( 25 September, 2012 )

Psycholy of religion

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Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods and interpretive frameworks to religious traditions, as well as to both religious and irreligious individuals. The science attempts to accurately describe the details, origins, and uses of religious beliefs and behaviours. Although the psychology of religion first arose as a self-conscious discipline as recently as the late 19th century, all three of these tasks have a history going back many centuries before that. Many areas of religion remain unexplored by psychology. While religion and spirituality play a role in many people’s lives, it is uncertain how they lead to outcomes that are at times positive, and at other times negative. Thus, the pathways and outcomes that underlie these associations (and sometimes causations) need additional research. Continued dialogue between psychology and theology may foster greater understanding and benefit both fields.


1 Overview

2 History

o2.1 William James

o2.2 Other early theorists

Julian Jaynes •

3 Hypotheses on the role of religion

o 3.1 Secularization

o 3.2 Religious transformation

o 3.3 Cultural Divide

• 4 Psychometric approaches to religion

o 4.1 Religious orientations and religious dimensions

o 4.2 Questionnaires to assess religious experience

• 5 Developmental approaches to religion

• 6 Religion and prayer

• 7 Religion and ritual

• 8 Religion and health

o 8.1 Religion and physical health

o 8.2 Religion and mental health

• 9 Evolutionary psychology of religion • 10 Religion and drugs

o 10.1 James H. Leuba

o 10.2 Drug-induced religious experiences

• 11 Religion and meditation

• 12 Controversy

• 13 Religion and psychotherapy

• 14 Pastoral psychology

• Overview

The challenge for the psychology of religion is essentially threefold: (1) to provide a thoroughgoing description of the objects of investigation, whether they be shared religious content (e.g., a tradition’s ritual observances) or individual experiences, attitudes, or conduct; (2) to account in psychological terms for the rise of such phenomena; and (3) to clarify the outcomes—the fruits, as William James put it—of these phenomena, for individuals and for the larger society. The first, descriptive task naturally requires a clarification of one’s terms, above all, the word religion. Historians of religion have long underscored the problematic character of this term, noting that its usage over the centuries has changed in significant ways, generally in the direction of reification. The early psychologists of religion were fully aware of these difficulties, typically acknowledging that the definitions they were choosing to use were to some degree arbitrary. With the rise of positivistic trends in psychology over the course of the 20th century, especially the demand that all phenomena be measured, psychologists of religion developed a multitude of scales, most of them developed for use with Protestant Christians. Factor analysis was also brought into play by both psychologists and sociologists of religion, in an effort to establish a fixed core of dimensions and a corresponding set of scales. The justification and adequacy of these efforts, especially in the light of constructivist and other postmodern viewpoints, remains a matter of debate. In the last several decades, especially among clinical psychologists, a preference for the terms “spirituality” and “spiritual” has emerged, along with efforts to distinguish them from “religion” and “religious.” Especially in the United States, “religion” has for many become associated with sectarian institutions and their obligatory creeds and rituals, thus giving the word a negative cast; “spirituality,” in contrast, is positively constructed as deeply individual and subjective, as a universal capacity to apprehend and accord one’s life with higher realities. In fact, “spirituality” has likewise undergone an evolution in the West, from a time when it was essentially a synonym for religion in its original, subjective meaning. Today, efforts are ongoing to “operationalize” these terms, with little regard for their history in their Western context and with the apparent realist assumption that underlying them are fixed qualities identifiable by means of empirical procedures. History This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (January 2012) William James U.S. psychologist and philosopher William James (1842–1910) is regarded by most psychologists of religion as the founder of the field.( put a citation of him if you know ) He served as president of the American Psychological Association, and wrote one of the first psychology textbooks. In the psychology of religion, James’ influence endures. His Varieties of Religious Experience is considered to be the classic work in the field, and references to James’ ideas are common at professional conferences. James distinguished between institutional religion and personal religion. Institutional religion refers to the religious group or organization, and plays an important part in a society’s culture. Personal religion, in which the individual has mystical experience, can be experienced regardless of the culture. James was most interested in understanding personal religious experience. In studying personal religious experiences, James made a distinction between healthy-minded and sick-souled religiousness. Individuals predisposed to healthy-mindedness tend to ignore the evil in the world and focus on the positive and the good. James used examples of Walt Whitman and the “mind-cure” religious movement to illustrate healthy-mindedness in The Varieties of Religious Experience. In contrast, individuals predisposed to having a sick-souled religion are unable to ignore evil and suffering, and need a unifying experience, religious or otherwise, to reconcile good and evil. James included quotations from Leo Tolstoy and John Bunyan to illustrate the sick soul. William James’ hypothesis of pragmatism stems from the efficacy of religion. If an individual believes in and performs religious activities, and those actions happen to work, then that practice appears the proper choice for the individual. However, if the processes of religion have little efficacy, then there is no rationality for continuing the practice. Other early theorists G.W.F. Hegel Hegel (1770-1831) described all systems of religion, philosophy, and social science as expressions of the basic urge of consciousness to learn about itself and its surroundings, and record its findings and hypotheses. Thus, religion is only a form of that search for knowledge, within which humans record various experiences and reflections. Others, compiling and categorizing these writings in various ways, form the consolidated worldview as articulated by that religion, philosophy, social science, etc. His work The Phenomenology of Spirit was a study of how various types of writing and thinking draw from and re-combine with the individual and group experiences of various places and times, influencing the current forms of knowledge and worldviews that are operative in a population. This activity is the functioning of an incomplete group mind, where each individual is accessing the recorded wisdom of others. His works often include detailed descriptions of the psychological motivations involved in thought and behavior, e.g., the struggle of a community or nation to know itself and thus correctly govern itself. In Hegel’s system, Religion is one of the major repositories of wisdom to be used in these struggles, representing a huge body of recollections from humanity’s past in various stages of its development. Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) gave explanations of the genesis of religion in his various writings. In Totem and Taboo, he applied the idea of the Oedipus complex (involving unresolved sexual feelings of, for example, a son toward his mother and hostility toward his father) and postulated its emergence in the primordial stage of human development. Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University. Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung. Back row: Abraham Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi. In Moses and Monotheism, Freud reconstructed biblical history in accordance with his general theory. His ideas were also developed in The Future of an Illusion. When Freud spoke of religion as an illusion, he maintained that it is a fantasy structure from which a man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity. Freud views the idea of God as being a version of the father image, and religious belief as at bottom infantile and neurotic. Authoritarian religion, Freud believed, is dysfunctional and alienates man from himself. Carl Jung The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875–1961) adopted a very different posture, one that was more sympathetic to religion and more concerned with a positive appreciation of religious symbolism. Jung considered the question of the existence of God to be unanswerable by the psychologist and adopted a kind of agnosticism. Jung postulated, in addition to the personal unconscious (roughly adopting Freud’s concept), the collective unconscious, which is the repository of human experience and which contains “archetypes” (i.e. basic images that are universal in that they recur regardless of culture). The irruption of these images from the unconscious into the realm of consciousness he viewed as the basis of religious experience and often of artistic creativity. Some of Jung’s writings have been devoted to elucidating some of the archetypal symbols, and include his work in comparative mythology. Jung had a very broad view of what it means to be empirical. Suppose, for example, one person hears something whereas someone else near that person does not. If only one person experiences something, for Jung it is an empirical observation. For most contemporary scientists, however, it would not be considered an empirical observation. Because of this, there has been little research in the psychology of religion from a Jungian perspective. Alfred Adler Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870–1937), who parted ways with Freud, emphasised the role of goals and motivation in his Individual Psychology. One of Adler’s most famous ideas is that we try to compensate for inferiorities that we perceive in ourselves. A lack of power often lies at the root of feelings of inferiority. One way that religion enters into this picture is through our beliefs in God, which are characteristic of our tendency to strive for perfection and superiority. For example, in many religions God is considered to be perfect and omnipotent, and commands people likewise to be perfect. If we, too, achieve perfection, we become one with God. By identifying with God in this way, we compensate for our imperfections and feelings of inferiority. Our ideas about God are important indicators of how we view the world. According to Adler, these ideas have changed over time, as our vision of the world – and our place in it – has changed. Consider this example that Adler offers: the traditional belief that people were placed deliberately on earth as God’s ultimate creation is being replaced with the idea that people have evolved by natural selection. This coincides with a view of God not as a real being, but as an abstract representation of nature’s forces. In this way our view of God has changed from one that was concrete and specific to one that is more general. From Adler’s vantage point, this is a relatively ineffective perception of God because it is so general that it fails to convey a strong sense of direction and purpose. An important thing for Adler is that God (or the idea of God) motivates people to act, and that those actions do have real consequences for ourselves and for others. Our view of God is important because it embodies our goals and directs our social interactions. Compared to science, another social movement, religion is more efficient because it motivates people more effectively. According to Adler, only when science begins to capture the same religious fervour, and promotes the welfare of all segments of society, will the two be more equal in peoples’ eyes. Gordon Allport In his classic book The Individual and His Religion (1950), Gordon Allport (1897–1967) illustrates how people may use religion in different ways. He makes a distinction between Mature religion and Immature religion. Mature religious sentiment is how Allport characterized the person whose approach to religion is dynamic, open-minded, and able to maintain links between inconsistencies. In contrast, immature religion is self-serving and generally represents the negative stereotypes that people have about religion. More recently, this distinction has been encapsulated in the terms “intrinsic religion”, referring to a genuine, heartfelt devout faith, and “extrinsic religion”, referring to a more utilitarian use of religion as a means to an end, such as church attendance to gain social status. These dimensions of religion were measured on the Religious Orientation Scale of Allport and Ross (1967). A third form of religious orientation has been described by Daniel Batson. This refers to treatment of religion as an open-ended search (Batson, Schoenrade & Ventis, 1993). More specifically, it has been seen by Batson as comprising a willingness to view religious doubts in a positive manner, acceptance that religious orientation can change and existential complexity, the belief that one’s religious beliefs should be shaped from personal crises that one has experienced in one’s life. Batson refers to extrinsic, intrinsic and quest respectively as Religion-as-means, religion-as-end and religion-as-quest, and measures these constructs on the Religious Life Inventory (Batson, Schoenrade & Ventis, 1993). Erik H. Erikson Erik Erikson (1902–1994) is best known for his theory of psychological development, which has its roots in the psychoanalytic importance of identity in personality. His biographies of Gandhi and Martin Luther reveal Erikson’s positive view of religion. He considered religions to be important influences in successful personality development because they are the primary way that cultures promote the virtues associated with each stage of life. Religious rituals facilitate this development. Erikson’s theory has not benefited from systematic empirical study, but it remains an influential and well-regarded theory in the psychological study of religion. Erich Fromm The American scholar Erich Fromm (1900–1980) modified the Freudian theory and produced a more complex account of the functions of religion. In his book Psychoanalysis and Religion he responded to Freud’s theories by explaining that part of the modification is viewing the Oedipus complex as based not so much on sexuality as on a “much more profound desire”, namely, the childish desire to remain attached to protecting figures. The right religion, in Fromm’s estimation, can, in principle, foster an individual’s highest potentialities, but religion in practice tends to relapse into being neurotic. According to Fromm, humans have a need for a stable frame of reference. Religion apparently fills this need. In effect, humans crave answers to questions that no other source of knowledge has an answer to, which only religion may seem to answer. However, a sense of free will must be given in order for religion to appear healthy. An authoritarian notion of religion appears detrimental. Rudolf Otto Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) was a German Protestant theologian and scholar of comparative religion. Otto’s most famous work, The Idea of the Holy (published first in 1917 as Das Heilige), defines the concept of the holy as that which is numinous. Otto explained the numinous as a “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self.” It is a mystery (Latin: mysterium tremendum) that is both fascinating (fascinans) and terrifying at the same time; A mystery that causes trembling and fascination, attempting to explain that inexpressible and perhaps supernatural emotional reaction of wonder drawing us to seemingly ordinary and/or religious experiences of grace. This sense of emotional wonder appears evident at the root of all religious experiences. Through this emotional wonder, we suspend our rational mind for non-rational possibilities. It also sets a paradigm for the study of religion that focuses on the need to realise the religious as a non-reducible, original category in its own right. This paradigm was under much attack between approximately 1950 and 1990 but has made a strong comeback since then. Modern thinkers Allen Bergin Allen Bergin is noted for his 1980 paper “Psychotherapy and Religious Values,” which is known as a landmark in scholarly acceptance that religious values do, in practice, influence psychotherapy. He received the Distinguished Professional Contributions to Knowledge award from the American Psychological Association in 1989 and was cited as challenging “psychological orthodoxy to emphasize the importance of values and religion in therapy.” Robert Emmons Robert Emmons offered a theory of “spiritual strivings” in his 1999 book, The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns. With support from empirical studies, Emmons argued that spiritual strivings foster personality integration because they exist at a higher level of the personality. Kenneth Pargament Kenneth Pargament is noted for his book Psychology of Religion and Coping (1997; see article), as well as for a 2007 book on religion and psychotherapy, and a sustained research program on religious coping. He is professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University (Ohio, USA), and has published more than 100 papers on the subject of religion and spirituality in psychology. Pargament led the design of a questionnaire called the “RCOPE” to measure Religious Coping strategies. Pargament has distinguished between three types of styles for coping with stress: 1) Collaborative, in which people co-operate with God to deal with stressful events; 2) Deferring, in which people leave everything to God; and 3) Self-directed, in which people do not rely on God and try exclusively to solve problems by their own efforts. He also describes four major stances toward religion that have been adopted by psychotherapists in their work with clients, which he calls the religiously rejectionist, exclusivist, constructivist, and pluralist stances. James Hillman James Hillman, at the end of his book Re-Visioning Psychology, reverses James’ position of viewing religion through psychology, urging instead that we view psychology as a variety of religious experience. He concludes: “Psychology as religion implies imagining all psychological events as effects of Gods in the soul. ” Julian Jaynes Julian Jaynes, primarily in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, proposed that religion (and some other psychological phenomena such as hypnosis and schizophrenia) is a remnant of a relatively recent time in human development, prior to the advent of consciousness. Jaynes hypothesized that hallucinated verbal commands helped non-conscious early man to perform tasks promoting human survival. Starting about 10,000 BCE, selective pressures favored the hallucinated verbal commands for social control, and they came to be perceived as an external, rather than internal, voice commanding the person to take some action. These were hence often explained as originating from invisible gods, spirits, ancestors, etc. Hypotheses on the role of religion There are three primary hypotheses on the role of religion in the modern world. Secularization The first hypothesis, secularization, holds that science and technology will take the place of religion. Secularization supports the separation of religion from politics, ethics, and psychology. Taking this position even further, Taylor explains that secularization denies transcendence, divinity, and rationality in religious beliefs. Religious transformation Challenges to the secularization hypothesis led to significant revisions, resulting in the religious transformation hypothesis. This perspective holds that general trends towards individualism and social disintegration will produce changes in religion, making religious practice more individualized and spiritually focused. This in turn is expected to produce more spiritual seeking, although not exclusive to religious institutions. Eclecticism, which draws from multiple religious/spiritual systems and New Age movements are also predicted to result. Cultural Divide In response to the religious transformation hypothesis, Ronald Inglehart piloted the renewal of the secularization hypothesis. His argument hinges on the premise that religion develops to fill the human need for security. Therefore the development of social and economic security in Europe explains its corresponding secularization due to a lack of need for religion. However, religion continues in the third world where social and economic insecurity are rampant. The overall effect is expected to be a growing cultural disparity. Psychometric approaches to religion Since the 1960s psychologists of religion have used the methodology of psychometrics to assess different ways in which a person may be religious. An example is the Religious Orientation Scale of Allport and Ross, which measures how respondents stand on intrinsic and extrinsic religion as described by Allport. More recent questionnaires include the Religious Life Inventory of Batson, Schoenrade and Ventis, and the Age-Universal I-E Scale of Gorsuch and Venable. The former assesses where people stand on three distinct forms of religious orientation – religion as means, religion as end, and religion as quest. The latter assesses Spiritual Support and Spiritual Openness. Religious orientations and religious dimensions Some questionnaires, such as the Religious Orientation Scale, relate to different religious orientations, such as intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness, referring to different motivations for religious allegiance. A rather different approach, taken, for example, by Glock and Stark (1965), has been to list different dimensions of religion rather than different religious orientations, which relates to how an individual may manifest different forms of being religious. (More on Stark’s work can be found in the article on Sociology of Religion.) Glock and Stark’s famous typology described five dimensions of religion – the doctrinal, the intellectual, the ethical-consequential, the ritual, and the experiential. In later work these authors subdivided the ritual dimension into devotional and public ritual, and also clarified that their distinction of religion along multiple dimensions was not identical to distinguishing religious orientations. Although some psychologists of religion have found it helpful to take a multidimensional approach to religion for the purpose of psychometric scale design, there has been, as Wulff (1997) explains, considerable controversy about whether religion should really be seen as multidimensional. Questionnaires to assess religious experience What we call religious experiences can differ greatly. Some reports exist of supernatural happenings that it would be difficult to explain from a rational, scientific point of view. On the other hand, there also exist the sort of testimonies that simply seem to convey a feeling of peace or oneness – something which most of us, religious or not, may possibly relate to. In categorizing religious experiences it is perhaps helpful to look at them as explicable through one of two theories: the Objectivist thesis or the Subjectivist thesis. An objectivist would argue that the religious experience is a proof of God’s existence. However, others have criticised the reliability of religious experiences. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes asked how it was possible to tell the difference between talking to God in a dream, and dreaming about talking to God. The Subjectivist view argues that it is not necessary to think of religious experiences as evidence for the existence of an actual being whom we call God. From this point of view, the important thing is the experience itself and the effect that it has on the individual. Developmental approaches to religion Main articles: James W. Fowler and Stages of faith development Attempts have been made to apply stage models, such as that of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg, to how children develop ideas about God and about religion in general. By far the most well-known stage model of spiritual or religious development is that of James W. Fowler, a developmental psychologist at the Candler School of Theology, in his Stages of Faith. He follows Piaget and Kohlberg and has proposed a staged development of faith (or spiritual development) across the lifespan in terms of a holistic orientation, and is concerned with the individual’s relatedness to the universal. The book-length study contains a framework and ideas considered by many[who?] to be insightful and which have generated a good deal of response from those interested in religion so it appears to have at least a reasonable degree of face validity. James Fowler proposes six stages of faith development as follows: 1. Intuitive-projective 2. Symbolic Literal 3. Synthetic Conventional 4. Individuating 5. Paradoxical (conjunctive) 6. Universalising. Although there is evidence that children up to the age of twelve years do tend to be in the first two of these stages there is evidence that adults over the age of sixty-one do show considerable variation in displays of qualities of Stages 3 and beyond. Fowler’s model has generated some empirical studies, and fuller descriptions of this research (and of these six stages) can be found in Wulff (1991). However, this model has been attacked from a standpoint of scientific research due to methodological weaknesses. Of Fowler’s six stages, only the first two found empirical support[citation needed], and these were heavily based upon Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. The tables and graphs in the book were presented in such a way that the last four stages appeared to be validated, but the requirements of statistical verification of the stages did not come close to having been met. The study was not published in a journal, so was not peer-reviewed, and never drew much attention from psychologists. Other critics of Fowler have questioned whether his ordering of the stages really reflects his own commitment to a rather liberal Christian Protestant outlook, as if to say that people who adopt a similar viewpoint to Fowler are at higher stages of faith development. Nevertheless, the concepts Fowler introduced seemed to hit home with those in the circles of academic religion and have been an important starting point for various theories and subsequent studies[citation needed]. Religion and prayer Prayer is fairly prevalent in the United States. About 75% of the United States reports praying at least once a week. However, the practice of prayer is more prevalent and practiced more consistently among Americans who perform other religious practices. There are four primary types of prayer in the West. Poloma and Pendleton, utilized factor analysis to delineate these four types of prayer: meditative (more spiritual, silent thinking), ritualistic (reciting), petitionary (making requests to God), and colloquial (general conversing with God). Further scientific study of prayer using factor analysis has revealed three dimensions of prayer. Ladd and Spilka’s first factor was awareness of self, inward reaching. Their second and third factors were upward reaching (toward God) and outward reaching (toward others). This study appears to support the contemporary model of prayer as connection (whether to the self, higher being, or others). Prayer appears to have health implications. Empirical studies suggest that mindfully reading and reciting the Psalms (from scripture) can help a person calm down and focus. Prayer is also positively correlated with happiness and religious satisfaction (Poloma & Pendleton, 1989, 1991). Overall, slight health benefits have been found fairly consistently across studies. Three main pathways to explain this trend have been offered: placebo effect, focus and attitude adjustment, and activation of healing processes. (Whether the activation of healing processes explanation is supernatural or biological, or even both, is beyond the scope of this study and this article.) Religion and ritual Another significant form of religious practice is ritual. Religious rituals encompass a wide array of practices, but can be defined as the performance of similar actions and vocal expressions based on prescribed tradition and cultural norms. Examples include the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, Christian Holy Eucharist, Hindu Puja, and Muslim Salat and Hajj. Scheff suggests that ritual provides catharsis, emotional purging, through distancing. This emotional distancing enables an individual to experience feelings with an amount of separation, and thus less intensity. However, the conception of religious ritual as an interactive process has since matured and become more scientifically established. From this view, ritual offers a means to catharsis through behaviors that foster connection with others, allowing for emotional expression. This focus on connection contrasts to the separation that seems to underlie Scheff’s view. Additional research suggests the social component of ritual. For instance, findings suggest that ritual performance indicates group commitment and prevents the uncommitted from gaining membership benefits. Ritual may aid in emphasizing moral values that serve as group norms and regulate societies. It may also strengthen commitment to moral convictions and likelihood of upholding these social expectations. Thus, performance of rituals may foster social group stability. Religion and health Main article: Impacts of religion on health See also: Religion and happiness and Religiosity and intelligence There is considerable literature on the relationship between religion and health. Psychologists consider that there are various ways in which religion may benefit both physical and mental health, including encouraging healthy lifestyles, providing social support networks and encouraging an optimistic outlook on life; prayer and meditation may also help to benefit physiological functioning. The journal “American Psychologist” published important papers on this topic in 2003. Haber, Jacob and Spangler have considered how different dimensions of religiosity may relate to health benefits in different ways. Religion and physical health Religion appears to positively correlate with physical health. For instance, mortality rates are lower among people who frequently attend religious events and consider themselves both religious and spiritual. One possibility is that religion provides physical health benefits indirectly. Church attendees present with lower rates of alcohol consumption and improvement in mood, which is associated with better physical health. Kenneth Pargament is a major contributor to the theory of how individuals may use religion as a resource in coping with stress, His work seems to show the influence of attribution theory. Additional evidence suggests that this relationship between religion and physical health may be causal. Religion may reduce likelihood of certain diseases. Studies suggest that it guards against cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure, and also improves immune system functioning. Religion and mental health Religion is certainly not a guarantee for mental health. Evidence suggests that it can be a pathway to both mental health and mental disorder. For example, religiosity is positively associated with mental disorders that involve an excessive amount of self-control and negatively associated with mental disorders that involve a lack of self-control. Other studies have found indications of mental health among both the religious and the secular. For instance, Vilchinsky & Kravetz found negative correlations with psychological distress among religious and secular subgroups of Jewish students. Yet, overall, religion is positively linked with mental health. This might be due to the guiding framework or social support that it offers to individuals. By these routes, religion has the potential to offer security and significance in life, as well as valuable human relationships, to foster mental health. Religion also provides coping skills to deal with stressors, or demands perceived as straining. Pargament’s three primary styles of religious coping are 1) self-directing, characterized by self-reliance and acknowledgement of God, 2) deferring, in which a person passively attributes responsibility to God, and 3) collaborative, which involves an active partnership between the individual and God and is most commonly associated with positive adjustment. This model of religious coping has been criticized for its over-simplicity and failure to take into account other factors, such as level of religiosity, specific religion, and type of stressor. Evolutionary psychology of religion Main article: Evolutionary psychology of religion Evolutionary psychology is based on the hypothesis that, just like hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and immune systems, cognition has functional structure that has a genetic basis, and therefore evolved by natural selection. Like other organs and tissues, this functional structure should be universally shared amongst humans and should solve important problems of survival and reproduction. Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand cognitive processes by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might serve. Pascal Boyer is one of the leading figures in the cognitive psychology of religion, a new field of inquiry that is less than fifteen years old, which accounts for the psychological processes that underlie religious thought and practice. In his book Religion Explained, Boyer shows that there is no simple explanation for religious consciousness. Boyer is mainly concerned with explaining the various psychological processes involved in the acquisition and transmission of ideas concerning the gods. Boyer builds on the ideas of cognitive anthropologists Dan Sperber and Scott Atran, who first argued that religious cognition represents a by-product of various evolutionary adaptations, including folk psychology, and purposeful violations of innate expectations about how the world is constructed (for example, bodiless beings with thoughts and emotions) that make religious cognitions striking and memorable. Religious persons acquire religious ideas and practices through social exposure. The child of a Zen Buddhist will not become an evangelical Christian or a Zulu warrior without the relevant cultural experience. While mere exposure does not cause a particular religious outlook (a person may have been raised a Roman Catholic but leave the church), nevertheless some exposure seems required – this person will never invent Roman Catholicism out of thin air. Boyer says cognitive science can help us to understand the psychological mechanisms that account for these manifest correlations and in so doing enable us to better understand the nature of religious belief and practice. To the extent that the mechanisms controlling the acquisitions and transmission of religious concepts rely on human brains, the mechanisms are open to computational analysis. All thought is computationally structured, including religious thought. So presumably, computational approaches can shed light on the nature and scope of religious cognition. Boyer moves outside the leading currents in mainstream cognitive psychology and suggests that we can use evolutionary biology to unravel the relevant mental architecture. Our brains are, after all, biological objects, and the best naturalistic account of their development in nature is Darwin’s theory of evolution. To the extent that mental architecture exhibits intricate processes and structures, it is plausible to think that this is the result of evolutionary processes working over vast periods of time. Like all biological systems, the mind is optimised to promote survival and reproduction in the evolutionary environment. On this view all specialised cognitive functions broadly serve those reproductive ends. For Steven Pinker the universal propensity toward religious belief is a genuine scientific puzzle. He thinks that adaptationist explanations for religion do not meet the criteria for adaptations. An alternative explanation is that religious psychology is a by-product of many parts of the mind that evolved for other purposes. Religion and drugs James H. Leuba This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (January 2012) The American psychologist James H. Leuba (1868–1946), in A Psychological Study of Religion, accounts for mystical experience psychologically and physiologically, pointing to analogies with certain drug-induced experiences. Leuba argued forcibly for a naturalistic treatment of religion, which he considered to be necessary if religious psychology were to be looked at scientifically. Shamans all over the world and in different cultures have traditionally used drugs, especially psychedelics, for their religious experiences. In these communities the absorption of drugs leads to dreams (visions) through sensory distortion. William James was also interested in mystical experiences from a drug-induced perspective, leading him to make some experiments with nitrous oxide and even peyote. He concludes that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others they are certainly ideas to be considered, but hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such. Drug-induced religious experiences See main article entheogen on the use of psychoactive substances in a religious or shamanic context. The drugs used by religious communities for their hallucinogenic effects were adopted for explicit and implicit religious functions and purposes. The drugs were and are reported to enhance religious experience through visions and a distortion of the sensory perception (like in dreams in a state of sleep). • Cannabis, which grows all over the world except in very cold climates, is used in religious practices in Indian and African communities • Certain psychedelic mushrooms are used by Indians in Latin America, especially in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico[citation needed] The chief species is Psilocybe mexicana, of which the active principles are psilocin and its derivative psilocybin, in their chemical composition and activity not unlike LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide); the latter is synthesized from the alkaloids (principally ergotamine and ergonovine) that are constituents of ergot, a growth present in grasses affected by the disease also called ergot. Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) is another mushroom having hallucinogenic properties that has not been thoroughly studied. Fly agaric is mildly toxic at high dosages and is said to have, in addition to its hallucinogenic properties, the ability to increase strength and endurance.[citation needed] It is said also to be a soporific. Fly agaric may be extremely important, since it may have been the natural source of the ritual soma drink of the ancient Hindus and the comparable haoma used by the Zoroastrians. However most researchers point toward ephedra as the main ingredient of Soma. Henry Falk stated that “there is no need to look for a plant other than Ephedra, the one plant used to this day by the Parsis.” Ephedra is both a stimulant and a thermogenic; its biological effects are due to its ephedrine and pseudoephedrine content. These compounds stimulate the brain and also body metabolism. • Peyote used by some Indian communities of Mexico. The chief active principle of peyote is an alkaloid called mescaline. Like psilocin and psilocybin, mescaline is reputed to produce visions and other evidences of a mystical nature. Despite claims of missionaries and some government agents that peyote – from the Nahuatl word peyotl (“divine messenger”) – is a degenerative and dangerous drug, there appears to be no evidence of this among the members of the Native American Church, a North American Indian cult that uses peyote in its chief religious ceremony. Peyote, like most other hallucinogenic drugs, is not considered to be addictive and, far from being a destructive influence, is reputed by cultists and some observers to promote morality and ethical behaviour among the Indians who use it ritually. • Ayahuasca, caapi, or yajé, is produced from the stem bark of the vines Banisteriopsis caapi and B. inebrians. Indians who use it claim that its virtues include healing powers and the power to induce clairvoyance, among others. This drink has been certified by investigators to produce remarkable effects, often involving the sensation of flying. The effects are thought to be attributable to the action of harmine, a very stable indole that is the active principle in the plant. While the Indians themselves attribute the properties of the drink Ayahuasca to B. caapi, this is not the common scientific view; the MAOIs present in the B. caapi instead allow the extremely psychedelic ingredients in other plants added to the brew, noticeably plants containing DMT, to be activated and produce an intense experience. • Kava drink, prepared from the roots of Piper methysticum, a species of pepper, and seemingly more of a hypnotic-narcotic than a hallucinogen, is used both socially and ritually in the South Pacific, especially in Polynesia. • Iboga, a stimulant and hallucinogen derived from the root bark of the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga is used within the Bwiti religion in Central Africa. The active ingredient in T. iboga is ibogaine, a drug that has been studied for its use in treating addiction. • Coca, source of cocaine, has had both ritual and social use chiefly in Peru. • Datura, one species of which is the jimsonweed, is used by native peoples in North and South America; the active principle, however, is highly toxic and dangerous. A drink prepared from the shrub *Mimosa hostilis, which is said to produce glorious visions in warriors before battle, is used ritually in the ajuca ceremony of the Jurema cult in eastern Brazil. • Salvia divinorum, a member of the sage family of plants, is a hallucinogen used by Mazatec shamans for “spiritual journeys” during healing. Religion and meditation The large variety of meditation techniques shares the common goal of shifting attention away from habitual or customary modes of thinking and perception, in order to permit experiencing in a different way. Many religious and spiritual traditions that employ meditation assert that the world most of us know is an illusion. This illusion is said to be created by our habitual mode of separating, classifying and labelling our perceptual experiences. Meditation is empirical in that it involves direct experience. However it is also subjective in that the meditative state can be directly known only by the experiencer, and may be difficult or impossible to fully describe in words. Meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness characterised by a loss of awareness of extraneous stimuli, one-pointed attention to the meditation object to the exclusion of all other thoughts, and feelings of bliss.[71] Controversy Given historical animosity between science and religion (Haque, 2001), controversy surrounding the scientific study of religion is expected. Many psychologists reject religion. For instance, Sigmund Freud viewed religion as an illusion, a sign of psychological neurosis. Additionally Eric Fromm’s humanistic psychology centers on man and rejects authoritarian religion. However, religious scholars and psychologists advocating the study of religion have contested such views. Paul Vitz critiqued Fromm’s self-centered approach to psychology and labeled humanist psychology as a religion, unsupported by scientific inquiry. Reber asserted that exclusion of the study of religion only limits psychology’s understanding of human behavior. Others argue that a psychological study of human personality necessitates, at minimum, an acknowledgment of the impact religion has on many humans. Religion and psychotherapy Various forms of explicitly religious psychotherapies that maintain the traditional psychological framework have recently become more prevalent. Clients’ religious beliefs are increasingly being considered in psychotherapy with the goal of improving service and effectiveness of treatment. A resulting development was theistic psychotherapy. Conceptually, it consists of theological principles, a theistic view of personality, and a theistic view of psychotherapy. Following an explicit minimizing strategy, therapists attempt to minimize conflict by acknowledging their religious views while being respectful of client’s religious views. This opens up the potential for therapists to directly utilize religious practices and principles in therapy, such as prayer, forgiveness, and grace. Pastoral psychology One application of the psychology of religion is in pastoral psychology, the use of psychological findings to improve the pastoral care provided by pastors and other clergy, especially in how they support ordinary members of their congregations. Pastoral psychology is also concerned with improving the practice of chaplains in healthcare and in the military. One major concern of pastoral psychology is to improve the practice of pastoral counseling. Pastoral psychology is a topic of interest for professional journals such as Pastoral Psychology, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, and Journal of Psychology and Theology. In 1984, Thomas Oden severely criticized mid-20th century pastoral care and the pastoral psychology that guided it as having entirely abandoned its classical/traditional sources, and having become overwhelmingly dominated by modern psychological influences from Freud, Rogers, and others. More recently, others have described pastoral psychology as a field that experiences a tension between psychology and theology.


( 13 July, 2011 )


Hi everybody you’ll be welcome on my blog if you want to learn.Here’s a small lesson in philosophy. enjoy yourself

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom

Branches of philosophy
The following branches are the main areas of study, in modern academia:
Metaphysics is the study of the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and body, substance and accident, events and causation. Traditional branches are cosmology and ontology.
Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible. Among its central concerns has been the challenge posed by skepticism and the relationships between truth, belief, and justification.
Ethics, or “moral philosophy”, is concerned primarily with the question of the best way to live, and secondarily, concerning the question of whether this question can be answered. The main branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Meta-ethicsconcerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Ethics is also associated with the idea of morality.
Political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals (or families and clans) to communities including thestate. It includes questions about justice, law, property, and the rights and obligations of the citizen. Politics and Ethics are traditionally inter-linked subjects, as both discuss the question of what is good and how people should live.
Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters of taste and sentiment.
Logic is the study of valid argument forms. Beginning in the late 19th century, mathematicians such as Frege focused on a mathematical treatment of logic, and today the subject of logic has two broad divisions: mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic.
Philosophy of mind deals with the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, and is typified by disputes between dualism andmaterialism. In recent years there has been increasing similarity between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science.
Philosophy of language is inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language.
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy that asks questions about religion.
Most academic subjects have a philosophy, for example the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of law, and the philosophy of history. In addition, a range of academic subjects have emerged to deal with areas that historically were the subject of philosophy. These include physics, anthropology, and psychology.

Western philosophy
Main articles: Western philosophy and History of Western philosophy
The introduction of the terms “philosopher” and “philosophy” has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras. The ascription is said to be based on a passage in a lost work of Herakleides Pontikos, a disciple of Aristotle. It is considered to be part of the widespread body of legends of Pythagoras of this time. “Philosopher” was understood as a word which contrasted with “sophist” (from sophoi). Traveling sophists or “wise men” were important in Classical Greece, often earning money as teachers, whereas philosophers are “lovers of wisdom” and not professionals.
Historians of western philosophy usually divide it into three or more periods the most important being ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, and modern philosophy.[8]

Ancient philosophy (c. 600 BC–c. AD 400)
Main article: Ancient philosophy

Ancient philosophy is the philosophy of the Graeco-Roman world from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is usually divided into three periods: the pre-Socratic period, the period of Plato andAristotle, and the post-Aristotelian (or Hellenistic) period. A fourth period that is sometimes added includes the Neoplatonic and Christianphilosophers of Late Antiquity. The most important of the ancient philosophers (in terms of subsequent influence) are Plato and Aristotle.
The main subjects of ancient philosophy are: understanding the fundamental causes and principles of the universe; explaining it in an economical way; the epistemological problem of reconciling the diversity and change of the natural universe, with the possibility of obtaining fixed and certain knowledge about it; questions about things that cannot be perceived by the senses, such as numbers, elements, universals, andgods. Socrates is said to have been the initiator of more focused study upon the human things including the analysis of patterns of reasoningand argument and the nature of the good life and the importance of understanding and knowledge in order to pursue it; the explication of the concept of justice, and its relation to various political systems.
In this period the crucial features of the philosophical method were established: a critical approach to received or established views, and the appeal to reason and argumentation.

Medieval philosophy (c. 400–c. 1350)
Main article: Medieval philosophy

St. Thomas Aquinas
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages, roughly extending from the Christianization of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.[10] Medieval philosophy is defined partly by the rediscovery and further development of classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate the then widespread sacred doctrines of Abrahamic religion (in the form of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) with secularlearning.
The history of European medieval philosophy is traditionally divided into two main periods: the period in theLatin West following the Early Middle Ages until the 12th century, when the works of Aristotle and Platowere preserved and cultivated; and the “golden age” of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries in the Latin West, which witnessed the culmination of the recovery of ancient philosophy, and significant developments in the field of philosophy of religion, logic and metaphysics.
The medieval era was disparagingly treated by the Renaissance humanists, who saw it as a barbaric “middle” period between the classical age of Greek and Roman culture, and the “rebirth” or renaissance of classical culture. Yet this period of nearly a thousand years was the longest period of philosophical development in Europe, and possibly the richest. Jorge Gracia has argued that “in intensity, sophistication, and achievement, the philosophical flowering in the thirteenth century could be rightly said to rival the golden age of Greek philosophy in the fourth century B.C.”
Some problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the existence and unity of God, the object of theology andmetaphysics, the problems of knowledge, of universals, and of individuation.
Philosophers from the Middle Ages include the Muslim philosophers Alkindus, Alfarabi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Algazel, Avempace, Abubacerand Averroes; the Jewish philosophers Maimonides and Gersonides; and the Christian philosophers Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Anselm,Gilbert of Poitiers, Peter Abelard, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Jean Buridan. The medieval tradition of scholasticism continued to flourish as late as the 17th century, in figures such as Francisco Suarez and John of St. Thomas.
Aquinas, father of Thomism, was immensely influential, placed a greater emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle’s metaphysical and epistemological writing. His work was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking that had dominated much of early Scholasticism.

Renaissance philosophy (c. 1350–c. 1600)
Main article: Renaissance philosophy

Giordano Bruno
The Renaissance (“rebirth”) was a period of transition between the Middle Ages and modern thought, in which the recovery of classical texts helped shift philosophical interests away from technical studies in logic, metaphysics, and theology towards eclectic inquiries into morality, philology, and mysticism.The study of the classics and the humane arts generally, such as history and literature, enjoyed a scholarly interest hitherto unknown in Christendom, a tendency referred to as humanism. Displacing the medieval interest in metaphysics and logic, the humanists followed Petrarch in making man and his virtues the focus of philosophy.
The study of classical philosophy also developed in two new ways. On the one hand, the study of Aristotle was changed through the influence of Averroism. Averroes had been known as “the Commentator” of Aristotle since the Middle Ages, but under the influence of writers such as John of Jandun and Marsilius of Padua a “humanist Aristotelianism” developed in the Renaissance, as exemplified in the thought of Pietro Pomponazzi and Giacomo Zabarella. Secondly, as an alternative to Aristotle, the study Plato and theNeoplatonists became common. This was assisted by the rediscovery of works which had not been well known previously in Western Europe. Notable Renaissance Platonists include Nicholas of Cusa, and laterMarsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
The Renaissance also renewed interest in anti-Aristotelian theories of nature considered as an organic, living whole comprehensible independently of theology, as in the work of Nicholas of Cusa, Nicholas Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Telesius, and Tommaso Campanella. Such movements in natural philosophy dovetailed with a revival of interest in occultism, magic, hermeticism, and astrology, which were thought to yield hidden ways of knowing and mastering nature (e.g., in Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola).
These new movements in philosophy developed contemporaneously with larger religious and political transformations in Europe: theReformation and the decline of feudalism. Though the theologians of the Protestant Reformation showed little direct interest in philosophy, their destruction of the traditional foundations of theological and intellectual authority harmonized with a revival of fideism and skepticism in thinkers such as Erasmus, Montaigne, and Francisco Sanches.Meanwhile, the gradual centralization of political power in nation-states was echoed by the emergence of secular political philosophies, as in the works of Niccolò Machiavelli (often described as the first modern political thinker, or a key turning point towards modern political thinking), Thomas More, Erasmus, Justus Lipsius, Jean Bodin, and Hugo Grotius.

Early modern philosophy (c. 1600–c. 1800)

John Locke
Main article: Modern philosophy
Chronologically, the early modern era of western philosophy is usually identified with the 17th and 18th centuries, with the 18th century often being referred to as the Enlightenment.
Modern philosophy is distinguished from its predecessors by its increasing independence from traditional authorities such as the Church, academia, and Aristotelianism; a new focus on the foundations of knowledge and metaphysical system-building; and the emergence of modern physics out of natural philosophy.Other central topics of philosophy in this period include the nature of the mind and its relation to the body, the implications of the new natural sciences for traditional theological topics such as free will and God, and the emergence of a secular basis for moral and political philosophy. These trends first distinctively coalesce in Francis Bacon’s call for a new, empirical program for expanding knowledge, and soon found massively influential form in the mechanical physics and rationalist metaphysics of Rene Descartes.Thomas Hobbes was the first to apply this methodology systematically to political philosophy and is the originator of modern political philosophy, including the modern theory of a “social contract”. The academic canon of early modern philosophy generally includes Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke,Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, though influential contributions to philosophy were made by many thinkers in this period, such asGalileo Galilei, Pierre Gassendi, Blaise Pascal, Nicolas Malebranche, Isaac Newton, Christian Wolff, Montesquieu, Pierre Bayle, Thomas Reid, Jean d’Alembert, and Adam Smith. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a seminal figure in initiating reaction against the Enlightenment. The early modern period of philosophy is generally considered to close with Kant’s systematic attempt to limit metaphysics, justify scientific knowledge, and reconcile both of these with morality and freedom.

19th-century philosophy
Main article: 19th-century philosophy
Later modern philosophy is usually considered to begin after the philosophy of Immanuel Kant at the beginning of the 19th century.German philosophy exercised broad influence in this century, owing in part to the dominance of the German university system. German idealists, such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, transformed the work of Kant by maintaining that the world is constituted by a rational or mind-like process, and as such is entirely knowable. Arthur Schopenhauer’s identification of this world-constituting process as an irrational will to live influenced later 19th- and early 20th-century thinking, such as the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.
After Hegel’s death in 1831, 19th-century philosophy largely turned against idealism in favor of varieties of philosophical naturalism, such as the positivism of Auguste Comte, the empiricism of John Stuart Mill, and the materialism of Karl Marx. Logic began a period of its most significant advances since the inception of the discipline, as increasing mathematical precision opened entire fields of inference to formalization in the work of George Boole and Gottlob Frege.
Other philosophers who initiated lines of thought that would continue to shape philosophy into the 20th century include
 Gottlob Frege and Henry Sidgwick, whose work in logic and ethics, respectively, provided the tools for early analytic philosophy.
 Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, who founded pragmatism.
 Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, who laid the groundwork for existentialism and post-structuralism.

( 9 July, 2011 )



Définition générale
L’émotion (du latin motio “action de mouvoir, mouvement”) est une manifestation physique liée à la perception d’un événement dans l’environnement (externe), ou dans “l’espace mental” (interne). De vastes réseaux de structures cérébrales sont impliqués dans la perception, le traitement et la régulation des émotions, qui influencent d’autres phénomènes psychologiques tels que l’attention, la mémoire ou le langage (verbal et non-verbal).
L’un des premiers traités sur les émotions est dû au philosophe René Descartes, né le 31 mars 1596 à La Haye en Touraine et mort à Stockholm dans le palais royal de Suède le 11 février 1650.Il est mathématicien, physicien et philosophe français. Il est considéré comme l’un des fondateurs de la philosophie moderne. Dans son traité Les Passions de l’âme, Descartes identifie six émotions primaires :
• admiration – ce qui équivaut à notre époque à la sidération, la stupéfaction, l’étonnement, la surprise
• amour
• haine
• désir
• joie
• tristesse
Une émotion est une réaction psychologique et physique à une situation.
Une émotion a d’abord une manifestation interne et génère une réaction extérieure. Elle est provoquée par la confrontation à une situation et à l’interprétation de la réalité.
En cela, une émotion est différente d’une sensation, laquelle est la conséquence physique directe (relation à la température, à la texture…). La sensation est directement associée à la perception sensorielle. La sensation est par conséquent physique.
Quant à la différence entre émotion et sentiment, celle-ci réside dans le fait que le sentiment ne présente pas une manifestation réactionnelle. Néanmoins, une accumulation de sentiments peut générer des états émotionnels.
L’émotion peut se définir comme une séquence de changements intervenant dans cinq systèmes organiques rapportant :
• à la cognition, c’est-à-dire aux grandes fonctions de l’esprit (perception, langage, mémoire, raisonnement, décision, mouvement…), à La psychosociologie qui peut être considérée comme science de l’action et pratique d’intervention engagée dans la vie sociale, et motrice(c’est-à-dire qui déplace de la matière en apportant de la puissance.), dénotationnel, moniteur), de manière interdépendante et synchronisée en réponse à l’évaluation de la pertinence d’un stimulus externe ou interne par rapport à un intérêt central pour l’organisme.

I/ Difficulté de définition
La définition de toute entité psychologique représente habituellement des difficultés de taille, et le concept d’émotion est loin de faire exception à la règle. Un problème particulier dans la quête de la définition de l’émotion vient du fait que, souvent, les énoncés ne se rapportent qu’à un aspect de l’émotion. En effet, le concept d’émotion est utilisé de manière différente selon qu’il est envisagé en référence à l’aspect stimulus, à l’expérience subjective, à une phase d’un processus, à une variable intermédiaire ou à une réponse.
Un autre problème qui nuit aux progrès vers une meilleure précision dans la définition de l’émotion concerne le langage par lequel on l’exprime. En effet, le langage de tous les jours et le langage scientifique ne visent pas les mêmes objectifs. De plus, actuellement les avancées scientifiques dans ce domaine n’offrent pas de meilleure terminologie.
Certains auteurs ont fait remarquer qu’il peut être intéressant de ne pas avoir de définition trop stricte de « l’émotion », compte tenu du stade de développement dans ce domaine.

II/ Les émotions, à travers une perspective évolutionniste
Le courant évolutionniste, en psychologie des émotions, tire son origine des travaux de Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin en 1869, par J. Cameron.
Charles Robert Darwin (12 février 1809 – 19 avril 1882) est un naturaliste anglais dont les travaux sur l’évolution des espèces vivantes ont révolutionné la biologie.
Dans son livre, The expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals en 1872, il va poser les fondements de l’expression des émotions. Il va les décrire comme innées, universelles et communicatives.
Les émotions seraient un héritage de nos ancêtres. Pourquoi et comment les émotions se seraient-elles développées ?
1. Evolutionnisme de charles Darwin

Dans la première édition de « De l’origine des espèces », Charles Darwin n’emploie le mot « évolution » que très peu, il préfère l’expression « descendance modifiée ». Son interprétation du monde est basée sur cette expression. Pour Darwin, la vie est unique. Tous les organismes sont issus d’un prototype inconnu ayant vécu dans des temps lointains. Les descendants de cet organisme originel se sont répandus, et ont accumulé des modifications, ou adaptations, les rendant aptes à vivre dans leur environnement respectif.
On peut imaginer l’histoire de la vie sur Terre selon la conception Darwinienne comme un arbre dont le tronc serait l’être premier et les branches les différentes voies d’évolution empruntées par l’espèce, avec au plus extrême de la branche, la version la plus évoluée de l’organisme.
Ainsi, les espèces apparentées telles que l’éléphant d’Asie et l’éléphant d’Afrique, on beaucoup de caractéristiques en commun, car elles sont issues du même arbre. La majorité des branches de l’arbre débouchent sur un cul de sac.
2. Descendance modifiée. (originede l’émotion)
En réalité, c’est Linné, partisan du fixisme, qui a donné à Darwin l’accès au lien vers l’évolution. En effet, c’est Linné qui a inventé la taxinomie, qui consiste à nommer chaque espèce par son groupe d’appartenance suivit de son identité dans ce groupe (exemple : éléphant d’Afrique Loxodonta africana). Cela a indiqué à Darwin l’existence de groupes subordonnés aux groupes, et donc d’une possible lignée commune. Selon Darwin, les ramifications de l’arbre de l’évolution sont données par la hiérarchie linnéenne. Ainsi par exemple, Lion (Panthera leo) et Tigre (Panthera tigris), faisant partie des félidés, ont un ancêtre commun plus récent que deux espèces plus éloignées comme le Lion et l’éléphant d’Afrique cité plus haut.
Ceci dit, les changements de grande envergure qui ont créé des animaux très différents tels qu’un babouin et un dauphin, se déroulent sur des périodes très longues, plusieurs centaines de millions d’années. Les progrès biologiques tels que la biologie moléculaire confirment la vision darwinienne de l’évolution.

3. La sélection naturelle
En biologie, la sélection naturelle est l’un des mécanismes qui guident l’évolution des espèces. Ce mécanisme est particulièrement important du fait qu’il explique l’adaptation des espèces aux milieux. La théorie de la sélection naturelle permet d’expliquer et de comprendre comment l’environnement influe sur l’évolution des espèces et des populations en sélectionnant les individus les plus adaptés et constitue donc un aspect fondamental de la théorie de l’évolution.
De façon sommaire, la sélection naturelle désigne le fait que les traits qui favorisent la survie et la reproduction, voient leur fréquence s’accroître d’une génération à l’autre. Cela découle logiquement du fait que les porteurs de ces traits ont plus de descendants, et aussi que ces derniers portent ces traits (puisqu’ils sont héréditaires).

III/ Théories psychologiques des émotions
L’émotion est une notion floue et elle est difficilement définissable. Elle présente la particularité d’être idiosyncrasique, c’est-à-dire particulière et propre à chaque individu. De ce fait, plusieurs définitions et rôles ont été donnés à l’émotion. Déjà en 1879, Charles Darwin, fondateur de la théorie de l’évolution, la définit comme cette faculté d’adaptation et de survie de l’organisme vivant. Il la voit comme innée, universelle et communicative. D’un point de vue comportemental, l’émotion est perçue comme un « motivateur », une entité qui influence le choix d’un individu en réponse à un stimulus externe ou interne. D’un point de vue socioculturel, les sentiments sont cette réponse donnée à une interaction avec nous-mêmes et/ou avec les autres. Une émotion existe à la fois dans la dimension personnelle et sociale de l’individu. Elle serait cette capacité d’adaptation et de changement, ce lien qui forme nos relations et nous met en interaction avec l’autre. De récentes études en neurobiologie ont démontré que les émotions sont un mélange de plusieurs facteurs biochimiques, socioculturels et neurologiques. Elles se traduisent par des réactions spécifiques : motrices (tonus musculaire, tremblements…), comportementales (incapacité de bouger, agitation, fuite, agression…), et physiologiques (pâleur, rougissement, accélération du pouls, palpitations, sensation de Malaise…). Elles seraient à la base de nos réactions physiologiques et comportementales.
Au regard de ces définitions, le concept d’émotion apparaît comme polysémique. Il est, en effet, difficile de donner une définition claire et univoque de l’émotion. Cependant, les spécialistes s’accordent à dire que la pluralité des définitions de l’émotion n’altère en rien son rôle central dans toute analyse comportementale. Elle est en rapport étroit et permanent avec nos décisions et nos actions.
Les émotions agissent sur nos comportements quotidiens, sur nos choix et nos perceptions. Elles rendent la communication plus efficace et lui confèrent avec un haut niveau d’impact. En outre, les émotions jouent un rôle clé dans tous processus d’apprentissage en agissant sur la capacité de mémorisation de l’apprenant, sur sa rétention de l’information et sur son attention. Lors de l’acquisition des connaissances, les émotions agissent à différents niveaux sur l’esprit humain. De récentes études ont démontré que les émotions et la cognition sont intimement liées. C’est pourquoi, il est difficile d’aborder l’aspect cognition sans faire référence aux émotions.
a. La théorie de William James & Carl Lange Choquart ou la theorie James-Lange(1887)
William James (11 janvier 1842 à New York – 26 août 1910 à Chocorua dans le New Hampshire) est un psychologue et philosophe américain.
Dans l’article “Qu’est-ce qu’une émotion?” (Mind, 9, 1884: 188-205), il a fait valoir que l’expérience émotionnelle est en grande partie grâce à l’expérience de changements corporels. Le psychologue danois Carl Lange a également proposé une théorie similaire à la même époque, et donc cette position est connue comme la théorie James-Lange. Cette théorie et de son état dérivés mentionnent qu’une situation changée conduit à un changement d’état corporel. Comme le dit James : «la perception des changements corporels à mesure qu’ils surviennent est l’émotion.” James affirme en outre que «nous nous sentons tristes parce que nous pleurons, en colère parce que nous frappons, effrayés parce que nous tremblons, et non pas pleurer, grèver, ni trembler, parce que nous sommes désolés, en colère, ou de peur, comme c’est le cas peut être.”
Cette théorie est appuyée par des expériences dans lesquelles par la manipulation de l’état corporel, une émotion souhaitée est induite. Ces expériences ont également des implications thérapeutiques (par exemple, en thérapie par le rire, thérapie par la danse). La théorie de James-Lange est souvent mal comprise, car elle semble être contre-intuitive. La plupart des gens croient que les émotions donnent lieu à des actions d’émotions spécifiques: par exemple, «Je pleure parce que je suis triste» ou «je me suis enfui parce que j’avais peur.” La théorie de James-Lange, à l’inverse, affirme que d’abord nous réagissons à une situation (la fuite et les pleurs se produisent avant l’émotion), et puis nous interprétons nos actions dans une réaction émotionnelle. De cette façon, les émotions servent à expliquer et d’organiser nos propres actions pour nous.
La théorie de James-Lange a maintenant été abandonnée par la plupart des chercheurs.
Tim Dalgleish (2004) stipule ce qui suit:
La théorie de James-Lange est restée influente. Sa contribution principale est l’accent qu’il met sur le mode de réalisation d’émotions, notamment l’argument que les changements dans les concomitants corporelles des émotions peut modifier l’intensité de leurs expériences. La plupart des neuroscientifiques contemporains approuverait une vue modifiée de lers therie (James-Lange) dans laquelle les informations corporelles modulent l’expérience de l’émotion.
Le problème avec la théorie James-Lange est celui de la causalité (Etats causant des lésions corporelles et émotionnelles étant a priori), pas celle de l’influence de substances corporelles sur l’expérience émotionnelle (qui peut être soutenu est encore aujourd’hui très répandues dans les études de biofeedback et de la théorie de réalisation).

• Son pragmatisme (realité)
William James affirme que la vérité est relative aux procédures de vérification expérimentale, à la communauté d’une époque, à un contexte théorique, etc.
La vérité, pour lui, n’est donc pas la propriété inhérente d’un énoncé ; elle n’est qu’un évènement, c’est-à-dire une affirmation momentanément et partiellement juste et fiable.
Le pragmatisme de William James se résume par sa célèbre formule : « Le vrai consiste simplement dans ce qui est avantageux pour la pensée. »
Concernant la theorie, William James & Carl Lange élaborent en 1884 la théorie des émotions : théorie James-Lange. Pour eux, l’émotion traduit une réponse aux modifications physiologiques. « Nous nous sentons tristes parce que nous pleurons, en colère parce que nous frappons quelqu’un et effrayés parce que nous tremblons. »

b. La théorie de Walter Cannon et Philip Bard (1929)
Walter Bradford Cannon (1871-1945) est un physiologiste américain.
Dans la théorie de Cannon-Bard, Walter Bradford Cannon a soutenu contre la domination de la théorie James-Lange sur les aspects physiologiques des émotions dans la deuxième édition de modifications du corps dans la douleur, la faim, peur et de rage. Lorsque James a fait valoir que le comportement émotionnel précède souvent ou définit l’émotion, Cannon et Bard a fait valoir que l’émotion naît d’abord et stimule ensuite comportement typique.
c. La théorie de Stanley Schachter et Jerome Singer (1975)
• Les théories dites des émotions de base
Une autre théorie cognitive est la théorie Singer-Schachter. Elle est basée sur des expériences montrant soi-disant que les sujets peuvent avoir différentes réactions émotionnelles en étant placés dans le même état physiologique avec une injection d’adrénaline. Les sujets ont été observés pour exprimer la colère ou le divertissement en fonction d’une autre personne qui soit manifeste cette émotion dans la meme situation. Par conséquent, la combinaison de l’évaluation de la situation (cognitive) et la réception des participants de l’adrénaline ont défini ensemble la réponse. Cette expérience a été critiquée dans les réactions Jesse Prinz Gut (2004).
NB : Les émotions secondaires sont des mélanges des émotions de base (exemple: la nostalgie). On parle aussi d’émotions mixtes pour nommer les émotions secondaires. Par exemple, la honte est une émotion mixte, à la base un mélange de peur et de colère (bloqué ou retournée contre soi).
 Liste d’émotions secondaires
– la nostalgie
– l’amour
– la haine
– l’envie
– la gratitude
– la rancune
– l’anticipation
– la confiance
– l’embarras
• – la honte
• – la méfiance
• – l’humiliation
• – le mépris
• – l’approbation
• – le dédain
-la fierté
la sincérité
la tromperie
la culpabilité
la mélancolie
le sentiment d’abandon
la passion
le trac
le plaisir
la répression
le mal de l’absence
la compassion
IV/ Les théories de l’évaluation cognitive (de l’esprit)
Selon les théories de l’évaluation cognitive, aussi appelées théories de l’appraisal, l’émotion est le fruit des évaluations cognitives que l’individu fait au sujet de l’événement, qu’il soit externe ou interne, ou de la situation, qui initie l’émotion.
Ces théories se distinguent des théories des émotions de base en ce qu’elles supposent des mécanismes de genèse communs à toutes les émotions. Cette approche suppose que, pour comprendre les émotions, il est tout d’abord nécessaire de comprendre les évaluations que l’individu fait au sujet des événements de son environnement. Une évaluation cognitive est définie comme un processus cognitif, rapide, automatique, inconscient, dont la fonction est d’évaluer les stimulis perçus sur la base de critères particuliers.
Le modèle des composantes proposé par Klaus Scherer (né en 1943, est professeur de psychologie et directeur du Swiss Center en sciences affectives à Genève. Il est un spécialiste de la psychologie de l’émotion.Il est connu pour l’édition du Handbook of Affective Sciences et de plusieurs autres influents articles sur les émotions, l’expression, la personnalité et la musique) (1984, 1988, 2001), fournit une définition précise de la nature des émotions. En effet, il définit une émotion comme une séquence de changements d’état intervenant dans cinq systèmes organiques de manière interdépendante et synchronisée en réponse à l’évaluation d’un stimulus externe, ou interne, par rapport à un intérêt central pour l’individu. Il propose de définir l’émotion comme une séquence de changements d’état intervenant dans cinq systèmes organiques : cognitif (activité du système nerveux central), psychophysiologique (réponses périphériques), motivationnel (tendance à répondre à l’événement), moteur (mouvement, expression faciale, vocalisation), sentiment subjectif.
La plupart des théories de l’émotion soutiennent l’idée que la nature spécifique de l’expérience émotionnelle dépend du résultat d’une évaluation d’un évènement en termes de significativité pour la survie et le bien être de l’individu. Dans la théorie de Scherer, le set de critères permettant d’évaluer l’évènement est appelé « stimulus evaluation checks (SEC’s) » : « analyse d’evaluation du stimulus ». Suite au résultat de cette évaluation, il sera possible de prédire le type et l’intensité de l’émotion élicité par l’événement. Les SEC’s sont organisés autour de quatre objectifs principaux qui se subdivisent encore en objectifs secondaires. Les SEC’s majeurs correspondent aux types d’informations les plus importantes dont a besoin l’organisme pour avoir une réaction appropriée. Il s’agit de :
1. Est-ce que cet évènement est pertinent pour moi ? Est-ce qu’il affecte directement ma personne ou mon groupe social ? (d’où la pertinence)
2. Quelles sont les implications ou les conséquences de cet évènement et à quel point vont-elles affecter mon bien-être ou mes buts à court et long terme ? (implications)
3. A quel point suis-je capable de faire face à ces conséquences ? (potentiel de coping)
4. Quelle significativité a cet évènement par rapport à mes convictions personnelles ainsi que face aux normes et valeurs sociales ? (significativité normative)
L’évaluation de ces checks se fait toujours de manière subjective (dans l’esprit) et qu’elle dépend donc des perceptions et des inférences que peut faire un individu d’une situation. De plus, comme déjà suggéré par Lazarus et Folkman (1984), l’évaluation n’a pas lieu qu’une seule fois, elle se répète dans un processus nommé réévaluation (« reappraisal ») qui permet de se réadapter progressivement à l’événement.
Contrairement aux théories des émotions discrètes, le modèle des composants ne se limite pas à un nombre restreint d’émotions (colère, joie, peur, tristesse, dégoût…). Au contraire, le processus émotionnel est considéré comme un pattern (un modèle, une structure, un motif, un type, etc) de fluctuations constantes de changements dans différents sous systèmes de l’organisme permettant de faire ressortir un très large spectre d’états émotionnels. Cependant, la théorie ne rejette pas le fait qu’il existe des patterns d’adaptation plus fréquents chez les organismes qui reflètent des résultats récurrent d’évaluation de l’environnement. Par exemple, des réactions comme le combat ou la fuite sont universelles et il n’est pas étonnant de constater que les émotions qui leurs sont associées, la colère et la peur, se retrouvent chez toutes les espèces. Selon le modèle, il paraît très vraisemblable que d’une même combinaison de résultats aux checks d’évaluation l’on puisse aboutir à des patterns réguliers de changements d’états spécifiques. C’est pour cette raison que Scherer parle d’émotions modales pour décrire ces résultats prédominants aux SEC’s qui sont dus à des conditions de vie générales, des contraintes de l’organisation sociale et des similarités dans l’équipement génétique et que l’on retrouve donc dans presque tous les langages sous le terme d’une expression verbale courte, comme un simple mot. Cependant, l’avantage que possède les SEC’s est de pouvoir fournir un grand nombre de différents états émotionnels d’intensité différentes ce qui semble mieux correspondre aux ressentis des individus.

Toute émotion est naturelle.Elle est une manifestation physiologique liée à la perception d’un événement dans l’environnement (externe), ou dans “l’espace mental” (interne).la réaction d’une cellule irritée témoigne de sa bonne santé. Il faut donc comprendre toutes les réactions perçues et essayer d’apporter une solution (si la réaction est grave, ou gênante, ou encore s’y adapter si cela se présente comme une routine.

Le mot anglais « pattern » est souvent utilisé pour désigner un modèle, une structure, un motif, un type, etc

Carl Georg Lange (1834 – 1900) est un psychologue et physicien Danois. Docteur en médecine, Carl Lange suit des études en psychologie. Il élabore en 1884 dans la même époque que William James, sa version de la théorie de l’émotion : Théorie James-Lange.

L’essentiel de la carrière universitaire de William James se déroule à Harvard où il est d’abord instructor (1872) puis professeur adjoint de physiologie (1876). En 1880, il devient professeur associé, puis très rapidement, en 1885, professeur de philosophie. En 1890, son titre officiel est « professeur de psychologie » avant de redevenir « professeur de philosophie » en 1897.
Son pragmatisme
William James affirme que la vérité est relative aux procédures de vérification expérimentale, à la communauté d’une époque, à un contexte théorique, etc.
La vérité, pour lui, n’est donc pas la propriété inhérente d’un énoncé ; elle n’est qu’un évènement, c’est-à-dire une affirmation momentanément et partiellement juste et fiable.
Le pragmatisme de William James se résume par sa célèbre formule : « Le vrai consiste simplement dans ce qui est avantageux pour la pensée. »
Concernant la theorie, William James & Carl Lange élaborent en 1884 la théorie des émotions : théorie James-Lange. Pour eux, l’émotion traduit une réponse aux modifications physiologiques. « Nous nous sentons tristes parce que nous pleurons, en colère parce que nous frappons quelqu’un et effrayés parce que nous tremblons. »

( 9 July, 2011 )



Quelques exemples.
Pour vous aider à améliorer la qualité de votre anglais, essayez donc d’utiliser les expressions suivantes que nous avons tenté de classer par thèmes :
Pour exprimer votre surprise :
Oops ! Ouah ! ou Zut !
(pour exprimer une maladresse)
Blymey !
(familier) Bon sang !
Look at that ! Regarde-moi ça !
Vise un peu !
I can’t believe it ! Je n’en crois pas mes yeux !
You don’t say ! C’est pas vrai !
You must be joking ! Tu rigoles !
Oh Dear ! Mon Dieu !
Pour mettre à l’aise quelqu’un qui s’excuse :
Don’t mention it ! Ce n’est rien !
(There’s) no harm ! Il n’y a pas de mal !
Never mind ! Pas d’offence !
Ne vous en faites pas !
You’re welcome ! Vous êtes tout excusé(e) !
Don’t bother ! Ne vous inquiétez pas !
Pas de problème !
Pour exprimer votre ras-le-bol :
That’s too much ! Ça dépasse les limites !
Stop it ! Ça suffit !
That’s enough ! Assez !
I can’t stand it any more ! Je ne le supporte plus !
I’m fed up with it ! J’en ai marre !
j’en ai ras-le-bol !
How boring ! Quelle barbe !
Pour envoyer quelqu’un vertement sur les roses :
It’s none of your business. Ce ne sont pas tes oignons.
Let me go ! Lâche- moi les baskets !
Leave me alone ! Fous moi la paix !
Forget it ! Laisse tomber !
Mais ne répétez à personne que c’est nous qui vous avons appris tout ça ! Nous avons une réputation à tenir. C’était juste pour que vous compreniez qu’on vous insulte si vous entendez ça un jour et que vous appréciiez votre interlocuteur à sa juste valeur.
Quelques expressions diverses et variées :
Bottoms up ! Videz vos verres !
Cul sec !

You have hit the nail on the head. Tu as mis le doigt dessus.
(là où ça fait mal)
Cheers ! A votre santé !

Give me a hand. Donne moi un coup de main.
Here she comes ! La voilà !    He didn’t lift a finger Il n’a pas bougé le petit doigt.
Yes, indeed ! Bien évidemment !

It’s bullshit. C’est de la merde.
C’est des conneries.
Here you are ! Tiens !       It’s like water off a duck’s back. C’est comme pisser dans un violon.
It’s up to you ! C’est à toi de décider !       It’s freezing cold On pèle de froid
I don’t care ! Je m’en fous !          At ten o’clock sharp à dix heures pile
I don’t mind ! Ça m’est égal !          You deserved it ! Tu ne l’as pas volé.
I’ll make do ! Je me débrouillerai !        You looked for it ! Tu l’as bien cherché.
It’s worth its while ! Ça vaut le peine !           He is at his wits’ end    Il ne sait pas à quel saint se vouer.
Keep quiet ! Silence !
Du calme !       Upside down à l’envers
(= haut en bas)
Keep cool ! On se calme !        inside out à l’envers
(= l’intérieur à l’extérieur)
Of course ! Bien sûr !           head over tail les quatre fers en l’air
Off you go ! Allez, file !        It’s topsy turvy C’est tout de travers / de guingois
Ouch ! Aïe ! It’s brand new C’est flambant neuf
See you !
See you soon ! A bientôt !

He’s spick and span Il est propre comme un sou neuf
See you tomorrow ! A demain !           On purpose volontairement / exprès
That’s right ! C’est exact !       Bingo ! en plein dans le mille
What about you ? Et toi ?        He didn’t mince his words     Il n’a pas mâché ses mots
You’d better ! T’as intérêt !      He’s been through a lot Il en a fait des vertes et des pas mûres.
You make me sick ! Tu me dégoûtes !     There were no flies on him Il n’est pas né de la dernière pluie
I’m hungry. J’ai faim        He looks tired     Il a l’air fatigué
I’m thirsty. J’ai soif           It’s far-fetched    C’est tiré par les cheveux
That’s OK ! C’est bon
Tout va bien You must get him out of a fix Tu dois le tirer d’un mauvais pas

and so on … etc.
Certaines expressions prennent une tournure sentencieuse plus imagée, ce sont les dictons et les proverbes :
Ils suivent les mêmes règles que les expressions mais ce qui les différencie c’est qu’ils sont souvent d’origine ancienne (parfois issus de la Bible ou d’oeuvres littéraires classiques) et illustrent une idée au travers d’une image assez inattendue.
Expressions anglaises équivalents en français
You cannot have your cake and eat it. On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.
The early bird catches the worm. Le monde appartient à celui qui se lève tôt.
Like a bull in a china shop. Comme un éléphant dans un magasin de porcelaine.