Random thoughts on random topics

Amsterdam

On characteristic expression

That we do on occasion repress the characteristic expression of, say, an emotion, is definitely true. This may be on on an individual basis, but it may also be imposed on us by some social rule (‘Men don’t cry’, ‘Stiff upper lip and never say die’, that sort of thing). What makes this possible is that the characteristic expression usually consists of a variety of elements, in mixed proportions. Quite generally speaking, there seems to be a continuum of relevant criteria, ranging from pure behavioural responses (‘Ouch’; when being kicked in the sheens) to highly conventionalised verbal expressions (of, say, belief in a mathematical proposition). There are hardly any cases where there is just one criterion that makes up the characteristic expression, which is one reason, I guess, why cheaters usually can be found out. But the complexity of the characteristic expression, along with the nature of the criteria that it is composed of, seems a good indicator of what we can expect to be ‘suppressible’.

Martin Stokhof
from: PI Discussion Board
date: spring 2016

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