Concepts of Emotions in Indian Languages

in Volume 11 (2016): Issue 1 (Jun 2016)

At first glance, a conceptual history of emotions appears counterintuitive. Unlike the concepts of democracy or liberalism, emotion concepts seem to refer to stable objects, rooted in the genetic heritage of the human race. However, answers to the question, “What is an emotion?” vary widely across time and space. It cannot even be taken for granted that our analytic concept of emotion is matched by corresponding concepts in the sources: the very question might be untranslatable. In the first section, the introduction will discuss the challenge a conceptual history of emotions faces from psychology’s perception of affective phenomena as objects that exist independent of their representation. The aim of this section is to clear the theoretical and methodological ground for an investigation of emotion concepts in South Asian traditions, which will be the central focus of the second section of this introduction.

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