Ways in Which Emotion Might Enhance and/or Undermine Reasoning as a Way of Knowing

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Emotion has come of age in the last decade with theorists worldwide recognising the role of emotion in the development of intelligence. Intelligence is the faculty we all use to engage in ways of knowing. In this essay I will discuss the notion of emotion as used by key theorists and draw links and use comparative examples to show how emotion may enhance and/or undermine reasoning as a way of knowing.

Daniel Goleman outlines the fundamental link between emotion and cognition in his book Emotional Intelligence (1996, page. 44). He suggested that the emotional mind is associative, that it takes elements which help symbolise a reality, we know these as similes and metaphors. Emotions are triggered by perceptions and our senses. For instance we can feel happy in spring as we walk past a blossom tree and absorb its perfume. Perfume may trigger sensuous feelings of love; aromas may trigger sensations of hunger. Emotional memory can be a collective characteristic of cultural groups for example the smell and sound of firecrackers in the Chinese culture this can bring back happy times of family and celebration in the spring festival. The smell of freshly baked pain au chocolate by an old Parisian remembering a young romantic breakfast. Or the smell of a gum tree to a homesick Australian in a foreign land. These perceptions which come via our emotional responses have symbolic connections to what we like, for example chocolate and what we know about how chocolate makes us feel. This is a way of knowing, thus an emotional response can trigger a memory of past experiences, of what we have learnt. Emotional reactions can be pleasant however they can also be negative. Take an example of a friend or relative who is unwell causing them discomfort then leading them to be bad tempered toward you, your emotional reaction is one of sadness and fear as the person you care about is acting in an unfamiliar way than what you would normally expect. If this person is repeating this...
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