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The Ascent of AffectGenealogy and Critique$
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Ruth Leys

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226488424

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226488738.001.0001

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Silvan S. Tomkins’s Affect Theory

Silvan S. Tomkins’s Affect Theory

(p.26) Chapter One Silvan S. Tomkins’s Affect Theory
The Ascent of Affect

Ruth Leys

University of Chicago Press

A discussion of the work of Silvan S. Tomkins, who helped reinvigorate the study of the emotions in the 1960s by proposing a new theory of affect. Through the twin influences of Darwin and the new science of cybernetics, Tomkins proposed the existence of a limited number of universal "affect programs" or basic emotions, which he theorized as innately triggered responses that function independently of objects or cognitions. Through his influence especially on Paul Ekman and Carroll E. Izard, Tomkins set the stage for the emergence of an influential non-cognitive paradigm of the emotions.

Keywords:   affect programs, Duchenne de Boulogne, cybernetics, Charles Darwin, the face, ideology, judgments of facial expressions, posed expressions, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Silvan S. Tomkins

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