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Emotions and the heart

  1. Aug 24, 2013 #1
    Despite that emotions actually come from the brain, through language, we usually speak of them coming from the heart. Why is this? Why do we associate emotions with the heart? Is it because of how the heart reacts to emotions as to why primitive people began to associate them with the heart?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2013 #2


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    Gold Member

    It goes back as far Aristotle's De Partibus Animalium (parts of animals). Since people couldn't see neurons, I think there was a tendency to assume blood vessels essentially played the role. Blood was often overemphasized in early biological thinking. It was often thought to be the life force... or whatever.

    Remember that they could still perform autopsies on the dead, so they were informed by more than just how hearts react subjectively, they were also looking at anatomy (but without microscopes)

    "This primary source of the vessels is the heart."
    "For the blood is conveyed into the vessels from the heart, but none passes into the heart from without."
    "For the heart is the first of all the parts to be formed"

    "Again, as neither the blood itself, nor yet any part which is bloodless, is endowed with sensation, it is plain that that part which first has blood, and which holds it as it were in a receptacle, must be the primary source of sensation. And that this part is the heart is not only a rational inference, but also evident to the senses. For no sooner is the embryo formed, than its heart is seen in motion as though it were a living creature, and this before any of the other parts, it being, as thus shown, the starting-point of their nature in all animals that have blood. A further evidence of the truth of what has been stated is the fact that no sanguineous animal is without a heart."

    Aristotle's Book:
  4. Aug 24, 2013 #3
    I think the predominant reason is that you feel strong emotions in the heart (through some biological mechanisms involving the pumping of blood), not in the brain, because of how the heart reacts to them.
  5. Aug 24, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, you feel emotions in your heart/chest, so it was a logical leap to that conclusion. An interesting question would be why do we feel emotions this way?


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