EMOTION: The Science of Sentiment

Dylan Evans, Author . Oxford Univ. $15.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-19-285433-9

Does emotion hamper our ability to function as intelligent and responsible creatures, or ist it actually an evolutionarily determined mechanism? In this wide-ranging discussion of the relationship between intelligence, feeling and our capacity to make rational judgments, Evans (Introducing Evolutionary Psychology) taps the insights of such Western philosophers as Hume, Plato, Kant and C.S. Lewis. Arguing that many "basic" emotions—such as joy and anger—are universal rather than culturally specific, Evans suggests that emotions must have become part of our "common biological inheritance" because they were advantageous to us as a species. Unfortunately, he cites few psychological or scientific studies to buttress his claims about the "science of sentiment," relying instead upon seductive but unsupported statements such as "the reason that falling in love makes us happy is that those of our ancestors who liked falling in love were more likely to pass on their genes than those who preferred solitude." This volume's major flaw is Evans's resistance to fully defining the term "emotion" until the final chapter, insisting instead, "Definitions... can easily become intellectual straightjackets." Still, the book's simple, sleek design and eye-catching cover will draw attention. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Paperback - 204 pages - 978-0-19-285376-9
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-19-280461-7
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