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:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Surprise
  • 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.

 According to the James-Lange theory, emotions only have a physical dimension, whereas emotions do in actual fact have a physical as well as an emotional dimension. If emotions only had a physical dimension, then if a person smiled, that person would automatically feel happy. Outwardly, a person can pretend to be happy by smiling, but feel depressed inside. Therefore, human emotions have both a physical and a mental aspect. This mental aspect makes our emotions more or less intense and complex because the mental aspect affects our beliefs which produce emotional bias or prejudice and ultimately our reasoning.

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When we react to an emotion, according to its intensity, we do not always use objective reasoning. For example, we all know that wearing a helmet when driving a motor-cycle could save your life in the case of an accident, however, the helmet will ruin my new hairstyle and as I am going out to meet a boy I’m really crazy about and want to look really cool, this prevents me from reasoning objectively; I could have an accident and be seriously injured without the helmet, I am just too emotionally intent on impressing this boy, so I go out ...

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