SAPIENCE and SENTIENCE co-constitute our experience of the world and of ourselves in the world. EMOTIONS and FEELINGS are the heart of sentience and represent ancient neuro-based processes that motivate our adaptive actions in our environments. 


why do we sometimes suddenly remember a name when we stop trying to think of it?


“Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis”


“Unencumbered by the thought process” —Tom  Magliozzi’s motto on the radio show, “Car-Talk.” He also had a sign in his office: “Reality often astonishes Theory” (Occam’s Razor at the throat of reality)



“Emotions” are expressions of positive or negative “affect” –motivation which we can explicitly assess in terms of intensity, quality, and contextual appropriateness; “feelings” are the subjective result of these processes and pleasure and pain, happy or sad.

The term “EMOTION” engages a vast number of more-or-less nuanced states of more-or-less conscious feelings.   Wikipedia has undertaken an Emotion Project to describe as much of this situation as possible.  Their most direct definition of emotion (of many possible) is: “…a positive or negative experience that is associated with a particular pattern of physiological activity.” Emotions produce different physiological, behavioral and cognitive changes. The original role of emotions was to motivate adaptive behaviors that in the past would have contributed to the passing on of genes through survival, reproduction, and kin selection.[8][9] In other words we possess and express emotion because our evolutionary history has made it adaptive to do so. (There is however a possible spandrel argument: that is, emotions represent a side-effect or collateral effect or by-product of some other adaptive process)

With respect to representing our feelings as opposed to reasoned thought there is a great abundance of terms in many languages which in their subtlety are almost untranslatable. And brilliant neologisms (see John Koenig’s Berkeley TED talk on new words for emotion.  such as anemoia




LIKING, WANTING, LEARNING in honey bees and humans

(excerpts from Huang et al. 2022)


“In mammals, the subconscious “wanting” of something, such as food, is facilitated by a complex neurobiological process that involves dopaminergic signaling. In a eusocial animal, such as the honey bee, individuals supply food not just for themselves but also for their colony. Huang et al. looked at the neurobiological basis of wanting in honey bees (Apis mellifera) and found that it is also controlled by a dopamine-based signaling process, suggesting a shared mechanism across millions of years of divergence (see the Perspective by Garcia and Dyer). Furthermore, they found that wanting was stimulated in bees based on their own individual desire to forage as well as observation of the bee waggle dance, suggesting the existence of a colony-level motivation mechanism. —SNV


“The study of how brains encode pleasure (12) has uncovered the neural and molecular underpinnings of hedonic (i.e., pleasant) experiences such as reward. Psychological components in the processing of appetitive rewards have been identified (3) and traced to dissociable circuits in the mammalian brain (1): (i) “liking,” which refers to the actual pleasurable impact of reward consumption; (ii) “wanting,” which refers to the motivation to reach the reward; and (iii) “learning,” which includes the implicit and explicit information about reward acquired through individual experience (4). In mammals, the process of wanting is mediated by neural systems that include mesolimbic dopamine (15).   (Read Huang et al. 2022)



AFFECT, FEELING, EMOTION.   “At the onset, it is relevant to clarify our understanding of the concepts of affect, feeling, and emotion. These concepts are used with slightly different meanings by authors. We assume the terminology proposed by Russell (2003[64]; 2009[65]), by which core affect defines a state grossly characterised by positive or negative valence (Baars, 2008[6]). Such state conveys the degree of agreeableness of specific stimuli and events with respect to the organism’s contextual state and current intentions. Proposed as a constant flow (Barrett, 2005[7]), core affect relate to neural changes determined by detection and processing of internal and external stimulia. The subjective result of these processes is the feeling, a category that includes sensations as pleasure and pain, affective states as being happy or sad, and also cognitive intuitions as grasping the meaning of a word or a sentence.

While the ability to produce core affect is present at birth (Barrett, 2005[7]), automatic processes such as attention can influence the feelings that compound it. They can be modified by associative learning, and in turn they can affect our behaviour. Feelings can then be expressed into overt behaviours, in terms of emotions (anger, sadness, happiness, shame expressions), which William James (1884[40]) defined as the experience emerging from individual’s self-perception of automatic processes (see also Prinz, 2005[62]).

We can therefore define emotions as expressed bouts of affect, which we are able to explicitly assess in terms of intensity, quality, and contextual appropriateness, and also to convey by means of symbolic language (e.g., facial mimic). Emotions, which Freud (1950[29]) considered to be always conscious, can therefore express feelings, but they do not necessarily reflect them (i.e. someone can mimic sadness, without necessarily experiencing it). Therefore, there should always be a degree of consciousness related to our feelings and emotions, but such a consciousness may occur without awareness (attention to represented content). For instance, a hungry and thirsty person in a restaurant remains conscious of her hunger while choosing a drink, although her focus of attention is directed to the items of the beverage menu. Therefore, in the framework presented here we classify this sensation of hunger as an example of a peripheral, non-attended, or unaware conscious state. Affects and feelings frequently occur in our conscious life in this modality.” (Ferreira et al 2013)[i]

The authors “present [their] efforts to make a synthesis (of theories of cognitive and (the neglected) affective theories of behavior ) by proposing the existence of two interacting brain circuits; the first one in charge of cognitive processes and the second mediating feelings about cognitive contents. The coupling of the two circuits promotes an endogenous feedback that supports conscious processes This perspective is based on the Endogenous Feedback Model, which suggests that affective/emotional and cognitive processes are mediated by distinct and interacting brain networks, and that degrees of consciousness correspond to the level of resonance of the networks”


Communicating Emotions excerpted from the Wikipedia page page on Oculesics

“In the book Human Emotions, author Carroll Ellis Izard says “a complete definition of emotion must take into account all three of these aspects or components: (a) the experience or conscious feeling of emotion, (b) the processes that occur in the brain and nervous system, and (c) the observable expressive patterns of emotion, particularly those on the face” (p. 4).[28] This third component is where oculesics plays a role in nonverbal communication of emotion.

Oculesics is a primary form of communicating emotion.[29] The study of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) establishes three main types of thinking: in terms of what you see, hear or feel. According to this science, oculesics can show which type of thinking someone is using when they are communicating.[30] A person thinking visually might physically turn their eyes away, as if to look at an imagined presentation of what they are thinking, even to the point of changing the focus of their eyes. Someone thinking in terms of hearing might turn their eyes as much as possible to one of their ears. A person thinking in terms of what they feel could look downwards, as if looking toward their emotion coming from their body.[30]

Whether or not someone intends to send a particular meaning, or someone else perceives meaning correctly, the exchange of communication happens and can initiate emotion. It is important to understand these dynamics, because we often establish relationships (on small and grand scales) with oculesics.[29]


Lists of Emotions[edit]

Main article: Contrasting and categorization of emotions

There are many theories on how to annotate a specific list of emotions. Two prominent methodologies come from Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. Robert Plutchik (both professors are referenced above as well).

Dr. Ekman states there are 15 basic emotions- amusement, anger, contempt, contentment, disgust, embarrassment, excitement, fear, guilt, pride in achievement, relief, sadness/distress, satisfaction, sensory pleasure, and shame- with each of these fifteen stemming out to similar and related sub-emotions.[31]

Dr. Plutchik says there are eight basic emotions which have eight opposite emotions, all of which create human feelings (which also have opposites). He created Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions to demonstrate this theory.[32]

Perceptions and displays of emotions vary across time and culture. Some theorists say that even with these differences, there can be generally accepted “truths” about oculesics, such as the theory that constant eye contact between two people is physically and mentally uncomfortable.[33]


Cultural Impact[edit]

Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication[edit]

In his essay The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM), Dr. W.Barnett Pearce discusses how people derive meaning in communication based on reference points gained or passed down to them culturally.[37]

Winston Bremback said, “To know another’s language and not his culture is a good way to make a fluent fool of one’s self.”[38] Culture in this sense, includes all of the nonverbal communication, customs, thought, speech and artifacts that make a group of people unique.[39] Brembeck knew of the significant role that communication plays besides language. While most of the nonverbal communication is conveyed subconsciously, there are cultural similarities that enable us to understand the difference between what is being said and what is actually meant. But generalizing between nonverbal communication between cultures can be tricky since there are as many cultural differences in nonverbal communication as there are languages in the world.[38]

While it may take a child a couple of years to speak understandably in a certain language, it is important to remember that the child is also learning the idiosyncrasies of nonverbal communication at the same time. In fact, the first couple of years of a child’s life are spent learning most of these nonverbals. The differences between cultures are thus ingrained at the very earliest points of development.

Projected Similarity[edit]

Anthropologists have proven for years that nonverbal communication styles vary by culture. Most people, however, are not only oblivious to the differences in these nonverbal communication styles within their own culture, but they also assume that individuals from other cultures also communicate in the same way that they do. This is a phenomenon called projected similarity.[40] The result of projected similarity is that misperceptions, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings occur in cross-cultural interactions when a person interprets another’s non- verbal communication in the light of his or her own cultural norms.[40]

While all nonverbal communication differs greatly among cultures, perhaps none is so obviously different as the movement and study of eye contact. A particular nonverbal interaction between two individuals can have completely different meaning in different cultures. Even within that same culture, oculesics plays a tremendous role in obtaining meaning from other nonverbal cues. This is why, even among the same culture, humans still have trouble sometimes understanding each other because of their varying eye behavior, nonverbal cues, and cultural and personal differences.[38]

Stereotypes in Cultural Differences[edit]

It is because of these personal differences, that in studying cultural communication patterns we sometimes find it necessary to speak in stereotypes and generalizations. Just as one might say that Puerto Ricans who speak Spanish tend to use a louder voice than others communicating at the same distance, it would not be fair to say that all Puerto Ricans exhibit the same qualities. There are obviously enormous variations within each culture. These variations can depend on age, gender, geographical location, race, socioeconomic status, and personality. Because there are so many factors to study, most are generally glossed over in favor of stereotypes and generalizations.[40]



“Human vocalizations can convey emotion through the semantic content of particular phoneme combinations (words), as well as through the prosodic features of a vocalization (accentuation, intonation, rhythm). Throughout much of the past century, it was generally accepted that a string of phonemes (word) constitutes a linguistic sign via an arbitrary relationship between the phonemes and the referent, whereas prosody is thought to have an inherent, non-arbitrary emotional quality that is wholly independent from the semantic content (or lack thereof) in the vocalization. To illustrate, the string of phonemes used to identify a particular object may vary widely between languages, while a particular prosody can be universally understood to convey a particular emotion. Recent work, however, has begun to challenge this picture. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that certain strings of English phonemes have an inherent, non-arbitrary emotional valence that can be predicted on the basis of dynamic changes in acoustic features.”  (From Myers-Schulz et al (2014).  Inherent emotional quality of human speech sounds.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3620903/ 


Love is a DRIVE–a fundamental MOTIVE–associated with a basic NEED:  but like all drives that are challenged, it can be so intertwined with emotional expression it is often seen as an emotion

  • All thoughts, all passions, all delights, / Whatever stirs this mortal frame, / All are but ministers of Love, / And feed his sacred flame.  (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Love” (1800)

  • A man doesn’t learn to understand anything unless he loves it” – Goethe (Man lernt nichts kennen als was man Liebt)[1] 

  • “Natasha, to love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness, I hope you’re getting this down.”—Woody Allen (Love and Death, 1975)

 The Paul Ekman Group speaks to this (November 11, 2015).  The meanings of love are diverse:

“Let’s put aside loving your job or a piece of clothing in which the use of the word “love” is as a superlative. That still leaves romantic love and parental love: Are either of these emotions? I think not and here’s why-the time frame for emotions and love are radically different. Emotions sometime last as little as a few seconds, rarely more than an hour. Emotions come and go. If we recollect that we were mad for an hour or afraid for an hour close examination reveals that actually we felt that emotion a number of times within the hour, it wasn’t one continuous emotional episode.

In contrast, parental love is not momentary but endures for a lifetime. It is a commitment. Loving your children doesn’t mean that you might be afraid of the risks that they take, annoyed when they don’t show up for a meeting with you, sad when they are disappointed, and happy when they succeed.

While romantic love does not usually endure as long as parental love, sometimes it does, and even when it doesn’t, it’s not a momentary state but again a committed attachment during which many different emotions are felt. In parental love and romantic love, you care, you’re involved, and you’re more susceptible to experiencing a variety of emotions. And those emotions don’t endure, they come and go, lasting only seconds or at most minutes not a lifetime as is found in parental love and hoped for in romantic love.”

This view can be defended in scholarly detail: see “Is Love an Emotion?” by Arina Pismenny and Jesse Prinz (2017) in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Love:   Excerpt:

“What kind of mental phenomenon is romantic love? Many philosophers, psychologists, and ordinary folk treat it as an emotion. This chapter argues the category of emotion is inadequate to account for romantic love. It examines major emotion theories in philosophy and psychology and shows that they fail to illustrate that romantic love is an emotion. It considers the categories of basic emotions and emotion complexes, and demonstrates they too come short in accounting for romantic love. It assesses the roles of culture and evolution in shaping the romantic love phenomenon and evaluates the ways in which the norms of rationality that are applied to standard emotions fail to apply to love. It considers the category of sentiments and argue that despite coming close, it does not adequately capture the nature of romantic love. Finally, the chapter makes a case for love being best characterized as a syndrome.

1]. Man lernt nichts kennen als was man Liebt‑‑ Goethe. [complete:  “Man lernt nichts kennen, als was man liebt, und je tiefer und vollständiger die Kenntnis werden soll, desto kräftiger und lebendiger muß die Liebe, ja Leidenschaft sein.”  (Goethe in einem Brief an Jacobi, 1812)]  “one does not become acquainted with anything, when which one loves,  and the more deeply and more completely the knowledge will is,  the more strongly and more alive the love must, Passion its.” (Goethe in a letter at Jacobi, 1812)