm, last time I put on the link this thing was eaten so I will just say: page 111.

I, on the other hand, am a five step person.

northanger said...

page 111

Living Beyond Forty-nine :: Between Pesach and Shavuos there are seven weeks of seven, 7 x 7 = 49 days. The Torah states, "Seven weeks count to yourself." Deuteronomy 16:9 Kabbalistically speaking, each week as we count the days and weeks we are to focus on a particular area of thought between Pesach and Shavuos as listed below. Each day within the week we are to consider a particular discipline of that week's focus [...] In Gematria the Hebrew letter Nun represents fifty. The Nun is also a final lettter which represents seven hundred. A few weeks ago in the parsha discussion entitled "How to change the world with one action we discussed the number fifty." So in this discussion we will not trace those steps. Instead we will excellerate to the Gematria of the final letter of the Nun.

HEB-756 = NVN. (funny, Barry Bonds hit #756 yesterday) = OVOYM. (perversities, waywardness) = OLVMYM. (young days, youth; prime or vigour) = THVRYPS (Sephiroth, intelligences or numbers; ten emanations of the Tree of Life; see: HEB-355 SPYRH (Sephira)).

northanger said...

{1} NVN (note Kethiv in Psalm 72:17). {2} OVOYM, from
OVH Isaiah 19:13 The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. 14 The LORD hath mingled a perverse <05773> spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. {3} OLVMYM. {4} Gill mentions Sephira in Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 John 2:27 & Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. The word "Amen" is the name of a divine Person with the Jews, and it seems the second Person; for so on those words in #Pr 8:30; "then was I by him as one brought up with him", they observe {y}, do not read "Amon", the word there used, but "Amen"; and, a little after, "Amen", they say, is the "notaricon", or sign of AL MLK. NAMN., "God the faithful King"; they make {z} "Amen" to be one of the names of the second "Sephira", or number in the Cabalistic tree, by whom the second Person in the Godhead seems to be designed: and they say {a}, that the word "Amen", by gematry (or numerically) answers to the two names "Jehovah, Adonai". Christ may be so called, because he is the God of truth, and truth itself [...] the same character is given to the Logos, or Word of the Lord, by the Targumist in #Jer 42:5, let the Word of the Lord be to us LSHYK. QShVT VMHYMN., "for a true and faithful witness".

Alan said...

Roger,

This response is primarily to your previous post on this topic, not this one. I'm posting it here because I want to stay as far away from Lacan as possible, both literally and figuratively.

At last I can understand what you're trying to say. It's wrongheaded, of course, but at least it's intelligible. :>)
Briefly, here are the problems I see:

-- It's a very long way from 18th century Parisian salons to Wundt's laboratory in late-19th century Germany, and I don't see how you're going to make that leap. I can think of few places less volupte than Wundt's lab.

-- Your argument depends upon the conflation of at least two distinct levels: feelings and emotions. The quote you presented in an earlier post re Wundt's tri-dimensional model of emotion come from Chapter I.7 of Outlines of Psychology,"Simple Feelings." I'm going to quote a little from a bit later on in the text, to try to give a thumbnail sketch of the place of simple feelings in Wundt's overall schema:

II.8 "Definition and Classification of Psychical Compounds"
The classification of psychical compounds is naturally based upon the character of the elements that make them up. Those composed entirely or chiefly of sensations are called ideas,those consisting mainly of affective elements, affective processes.

We distinguish, accordingly, three chief forms of ideas: [p. 93] 1) intensive ideas, 2) spacial ideas, 3) temporal ideas; and three forms of affective processes: 1) intensive affective combinations, 2) emotions, 3) volitions. Temporal ideas constitute a sort of link between the two kinds of processes, for certain feeling play an important part in their formation.

II.13, "Emotions"
The names of different emotions, like those of feelings, do not indicate single processes, but classes in which a large number of single affective processes are grouped on the ground of certain common characteristics. Emotions such as those of joy, hope, anxiety, care, and anger, are accompanied in any concrete case by peculiar ideational contents, while their affective elements also and even the way in which they occur may vary greatly from time to time. The more composite a, psychical processes is, the more variable will be its single concrete manifestations; a particular emotion, therefore, will be less apt to recur in exactly the same form than will a particular feeling. Every general name fore motions indicates, accordingly, certain typical forms in which related affective processes occur.

Not every interconnected series of affective processes is an emotion or can be classed as such under one of the typical forms discriminated by language. An emotion is a unitary whole which is distinguished from a composite feeling only through the two characteristics that it has a definite temporal course and that it exercises a more intense present and subsequent effect on the interconnection of psychical processes.


I think this adequately shows that, whatever your objection is to Wundt's attempt to measure simple feelings along a pleasantness-unpleasantness axis, the objection doesn't apply to the more complex critters that are emotions. (Different theorists draw the feeling/emotion distinction in different ways, but there's something like a concensus that emotions are more complex.)

Along the same lines, I think the Colombetti paper I referred to before adequately establishes that the application of the "positive/negative" continuum to emotional states is a later development in psychology (first came about in the 1930s.) It also establishes that the positive/negative distinction isn't equivalent to the notion of psychological valence, a term that itself gets used in a bunch of different ways.

-- If you're interested in how "the vocabulary of negative and positive emotions emerged from psychology into folk psychology," I think look at Wundt, or that whole era in academic psychology, is barking up the wrong tree. Briefly, it's only in the post-WWII era, with people like Carl Rogers, that(some) academic psychologists saw what they're doing as having anything to do with "the helping professions." Prior to that, psychoanalysis and academic psychology were almost entire unrelated discourses.

(Edwin Shorter's History of Psychiatry is good on this topic.)

Far more informative might be a history of the self-help book as a genre.

Will have more to say on all this later.

roger said...

That Wundt says emotions are complex - or, to put it in other terms, that they are hard to sort out into natural kinds - doesn't really dig into my thesis. Actually, he is echoing, here, a theme that you find as far back as Descartes in his Passions of the Soul book, who also talks about the fact that if we define emotions along the pleasure pain axis, or using aversive behavior as our marker, we won't understand things like going to see tragedies, or the way young men seek out risky situations. My reading of your quote is simply that you need, in order to organize the emotions, a model that takes into account the fact that they can be mixed. And such a model would have more than one dimension. Wundt does that.

I disagree with your notion that the negative and positive classification came in only in the thirties, and with your idea that Wundt had nothing to do with it. Lewin, who wrote the essay on Valence in the 30s that codified the negative/positive continuum, was trained in the Gestaltist school that opposed Wundt's associationism, but the idea of a three dimensional model - reduced to two dimensions - was, by that time, diffused in psychology so that it wasn't associated with Wundt specifically - just as Freudian notions of the unconscious are used, now, by people who oppose Freud.

As to objections to the measurement - actually, it is an objection to the presuppositions of the model. Once you are given a model, I presume you can measure with it. But the presuppositions, which are similar to those of the emerging school of marginal disutility in economics (for the very good reason that they are both borrowing from energetics), are what I am going on about.

I'm not sure what your point is about the salons of Paris. It seems to me that I am establishing the fluidity of a number of conceptualizations of happiness, pleasure, and their meaning in the social organization of the emotions in the early modern period up to the end of the 18th century. And that I am urging that there is a change in that organization. So I would necessarily have to show the forces at work in the early modern period, and suss out what is presumed about emotions/feelings during that time, in order to have a baseline to show a shift. Don't you think so?

As for Shorter's book - I usually like Shorter's books. However, I read the History of Psychology this spring and felt pretty dissatisfied with it. One of the motives for looking at this more closely.

There's an article in Wilhelm Wundt in History by Arthur Blumenthal that has a discussion of the rediscovery of Wundt in the 1970s in American psychology - which I think has to do with the emotional modeling as much as anything. Of course, Wundt's associationalism made him a relic by the thirties. I don't think my thesis should be seen as: Wundt invented the negative/positive classification of emotions and everybody imitated him and he was wrong. Wundt, I think, took strands that were around since the Enlightenment and created a model of the feelings that took its base structure from physics. However, Wundt did not go as far as others did with this model - and in fact was strongly opposed to rejecting an earlier associationist psychology. He is most interesting because he is most clear about this one aspect of the rise of valence in psychology.

Now, my question is not just why did the terms negative and positive become engrafted into psychology, but why did they migrate outside of psychology so quickly? It isn't because of Wundt - Wundt figures mainly as testimony to the fact that the utilitarian calculus, which naturally prefigures a notion of pain as a negative quality, meets physics in the latter half of the nineteenth century and re-configures the terminology in energetic terms (hence, of course, the term 'valence' - borrowed from chemistry). As I've pointed out, Fechner precedes Wundt in using negative for states of feeling. What is interesting to me about Wundt is that the model of feelings, with its notion of feeling space, allows one to start categorizing feelings as they are found on either side of the baseline of the graph - but of course, that baseline represents an abstract object, the -indifferent, the unfelt. Given the clustering of feelings, it was natural to relate anger to sadness, sadness to envy, envy to jealousy, etc. - thus making up a set of associated feelings which are connected not because of their phenomenological characteristics, but because they are negative. Not surprisingly, this classification system repeats some of the structure of the moralizing of feelings, which was one of the chief points of view about feelings during the early modern age, which in turn was prompted by the Christian moral economy that had existed during the feudal period.

Alan said...

Quickly, let me return the ball to your court. How would you characterize the distinction between "feeling", "mood", and "emotion" -- or do you use them interchangably?

roger said...

Alan, I'm comfortable with saying that the modern consensus is to characterize feeling as raw sensation, emotion as intentionalized feeling - that is, sensation with an object, be it a memory, an idea, and mood as the prolongation of an emotion that keys an experience for a longer period of time than is usual for an activated emotion. And, on the level of continuous emotions - those we are referring to when we say I love H, or I hate X - such things are observations of the emotion we attach to H or X. Now, outside of philosophical circles, I think feeling and emotion are conflated for a pretty good reason - raw sensation seems to be a theoretical object, which exists to fill an explanatory gap rather than an experiential one.

Of course, for me, what is important is the how emotions are embedded in everyday life. And that brings up the question that is pertinent to my project - granting my three viewpoints on emotion per this post, is it the case that the way emotion is organized has no effect on the emotion as it is experienced, i.e. somebody who is sad in the seventeenth century experiences something that is exactly the same kind of thing as somebody who is sad in the twentieth century? Or does context matter? Is it that emotions are simply as they are, wrapped in whatever social usages you imagine, or do the social usages impinge on how they are experienced?
My answer is: I'm not sure. But - as I will put up in another post - my project about what I'm gonna call emotional customs - the meaning of emotions - and I'm going to presume that even if the means of communicating and interpreting them are different, the variation is small. However, it is striking that when you read lists of core emotions - as, for instance, in Descartes Passions - it is striking that certain items would probably not be on the modern list. For instance, admiration.
Does that answer the question? I hope you don't think it is slippery to say, well, this is what the moderns think instead of this is what I think. Or is it?

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