The Language of Emotion
Glazer, Walter P.
In this dissertation, I defend a novel analysis of emotional expression, and then use it to explore the myriad ways in which emotional expressions function in communication. I argue that emotional expressions may be best analyzed as behaviors that enable the perception of emotion. A smile is an expression of joy because observers who see this smile can see joy, and a snarl is an expression of anger because observers who hear this snarl can hear anger. I then use this analysis to challenge two common assumptions concerning expression and communication. Against the assumption that we can express our emotions using language, I demonstrate that speech acts express emotions always in virtue of how they are said, and never in virtue of what they say. And against the assumption that emotional expressions communicate always by revealing emotions, I demonstrate that they communicate in many other interesting ways as well. Drawing on elements of speech act and signaling theory, I develop a novel framework for analyzing the many ways in which emotional expressions communicate.
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