Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
good enough for my pennies
on 19 October 2008
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.