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Darwin's Emotions: The Scientific Self and the Sentiment of Objectivity

Paul White
Isis
Vol. 100, No. 4 (December 2009), pp. 811-826
DOI: 10.1086/652021
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/652021
Page Count: 16
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Darwin's Emotions: The Scientific Self and the Sentiment of Objectivity
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Darwin's emotional life has been a preoccupation of biographers and popularizers, while his research on emotional expression has been of keen interest to anthropologists and psychologists. Much can be gained, however, by looking at Darwin's emotions from both sides, by examining the relationship between his emotional experience and his scientific study of emotion. Darwin developed various techniques for distancing himself from his objects of study and for extracting emotional “objects” from feeling subjects. In order to investigate emotions scientifically, his own emotional life, his feelings for others, had to give way—or did it? This question has implications well beyond the life of Darwin, moral implications about the effects of scientific discipline on those who practice it and on the animals and people subjected to it. This dual approach to Darwin's emotions also allows us to address a conundrum of recent histories of “objectivity”—namely, the status of the scientific self as a feeling subject.

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