This is how Wallace and Darwin explained that a creature often possesses traits that enhance his capacity to survive and others that diminish this capacity. 59 Thus, humans may have been favored by the fact that their hands and feet were different. The advantage brought about by this trait in terms of survival allowed them to reproduce even if they also had other traits that were useless or even selfdestructive. To confirm this analysis, Darwin (1872) undertook a study of the emotional expressions in man and in animals.
Emotional Expressions Often Create Obnoxious Forms of Interaction
Darwin’s idea was that the domain of emotional expressions was an ideal terrain to find (1) psychological reactions inherited from other species, (2) which had a functional value for the survival of certain species, and (3) which had no useful function for humans.60 If a trait is of no use for the survival of a species and is innate, it is highly probable that it was produced by evolution. The coccyx is a well-known example in the human species of all that remains of the tails of our ancestors, the monkeys. Thus Darwin chose to study emotions because they were an example of purposelessâ61 psychological mechanisms that are not at all useful.â62 His research led to such powerful and abrasive considerations that he tried to soften his analysis at the end of his work on the human and animal expressions with the famous phrase quoted by David Boadella. Darwin’s idea was that once he had proven with this research that some psychological mechanisms had been produced by evolution, biologists could then tackle more complex psychological mechanisms influenced by evolution but still have a constructive function for the human species (e.g., some psychological dimensions of the instincts).
Consequently, for Darwin, to tremble with fear is not necessarily a useful reaction, and can even be of no service.â63 It is not possible, for him, that this reaction was preserved by human organisms because it positively influenced their survival. He remarks that the angry vocalizations that we inherited from some animals are often less expressive and powerful than some musical melodies.64 Tears often reveal pitifulâ thoughts (Darwin, 1872, VI, p. 173). They are not even advantageous when we are with our loved ones. Darwin65 thinks that to cry is as useless as the tears that flow after a blow near the eyes, a sneeze, or too bright a light projected into the eye. The fact remains that the same tears, for totally incidental66 reasons, can alleviate some suffering. In the first chapter of his my yoga blog on the expressions, Darwin insists on the idea that all the practical habits of a human organism activate themselves independently of conscious thoughts.
To the extent that Darwin thinks that these inherited reflexes have no relevance, it becomes reasonable to imagine that the same reflex acquired some useful and useless functions on the way. Darwin even notices that the more violent or hystericâ the crying (Darwin, 1872, VI, p. 175), the more they bring a sense of relief. It is the same when someone who is suffering turns every which way, clenches his teeth, and makes ear-splitting screams. He observes these reactions in children and concludes that they are innate. But as a fine English gentleman of the Victorian period, he does not see the usefulness of these simianâ behaviors in a salon or in a meeting of scientists. In other words, the human emotional expressions sometimes procure a certain momentary relief, but they sabotage the survival of an individual in a socialized environment more than they help.