On Affection


‘In psychology the terms “affection” and “affective” are of great importance. As all intellectual phenomena have by experimentalists been reduced to sensation, so all emotion has been and is regarded as reducible to simple mental affection, the element of which all emotional manifestations are ultimately composed. The nature of this element is a problem which has been provisionally, but not conclusively, solved by many psychologists; the method is necessarily experimental, and all experiments on feeling are peculiarly difficult.

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The solutions proposed are two. In the first, all affection phenomena are primarily divisible into those which are pleasurable and those which are the reverse. The main objections to this are that it does not explain the infinite variety of phenomena, and that it disregards the distinction which most philosophers admit between higher and lower pleasures.

The second solution is that every sensation has its specific affective quality, though by reason of the poverty of language many of these have no name. W. Wundt, Outlines of Psychology (trans. C. H. Judd, Leipzig, 1897), maintains that we may group under three main affective directions, each with its negative, all the infinite varieties in question; these are (a) pleasure, or rather pleasantness, and the reverse, (b) tension and relaxation, (c) excitement and depression. These two views are antithetic and no solution has been discovered.

[…] Thus it is found that the action of the heart is accelerated by pleasant, and retarded by unpleasant, stimuli; again, changes of weight and volume are found to accompany modifications of affection—and so on.’

– Everett Hooper. H., Chisholm. H. 1911. Encyclopædia Britannica Cambridge, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press (1911) p. 71-72

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