The Mind's Tools/ episode #5

TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF FEELINGS

May 28, 2020
5Those tools of the mind that we cannot exactly name in English are two very different kinds of FEELINGS. The French call them SENTIMENT and SENSATION; the Italians, SENTIMENTO and SENSAZIONE; the Spanish, SENTIMIENTO and SENSACIÓN; the Germans, GEFÜHL and EMPFINDUNG; the Russians, CHOOWSTWO and OSHUSHENYE; the Jews, REGESH and TEHOOSHA. The difference between the first and the second kind of feelings is roughly as follows:
  • the first kind of feeling is active experience
  • the second kind of feeling is a passive one.
You have a passive feeling experience when you see, touch, hear, taste, smell or foresee something, or when you get an impression you cannot deny nor ignore. You have an active feeling experience when you answer the question: “What do I decide to feel about this person?” Of course, the passive kind of feeling is always sincere. You may discover that it was just a wrong impression, but in any case it was what you were feeling in that very moment. The active kind of feeling is more complicated. It begins after a certain amount of inner work, and starts precisely when you STOP that inner work and decide you have already drawn from it the result that suits you. After that STOP you know, for example, that you love somebody or that you are indifferent to somebody or that you hate somebody. And, as you think that this is enough, you START behaving as a person who loves, or ignores, or hates somebody. That’s the very complicated active kind of feeling. Why doesn’t everyday English have two different words in order to name these two very different kinds of feelings? I don’t know, and up to now I haven’t heard a convincing theory about that. I only have a forming hypothesis: The English language is a very practical one. The word FEELING points not to the quality of an experience but to the very fact of experiencing something. You can experience a passive impression or the result of active inner work: the word FEELING indicates the experience and not the experience’s object. But as we need words to name the two different complexes (experience plus experience’s object), I propose this:
  • P-FEELING for the passive kind of feelings, and
  • A-FEELING for the active one.
 

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