Surprise as Emotion: Between Startle and Humility
I consider the experience of surprise within the context of my current work on the emotions. To do this, I examine surprise in terms of its belief structure, distinguishing it from a startle (1). I then suggest that surprise is a being caught off-guard that is related to being attentively turned toward something (2). As the latter, I qualify surprise as an emotion in its being thrown back on an experience in a way that is different from affectively turning toward something (3). This constitutes surprise as a disequilibrium in distinction to a diremptive experience like we find in the moral emotions of shame or guilt (4). Finally, I distinguish surprise from a gift, which is peculiar to the experience of humility. I then suggest that surprise is an emotion while being neither an affect, like a startle-reflex, nor a moral emotion, like shame, guilt, or humility.