I'm not stating that I think _Eliot_ was making scientific claims. Rather, when I look at the book "Emotional Intelligence" by Goleman, I see a science behind Eliot's literary claims.
In case I wasn't clear in my first post, the "Emotional Intelligence" book is heavily based on scientific methods and discoveries. Goleman cites studies that use brain scans to observe what parts of the brain "light up" when different emotions are evoked, as well citing studies that measure heart rate, blood pressure, etc. The scientists found that specific emotions evoke specific bodily responses: for example, 'anger' causes blood to be shunted to the hands (presumably to help in a fist-fight or in grasping a weapon), 'fear' causes blood to flow to the legs (presumably to aid in running away), 'surprise' causes the muscles of the face to raise the eyebrows (presumably to let in more light to allow the eyes to get a better look), etc. The studies also showed that the evoking of an emotion and its subsequent reactions occur in brain " layers," with the emotion first appearing in the primitive parts of the brain (the brain stem and limbic system) and then spreading outward to the neocortex (the 'rational' brain). Furthermore, Goleman describes 'feeling' in two distinct 'pathways: 1) the analysis of the 'thinking brain' to an emotion evoked by direct physical stimulus (like seeing a tiger), and 2) the thinking brain 'pattern matching' some past event against a present event and then 'triggering' the same past emotion for the current event if the patterns sufficiently match.
This 'pattern matching pathway' to emotion is, I think, the scientific basis of the "objective correlative." Eliot basically said an author must find some sequence of events or images that (when properly 'pattern matched' in a reader) will evoke that particular emotion. I think the science from CAT scans and other recent medical measurement advances bears out that Eliot's intuition was scientifically correct.
To add to what I wrote above, I think Freud also postulated from his observations that images can stand for other images in very complex ways, and can trigger emotions. While Freud did not have the benefit of modern instrumentation that could measure the layers of brain activity, he got that part of the science basically correct. I was wondering if Eliot considered those ideas of Freud in formulating his theory of the objective correlative.
-- Tom --