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Publisher's Summary

Why do humans walk upright on two legs? Why do we have two eyes and stereoscopic vision, opposable thumbs, and vocal cords? Scientists believe there is one answer to all these disparate questions - natural selection. Natural selection describes the way in which organisms evolve; those with the most advantageous adaptations live long enough to pass those adaptations on to the next generation through their genes. Most of us would point to the human brain, and the resulting human mind, as our most significant adaptation. But there’s at least one more critical tool in our arsenal of adaptions, one that we rarely consider or appreciate as a survival mechanism - our emotions. 

In the 12 fascinating lectures of Understanding Human Emotions, Professor Lawrence Ian Reed helps us consider our emotions from an evolutionary point of view, exploring why we have these consistent feelings and physical responses to specific stimuli in our lives, and how they benefit us. Averaged over the course of evolutionary history, our emotions motivate us to act in ways that best promote our survival and reproduction. Without the full range of our emotions, we simply would not be here.

We all know what emotions are, and yet we find them so difficult to define. It’s not an easy question, and one that philosophers and scientists have been wrestling with for millennia. In this course, you’ll learn about many of the earliest written musings on the subject, including those of Aristotle, Darwin, William James, and more. Today, we recognize that emotions can be thought of as superordinate programs that coordinate subprograms in order to motivate adaptive behaviors. In this way, emotions function from an evolutionary perspective as solutions to recurrent problems faced by our ancestors over the course of history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 The Great Courses (P)2021 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Understanding Human Emotions

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Among My Top Favorites

This is among my top favorite of the Great Courses that I have listened to. Very nice. I will be listening to this again later.

3 people found this helpful

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Engaging and thought Provoking

Read it again will keep as a reference for my clients in the future

1 person found this helpful

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good

The lecturer has some good insights into psychology and other peripheral scientific material. All I have to say is that the existance of life is like the lottery is a weak argument. I have heard it in many lectures and I can't help but to roll my eyes and laugh. The other thing I want to mention is about when talking about love and the pain you feel when you lose it or are betrayed. The reason most people feel pain is not because they lost love but because they have been introduced to reality. That reality is the fact that they are only the center of their own universe and everyone doesn't revolve around them. The pain is not in their heart it's in their pride. If you are in love your life ceases to be about you and becomes all about them. If you are a good parent you know this feeling. You would do anything for them even if it put you in the worst and unimaginable position possible.

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a bit dry

I found this one very difficult to get into, and to keep my attention. After reading the more positive reviews, I plan to re-listen and will edit my review if my opinion changes!

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JoJo23

Overall a good analysis of emotions and how they tie back to being positive adaptations. I do however disagree with the definition of disgust. Discussed is a cultural learned condition. The expressed the same way across cultures the same things do not discussed us. There are many cultures where sibling marriages are still to this day accepted as in the Middle East. There are cultures were young girls will chew eat food regurgitate it chew it again regurgitate it and then feed it to the elders in the community.

There were several cultures were cannibalism was an accepted practice for many years. There are still circumstances in which people accept cannibalism, as in plane crash or the Donner party being stuck etc.

The aborigines would collect their urine and drink it again when there were times of drought water with scarce.

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Long but covered the basics of emotions

It's quite long and put me to sleep several times because of the voice of the author. If you're interested in the origin, psychology behind human emotions and even nonverbal, this is your guide. I am particularly interested in the anxiety and depression part but it was only covered in one chapter. The first half does not give much of an impact for me. The last part specially the one about Love and Relationship does.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-02-22

Interesting overview of development of Emotions

Well researched, ordered and presented - Really quite an accomplished piece of work.
It gets more interesting as it progresses.