Feelings as agents of selection: putting Charles Darwin back into (extended neo-) Darwinism

Andrew Packard, Jonathan Delafield-Butt

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15 Citations (Scopus)
175 Downloads (Pure)


This cross-disciplinary essay employs some illustrations ('vignettes') of behavioural interactions examined by the authors (man, mammals, fish, octopus) to show feelings and emotions (affects) acting as essential regulators of the process of living. The notion of the primacy of feelings as both necessary feed-backs operating in self-preservation and growth, and as agents of selection during inter-subjective and predator-prey exchanges, is supported by a wealth of human and comparative neuroscience findings. The trans-species core self of vertebrates, identifiable with ancient brain structures on or near the midline, and studies of the vasopressin/oxytocin (VP/OT) system that have uncovered a functional and epigenetic continuum traceable to pre-Cambrian times, helps to re-align evolutionary theory upon Darwin’s original unabashed notion of a place for emotions, separate from ‘cognitive’ ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332–353
Number of pages22
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Early online date25 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • physiology
  • evolution
  • emotion
  • process of living
  • learning and imprinting
  • cooperation
  • affective neuroscience
  • evaluation
  • head versus heart
  • meteoropathy
  • POL


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