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Emotion: The Science of Sentiment Paperback – 14 Feb 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (14 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853769
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.3 x 11.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

My uncontrollable curiosity has led me in some weird and wonderful directions. I once led an experiment in post-apocalyptic living in the Scottish Highlands. On another occasion I made a film for British TV which got banned. I have worked as an interpreter for a Marxist Catholic nun and a Zulu, trained as a Lacanian psychoanalyst in Argentina, and been censured for sharing a scientific paper about fruitbats. I've also taught at various universities around the world, written several popular science books, and set up two companies.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Attractively presented,Emotion is a fascinating survey of the "science of sentiment", as author Dylan Evans calls it. The whole question of the origin and purpose of our emotions has intrigued philosophers, poets and scientists for over 2,000 years. As a research philosopher at King's College in London, Dylan Evans largely concerns himself with the modern scientific investigation of emotions since Darwin's 1872 book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin recognised the deep evolutionary origins of basic emotions such as fear, anger, surprise, disgust etc., but thought that the overt outward expression of them is redundant for our advanced sentiment.

Evans illustrates this still prevalent attitude with the character of Star Trek's emotionless Mr Spock whom we are supposed to admire for his rationality. But to Dylan Evans this is all wrong and we would be much better off if we listened to our heritage of emotions because they still have important functions. Our hair no longer stands on end like that of a cat when we are frightened but we can still feel it do so. A cat's hair automatically stands on end when frightened in order to make it look bigger and become frightening itself. Indeed it can be useful to be frightened because it alerts us to potential danger and can lead to intelligent action rather than a knee-jerk over emotional response. In Emotion, Dylan Evans holds what he calls "a positive view of emotions" because "it maintains that the best recipe for success is a mixture of reason and emotion". Evans is the author of more technical books such as Introducing Evolutionary Psychology and is a regular contributor to The Guardian. He writes wonderfully well for the general reader and whether you under or over-emote, thoughts will be provoked and you will be entertained by Emotion. Further reading, source material and index are all there to help the inquiring mind.-- Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Was love invented by European poets in the Middle Ages ? Will winning the lottery bring happiness ? Can robots that have feelings ever be built ? These are just some of the intriguing questions posed in this widely acclaimed guide to emotions that draw on a wide range of scientific research, takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Jun. 2001
Format: Hardcover
An intelligent but highly entertaining and accessible analysis of emotions, exploring every topic from how / why we can enjoy happiness to why we fall in love. If you enjoy analytic novels such as Alain De Botton's early efforts, you will love this - only it is even more informative, intelligent and compelling than de Botton.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 14 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
In some ways this short, highly readable book would be a good companion to Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence". Like that book, it provides a guide to current scientific thinking about emotion (including many studies not mentioned by Goleman). It also covers philosophical theories of emotion, mood- altering techniques (such as the use of colour to evoke particular emotions), and how robots are beginning to recognise, elicit, and possibly in the future even feel emotions.
One of the central ideas of the book is that emotions provide a 'quick and dirty' way of assessing situations and making decisions which is often more efficient than using reason and logic alone. One of the chapters is called "Why Spock Could Never Have Evolved".
Evans, a philosopher and part time DJ, comes up with a huge quantity of interesting information and ideas in 200 pages. As a scientist with no psychometric test or consultancy to sell, he provides a refreshing alternative to the tendency in many business-oriented books to 'stretch' the concept of emotional intelligence to encompass every presumed quality of a 'good employee' until the term 'EI' loses all meaning.
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By Sarah Durston TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Emotions is a great little book. Easy to read (and short - you should get through it in a couple of hours), it gives good basic information about theories of emotion. I have recently read 'Emotional Rollercoaster' by Claudia Hammond, which I found a little more comprehensive, but nevertheless this is a good basic introduction. Evan's book also includes a good chapter about the possible future of robots/mobots/artificial intelligence and the possibility of computers being able to feel emotion in the future.

The only thing I would critisise is that it isn't brilliantly referenced, so not great from an academic point of view, but if you are reading this for enjoyment it's great. A list of recommended further reading is also provided at the back.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very nice
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Wisdom of Feelings 21 May 2001
By Rob Hardy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
One of the most fascinating characters of modern popular culture is Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan alien on the original Star Trek series. Spock got the Vulcan freedom from emotion in the non-human half of his genes. It sometimes made it difficult to get along with him; he never got jokes, for instance, and was fascinated by what went on around him, but never amused. Because he had no emotions, he made all his decisions with cool rationality, and because he wasted no mental energy on emotions, had had a superhuman degree of intelligence, insight, and logic. Examining Spock's emotionless state is one of the themes in _Emotion: The Science of Sentiment_ (Oxford University Press) by Dylan Evans, a short, witty review of the current scientific and evolutionary views on emotion. Spock could not have evolved in any environment we are familiar with. For instance, fear is a beneficial emotion, helping animals react swiftly. Animals incapable of feeling it would not last long. Emotions, contrary to the opinion held by philosophers through the centuries, are not a drain on intellect, but help it.
Most researchers would include fear, disgust, joy, distress, anger, and surprise in a list of basic emotions. Darwin himself thought that there was a universality of human emotions shared by all cultures, and that this was evidence that humans had evolved together and then the races and cultures had separated. However, this view was not generally held until fairly recently; it was supposed that just as your culture teaches you language, it also teaches you what emotions are part of your world and how to display them. Not true; experiments in the 1960's showed that a remote tribe that had never seen western media could match pictures of faces to the proper emotion, and in reverse, Americans could recognize the emotions being shown by tribal members who were asked to display fear, anger, etc. Emotions, at least some of the basic ones, are indeed universal and part of our genetic rather than cultural heritage.
All in all, Emotions have gotten a bad press, for centuries. _Emotion_, a valuable small primer, helps set the record straight, with amusing examples and fascinating explanations of the experiments that have helped make the role of emotions plain. The lesson is driven home repeatedly: emotions are good for us, they help (not hinder) rationality, and they are there because natural selection has used them to get us around a dangerous, unpredictable world.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Packed with Knowledge ! 15 Mar. 2005
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This layman's guide to the emotions is a delightful walking tour through the gardens of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, not to mention popular culture. Author Dylan Evans proposes the thesis that emotions are an evolutionary necessity that plays an important role in ensuring human survival. He demonstrates his thesis with anecdotes and illustrations. Though it delivers some intellectually rigorous material, this is not an intellectually rigorous book. It is more of a long, agreeable, rambling monologue. We highly recommend it to those who would read it primarily for pleasure, and secondarily suggest it as a useful overview of the evolutionary role of emotions. Its ample bibliography can guide those who are interested in exploring the subject in greater depth.
Wonderfully succinct, useful book 2 Jun. 2013
By Book Buffy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this because it was one of the recommended readings from Karla McLaren's book, and I can see why. A perfect summary of where science now comes in on the evolution and physiological origin of emotions. And it's even light hearted!! A real treasure.
Very easy to read and to follow 27 Aug. 2014
By Arina Pismenny - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is definitely a book intended for popular audience. Very easy to read and to follow. I thought the range of topics was interesting but also since it is a poppy book, the arguments are underdeveloped and many objections are not being considered.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Emotion 11 Feb. 2011
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is very entertaining and interesting. The author uses examples that are very easy for people to relate to so it is easy to understand the concepts regardless of whether or not a person is knowledgeable about the subject. The book brings up some excellent thinking points and interesting ideas that can help a person better relate to other people.
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