Show Less
Restricted access

The Power of the Image

Emotion, Expression, Explanation


Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

We think primarily in images, and only secondarily in words, while both the image and the word are preceded by the bodily, the visceral, the muscular. This holds even for mathematical thinking. It is the entire motor system, including facial expressions and bodily gestures, that underlies not just emotions but also abstract thought. Communication, too, is a primordially visual task, spoken and written language only gradually supplementing and even supplanting the pictorial. Writing liberates, but also enslaves; after centuries of a dominantly verbal culture, today the ease of producing and accessing digital images amounts to a homecoming of the visual, with the almost limitless online availability of our textual heritage completing the educational revolution of the 21st century.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Face to Face: Towards a New Sincerity


Daniel L. Golden

Ethologists tell us that facial expressions have distinct meanings already among chimpanzees. One of the earliest illustrated accounts of the phenomena is the diary of a Russian amateur scientist, N. N. Ladygina-Kohts.1 She raised a chimpanzee in her home in Moscow between 1913 and 1916, and made some very interesting observations comparing the behaviour of the animal with that of her child. The photos on plate B.7.2 present The Eight Typical Facial Expressions of the Chimpanzee, namely “the mimics of excitement, attention, astonishment, disgust, anger, fear, sadness (crying) and joy (laughter)”. These were considered by Ladygina-Kohts as universal characteristics for the whole species, discernible for every ordinary observer without any special preparation, and understandable in terms of being able to identify certain mental contents lying behind the visible expressions.

Her considerations gave birth to the idea that this primordial form of communicating our emotions can be interpreted as a special language, for which we can even build up a kind of vocabulary. Paul Ekman, who was a psychologist at the University of California Medical School, San Francisco, started his experimentations with some photos made about his own facial expressions and trying to give detailed descriptions of them based on the analysis of his facial muscles working.3 The vocabulary titled as FACS: Facial Action Coding System4 was published by Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen in 1978. It promises to categorize “facial behaviors based on the muscles that produce them”. Facial expressions are dismantled into...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.