Affect as a property of consciousness
Chapter 4 endnote 38, from Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:
When your brain represents wavelengths of light reflected from objects, you experience brightness and darkness. When your brain represents air pressure changes, you experience loudness and softness. And when your brain represents interoceptive changes, you experience pleasantness and unpleasantness, and agitation and calmness. Affect, brightness, and loudness all accompany you from birth until death.
The idea that affect is a property of consciousness can be traced back in the Western tradition to the Greek philosophers like Plato, who used the term pathea (pathetic) to refer to the feelings derived from objects. Aristotle advocated using pathos (evoking feelings) to persuade and educate people. Later Roman philosophers, such as Seneca, treated adfectus (feeling) as something to be avoided rather than celebrated, and various writers referred to sensibilities, tempers, passions, fervors and other related concepts whose definitions subtly shifted over time.
In the 18th century, German philosophers wrote about a “self-feeling” (Selbstgefühl), the capacity for feeling (Gefühlsvermögens), and a common sensibility which is a feeling of diffuse sensations coming from the inner condition of the body (Gemeingefühl). The english scientific word "affect" is derived from Wilhelm Wundt's use of the German word Gefühl, meaning “feeling.”
Notes on the Notes
- Frevert, Ute, Monique Scheer, Pascal Eitler, Bettina Hitzer, Anne Schmidt, and Nina Verheyen. 2014. Emotional Lexicons: Continuity and Change in the Vocabulary of Feeling 1700-2000. Oxford University Press.
- Frevert, Ute. 2016. "The History of Emotions." In Handbook of Emotions, 4th edition, edited by Lisa Feldman Barrett, Michael Lewis, and Jeannette M. Haviland-Jones, 49-65. New York: Guilford Press.
- Eitler, Pascal. 2014. "The 'Origin' of Emotions: Sensitive humans, sensitive animals." In Emotional Lexicons: Continuity and Change in the Vocabulary of Feeling 1700-2000, edited by Ute Frevert et. al, 91-117. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 104.