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Favorite Quotes

Members of the Tomkins Institute share their favorite quotes from Silvan Tomkins. We invite you to submit your favorite Tomkins quotes: info@tomkins.org.


“The world we perceive is a dream we learn to have from a script we have not written.”

(Exploring Affect p. 451)

“I am, above all, what excites me.”  

(AIC I p. 347)

“A world experienced without any affect would be a pallid, meaningless world. We would know that things happened, but we could not care whether or not they did.”

(Exploring Affect p. 88)

“The primary function of affect is urgency . . . to make one care by feeling.”  

(Exploring Affect p. 54)

“The capacity of the individual to feel strongly or weakly, for a moment or for all his life, about anything under the sun and to govern himself by such motives, constitutes his essential freedom.”

(AIC I p. 122)

“The affect system is therefore the primary motivational system because without its amplification, nothing else matters—and with its amplification, anything can else can matter.”

(Exploring Affect p. 87)

” . . . the human being is equipped for affective arousal for every major general contingency.”

(Exploring Affect p. 47)

“The self lives in the face.”

(AIC II p. 133)

“Yesterday’s ideology is today’s fact or fiction.”

(Exploring Affect p. 28)

“It is our theory of value that for human subjects value is any object of human affect.”

(AIC I p. 329)

“Rationality is fragile in the face of massive negative affect and flourishes most under positive affect.”

(Exploring Affect p. 375) 

“If you want to understand feeling, you had better understand all the things that are conjoined and have evolved to be conjoined. You can tease them apart, you can factor them, you can centrifuge them, but they remain a unitary phenomenon which exhibits many diverse characteristics at once. Now, that’s not fashionable in science. It’s called contamination. Unfortunately, we are deeply contaminated creatures. 

(Inverse Archeology, video)