Emotion as a Way of Knowing

Topics: Emotion, Feeling, Psychology Pages: 5 (1445 words) Published: January 4, 2011

“The mind leads, the emotions follow” -Ayn Rand

Emotion is a state of psychological stimulation and an expression of distinct responses[1]. Emotional states can be defined by particular bodily responses.

Emotion is more similar to conscious thought than feelings are to conscious thought. Feelings are more like sensations, when you touch something you get a feeling[2]. Therefore feelings are processed faster than emotions, because when you touch something there is a slight delay before you can think of something about it, or feel something deeply about it. One definition of emotion can be "any strong feeling". Feelings can be described in more detail than emotions because you can have a specific feeling for anything, each feeling is unique and might not have a name. An emotion might be a deeper experience[3] it is mixed into the rest of your system. For example, a depression affects more of you than just an isolated feeling of sadness. Emotions just feel deeper because it is all your feelings being affected at once. On the other hand, moods are generalized feelings usually beyond our conscious control[4], and often with a somewhat negative connotation.

Emotions has an great effect on our body and it is becoming clearer that the choices we make about our emotional expression have as much if not more of an impact on our body. Mind and body are linked and must function as an integrated whole to remain healthy. The experience of emotions involves a complex release of chemicals that affect all of the systems[5] of our bodies. We are designed by nature to put the energy released by our emotions to work[6]. For example stress is the perception of various forms and intensities of “threat”.

Emotions are a part of our mental state, they are usually a major influence on how we perceive the world around us. Emotions can negatively affect our sense perception as it can makes us either focus or reject some aspects of reality. An example of this would be if you love someone, you are most likely to not pay attention to their faults or on the other hand, if you hate someone you are most likely to focus on their unpleasant characteristics. People's emotions tend to fog our perception and perspective of things at that very moment it is experienced. Emotions can prevent us from being open minded in the case where we would grab on to our beliefs too strongly. For example we would not expect an outraged, angry man to reason very well and take right decisions at the heat of the moment. We are often advised to 'be reasonable' and to 'control our emotions'.

Moreover, emotions can also have a negative effect on language. We might use very poignant and biased language in the heat of a powerful emotion.

Our emotions may lead us to manufacture false logic or reason in relation to knowledge. This is seen in three case: biased perceptions where we notice only things which reinforce already held knowledge; fallacious reasoning, when making rushed generalizations from limited experience and emotive language, when promoting stereotypes based on strong emotions.

On the other hand, emotions help us in making rational decisions by narrowing options to a manageable amount. Doctor Damasio, conducted an experiment on a man in his 30's who had suffered frontal lobe damage as a result of a brain tumor[7]. Elliot performed normally on intelligence tests but could no longer make choices, prioritize tasks or manage his time. Then Dr. Damasio discovered that Elliot was unable to feel. He spoke of the tragic events of his life without emotion. Damasia has brought the idea that emotions are central to cognition and thus survival. Arnold Bennett said "There can be no knowledge without emotions[8]”. The Republican mayor of San Diego[9] recently reversed his opposition to same sex marriage, citing knowledge gained from his relationship with his lesbian daughter and her partner:  he said that he...

Bibliography: Alchin (TOK, 2003, pg 297), van de Lagemaat (TOK, 2003, pg 148)
Emotion as an obstacle to knowledge. Van de Lagemaat (TOK, 2003, pg 151)
5. "Feelings and Emotions." Health - Science - Spirit. http://www.health-science-spirit.com/Feelings.html (accessed December 16, 2009).
7. "Knowledge and Emotions « Feminist Philosophers." Feminist Philosophers. http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/knowledge-and-emotions/ (accessed December 16, 2009).
9. "Phonics Reading School." Phonics Reading School. http://www.readingschool.ca/topsew_view.php?eid=1590 (accessed December 16, 2009).
"ThinkQuest : 404 - Page Not Found." Oracle ThinkQuest Library . http://library.thinkquest.org/26618/en1.4.1=What%20are%20emotions.htm (accessed December 16, 2009).
[10] Emotion as an obstacle to knowledge. Van de Lagemaat (TOK, 2003, pg 151)
[11] http://psychdondero.com/Documents/IB%20Emotion%20Guide.pdf
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