Evaluate the Ways in Which Emotion Might Enhance and/or Undermine Reason as a Way of Knowing

Topics: Logic, Reasoning, Emotion Pages: 5 (1676 words) Published: February 20, 2013
“Evaluate the ways in which emotion might enhance and/or undermine reason as a Way of Knowing.”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) once said that "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing", meaning that emotion is irrational and unreasonable. Emotional expression provides powerful communication between people, especially in the early childhood stage of our lives, before language even develops. A baby’s glowing smile invites love and care in its surrounding; the pounding cry of an infant can send one running instantly to attend to its needs. After this, voice, posture and facial expressions and gestures occur, developing our ability to control our emotions, which does not always happen. Emotion affects our thought-process, and in the heat of the moment, emotion often makes us do and/or say things that we don’t necessarily mean, and makes us more vulnerable to temptations, without thinking of the outcome/consequence. They can cloud our judgment, leading to irrational external behavior, however, emotion is not all bad, and is what drives us to do so many things, like making scientific discoveries, perseverance to lose weight, no matter how tired you feel. Emotions consist of passions, moods, perceptions and senses which create internal feelings that are sometimes expressed externally. Reason is part of formal logic, and pure reason is unbiased, taking all variables into account. Emotion and the resulting behavior of emotion vary in intensity, and is one of the ways of knowing. To a great extent, emotions can affect other ways of knowing, especially reason.

The James-Lange theory states that emotion is purely physical in nature, meaning if you get rid of the external/physical outcomes, the emotion ceases to exist, but in fact, emotion has both a physical and mental dimension. If emotions were purely physical, then when a person smiles, they automatically feel happy or joyful, but people sometimes hide their emotions, that is, not necessarily show it externally, for all one knows, that person smiling could be filled with sadness inside. For example, British comedian/actor Peter Sellers was said to be “the greatest comic genius this country has produced since Charles Chaplin." By Filmmakers the Boulting brothers, and Turner Classic Movies called Sellers “One of the most accomplished comic actors of the late 20th century.”, so this surely would mean that he must have been a real great guy to hang around if he made so many people laugh, but internally, that is, off camera, Peter was a very troubled man. He often behaved erratically and compulsively, and had a huge problem with drugs and women, but that wasn’t seen on screen. Sellers would smile, be funny in his movies, but that didn’t automatically make him happy when he would smile or laugh, inside he was severely depressed, and though many would say he accomplished many things, he felt like he had no identity, therefore emotion is not just a physical, but largely a mental state as well. Reason is unbiased, rational thinking, were all the variables are taken into consideration before stating a claim or making a decision, and our emotion often interferes with our rational thinking.

Formal logic is described as “reasoning from known premises or premises’ presumed to be true to a certain conclusion.”, either deductive or inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is where reasoning moves from a general claim to a particular claim, for example, all teachers are human, Mrs. Smith is a teacher, therefore Mrs. Smith is human. Inductive reasoning is the opposite, it moves from a particular claim to a generalized one, for example, I’ve met two racist Japanese, therefore I assume all Japanese are racist.” Emotion can cloud our reasoning process in the sense that our opinions on a certain situation are or become biased. For example, Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus is known as the “Father of Taxonomy” in classification of different organisms, and one study he did was on how to...

Bibliography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Medawar#Early_research
“Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma” by Richard van de Lagemaat
Oxford Biology Course Companion by Andrew Allot and David Mindorff
Essay Word Count (Excluding title, name and bibliography): 1,586
By Nasim Tekie
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