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TOK: Emotion as a Filter to Knowledge

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Chapter 6: EMOTION The Nature of Emotions: The word 'emotion' is derived from the Latin word movere meaning 'to move'. In general sense it includes feelings, passions, and moods etc. An emotion usually consists of various internal feelings and external forms of behavior, and it can vary in intensity from mild irritation to blind anger. Passion is reserved for a strong emotion where mood is an emotion which continues for a period of time. * Primary Emotions: The six basic or primary emotions are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, And disgust. Important to remember is that even children who are born blind and deaf show these emotions and therefore this suggests that they are inborn rather than learnt. * The James Lange Theory: There exists a close relationship between our bodies and our emotions as the primary emotions have a typical facial expression associated with them. According to James Lange theory, the emotions are physical in nature, and bodily changes cause emotional changes as they come before them as well. If you remove the physical symptoms, the corresponding emotion disappears. And similarly, mimicking the appropriate physical symptoms can generate the corresponding emotion. The theory also suggests a mechanism through which one can know and empathize with others' feelings. So when one talk to someone, for example, who is depressed, they unconsciously mimic some of the physical expressions of the other's mood. As one echoes their troubles by saying something like 'Oh dear, I am sorry', one adopts the same depressed and flat tone along with the hunched posture of the depressed person. ...read more.


Stoics, followers of the same idea advocated a state of mind called apathy- literally 'without passion' where the mind could mirror reality in a calm and untroubled way. Emotions as a source to knowledge: Some studies suggest that if you did not have any emotions then your life would quickly disintegrate. Emotions help us to make rational decisions by narrowing down our options so that we can choose between a manageable number of them. (?) * The relation between reason and emotion: Although thought of as different entities, reason and emotion are closely linked and it is difficult to make a distinction between them. Rather than either-or relationship, perhaps a more-or-less continuum of mental activity running from the very rational to the very emotional would describe the relationship between the two. An emotion that is sensitive to the real nature of a situation is more rational than one that is not. As Aristotle suggested that some emotions can be more rational or less rational. He observed: "Anyone can be angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not easy." We all experience irrational emotions but, since it is difficult to switch them off, we may find it easier to adjust our beliefs to our emotions than bring our emotions into line with reason and therefore we arrive back at rationalization. ...read more.


* Natural and educated intuitions: Natural intuitions do not always help us to understand the world. Expert intuition is another matter for these are supported by many years of experience and expertise. Most breakthroughs in the history of ideas have come about as a result of flashes of creative intuition. Poincar´┐Ż stated: "It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover." Some might regard intuition as a mysterious source of knowledge out of laziness as it would be great to be coming up with ideas from time to time about the nature of things sitting in a garden or taking a bath? Therefore, there seem to be two necessary conditions for having good ideas: 1) A thorough knowledge of the relevant field 2) Unusually good powers of concentration. * How reliable is intuition? Expert intuition is generally more reliable then natural intuition. We can test our own intuitions, as most of us will never operate the rarefied intellectual level of Newton or Poincar´┐Ż against other sources of knowledge. If one's intuitions coincide with reason and experience and other people's intuitions, then it makes more sense to trust them than if they do not. Conclusion: We have seen that all our knowledge tools are double-edged, and that they can both contribute to our knowledge of the world and be an obstacle to it. Rather than rely on any one way of knowing, we need to test them against one another when trying to establish the truth. The step beyond that is to compare our own opinions with those of others to see how they stand in the open market of ideas. ...read more.

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