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Emotion: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 13 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Ill edition (13 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804617
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,354 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

Review

Review from previous edition a pop science classic (John Walsh, Independent on Sunday)

Evans provides a charming crash course on human sentiments (The Times,)

a fun little book . . .Highly accessible, this little gem deserves to sell well . . . student friendly . . . excellent introductory book (Simon Baron-Cohen, Nature)

readable and thought provoking account (Susan Aldridge, Focus)

Evans roams enjoyably through the firelds of psychology, psychotherapy, robotics, drugs and old-fashioned romance, like Alian de Botton in a labcoat (The Guardian (Review))

This book is a charming primer on the up-and-coming science of emotions. (James Kingsland New Scientist)

An admirably clear, intelligent and witty introduction (Steven Poole, Guardian)

a wealth of good sense backed by evidence (Marek Kohn, Evening Standard)

a witty little book (Iain Finlayson, The Times)

At last, an accessible and fascinating account of a neglected aspect of our mental lives. (Lewis Wolpert, author of "Malignant Sadness")

About the Author

Dylan Evans is a Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at King's College London, where he directs a research project in the evolution of the emotions. In his previous lives, he worked as a film-maker and psychotherapist. He is the author of Introducing Evolutionary Psychology (Icon, 1999) and Rethinking Emotion (MIT Press, forthcoming), and contributes regularly to the Guardian. In his spare time he is also a DJ.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J Llewellyn on 19 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
The VSI series is something of a mixed bag quality-wise, but Evans has done a good job with this sharp introduction to Emotion.

Eschewing the thorny little devil of definition till last, Evan's first chapter introduces us to several categories of emotion. He describes how the most basic emotions (fear, joy, disgust) are common to most higher-animals through the shared limbic system, an age-old group of brain structures, whilst other emotions we're more complicit in creating, either by incessantly thinking over them (cognitive feedback) or through social expectations of our behaviour.
The second chapter deals with the bad press emotion sometimes picks up as an occlusion to rational, and so presumably saner, thought. Evans tries to show how emotions have been an important evolutionary tool for the past 100million years; fear and joy each being quite functional adaptations teaching us what to avoid and what makes sense to cherish.
The following two chapters deal with our ability to induce emotions and how our emotional potential affects us every day in positive ways we are often unaware of. Finally, in chapter five, Evans begins to ask the question, `what is emotion?' His answer is that there is no stock of emotions as such, but rather emotional events, combining behavioural, neurobiological and evolutionary aspects. And although this may seem unsatisfying to some, it does leave the door open nicely for the evolving areas of AI and Robotics. Computers with genetic algorithms evolving their own programmes and environmental interactions may well develop forms of emotive consciousness different from our own yet no less `real'.

I liked this book. Evans has enthusiasm and a sense of humour, he's not too stompy in the boggy bits and leaves enough trails for the intrepid to explore. Frankly, that's what you look for from an intro writer... other VSI authors take note.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Emily - London on 8 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book claims classic status, and argues that computers may need to have emotions too in the future. It travels from the realms of the `universal' language of human facial emotion, through brain structure, to discuss the social and biological value of the emotions. In the process, it argues that Spock could never have evolved, because emotions are so important in effective decision-making alongside Spock-like reason.

It travels on from that to efforts at philosophy - defining emotions - in ways which gloss over the physiological basis of emotions in the brain and in physical impact on the body - so it is easier for him to argue that computers could truly have emotions. Interestingly, the picture he uses of two robots falling in love is of course of two robots in human bodies.

Much of this is superficial. But there are gems of insight and nuggets of information reviewing the experimental literature - some good stories along the way ranging from how we flirt when anxious, to tips for interior decor!

Emotions are effective decision-takers guiding natural selection - they help us make better decisions eg to protect a friend from death, to help each other, to run away, and they help us because we anticipate those emotions and therefore act to avoid or achieve them, learning to do so from others as well as by experience. OK. It's a sensible argument, and the emotional brain doesn't do it rationally, it goes straight from sensory thalamus to amygdale and emotional response, often bypassing the cortex that may attempt to rationalise or reassess afterwards.

There is a good discussion of the pluses and minuses of talking to manage emotion - joking, venting, eliminating negative thoughts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Webster on 31 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written introduction to modern thinking about emotions, no longer as phenomena to be controlled with the most stiff of upper lips, but rather as a core part of our being, inextricably colouring our 'reason', and without which we could not evolve. You may not agree with everything that Dylan Evans says - I am not sure about the closing sections on emotional machines, but he does set out how emotions may work and their implications in a short, clear way, introducing neuroscience concepts without boggling the brain.
The book dates from 2000 and so this is not completely up to date for the student of neuroscience or psychology, but remains an excellent introduction for the general reader - and may be a good place for the student to start..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jadescreed on 9 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
i originally brought this to do a research project, picking out the bits that were useful to me but ended up reading it all. very interesting.
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