Basic emotions:classification and construction in the late nineteenth century
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This is an historical study looking at the notion of basic emotions and emotions classifications as they were formulated throughout the late nineteenth century. Emotions have been, and are, classified into those viewed as basic and complex by philosophers and Psychologists, but this way of organising emotions has been criticised as not being useful to the understanding of emotion. As a result, it has been argued by Solomon(2002) that a historical examination of the concept of basic emotions is required in order to contextualise the way in which it is now defined. This study shows how the concept of basic emotions, and the classifications which were based on it, altered during the late nineteenth century from those which had a moral basis to those which were defined by evolutionary and physiological notions of emotion. Further, it shows that it was framed differently by theorists depending on how they viewed the mind and the methodology they advocated. It argues that the basic emotions concept and the classifications which are based on it are constructed in particular ways at particular times and are subject to both academic and social assumptions about human behaviour.