The suggestion that at least some emotions are modular captures a number of our intuitions about emotions: they are generally fast responses to a stimulus, they are involuntary, and they are easily distinguished (at least in most cases) from one another; we simply know that, for example, anger feels different than fear. Candidates for modular emotions are usually the so-called “basic” emotions - anger and fear are good examples of these. Defenders of emotion theories that focus on basic emotions, such as Paul Ekman in psychology and Paul Griffiths in philosophy, emphasize the advantages of theories that stress the evolutionary continuity of emotional expression and link emotions to the activity of neural circuits that are similar in human beings and other animals.
In this paper, however, I will examine arguments for the discontinuity of emotions in human beings, as compared with other animals. Owing to a combination of cultural practices and neuroanatomy, both our emotional “wiring” and our emotions are unique.