SotF – Richard Firth-Godbehere – Lost Emotions and The Passions of the Minde in Generall

Sunday 9 August 2015, 7:50 pm - 8:50 pm
At: Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG


Richard Firth-Godbehere

Richard Firth-Godbehere

Tonight you’ll feel things you’ve never felt before. Probably.

We all understand what emotions are, don’t we? We all feel the same things, after all.

Well that may not be true…

Emotions evolved for a reason, but how simple are they? For example, are they shaped by culture? It turns out there’s a bit of an academic war going on about this.

We dearly like an academic war in Edinburgh Skeptics, and the fun really starts when we discover that what we call ’emotions’ are only a couple of hundred years old.

How can this be, and what came before?

In this talk, Richard will embody the voice of Thomas Wright, a 17th Century English Catholic missionary whose book, The Passions of the Minde in Generall, influenced many including some bloke called Shakespeare. Through him, he will explain what feelings came before ’emotions’ and where modern ’emotions’ came from.

Richard will also discuss lost emotions – the ones that have disappeared that we no longer understand – and will do his best to get us to feel feelings we feel we’ve not felt before (or maybe we have, but have forgotten).

All this…. and he will also play the devils chord for us!


Richard Firth-Godbehere (that’s pronounced God-Be-Here, and yes it’s a real name) first became interested in emotions, and especially disgust, while his wife was suffering from a phobia for vomiting, emetophobia.

Since then, he has been studying what emotions are and were, and trying to find a way through the academic minefield that is the study of emotions. On route, he has survived a degree in History and the History of Ideas at Goldsmiths, a Masters degree in Early Modern History at Cambridge, and is a now a Wellcome Trust Scholar in the Medical Humanities at Queen Mary University of London, working out what on earth people were revolted about, if, as it seems, they weren’t, technically, disgusted by anything. Not as we’d understand it, anyway.

He does this after a previous life as a musician and performer.

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