This commentary on four theoretical articles published in this issue of Emotion Review discusses the one big thing that links them all and raises some questions about the ontological status of the appraisal part of appraisal theories of emotion.
Stimulated by these three brilliant target essays this commentary raises a few questions about the universality of the “emotions,” the cultural psychology of “natural kinds,” and the analytic deconstruction of the idea of an emotion.
For many adolescent Kenyan males genital reshaping is a self-defining experience of enormous positive significance. The same can be said for many Kenyan females. These adolescents, male and female, do not think their bodies have been “mutilated.” Quite the contrary, by their lights the surgical procedure removes a defect of nature and is the means by which a desired state of physical integrity and social maturity is achieved. By their lights the procedure gets rid of unseemly fleshy encumbrances and protrusions (...) and helps them erase unwanted physical traces of childhood bisexuality, thereby making their genitals look smooth and clean and more gender appropriate. By their lights their appearance and... (shrink)
Beller, Bender, and Medin should be congratulated for their generous attempt at expressive academic therapy for troubled interdisciplinary relationships. In this essay, I suggest that a negative answer to the central question (“Should anthropology be part of cognitive science?”) is not necessarily distressing, that in retrospect the breakup seems fairly predictable, and that disenchantment with the cognitive revolution is nothing new.
Western media coverage of female genital modifications in Africa has been hyperbolic and one-sided, presenting them uniformly as mutilation and ignoring the cultural complexities that underlie these practices. Even if we ultimately decide that female genital modifications should be abandoned, the debate around them should be grounded in a better account of the facts.
The objection, rightfully noted but then dismissed by Henrich et al., that the observed variation across populations is a theoretically profound and potentially constructive criticism. It parallels Donald Campbell's concern that many cultural differences reported by psychologists Ironically, Campbell's doubt is a good foundation for investigations in cultural psychology.
In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, Stanley Katz (who now chairs the editorial board of this journal) invited the intellectual community to reflect on its own history of involvement in public affairs and to make good on its mistakes. This essay examines a single case of intellectuals involving themselves in public affairs and some of the difficulties in saying and evaluating exactly what happened. Critical attention is given to Anthropological Intelligence, a book by David Price published (...) in 2008, which concerns the involvement of anthropologists in wartime activities during World War II and argues that even that “just war” left an indelible stain on the moral fabric of the discipline. (shrink)