Ekman’s Paradox and a Naturalistic Strategy to Escape From It

Ekman’s Paradox and a Naturalistic Strategy to Escape From It

Jordi Vallverdú (Department of Philosophy, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/ijse.2013070101
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The purposes of this paper are two: first of all, to show that blind-following of a oversimplistic model of emotions like happens with Ekman’s one is a bad situation for contemporary researchers from different disciplines. The author has called this situation, the Ekman’s paradox; at the same time, the complexity and divergence of ideas, concepts, methodologies and evidences among emotion researchers makes difficult to obtain the necessary agreement to facilitate future researches. Consequently, and this is the second purpose of this text is to define an unique and very specific emotion, pain, as a fulcrum from which to start to define a clear map of emotions. Pain has been chosen due to its specific and unique hardwired body mechanisms as well as a universal agreement among experts about its primordiality. Changing a word to make this explicit, one can have a new start point for the understanding of emotions: dolet, ergo sum.
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2. Conceptual And Taxonomical Disagreements On Emotions

Despite of the overall extended, positive reinstated and updated use of the notion of “emotion” into scientific and humanistic studies, there is still an unconceivable lack of agreement about its meaning as well as their conceptual contents. Do basic emotions exist? If so, how many do we can identify? Are some of them primary, secondary or tertiary? That should be a core set of natural emotions from which other more complex and social evolved, can be easily accepted…but which ones?

Something probable, from an evolutionary point of view and existing evidences is that some basic emotions should be at the basis of the complex set of emotions. But even in this case...what is an emotion? A feeling, some special kind of body or brain information, one black box qualia?

If we look to Ortony and Turner (1990) we can look at the several suggestions of basic emotions (updated by Vallverdú, 2013) as seen in Table 1.

Table 1.
List of basic emotions according to several researchers
TheoristBasic Emotions
PlutchikAcceptance, anger, anticipation, disgust, joy, fear, sadness, surprise
ArnoldAnger, aversion, courage, dejection, desire, despair, fear, hate, hope, love, sadness
Ekman et alAnger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise
FrijdaDesire, happiness, interest, surprise, wonder, sorrow
GrayRage and terror, anxiety, joy
IzardAnger, contempt, disgust, distress, fear, guilt, interest, joy, shame, surprise
JamesFear, grief, love, rage
McDougallAnger, disgust, elation, fear, subjection, tender-emotion, wonder
MowrerPain, pleasure
LevensonEnjoyment, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, interest....love, relief...
Oatley et alAnger, disgust, anxiety, happiness, sadness
PankseppExpectancy, fear, rage, panic
TomkinsAnger, interest, contempt, disgust, distress, fear, joy, shame, surprise
WatsonFear, love, rage
Weiner etalHappiness, sadness

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