Hiram M. (Hiram Miner) Stanley.

Studies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling online

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laughter tends to become more rippling and articulate. The
cachinnation and explosiveness has thus a plausible explanation, which
I merely suggest. At least Prof. Dewey’s explanation (_Psychological
Review_, I., 559) that “both crying and laughing fall under the same
principle of action—the termination of a period of effort”—is quite
too general. Tension ceasing, effort stopped, we “breathe freely,”
take deep inspirations. Laughter is far from being the usual outcome
of such a _status_.

- - -

Darwin makes antithesis a principle of expression. Thus the expression
of affection in the dog or cat toward its master cannot, says Darwin, be
traced in any wise to serviceability, and we must seek its explanation
merely as unconsciously and instinctively assumed as directly contrary
to the serviceable hostile expressions. A dog’s expression of anger is,
or has been, directly serviceable action, but the expressions of
affectionate pleasure seem never to have had such an origin, but to have
arisen merely as antithetic to the former, and so establishing the
utmost distinctness of impression. To convey most clearly a motion of
its friendliness the dog naturally assumes those attitudes which are
most diverse from its expression of hostility. Their serviceability as
expressions is best attained by being completely antithetical, and the
more antithetical the better under natural selection. However, if this
be the case, antithesis scarcely deserves, it seems to me, the name of a
principle of expression, but it merely denominates the fact that
opposite emotions in the struggle for existence tend to exhibit
themselves in opposite ways as similar emotions in similar ways; but we
need neither antithesis nor similarity as a principle. I believe that
serviceability past or present either as direct action or as expression
is the prime _impetus_ of what we term the expression of the emotions,
and I confess I do not see much force in Darwin’s Chapter on Antithesis.
If, however, opposition has a meaning for life, as Darwin seems to
imply, then does not the expression come under the law of
serviceability? If there is any opposition in expression, I should
explain this in general by utility rather than by antithesis _per se_.
Thus take the gestures instanced by Darwin (_ibid._, p. 65), of pushing
away with the hand when telling one to go away, and of pulling toward
when telling one to come; these gestures are, indeed, antithetic, but
their explanation does not lie in the fact of the antithesis, but in the
fact of the past serviceable habit, by which individuals disliked or
liked were repelled or attracted. In the present instance the person
motioned to may be far beyond the reach of the arms, but still the
gesture may be more than mere useless survival, for it acts as emphasis
of the vocal expression, and has its influence there.

Darwin for some reason constantly ignores the serviceability of
expression as such—not so much as a fact, but as a principle—and hence
its relation to natural selection, whereby he involves himself in
needless difficulties. If an expression is of use, why should it not
arise through natural selection as well as a limb, a wing, or an eye?
Like other functions, expression may be incidental or may adapt
variations attained originally for other ends, but in the case of the
voice, at least, we have an original organ of expression as instrument
of intercommunication.

Nor can I think Darwin’s treatment of the expressions of affection by
the dog as due to antithesis a very happy or satisfactory solution. In
the first place, the expression of friendliness by the dog is not the
complete antithesis of that of hostility. The dog barks both out of
friendly joy and from anger, as Darwin himself states. Some dogs also,
as I have often observed in my dog, show pleasurable affection by
wrinkling up the lips and showing the teeth, an act which is often
mistaken for a hostile demonstration. Dogs also, as is the habit with my
own, will often express affection in the same way as the cat (_ibid._,
fig. 10), by rubbing against one. This is but an instance of a general
law of expression of affectionate emotion, _i.e._, closeness of contact
with the beloved object which is liked as promoting pleasure. This
instinctive expression of love or liking certainly had its origin in
serviceability, the appropriate effort toward the pleasure-giving thing
or animal, but specially in the relation of parent and offspring, and in
that of alliance in danger. Again, the tail of a hostile dog is, as
figured by Darwin, straight and erect, but the opposite of this is the
tail tucked between the legs when fleeing from pursuers in fear, rather
than the position when showing friendliness to its master. My own
opinion of the rise of the friendly expression of dog, cat, and other
animals toward man is that they are in the main, at least, transferred
from the serviceable friendly expressions used among themselves in a
wild or domesticated state. I have repeatedly seen small dogs, who
attach themselves to some large dog as their master, fawn, posture, and
lick this master precisely as this master does his human master. Dogs
and cats also show their affection and care for their offspring in many
expressive acts which are transferred to their human owners. These
expressions were primarily either directly serviceable actions, as the
licking, or serviceable for expression as such, as various sounds made
to give assurance of presence of food, or of safety. In general, it
seems to me that when antithesis has occurred, it has arisen out of
serviceability and not _vice versâ_.

With reference to the wagging of the tail in the dog, this is far from
being an expression of affection alone. I have already mentioned the
case of the setter where the movement of the tail is largely due to
diffusion of superfluous energy, analogous to nervous habits like pacing
the floor or biting the nails in human beings. With some dogs at least,
as I have noticed in my own St. Bernard, the tail is switched slowly
back and forth when approaching another dog with hostile intent. We have
not as yet a sufficient number of facts at hand with reference to the
history of the dog to pronounce the tail wagging as originating by
virtue of its use as expression. And what is the _rationale_ of the
origin of the tail in the dog and cat, and for what reason has it been
perpetuated? Is it a prehensile survival—which has been taken advantage
of in the breeding of the pug—or is it a sexual characteristic, or did
it originate to perform some directly advantageous action, as the tail
of the cow and horse, or did it come into being as an organ of
expression? Is the tail-wagging recognised by animals themselves as an
expression as it is by man? These are questions on which we must have
more data than we now possess in order to make any sufficient answers.

Again, the rise of the barking by dogs under domestication is another
problem on which little can be said with certainty for lack of data.
Darwin’s remark that it may arise by imitation of the loquacity of man
seems to me ludicrously inadequate, and there seems no element of
imitation in the noise produced. Domesticated animals in general tend to
use the vocal organs for louder sounds than when in the wild state, for
with wild animals the value of a loud noise as expression in any way is
largely counterbalanced by its betraying presence to enemies. When
natural enemies of the dog are driven out by man there will be a
tendency toward a larger use of the vocal organs, both with reference to
companion dogs and also to man. The particular sound, the bark, is
determined by the nature of the whole vocal apparatus. The bark was, no
doubt, originally to frighten aggressors, as I have often seen a large
dog frighten a small dog from a piece of meat by a sudden resounding
bark. Gradually attained as a mode of terrifying his competitive
associates and certain game which it follows under domestication, and so
preserved and developed by natural selection, the tendency is also
powerfully strengthened by artificial selection, the best barker, other
things being equal, being chosen for breeding by man. When the bark has
become a common and habitual practice, it becomes a vent for superfluous
energy developed by joy and other emotions. Like snarling or grinning,
it is also a play form, and thus becomes denotative of joy by
association. To impress one’s friendliness or hostility upon others, to
appease or terrify, are the two main ends of expression with both man
and animals, and this function is excited in various ways by different
species, as determined by environment. The danger signal and the safety
signal, the beware or welcome, is amplified and varied according to
particular requirements which must be fully investigated before we can
give any complete _rationale_ of any expression. Conciliatory and
menacing expressions and gestures have been evolved and matured in
strict correlation under the same general law of natural selection, and
neither one nor the other is due to antithesis. It is entirely unlikely
that of such expressions, one, the hostility side, was first developed
by natural selection, the other owing its rise to a distinct principle,
antithesis.

However, I am not ready to deny antithesis all force as principle of
expression, but it seems to me it should be ranged with law of
similarity or analogy as subsidiary, and largely influential only in the
higher types of expression, especially the teleologic human, as in
gesture. Thus, if thumbs up means pity, thumbs down would naturally be
used to denote pitilessness. To nod the head means assent or yes, to
shake the head means dissent or no, though the exact antithesis would be
to throw the head backward—assent signal with some tribes. However,
while it may be asserted that, as a general law, that like emotions
express themselves in like ways, unlike in unlike, this can hardly be
used to throw much light on expression. Given a particular emotion and
its expression, we can by no means deduce immediately the expression of
the opposition emotion. Particular conditions and special organic
limitations will always make this impracticable, and it is the office of
the scientist to study expression in the course of evolution as of
service under a multitude of conflicting interests and distracting
difficulties.

We view expression then as mainly due to the principle of advantageous
variation in the struggle for existence. Expression is the action
required in the battle for life, or accompaniments to assist this
action, or the call for aid to bring it about. Natural selection is the
first and fundamental law of expression, negative expression and
superfluous energy both being secondary and often pathologic in
tendency.

The struggle for existence is itself on the very face of it an
expression of mind, namely, activity significant of certain will and
feeling experience. Whatever shows mind is expression, and thus in a
large sense every movement in the physical universe—and what is the
universe but motion—and every organic activity may be construed as
expression. Whether all force, motion, action, is or must be expression
is, however, a philosophic investigation which we need not now discuss,
though we may suspect that the height and depth of mind and so the range
of expression is enormously beyond the science of to-day. However,
restricting ourselves to the domain of animal life, it is obviously very
difficult to determine just what activities of a given organism betray
mind, and still more just what form of mentality is manifesting itself.
Man, being the measure of all things, interprets himself in all, and
even when he becomes aware of the dangers of anthropomorphism he cannot
wholly disengage himself from the tendency. The subjective analogical
interpretation is a necessary evil. Still man is the keenest sighted of
all beings for expression, and actions in a very wide range which had
not in fact the real function of expression become expressive to him.
The primary value of fear for the deer is to make it run from danger,
and the running becomes expressive of the fear to observers, though the
running is not for the expression. Thus vital activities of many kinds
are expressive, though their primary value is not in the expression.
Activities whose sole or main value is to give expression are
comparatively late, the value of expression in this narrow sense being
in the mental impression thereby made upon other organisms. Thus actions
which serve purely to frighten others, in making one’s self formidable
by loud noises, as roar of lion, bark of dog, by erecting the hair,
displaying claws, teeth, and other such actions are pure expressions.

There is a constant growth in the value of expressiveness as we ascend
the scale of life, expression playing a larger and larger part till with
man certain individuals become specialized as expressionists, artists,
poets, and orators. Further, fine art is expression which has its value,
not in any exterior utility, but in itself alone, the subjective emotion
seeking in a manner perfectly free from the common utilities of life to
find itself a complete and perfect embodiment. Art here does not serve
life, but life, art. The experience has in itself its own vindication
for being, in that it expresses. Expression is no longer bare action nor
yet a function to serve life, but it becomes a life in itself. In this
ideal life of pure expression we recognise the necessity that the
expressionist be emancipated from the struggle for existence, be freed
from the sordid cares of life, and given up wholly to expressing his
individuality with characteristic force; hence the State often pensions
writers and artists. But apart from this ideal life, in the evolution of
intricate sociality and industry and complex culture, expression becomes
a more and more potent factor. Man in society must not only be, he must
reveal himself, he must show what he is in order to achieve the most.
Many fail, not for lack of faculty, but for lack of expressive ability.
Expression, then, in general, is a function which, starting from the
most minute beginnings in the lower animals, culminates in man. In large
part man is man by reason of his superior power of expression,
especially by speech, oral and written. Evolution in man is on the
mental side in particular, but a large part of this mentality has been
given to the improvement of expression in making it more facile, full
and rapid. The complete natural history of expression is yet to be
written, and all that I attempt is to indicate the point of view for
such an investigation.

There are two points further with reference to expression which merit a
few remarks. The first is as to the reaction of expression on emotion.
We have treated to some extent the relation of emotion to its
expression, but we have also to consider the relation of an expression
to its emotion and to emotion in general. We have all along assumed that
the emotion as a factor in the evolution of life is an internal stimulus
to a serviceable activity, which may be viewed as its expression, or may
even have its value as such. That emotion, as stimulus of action,
determines expression is, I think, a primary law. However, Prof. James
maintains (_Mind_, xxxiv., 188) the reverse—that expression determines
the emotion.[H] We do not strike because we are angry, but we are angry
because we strike. Hence, in reality, the emotion is really the
expression, that is, the emotion is the consciousness result of the
so-called expression—it expresses the “expression” in terms of
consciousness. We commonly speak of expressing our emotions, but we
should rather speak of emotions as expressions in consciousness of
certain bodily activities. But if we make emotion but a psychological
incident and off-shoot of certain activities, I take it we run directly
counter to the general function of mind in evolution as internal
stimulant to useful activity. Emotion is, I judge, fundamentally a
motive force and has its function, and so its rise and development as
such. It is more than a by-product, but even if it were, how should we
account for it? After the serviceable activity has actually been brought
about, after a man has really struck down his adversary, what is the
utility of emotion? We take it that the value of emotion lies in
starting and supporting the activity, and it is advantageous economy
that it cease immediately on the accomplishment of its end. While we
must always suppose that emotion has its physical support in central
neutral changes, yet the expression is truly such; that is, it is from a
different impulse as determined by the emotional brain excitement. In
the light merely of a theory of natural selection, mind in general, and
emotion in particular, is more than incidental concomitant of physical
changes, more than echo of corporeality: it has a vital and central
function in the evolution of life. Prof. James points to the fact that
exercising the expressions or imagining the feeling calls up the
feeling, as a proof of his theory. This, however, is merely a matter of
association, and can prove neither a real precedent nor resultant. We
may call up ideation as well as emotion by producing associated
activities. In the interdependence of the conscious life, emotion,
perception and willing call up each other without reference to causative
order. Any one element of consciousness may be regarded either as
resultant or stimulant, according as we look at preceding or following
state of consciousness. In the order of evolution, pain and pleasure
arise from certain actions in order to inhibit or stimulate repetition
of actions. Feeling is then, both resultant and stimulant. The emotions
may arise from the expressions by association, but the original
dependence is that of expression on emotion. The further test, that we
cannot imagine an emotion without bringing in bodily presentation, is
simply a necessity of the imaging faculty as such, an image by its very
nature being concrete.

- - -

Footnote H:

Professor James has of late largely modified his view (see
_Psychological Review_, Sept., 1894).

- - -

While, then, I believe that emotion is the spring of expression, I am
far from denying that the expression may not react upon the emotion.
Whenever the will in any wise controls expression we mark modifications
in the feeling. In the later evolution of life the directing of
expression is of great importance, and expression is gradually subjected
to the will. Hence, especially with man, it becomes possible to feel in
certain ways and yet to repress the signs of feeling, to have strong
emotions, and yet not betray them to those who might take advantage of
them. When a strong emotion is forcibly and completely checked in its
expression there is commonly rankling. At least it is not true, as
Darwin states (_Ibid._, p. 360), that “repression, as far as this is
possible, of all outward signs softens our emotions.” Very often, as we
all know by personal experience and by observation, the checking the
free expression of emotion tends to intensify, rather than soften, the
emotion. The school-girl, who, on hearing sad news, rushes away to have
a good cry, weeps away her grief, and experiences a deep sense of
relief; while the man who sternly represses the expression of grief
often suffers acutely and long. Grief, of course, sometimes lies too
deep for tears, and we often long to be able to express the pent-up
emotion which chokes us. This state is the opposite of the free, natural
expression of feeling such as we see in children. Children express
themselves without self-control, for this is beyond them; but here is
the power to will expression, but the effort is always futile.

By promoting or repressing expression we do certainly influence emotion;
but this volition is always for reason, and implies, then, a conflict of
feelings. Thus, a feeling for propriety leads the man to control his
tears, and this feeling in itself must tend to diminish the strength of
the concomitant grief. However, though there is a measure of
interference, we would be wrong in supposing that complex mental life is
always comparatively weak in its component elements. The distraction of
interest due to new feelings checking expression is not always equal to
the relieving power of free or promoted expression. The direct checking
of the expressional act certainly keeps back the current of energy from
its natural channel, and the feeling has increased in duration, if not
in quantity. The evanescent character of emotion with young children and
with demonstrative people is well known.

But besides the changes which may come to the feeling through direct
will-effected changes in the expression, we must also note that the mere
consciousness of expression has often a definite influence. Thus, when
greatly frightened, I may become conscious of the heart leaping into the
throat, the trembling, etc.; and this consciousness of the expression
acts in general as a diversion in the feeling which is expressed.
Sometimes, indeed, it seems to add to the feeling, as when a girl
blushes for her blushes. There is an intensification of
self-consciousness which but heightens and renews the expression with
renewed sense of expression, and then another flood of embarrassing
self-consciousness, and so on in a long series. Here, however, the sense
of expression does not in strictness add to the intensity of the
original feeling, but it develops a new feeling of the same kind; at
each step there is new occasion and a renewed feeling, but a total
quantity is constituted, so that we are right enough in saying that the
consciousness of her own blushing but added to her embarrassment. Yet it
may be stated as a general law that a consciousness of our expressive
acts as such tends to decrease the original feeling from which the
expression arises, inasmuch as the field of consciousness is thereby
divided.

When the will attains control over expression we may not merely repress
the impulse to expression when we feel strongly, but having no feeling
of a given kind we may voluntarily adopt its expression, and this
adoption of the expression very often leads by association to the real
feeling. Again, when experiencing a feeling we may simulate the
expression of another or even opposite feeling. It is often advantageous
in the struggle for existence to throw others off their guard by
deceiving them as to the real emotional state; hence, craft and guile
have from a tolerably early stage in evolution played a part in the
history of life. Animals and men alike soon appreciate the distinction
between appearance and reality, that a kind and pleasant expression is
often but the lure of malice and hostility, that injury is often meant
where there is the show of benefit. Plants, as well as animals, often
are quite other than they appear, both for offence and defence; and
there is the wide field of mimetic protection which cannot, however, at
present be brought under our subject.

Simulation of expression probably arose as an economical makeshift; a
mere show which costs the organism little often attains ends which would
otherwise require a vast deal of mental force. Thus we see children
scared into desired behaviour by assumed anger, grief, etc.; and even
animals, as I have noticed with dogs, likewise frequently affect
expressions which have no support in real emotion. The unsophisticated,
however, learn with great rapidity to distinguish between assumed and
real emotion. Any one who has made a pretence of crying before little
children must have remarked this. Simulation of expression in order to
easily reach desired ends is thus rather limited, but still has a real
value and a considerable place under natural selection.

However, expression may sometimes be simulated in order to attain the
associated emotion. If we act mad, we often get mad, and thus, as we see
in the plays of animals and children, merely assumed expression may lead
to the real emotion. This way of attaining emotion by purposely enacting
its known expression, we may call impression as the reverse of the
expression order. Men may work themselves up into a fury, as well as
vigorously express an anger directly occasioned. Actors and public
speakers often take advantage of this reaction of expression on emotion,
and thereby not merely affect an emotion, but have a certain real
emotion, which cannot ever be naïve. Thus Macready as Shylock used to



Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 29 of 32)