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Can Emotion be rational?

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´╗┐Can Emotion be rational? ?The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.? Blaise Pascal, 1623-62. According to the popular psychological theory, there are six basic emotions, or primary emotions that are common to all cultures: 1. Happiness 2. Sadness 3. Fear 4. Anger 5. Surprise 6. disgust I have used Pascal?s quote to head this essay to illustrate how I hope to answer the question. In this statement, Pascal meant that emotions make apparently rational humans do things that are in fact not reasonable or rational. Emotions make people say things they do not mean, and make people give into irrational or hasty decisions more easily. They lead to irrational behavior and to not thinking clearly. Any of the above listed emotions consists of passions, moods and senses which then create internal feelings, consequently expressed by external behavior. This behavior can vary in intensity, in the same way that emotions vary in intensity. Emotion is one of the ways of knowing, and can affect all the other ways of knowing, especially reason. ...read more.


For example, when an old woman sees a pretty girl who is on her way to a special party and is quite provocatively dressed, but refuses to notice some other girls on their way home from work dressed in trousers and t-shirts, the old lady then uses fallacious reasoning and makes hasty generalizations by saying, ?Girls expect to be raped nowadays, just look how they go out dressed, they?re asking for trouble!? When we feel a powerful emotion, that emotion can affect us because we express our internal emotions externally by using irrational language, and we might say things that we do not really mean. When the same old lady?s grand-daughter goes out dressed up to kill, she then says ?Oh, you look absolutely beautiful.? ?The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists, indeed the passion is the measure of the holder?s rational conviction.? Bertrund Russel, 1872-1970. We could interpret this to mean that it is better not to have emotions at all, but that is not true. ...read more.


In conclusion, the complex problem that arises when trying to answer this question is that it is hard to quantify how much emotions really influence reasoning or if emotion can be rational. In every circumstance no one experiences exactly the same emotions, and no one is affected by their emotions exactly the same way. Emotion can both increase and diminish rational reasoning because they are so closely connected. Emotional coloring by powerful emotions can lead to a biased perception and poor decision making. On the other hand emotions can also help narrow down possibilities when making decisions. Emotions can be rational at times when they are based on a truthful view of reality in specific circumstances. Still, emotions cloud the way that we perceive experiences, and make us see things in an unclear way. Although we should not try to ban emotions like the Stoics wanted, it might be an improvement to have a better control of our emotions. The question that evolves from this essay is how we can achieve rationality and better emotional control without losing the advantages that emotion can bring us. ...read more.

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