American psychologists at the turn of the twentieth century recognized their deficient understanding of emotion. This self-assessment did not deflect the majority from learning experiments reported in parsimonious language. Psychologists affiliated with Harvard University before and after World War I, however, were exceptional. The Harvard scholars applied the synthesizing habit of inherited philosophy to the new science of psychology. More comfortable with inference and generalization than their peers, they emphasized purposeful behavior, social relationships, and dynamic transformation. Affective experience was inseparable from this analysis. Nonetheless, their marginal status and holistic approach drew them toward extreme positions, most notably eugenics.