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Chem 1000 Notes

by: Alyssa Nielsen

Chem 1000 Notes Chem 101

Alyssa Nielsen
GPA 4.0

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Chem 1000
Class Notes
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alyssa Nielsen on Wednesday September 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Chem 101 at Tulane University taught by burin in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see Chem 1000 in Chemistry at Tulane University.

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Date Created: 09/14/16
Alyssa Nielsen Linda Pollock Living with Feelings (Honors) 12 September 2016 What Is an Emotion? The term “emotion” is a relatively new appellation that covers a broad scope of mental states within modern day psychological and social thought. Thomas Dixon examines this word and what it has come to mean in his book From Passions to Emotions, shining a light on the evolution of previously termed “passions” and “sentiments” into the broad pool of what is now known generally to be emotions. Being a member of the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge when writing this book, Dixon often invokes theological histories and religious outlooks on distinctly separate passions and sentiments as unrecognized stepping stones to the current understanding of emotions. Emotions are specifically defined as “the autonomous physical or mental states characterized by vivid feeling and physical agitation” (Dixon 18) within Dixon’s discourse; however, it can be understood through the language the author uses that he believes in colloquial settings the term has come to represent almost any voluntary or involuntary mental reaction to external or internal stimuli that is not purely sensational. This inferred modern definition is accepted yet detested by Dixon, as he strives to more accurately identify the origins of the term “emotions” and what entirely it encompasses. James R. Averill, in his journal article “I Feel, Therefore I Am—I Think,” implicitly defines emotions in a very similar way yet attempts to break down emotional responses into the feelings, or self-informative responses, that comprise an emotional episode (Averill 380). While Dixon attempts to investigate the historical roots of the term “emotion,” Averill generally ignores the etymology of the word “emotion” and instead focuses on what aggregates an emotional response. Averill’s work is much more defined and finite in comparison to Dixon’s conclusion, which is rather vague and open to interpretation. Averill concludes that bodily reactions, cognitive appraisals, and instrumental responses altogether play a role in how an individual feels when emotional; on their own, each of these elements cannot elicit an emotional response (Averill 384). The author also recognizes that emotional reactions to a specific situation evolve over time as perspective is gained. Emotion, therefore, is a continuously altering concept that is affected by the social situation one is currently in. Dixon is not quite as specific with his conclusion, as he comes to state that there is no true definition of emotions that can be said to be true for all various conceptualizations of the human mind. Instead, he states that one must learn to be critical and to keep in mind the multitude of approaches utilized to explain and define emotions in the past so that current outlooks on emotions are not so narrowly defined (Dixon 25). The two pieces of academic literature that were referred to do not entirely address the same concept, but they both provide a similar working definition for what an emotion is today: the mind’s response to internal and/or external stimuli. This definition is purposely vague, as many separately defined concepts (such as “passions,” “affections,” and “sentiments”) have now been placed under this large umbrella of emotions. One must be careful, as this approach to defining an emotion falters in supporting any type of serious argument due to the vagueness of the definition. Works Cited Averill, James F. “I Feel, Therefore I Am—I Think.” The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions. Ed. Paul Ekman and Richard Davidson. New York: Oxford, 1994. 379-385. Dixon, Thomas. From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category. Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp.1-25.


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