(E)motion in the XVIIth century

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According to Geeraerts &#38; Grondelaers (1995: 176), &#8220;the medieval physiological-psychological theory of the four humors and the four temperaments has left its traces on our emotional vocabulary&#8221;. In this study, we would like to go a step further by showing how the changing conceptualisation in the era of Descartes also influenced our emotional lexicon. The XVIIth century can be considered as a key moment in the origin of modern emotive consciousness (see Bloem 2008). For instance, from this period on, the term <i>&#233;motion</i> is used more frequently in a rather abstract sense instead of the &#8220;mouvements de l&#8217;ame&#8221;, which was commonly used until then in order to refer to emotional changes. In our analysis, we confront the semantic and syntactic profile of the verbs <i>&#233;mouvoir</i> and <i>mouvoir</i> in order to study their uses within the XVIIth century. Therefore, the attested occurrences are analysed in a semasiological way, inspired by Geeraerts&#8217; (1997) prototype semantics. I especially peruse some encyclopaedic treaties like for instance <i>Le</i> <i>tableau des passions humaines</i> (1620), <i>Les charact&#232;res des passions</i> (1640), <i>De l&#8217;usage des passions</i> (1642) and <i>Les passions de l&#8217;&#226;me</i> (1649). These works provide us with very important testimonies regarding the changing conceptualisation of emotions. In other words, I examine the evolution of <i>&#233;mouvoir</i> and <i>mouvoir</i> within reflections about the nature of emotions in order to demonstrate the close connection between culture and lexicon (see also K&#246;vecses 2005; Gevaert 2005). Keywords: Descartes; metaphors; cultural and diachronic perspective; semantic and syntactic profile; verbal analysis of <i>mouvoir and &#233;mouvoir</i>


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