Summary of Emotion

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9 Overall

7 Innovation

10 Style


This layman’s guide to the emotions is a delightful walking tour through the gardens of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, not to mention popular culture. Author Dylan Evans proposes the thesis that emotions are an evolutionary necessity that plays an important role in ensuring human survival. He demonstrates his thesis with anecdotes and illustrations. Though it delivers some intellectually rigorous material, this is not an intellectually rigorous book. It is more of a long, agreeable, rambling monologue. highly recommends it to those who would read it primarily for pleasure, and secondarily suggests it as a useful overview of the evolutionary role of emotions. Its ample bibliography can guide those who are interested in exploring the subject in greater depth.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why emotions are an evolutionary necessity;
  • How emotions serve human beings; and
  • What science now believes about emotions.

About the Author

Dylan Evans is a philosophy research fellow at King’s College, London. He is also the author of Introducing Evolutionary Psychology and Rethinking Emotion.



A Brief History of Emotion
The concept that emotions oppose reason is relatively new. The great Enlightenment philosophers David Hume, Adam Smith and Thomas Reid saw emotions as an integral part of human life and society. It was not until the Romantic Movement that a gulf appeared to separate...

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