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Wimmer Manfred | Fellow Postdoctoral
1990-01-01 - 1992-09-30 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Biological, Mental, and Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Emotions

This project aims to formulate an integrative perspective of human emotionality. The following approaches to emotions are integrated:
.) Evolutionary approaches
.) Neuroscientific approaches
.) Approaches from cognitive psychology (e.g., J. Piaget)
.) Approaches coming from social and cultural sciences
.) Philosophical approaches – focusing on symbols and symbolic forms (e.g., E. Cassirer; S. Langer). 
Evolutionary and neuroscientific approaches provide a broad and solid base for an interdisciplinary view of human emotions. These more or less “hard science” approaches are necessary for understanding emotions in general, but in relation to human emotions their explanatory value is limited. For a comprehensive view on human emotions it is necessary to integrate philosophical perspectives and concepts from social as well as cultural sciences. 
Taking the neuronal substrate of emotions as flexible and developmentally open systems, which are on one side constrained by genetic factors and on the other side responsive to environmental influences, allows the elaboration of a integrative position. Within this position major emphasis is put on the ability to form symbols and symbol systems, because this is one area where scientific and other approaches are closely interrelated. 
Symbol systems as essential characteristics of human culture appear as a ”sociohistoric a priori“ (Luckmann 1980) providing a frame of meaning and orientation for the developing individual mind. The interactions between this superimposed system (Obersystem) and the individual organic - natural base of emotions (consisting of several subsystems) leads to numerous transformations of this base and to a wide variety of emotional phenomena. 
In analyzing some specific “symbolic forms“ (e.g., mythological thinking), the quite abstract considerations about the transformations of the biologically constrained basis by sociocultural influences are applied to more concrete dimensions of human affective – cognitive processes.