TED Radio Hour: Emotions

We experience powerful emotions all of the time, but what are they? Where do they come from? On this week's show, TED speakers invoke history, language, science and music to help us think about the way we feel.

When we can't describe how we're feeling, we say we "have no words."  But in his made-up dictionary, writer John Koenig has invented words to describe our most abstract and ephemeral emotions.




Did past generations experience and express emotions the same way we do?  Probably not, says historian Tiffany Watt Smith -- perceptions of our emotions depend on the time and place.


Identifying basic emotions in others -- like fear, sadness or anger -- seems instinctive, but psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett says we're doing more guesswork than we think.



 Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas traces the history of classical music, revealing its power to present a variety of complex human emotions.