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on 9 September 2008
Darwin's book is seminal in the understanding of emotions, and is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1872.

However, you must be careful to buy the right edition. In particular, Amazon is rather cavalier about sharing reviews and "search inside" images between different editions that just happen to have the same title. Don't let this mislead you.

Paul Ekman's definitive third edition published by Fontana [ISBN 0006387349] starts with the text and illustrations (including photographs) from the 1889 second edition, and includes further changes that Charles Darwin had indicated but which his son Francis did not include. Ekman adds further photographs and his own comments, which put the work fully into a modern context. It's a fine piece of scholarship.

On the other hand, the Filiquarian edition [ISBN 1599869152] is complete rubbish. It just reprints the freely available text of the second edition with no illustrations and no copy editing. Avoid it.

The Ekman edition fully deserves a 5* review, but I am only giving four because Amazon will attach this review to all the editions, and I want you to read it and realise the difference!
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on 30 June 2009
this book is an amazing insight into nature and emotions, but i was very dissapointed when i recieved The Echo Library (1 Oct 2007)version which had no references or illustrations and is a dreadful reproduction of this classic work. i had to buy it again this time the by Charles Darwin and Paul Ekman (Paperback - 6 April 1999)version. i would have hoped a more recent publication would be better but alas not. stear well clear of the echo library 2007 version.
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on 12 October 2010
I was made aware of this book by a very entertaining seminar on human expression and FACS coding. As a biologist of course I had to buy this less well known book by Darwin.

As always, Darwin takes great care as he works his way through the origins and recognition of emotions in both man and animals. He tries to explain how they might have evolved. Darwin uses a wealth of references to back his ideas. Modern readers can find Victorian writers a bit heavy in the way they write but this is an enjoyable book if you read it in stages (as I am still doing!)

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts was Darwin's belief in the "inheritance of acquired characteristics", as proposed by Lamarck. Darwin could see nothing wrong with the idea that expressions in frequent use become acquired. It made me, as a biologist, aware that Darwin was a man of his time. We must not forget that there was no physical explanation at the time about how natural selection works on genes that are transferred to offspring. Darwin was unaware of Mendel's work, for example.

Darwin's work on the expression of emotions fell into disfavour in the 20th Century. The balance of scientific opinion swung towards a belief that cultural factors were more important. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. It is therefore a pleasure to find that many of Darwin's findings are being rediscovered and confirmed in new research.

The book includes comments by Paul Ekman. Paul is a modern expert, researcher and teacher in facial expression. This is great for the reader, who can then see how Darwin's work fits in with modern opinion. I should add that science is still actively debating the expression of emotions to this day!

An thoughtful book which is a great addition to your bookshelf.
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on 9 June 2012
This book is good, but its hard going because it has french during the paragraph your reading and its also diverts to what other discoverers opinions are on the matters discussed it flits a bit and if youve not studied for a while and are trying to study this subject its hard going but its very interesting when reading about how he studied peoples facial expressions in certain situations its so right i tended after reading this to watch people more carefully when they talked to spot certain expressions which tells you sometimes something totally different from what they are saying and the information in the book on the subjects been studied is facinating and i really did enjoy it just had to learn to skip read and pull out the info i was after, a clever man in all its a good book.
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on 26 January 2014
When Charles Darwin in 1859 finally made public his theory of evolution by natural selection in "On the Origin of Species", he avoided writing about human evolution, except for saying that "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history."

But by the early 1870s he felt confident enough to openly discuss the evolution of humans from animals. He did this in "The Descent of Man" (1871) and in this book, "The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals" (1872).

In "The Expression of Emotions" Darwin's main aim was to show that humans are not separate from animals. He shows the origins of human facial expressions in the animal world, and he argues that human expressions are innate and universal (the same in all cultures).

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Darwin's ideas. But in my view it is not Darwin at his best. It has been pointed out that there are two main weaknesses in the book. Firstly, Darwin focuses mainly on the emotional roots of facial expressions and says too little about the role of expressions in communication.

Secondly, despite having developed the revolutionary (and correct) theory of natural selection as the mechanism for evolutionary change, Darwin mistakenly allowed a subsidiary role for the Lamarckian idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This book is unfortunately full of examples of this latter idea.

In recent decades the book has also featured in controversies over the so-called "nature versus nurture" debate. Social anthropologist Margaret Mead argued that human facial expressions are learned, not innate, and that they vary from one culture to another. Psychologist Paul Eckman, on the other hand, says that Mead has been proved wrong and that Darwin was correct in saying that human facial expressions are the same in all societies, reflecting their evolutionary and genetic rather than cultural origins.

But even if Ekman is correct on the specific issue of facial expressions, this does not mean that we can explain all other aspects of human behaviour primarily in genetic terms, as biological/genetic determinists claim. Ekman says that both nature and nurture play a part in determining human behaviour, which is clearly true, but he himself actually seems to lean much more towards the "nature" side. In fact he has claimed that "Darwin led the way not only in the biological sciences but in the social sciences as well." Ekman seems to be using Darwin's "Expressions" book as a stick with which to beat those who put forward social explanations of human behaviour.

In fact it is not just social scientists who argue that we cannot explain all human behaviour in biological terms. Evolutionary theorists like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin also show that humans have evolved to be creatures which, because of their large brain, are very flexible in their behaviour. The result is that much of our behaviour (though perhaps not our facial expressions) is learned and therefore the result of social factors and interactions.

I am a great fan of Charles Darwin, and Darwin may well have been right about facial expressions being largely innate, but we should not try to use Darwinism to explain our society (and its problems).

Phil Webster.
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on 2 June 2010
Fascinating work, definitely the best edition to buy, with up-to-date explanations making it easier to follow and compare with more recent studies. Shows how Darwin was light years ahead of his time, scholarly but comprehensible for lesser mortals like me!
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on 17 February 2013
The brilliant Mr Darwin's words did their utmost to redeem this appalling sham of a version. Failure to provide any of the images which are integral to the text is unacceptable. The text routinely references and seeks to elucidate the meanings of expressions - all of which images are simply omitted. What is more, the merging of (mostly incomplete) footnotes into the main body of the text detracted from its flow and readability and the regular typos and sentences left hanging was extremely . This is a cheap and nasty version of a no doubt brilliant original. Clearly the publishers/printers did not bother to read this poor imitation, as to do so would surely make them blush with shame!
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on 26 July 2013
I got the amazon printed version, which is not very pretty, has no pictures, and footnotes are merged. Try and make sure you get an edition with paul ekman's introduction!
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on 9 May 2014
World shattering book of a genius which has changed the meaning of life for the human species to live on this planet
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on 13 July 2015
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