I, too, have been intrigued and a little mystified by Eliot's
distinction between feeling and emotion for many yeaars. It derives from
his work on F.H. Bradley, who draws that distinction, and Eliot refers to
it a couple of times in his dissertation. But even with that context, the
distinction remains very slippery.
My own understanding is close to Rusell Perkins in that an
emotion is part of our conscious life -- such as hatred, love, desire,
etc. Feelings, by contrast, are pre-conscious or undifferentiated, or
both. Anger, then would be a feeling, not an emotion insofar as anger can
be an undifferentiated state without any conscious motivation. I'm not
entirely happy with this analysis, but it does seem to fit the case.
On the other hand, we also have the possibility that feelings are
sensations, that is physiological inputs prior -- both logically and
temporally -- to the states of the personality we call emotions. On this
analysis we don't need the conscious/pre-conscious distinction, but have
instead a somatic/psychic distinction -- which, of course, would on
occassion be equivalent to conscious/pre-conscious.
Neither of these interpretations has ever satisfied me entirely,
and it just might be that Eliot vacillated between the two.
I hope this is of some help.
Leon Surette Email: [log in to unmask]
Department of English Fax: 519-661-3776
The University of Western Ontario