Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Not feeling like you have an adequate grasp on the emotional possibilities of humanity?

Here is a post from Berkley: Scientists pinpoint 27 states of emotion

A new UC Berkeley study challenges a long-held assumption in psychology that most human emotions fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust….“We found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to each video,” said study senior author Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychology professor and expert on the science of emotions.

Moreover, in contrast to the notion that each emotional state is an island, the study found that “there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration,” Keltner said.

I must admit that I am not super-impressed by this “new” delineation of “newly recognized” emotional states. The reasons we have different words for aesthetic appreciation, awe, admiration, joy, and adoration, among so many others, is because we already recognize these concepts as expressing distinct emotional states.

This link is via The Passive Voice, where TPG says, “PG says this may permit authors to break away from old emotions for their characters and use brand new emotions. Or not. Authors have managed to do quite a bit with happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust without (in PG’s emotionally humble opinion) exhausting all the possibilities.”

Yes, no kidding.

Significantly more interesting imo is this 2013 article: 21 Emotions For Which There Are No English Words, which gives us, for example:

Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery

Pena ajena (Mexican Spanish): The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation

Gezelligheid (Dutch): The comfort and coziness of being at home.

Also, five “new emotions” connected to the computer age. I note in passing that all of these are negative.

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1 Comment Not feeling like you have an adequate grasp on the emotional possibilities of humanity?

  1. Allan Shampine

    This is a significant problem in Buddhist scholarship as English does not have good equivalents for many Sanskrit words describing mental states. As an obvious example, a basic tenet of Buddhism is often translated as life is suffering, but suffering is really a poor translation. The concept is much more complex and subtle, but if you’re a translator and you don’t want to have a paragraph on a single word, you use something in the right ballpark. It’s interesting how different languages emphasize different things.

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