In the study of human emotions, the human sciences traditionally use two strategies which are both inadequate. Ethology and certain schools of psychology search for the natural constants which characterize human as well as other animal emotions. Sociology and history treat emotions as something spiritual outside the realm of nature. Against the monistic reductionism of the first and the dualistic isolationism of the second strategy, the present contribution argues for a process-oriented approach which investigates both the emergence of emotions in biological evolution and their functions in the development of human societies. A theoretical basis for this research is given by the formulation and discussion of three hypotheses: 1. the occurence of man was an evolutionary breakthrough which led to the dominance of learned ways of stearing behavior over unlearned ones. 2. A human being not only has the capacity of learning but is forced to learn in order to become a full functioning human being. 3. No emotion of a grown-up person is ever an entirely unlearned, genetically fixed reaction pattern. Concerning the structure of emotions, it is emphasized that every emotion consists of a physiological, a behavioral, and a feeling component. Whoever reduces the behavioral component to a mere expression of feeling, misunderstands the specific function of emotions in human interaction. Their differentiation through learning and their communication allows humans to live together in a society and makes possible the emergence of culture.


Quelle: Zeitschrift für Semiotik