ERIC Number: ED383947
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Aug-12
On a Certain Emotional Blindness in Human Beings.
Scheibe, Karl E.
While human emotions are often considered instinctive, this paper examines the notion that indifference to events or circumstances which might seem to have a prima facie claim to emotional significance is related to the narrative construction of those events or circumstances in the life of the observer, and is not a result of absolute stimulus value or of inner biological events. Also, indifference is selective in the same person. Caring is invested in some objects and utterly withheld from others; this selective investment of caring is intelligible only from a narrative point of view. Finally, the range and character of indifferent events and objects varies dramatically from person to person in a way that is consistent with a person's constructed identity and the relation of that identity to the world. Since moral judgments about actions are a direct function of selective indifference, it follows that systems of morality are selective and partial as well. The moral quality of objects, and hence their emotional significance, inheres not in the objects but in the way those objects are described by the selective moralist. Enormous individual differences exist in the capacity to maintain a wide range of conscious and moral interest in the world. Examples are cited that are consistent with the proposition that emotional reactivity and the lack of it--indifference--are dependent upon the connections between individuals and their circumstances created by their narrative constructions. Psychology is coming to understand that human life cannot be understood at all without the premise that humans are as much biographical creatures as they are biological ones. Contains nine references. (BF)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (102nd, Los Angeles, CA, August 12-16, 1994).