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Otto's numinous experience / religious experience may just be an excitation without words to describe. It transcends language only.
#affect #has-images #proudfoot

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Even the appealed to religious texts (Buddhist/Zen) are not clear in their description of this experience. Language problem again.
On closer inspection, however, we find that the scriptures upon which the vipassana revival is based (primarily the two Satipatthana-suttas and the Visuddhimagga) are often ambiguous or inconsistent, and contemporary vipassana teachers are frequently at odds with each other over the interpretation of key terms. For example, Buddhist sources categorize the range of available meditation techniques under two broad headings, samatha or ‘concentration’, and vipassana or ‘insight’.

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Experience is a social function. Experience is constructed. Experience is not Cartedian theater.
#sharf
‘If it is admitted that one’s attitudes towards, or reactions to, experiences are in any way and in any degree constitutive of their experiential qualities, so that a change in reactivity amounts to or guarantees a change in the property, then those properties, those ‘qualitative or phenomenal features’, cease to be ‘intrinsic’ properties and in fact become paradigmatically extrinsic, relational properties’ (Dennett, 1992, p. 61). And if these most salient aspects of experience are in fact extrinsic and relational, one must relinquish one’s picture of experience as a determinate something that occurs someplace ‘inside the brain’, in what Dennett calls the ‘Cartesian theater’ (Dennett, 1991).

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Agnosticism about experience: the threat of alien abductions
#sharf
Felicitas Goodman, in her study of spirit possession, goes a step further, assum - ing a decidedly agnostic stance toward the existence of the spirits reported by her subjects. The experience of [the] presence [of spirits] during possession is accompanied by observable physical changes. We should remember that whether these changes are internally generated or created by external agencies is not discoverable. No one can either prove or disprove that the obvious changes of the brain map in possession or in a patient with a multiple personality disorder, for that matter, are produced by psy - chological processes or by an invading alien being (Goodman, 1988, p. 126). Goodman’s agnosticism is but a small step away from John Mack’s qualified acceptance of the existence of alien abductors

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They are writing AGAINST the rhetoric of experience. It is not private. Rather shared. It is not independent from beliefs. It is not subjective???? Is this a conclusion?
The rhetoric of experience regards religious experiences as being four things: absolutely private, subjective, indubitable (for the experiencer), and immediate, in the sense that the experience is independent of the experiencer’s concepts and beliefs.

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“Reason, Husserl says, is the logos which is produced in history. It traverses Being with itself in sight, in order to appear to itself, that is, to state itself and hear itself as logos .... It emerges from itself in order to take hold of itself within itself, in the ‘living present’ of its self- presence. In emerging from itself, [logos as] hearing oneself speak con- stitutes itself as the history of reason through the detour of writing. Thus it differs from itself in order to reappropriate itself. The Origin of Geometry describes the necessity of this exposition of reason in a worldly inscription.

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#has-images

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parallels between Qumran 4QMMT and Galatians
#has-images

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P A R T I I I : P R O B I N G S P E C I F I C E M O T I O N S Chapter 5. Finding Joy in the History of Emotions 103 Darrin M. McMahon

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Barbara Rosenwein, whose Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages articulated a way of doing emotions history that addressed “groups in which people adhere to the same norms of emotional expression and value or devalue the same or related emotions.”

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Susan Karant-Nunn’s recent The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany details the manner in which Protestant, Reformed, and Lutheran emotional “tenors” were created in the sixteenth century through the influence of emer- gent popular forms, the reemphasis of official tradition, and the negotiated blendings of components from each. Karant-Nunn demonstrates, for example, how sermons and material culture signaled to Lutheran churchgoers that late medieval “emotion-oriented piety was at an end.” That piety was recast as a concentrated emphasis on masculinized demonstrations of faith that modeled composure and control, over against the recklessness of female em

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The study also represents something of the way in which much recent scholarship on religion and emotion moves thoughtfully between deep analysis of relatively small communities and a con- cern for wider backgrounds against which that community can be observed. In Passion and Order: Restraint of Grief in the Medieval Italian Communes, Lansing begins with an account involving males (including who were titled) who were fined for mourning the dead a breach of the laws that they themselve

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More of a focus on violence would help to correct the preoccupation with rational “meanings” that can flaw work in this area. Religion is sometimes rational and sometimes it is not. Emotions in religion are sometimes understandable as part of a broader system of mean- ing and sometimes they are not. When we examine cases of religious frictions and especially religious violence—undertaken by groups against their own members as well as against other groups—we see more of the ways in which emotions are less predictable and less systematically arranged in religious life than we might otherwise

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Third, researchers can learn from the surge of scholarship on religious vio- lence since 9/11. That violence typically has strong emotional components and identifies the often self-destructive nature of religious violence—a window into the ambiguity of feeling and its complicated relationship to cognitive aspects of religious life. Investigation of emotion with an eye to religion and violence would steer emotions histories away from the convenient focus on rational strategies of emotional expression and concealment into waters where persons sometimes act against their self-interest, “rational choice” is a less compelling interpretive option, and questions about finality spar with concerns about his- torical contingency and relativism

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The authority of Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and Aquinas, filtered through Bernard, Hadewijch, Luther, a broad array of Continental Pietists, and Scottish realists still exercised a profound influence on Christian writers in the post-Enlightenment West. This came through, for example, in the writings of the German pastor Friedrich Schleiermacher (d. ), who identified a unique emotion, “the feeling of absolute dependence,” that he presented as universally associated with religious experiences. That proposal remained central to much subsequent theorizing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, finding expression most famously in German theologi

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There was good reason to look to Augustine and Aquinas and to their pre- decessors among ancient Greek and Roman writers. The history of emotion in the West and the history of religion in the West have been intertwined for millennia. Religion was de facto queen of the sciences long before it was of- ficially designated “Divinity” and set upon its medieval academic throne. Fol- lowing the Christian recasting of the Greek paideia, philosophy, rhetoric, ethics, natural science the full encyclopedia fell into orbit around religion, and the conventions of religious reasoning were applied to the production of knowledge overall, including the defining of emotion. This was most noticea

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Just as Emile Durkheim in the early twentieth century had discovered in the seemingly private worlds of suicide and religious experience a profoundly social phenomenon, so also did historians find emotional per- formances to be central to religious life in both official and unofficial settings. They accordingly inquired into the performance of emotion in religious practice as it was evidenced in harvest festivals, at dinner tables, and on pilgrimages as much as in religious ceremony, public worship, or otherwise before the alt

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The “thick description” promoted by anthropologist Clifford Geertz as a means of articulating the process of construction of social performances, and the ap- plication of that approach to historical investigation—visible in the writing of Robert Darnton, among others—contributed to the redirecting of researchers’ attention to a focus on locality. That development in turn opened possibilities for taking the immediate social and material contexts of religious activities as keys to understanding emotional expressio

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Holy Week worship, among other ritual enactments, was important because it effectively staged the collective weeping that signaled to others— and to oneself—the state of one’s “heart,” itself a sociotheological construc- tion. Such occasions evidenced that “a science for provoking public tears and compassion existed, with specialized, artists, sculptors, choreographers, and actors.” 10 The significance of such emotional religious performances was mul- tifaceted, but crucial was the fostering of a sense of collective identity among participants. What individuals found “meaningful”—or, perhaps more precisely, how they felt their place before God

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Her analysis of Methodists’ everyday activities shows how men and women endeavored to cultivate emo- tion in their devotional lives by ascetical practices of varying intensity, believing that by experiencing even a small part of the suffering of Christ, they would be drawn into a deeper emotional connection with him. That ascetical impulse ran counter to an emerging Enlightenment view of the body that focused on its beauty and usefulness and stressed the importance of caring for it. The experi- ence of emotional connection with God that came through denying the body food, drink, sleep, or other requirements for health had to be measured against the dangers of mistreating the body. So, for example, Mary Fletcher wrote th

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Interpretation emphasizing materiality and the objectification of emotion generally has been undertaken most effectively in studies that stress the cultural construction of emotion in religion. Researchers have for several decades ex- perimented with strategies for identifying local codes of emotional life and their linkages to religion. Researchers also have been attentive to the risk of steering analysis too far into constructionist interpretation that might miss emotional expression that challenges culturally derived standards for feeling or that un- dermines human inventiveness. 20 Some of the studies of religious weeping that followed upon work by Christian and Eire ref

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The approach to religious history that is most ambitious in its attention to the biological substrata of emotional life is the current work of historian Robert C. Fuller, who has argued for the role of hard-wired emotional programs in reli- gious history. 25

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Modern histories of religion typically have turned to religious texts, and related textual materials, to build interpretations of emotion in religion. Here we touch on new ways to use intellectual materials of the sort discussed at the outset of the essay. Some research has tracked specific tropes through scriptures, theo- logical writings, prayer books, sermons, and other writings in the interest of clarifying how people conceived of specific emotions and how they understood the relation of a certain emotional state to their spiritual status. Typical in this regard is Charles Lloyd Cohen’s analysis of Puritan piety, which he assesses no

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The importance of emotional words embedded in religious texts is evidenced as well in Catherine Peyroux’s historical study of the seventh-century Frank- ish figure of St. Gertrude. Working from the hagiographic Life of St. Gertrude, Peyroux offers interpretation that is narrow in one sense—it is an inquiry into the meaning of one word, furor—but that is fruitfully expansive in its attempt to build from the significations of that word a view of a shared culture of emotion, the “affective world of Frankish nobility.” While exploring various medieval lin- guistic idioms indicating anger, she pointedly asks why Gertrude flew into such

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The intertwining of emotion and cognition in Western philosophical discourses (and especially those before Descartes), as we have seen, suggests such an approach. But text- centered historical study of religion and emotion has for the most part done a good job of attending to the slipperiness of the categories of “knowledge, “pas- sion,” and “reason” that typically organize this kind of scholarship. That aware- ness has been elevated by recent philosophical writing such as that of Rober

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A willingness to play on the boundary of feeling and knowledge is evident, for example, in Debra K. Shuger’s study of Renaissance sacred writings about morals and metaphysics. Shuger demonstrates how appeals to emotion worked hand-in- glove with literary designs that were geared to persuade through references to knowledge. Knowledge in that respect was itself “passionate,” and the emo- tional power of sacred rhetoric was marshaled to present truth in a “nonliteral, nontransparent language.” A similar sort of sensitivity to the ambiguity of emotions language in classic religious texts is visible in Anna M. Gade’s writ- ing about emotions in Sufism, which shows an “affective understanding of the moral order.” The Qur’an and hadith, alongside a cluster of Muslim hagiogra- phies, served in early Islam as bases for the coalescence in Sufism of a process whereby emotions became aestheticized. Emotive experience was conceptually joined with the didactic power of the message of the Qur’an, and that interplay of affect and cognition was practiced through the cultivation of sentiment in the musical recitation of poetry. Emotion was understood neither as merely cognition nor embodied experience but as a technique of joining the individual with the social, the body with thought.

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Scholarship in religion, including the history of religion, long has been focused on what certain words, texts, rituals, dress, foods, and feelings mean to persons. In that project, they have disclosed their collaboration with the presumption—underlying most Western scholar- ship about religion—that persons engage in religious activities because such activities are meaningful. But meaning, like emotion, is an ambiguous term, and especially so for modernity. Its invocation might have less to do with its adequacy as a category for sorting the experience of modernity than its reflec- tion of religiously grounded bias. Specifically, some scholars wonder whether the preoccupation with meaning is an artifact of Christianity and whether there are instances when we ought to set it aside as a prime criterion—as a

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Clifford Geertz, mentioned earlier, has been important for his influence on the history of emotion generally and especially for his emphases upon the constructed self, context, and human drive to build meaningful lives within meaningful cultures. In the historical study of religion and emotion, however, we must conside

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Those interpretations hinge on the translation of emotion into morality, aesthetic standards, beliefs, and rituals, all characteristic features of culture rationally structured and meaningfully arrayed. Such an approach is useful, and in some cases leads to important beachfronts in the exploration of religion as an emotional phenomenon. But, like Reddy’s French who were constrained in their emotional lives by a social discipline that rendered emo- tion as sentimentalism, scholarship in this area risks missing potentially key aspects of emotion in religion by construing the emotional lives of people as inherently meaningful simply because they are lived within recognizable com- munities in historically definable milieus

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#ryan
I propose three additional areas in which I foresee potentially strong returns on scholarly investment. First, by taking the recent “spatial turn” seriously and engaging the growing interdisciplinary scholarship about space and place, historians of religion and emotion can move beyond deadlocked debates—and outmoded language—about “sacred space” and “holy place.” The investigation of space and place as it has been broached in re- cent books such as Emotional Geographies and Emotion, Place and Culture would help to alter the current approach, which too often takes space as an empty receptacle that is filled by culture, where “geography often presents us with an emotionally barren terrain, a world devoid of passion, spaces ordered solely by rational principles.” 37 The experience of space and the process of place-making are central elements of how communities develop codes that order emotional life. It is debatable whether the emotional experience of being in the desert at night, as the French historian Ernst Renan argued, defines the origins of mono- theistic religious belief. 38 But the critical consideration

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econd, the historical study of religion and emotion has much to gain from collaboration with the emergent digital humanities. The algorithmic querying of massive digital corpora, such as the Early American Imprints and Early English Books, can lead to the construction of large linguistic datasets of emotions terms that potentially can be correlated with linguistic markers of religion. Forays in this direction have suggested that work with datasets of scale can yield insights that are not obtainable from analysis of small communities. 39 By advancing on this front, studies of emotion and religion that already are designed as linguistic analyses potentially can establish much broader databases for investigating the relation of emotional cultures to cognitive regimes, including ideologies an

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In The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, William M. Reddy offers a new theory of emotions which both critiques and expands upon recent research in the fields of anthropology and psychol- ogy. Exploring the links between emotion and cognition, between culture and emotional expression, Reddy applies this theory of emotions to the processes of history. He demonstrates how emotions change over time, how emotions have an important impact on the course of events, and how different social orders either facilitate or constrain emotional life. In an investigation of Revolutionary France, where sentimentalism in literature and philosophy had promised a new and unprecedented kind of emotional liberty, Reddy’s theory of emotions and historical change is successfully put to the test.

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Wordsworth meant when he declared that the mind attaches itself to words, ‘not only as symbols of . . . passion, but as things, active and efficient, which are of themselves part of the passion’ ” (1995:109, emphasis in original).

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The fact is that there is not one revolution in the study of emotions going on right now, but three, proceeding almost independently of each other. Psychologists have found ways of applying laboratory techniques devised for the study of cognition to questions involving emotion, sparking one revolution. Ethnographers have developed new field techniques and a new theoretical apparatus for understanding the cultural dimension of emotions, sparking a second. Finally, historians and literary critics have discovered that emotions have a kind of history (but what kind is not entirely clear).

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One glaring difficulty with the presumption that human nature is entirely variable is that it implicitly abrogates any understanding of historical change. Why should a given historical context change, in any meaningful way, if it has the power to mold human nature and human experience, inside and out, to its own specifications? Suppose, how- ever, that the context does change. The new cultural context is equally powerful; the life of the individual equally determined and confined by its structures. Why should such change matter to anyone?

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In addition the approach faced two other nagging problems: (1) What happened to emotions when arousals subsided and the face returned to neutral? (2) How were emotions such as love, shame, or nostalgia to be fit into the scheme, when they had no obvious single facial expressions to go with them (Fischer & Tangney 1995)?

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Barnett and Ratner, in a recent review of research into emotional development, saw this issue as so important that they proposed a new word for what we do when we think-feel: “cogmotion,” a term better able than words currently in use to repre- sent “the interactive and inseparable nature of cognition and emotion” (1997:303)

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[T]o the extent that affect can have an influence automatically – without attention or intention and seemingly irresistibly – it can be understood as a deeply ingrained, overlearned habit, or as a process of chunking and organizing the situation. Thus, . . . seemingly irresistible feelings might be addressed in much the same way that other overlearned processes are understood, or in the way that other broad constructs or conceptualiza- tions are refined (differentiated or “unpacked”)

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his kind of intensity, Clore concludes, “depends on the desirability of the event” which occasions the emotion; and this, in turn, depends on “the centrality of relevant goals, and hence on the amount that a change in the goal dislocates the rest of one’s network of goals” (p. 392; emphasis added).

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Second, valence is by no means a straightforward characteristic of emotions. Feldman Barrett, for example, in a recent study found that First, the desirability of a mood and the hedonic quality [valence] of a mood are related, but not identical entities. Secondly, the desirability of a mood is also related to the level of arousal the mood denotes. Thirdly, desirability components are related to the self-report ratings of mood, but the ratings also reflect the hedonic tone and level of arousal describing the internal state of the respondents. (1996:47

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Valence and intensity may therefore be misnamed, mispackaged concepts. On the one hand, one can indeed identify various con- figurations of physiological arousal; these may be categorizable into pleasant and unpleasant, in a hardwired sense, just as sweetness is pleasant to the tongue and a pinprick hurts the skin. Such valenced arousal patterns are not emotions, however. On the other

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Roy D’Andrade makes this same point: “The network of connections between goals and drives is extremely complex, involving ‘many-to- many’ mappings; these relations are so intricate that they can rarely be empirically determined” (1992:31). D’Andrade and his associates (e.g., Holland 1992; Quinn 1992; Strauss & Quinn 1997) have argued that humans simplify this complexity by identifying, learning, and imple- menting “schemas,” many of which become invested with “motiva- tional force” – that is, with great emotional significanc

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The goal-relevant “valence” of emotions and their goal-relevant “intensity” reflect the fact that deeply integrated goals are themselves sustained by overlearned cognitive habits which the individual has little or no capacity to evaluate or change, at least in the short run. The working through of intense (in the sense of duration, as in Clore 1994, quoted above) emotions such as grief, shame, chronic anxiety, is the process of changing such deeply integrated goals

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In sum, psychologists have moved away from linear models of cogni- tion toward models involving multiple pathways, multiple levels of activation and types of activation, involving complex combinations of suppression and enhancement. Departure from linear models has forced psychologists to drop, as well, neat dividing lines between con- scious and unconscious, supraliminal and subliminal, controlled and involuntary processes. These shifts have brought in their train a sweep- ing reconceptualization of the nature of emotion – a “revolution in the study of emotions,” as Fischer and Tangney have noted (1995:3).

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Tra- ditionally, emotion was associated both with nonlinear (free-associa- tional, poetic, or symbolic) thinking and with physiological arousal (blushing, adrenaline flow, changes in heart rate, and so on). These two types of phenomena were linked in that they both departed from a vision of conscious, rational, voluntary action that was believed to be the hallmark of human intelligence. Symbolic thinking is not strictly rational; physiological arousal is not strictly under voluntary con

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Because of their artfully arranged structure, these bits of poetry could not be construed, in some simple way, as spontaneously reveal- ing what was otherwise hidden, but true, sentiment. Abu-Lughod did not find, either, that such use of ghinna¯was reflected resistance to the political status quo, norms, or customs of the community. Those who used them remained as committed as ever to their own, and their lineage’s, honor, and as ready as before to obey elders. What ghinna¯was did make possible, Abu-Lughod concluded, was the depiction of the self as able to creatively master strong divergent feelings – a

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Clifford Geertz (1973), who defined culture as a symbolic system, as a “model of” social life that was routinely used as a “model for” the carrying out of social performances. But, if culture in this sense deter- mines both our thinking and our emotions – indeed, everything about us, motivations, dreams, desires – then there are no possible political grounds on which a culture can be criticized. If everything we want is merely an outgrowth or an artifact of our culture, then it is impossible for us to want to be free of that culture, or to want to chang

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For this reason, like many anthropologists in the 1980s, Abu-Lughod and Lutz distanced themselves from the culture concept, preferring to speak of “discourses” rather than using Geertz’s concept of culture. “Discourse,” in Foucault’s thought, is recognized as a locus for the exercise of political power. Discourses, for Foucault, by the very cate- gories they employ, give rise to disciplinary activities and license insti- tutional structures of domination. Discourses differ from culture as Geertz understood it in that they are potentially multiple (more than one may be available at a given time), in that they change over time (although how they come to change is not explained in Foucault’s writ- ings), and in that they may be resisted (although how

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She took as an example a New York radio talk show she had heard, in which callers sought emotional advice from a pro- fessional psychologist. What struck me most about what I heard was that the psychologist kept asking over and over, “How did you feel?” – How do you feel when this happens, what did you feel when he said that, what did you feel when he did that? She took for granted this mode of getting at the truth, this focus on emotions as touchstones of personal reality. And I suspect that the poor caller, had she later gone into therapy, would have learned to populate her narratives about herself and her relationships with a legion of emotions too. She would have learned to practice on herself and on others, to adapt a notion from Foucault (1985:5), a hermeneutics of feeling. (Abu-Lughod 1990:24

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Constructionism seems to offer greater safeguards against the insid- ious effects of unnoticed ethnocentrism, but at the cost of a relative inability to conceptualize oppression and emotional suffering within the communities that are the objects of research. But the psychocultural approach, basing its work on sometimes vague notions about human commonality, cannot offer guarantees against the kind of Eurocentric condescension Abu-Lughod has condemned with particular eloquence (1991). What the anthropology of emotion most sorely lacks, at present, is a unified conception of emotions as part of the historical unfolding of politically significant institutions and practices

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to find a way out of the constructionist dead end. I have also in the past used this term “feeling” as if it referred to a special entity, wholly independent of thought, without defining it further (Reddy 1997a). Obviously, current research on emotions by psychologists raises dif- ficulties for such a view, with its increasing inability to distinguish emotion from cognitive habit.

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“Force,” “resonance,” “interference,” “feeling,” and similar terms, as with Kleinman and Kleinman’s notions of suffering and experience, seem to offer an extracultural dimension of existence that we share with persons of all cultural contexts. This extracultural dimension allows us direct emotional access to them and, in certain cases (especially for Kleinman & Kleinman, Jenkins, Wikan, and Lyo

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To summarize the argument so far: Emotions have been the object of a new wave of research in both cognitive psychology and cultural anthropology since the 1970s. Research in both fields has tended to undercut the received Western common sense about emotions

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We would expect to find two features universally: (1) that communities construe emotions as an important domain of effort, and (2) that they provide individuals with prescriptions and counsel concerning both the best strategies for pursuing emotional learning and the proper end point or ideal of emotional equilibrium. Emo- tional regimes would be essential elements of all stable political regimes.

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Poetry gained its efficacy, Abu- Lughod notes, because it was “a sign of powerful feeling creatively managed” (p. 246; emphasis added). On Ifaluk, children are said to attain repiy (which Lutz translates as “social intelligence”) by the age of six. This faculty enables them to learn the principal social emotions, fago (“love/compassion/sorrow”), which binds people together, and

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