Facial Expressions

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A History on Universal Facial Expressions:
The Works of Lamarck, Izard and Russell
Kathleen Coyne-Boyles

From the time of the ancient Greeks through to the modern age, understanding and interpreting man’s emotions and body language have been a source of both fasicnation and a point of intellectual debate. The ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle, proposed the idea that the face takes on varying appearances which are characteristic of each of the passions (or emotions) of humankind. The famous Greek masks of the theatre embody exaggerated facial expressions in order to dramatize the great joys and tragedies of human existence. Artists throughout history have worked to capture facial expression while philosophers have debated about the forms that they take. Early evolutionary biologists such as Darwin and Lamarck questioned the origins of facial expressions of emotion. Evolutionists like Lamarck searched for answers as to how these expressions evolve or are passed down to succeeding generations. Scientists began to explore the evolution of biological functions of the facial nerves and muslces which correspond to expression of a particluar emotion.. In the modern era, American psychologists in the twentieth century began to specualate on long-held assumptions about facial expression and became fascinated by the possible universality and characteristics of certain core emotions. One of the main reasons for the fascination with facial expressionss is that humans seem to be biologically programmed to focus on the human face A child, for instance, tends to bond and communicate non-verbally with others in their surroundings by studying and often touching the face of their caregivers. This phenomenon tends to occur across cultures. Alternatively, some expressions of emotion seem to present themselves within a specific cultural context. As a basis for further human understanding, the topic of emotion and its relation to facial expression has re-emerged into prominence in the modern field of Social Psychology. Since the 1950’s, mostly American research studies on this topic have multiplied and have paved the way for the development of instruments designed to empirically examine patterns of expression on the human face. The early works of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the later works of both Carroll Izard and James A. Russell contributed greatly to the study of facial expressions. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Jean Baptiste Lamarck was born in 1744 in the town of Bazentin, Picardy, in Northern France. He was born into an impoverished but aristocratic family which afforded him ample educational opportunities. Lamarck became what was known at the time as a Naturalist, espousing on various subjects ranging from botany to the evolution of man. Lamarck was considered an accomplised Botanist, Biologist, Evolutionist and Academic.. Lamarck had a long career in France and wrote a number of books on these subjects. In 1778 he published his first 3 volume botanical series, Flore Francaise and in 1779 he gained membership into the French Academy of Sciences. In 1788, Lamarck was appointed Head of Botany at the Jardin des Plantes (The national garden of France). In 1793, as his academic work began to grow , he accepted an appointment at the Museum National d’Histoire as Professor of Zoology. At this time, his body of research included extensive studies into the evolution and behavior of animals. In 1801, Lamarck published Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres, ou Tableau General des Classes, des Ordres et des Genres de ces Animaux, focusing on invertebrate animal biology. And in 1802, his work on organizations of species, Recherches sur l’Organisation des Corps Vivants, followed. As an academic philosopher, Lamarck began to broaden his biological works to propose new theories about how animals evolved and what triggered the adaptations of a species. In 1809, Lamarck published his famous Philosophie Zoolique, ou Exposition des Considerations...
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