Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/834

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814
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE EMOTIONS.
By M. ALFRED FOUILLÉE.

WITH the words "Every gesture is a metaphor," Diderot exactly characterized that translation of the feelings into corresponding movements which we call their expression. But, though the natural language of the physiognomy and of gestures is metaphorical, it need not be inferred that it is composed of symbols in any degree arbitrary. It is rather by a necessary determinism that a particular internal phenomenon is translated by a peculiar external manifestation. Expression is no longer considered a sign that may be detached from the expressed fact; it is an integral part of the fact, or of its history. A man, realizing that his life is in extreme peril and anxious to save it, might, perhaps, be able to preserve his calm; but, as Darwin says, he suffers a tension of his will against his emotion, and the conflict within him is faithfully expressed in the body by the parallel tension of the muscles and the correlative tension of the pulse. Feelings too weak to produce a visible outward expression are marked in the interior of the organs. We should not, then, as the old psychologists did, place the psychological changes and the physiological movements in which they are realized, or prolonged, or expressed, in different worlds.

Darwin attempted a biological explanation of this reciprocally determined connection of the internal feelings with external movements, as arising in the gradual evolution of organisms struggling for existence. Mosso[1] and Warner[2] showed that there are physiological and mechanical limitations to the influence of selection and the medium, or that there are internal necessities independent of exterior utility, and assumed that the explanation of the phenomena belongs to physiology. But should not philosophy, we ask, maintain a view yet more of the interior, strictly psychological and sociological? Should it not explain, by the laws of individual or collective consciousness, those facts of expression which are the precise continuation of the mental in the physical and of the physical in the mental? All expression of feeling has, by its definition, a psychological, and, still more, a social, side. There is, in fact, no veritable expression except as there may be a possible interpretation of the movements by other beings forming, with the first one, a society. The language of the passions is eminently communicative. Every living organism is, moreover, itself a society of more elementary organisms, and it is therefore legitimate to inquire if the act of social communication does not begin within the organism itself before extending to other analogous organisms; if there is not a solidarity, at once mechanical and mental, between the parts of the identical organism—

  1. Angelo Mosso, "La Paura," 1885.
  2. Warner, "Physical Expression," 1886.