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
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