When this monograph was first published in 1872, there already existed a good deal of thought on facial expression via the study of physiognomy; this work, notes Charles Darwin (1809-82), was full of 'surprising nonsense'. Setting aside the assumption of previous studies that human facial muscles were created specifically for a range of expressions unique to the species, Darwin sets out here to make a systematic study of both human and animal expression. The range of his research is extraordinarily wide: he not only ...
When this monograph was first published in 1872, there already existed a good deal of thought on facial expression via the study of physiognomy; this work, notes Charles Darwin (1809-82), was full of 'surprising nonsense'. Setting aside the assumption of previous studies that human facial muscles were created specifically for a range of expressions unique to the species, Darwin sets out here to make a systematic study of both human and animal expression. The range of his research is extraordinarily wide: he not only experimented on himself, but observed infants, consulted doctors in psychiatric hospitals and sent out requests to missionaries and travellers for first-hand notes on the expressions of aboriginal peoples. Learned, meticulous and illustrated with an impressive array of drawings, photographs and engravings, Darwin's work stands as an important contribution to the study of human behaviour and its origins.
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This book clearly demonstrates the brilliance of Darwin, His work is still used to day in the study of emotional dynamics.
Aug 23, 2008
Another classic from Darwin
Darwin?s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals came after The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. In this work Darwin illustrates the basic suite of human facial expressions and allied bodily movements and relates these to the expression of emotions in animals. He provides a very argument for how far genetics preponderate in the expression of emotions, and at what point human gestures and expressions come to be determined by culture. His solution is that the basic suite of emotions have a universal expression in all human societies, but that beyond these, gestures are culturally-determined. (The expression of emotions are also culturally-determined in that different societies have different rules on how openly individuals are allowed to express the basic emotions). Would that more intemperate researchers of later times (those who try to put everything down to nature or, alternatively, everything down to culture) read these pages and took note.
Paul Ekman?s edition is a putative third edition of the work; The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals had only one edition during Darwin?s lifetime. A second edition was edited by his son and published after his death, but did not include all the material that Darwin would have wanted to include, which is now in this edition. The only problem I have with it is that Ekman discusses his own research in this area in text boxes where Darwin?s words suggest such a discussion. This seems rather presumptuous, and I would have thought it would have been better to put this discussion in footnotes.
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