Knowledge vs Emotion

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“There can be no knowledge without emotion…. until we have felt the force of the knowledge, it is not ours” (adapted from Arnold Bennett). Discuss this vision of the relationship between knowledge and emotion.

In accordance to Bennett’s claim, emotions are indispensable as they play an essential role in inspiring thoughts, shaping behaviors and more importantly maneuvering the quest for knowledge. Knowing something, that is to have knowledge, and having emotion towards the knowledge distinguish us from the machines as machines embedded with artificial intelligence -thus having knowledge- posses no emotions towards the knowledge. Only if we feel the force of knowledge - that is having emotional reactions as a result to knowing something - then it belongs to us, since the force (emotional reaction) often occurred in consequence of knowing something. Bennett’s assertion illustrates that emotions and knowledge are related to each other. Hence, presupposing Bennett’s claim to be true, one should ponder on these queries – “How do knowledge and emotion associated to each other?“, “Will Bennett’s claim hold true for all cases?” and “Could knowledge be gained with no emotional attachment to it?” –.

“How do knowledge and emotion associated to each other?“

There are no doubts that arts and emotions are related to each other but the question is how is it connected? There would be no art without emotions. And awareness towards emotions – in other words, comprehending with one’s own emotion - helps to produce great art. However, does knowledge in arts such as composing symphonies empower the piece of art thus capable of evoking a particular emotion or does insight in emotion drive artist to produce powerful art thus providing us with knowledge? To classify as to whether emotion plays a dominant role in the relationship or as to whether knowledge dominates the correlation between knowledge and emotion, let us dive into culture to see whether culture will give us an unambiguous explanation.

Death. Death is the center of many traditions and organizations, and is a feature of every culture around the world[1]. In Kadazan culture, the rituals when death occurs revolve around the care of the dead and such rituals are usually accompanied by grief and mourning. The knowledge that we possess about deaths tells us that we should feel lugubrious and doleful when death occurs and this is understood and accepted in most cultures. For the Kadazans, when death occurs, they will play the dunsai, a type of rhythmic gong music, at funerals[2]. The gongs are made of brass or bronze and they produce a muffled sound of a deep tone. The muffled sound of deep tone, in my experience, caused my heart to beat to a rhythm that tallied the dunsai, and as a result, fabricating an emotion of sadness. The ‘faster heart beat rate’ state that I experienced may be related to the vibration of the wave particles in air – maybe– and as a result, my body reacted in accordance to the ‘new heart beat’. Maybe the change in the state of my heart beat triggered and fabricated such an emotion in me -maybe -. Those phenomena are not important. The important matters are “Do the Kadazans play the dunsai to fabricate such an emotion?” and “Do the Kadazans compose the dunsai because of emotions?”.

If the first question is to be answered, my answer, based on my own logic and the knowledge that I have, is with the knowledge in the arts of playing the gongs and about deaths – that is when death occurs, they should possess a feel a certain emotion –, the Kadazans play the dunsai at funerals to create an atmosphere that corresponds to the emotions that they are feeling or should feel. In tackling the second question -“Do the Kadazans compose the dunsai because of emotions?”-, I am tempted to take Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 as an example. Shakespeare’s sentiment towards his lover inspired him to engrave his love in such a touching poem –...
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