ABSTRACTRecent developments in the cognitive sciences have advanced the techniques of reading emotions on the human face. Paul Ekman has formalised the study of ‘micro‐expressions’, universal ways in which emotions are embedded and expressed in the human face, and the field of ‘affective computing’ has employed software to allow facial expressions of emotion to be read and evaluated by digital technology. Such developments raise fundamental philosophical issues concerning the relationship between external physical signs on the body and internal, otherwise invisible characteristics of human nature. While this relationship lies at the heart of the centuries‐old field of physiognomy in general, this essay explores discussions of it by Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860).

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