Reason as the Leading Motive

Emotion versus Thinking

Posted by Jerry on August 22, 2005

Another topic of discussion between my friend and I was about emotions. According to him, emotions are primal, biological, they arise with no precedent, they are instinctual. Emotions like jealousy, anger, rage, despair, joy, loneliness, etc. are all raw, instinctual emotions that arise in immediate reaction to a situation.

And ofcourse, I disagree completely!

Emotions are the conscious or subconscious integrated response of a person’s physiological and intellectual mechanisms to certain situations or experiences. Emotions CANNOT be categorized as instinctual, biological, and unprecendented because that is NOT an emotional response. A purely biological or physiological response would be merely a SENSATION, not an Emotion. One must not confuse the two concepts together. It is important to know the definitions of these concepts. A sensation is not an integrated response: for example, the brain immediately lets out signals letting the hand know that it is being burned over the hot stove. Hence, the immediate physiological response is to quickly remove your hand from the hot stove.
Now, the EMOTIONAL response would be the ANNOYANCE of having been burned, or the psychological pain of having suffered a burn injury. This EMOTIONAL response is an INTEGRATION of the purely physical sensation with the INTELLECTUAL COMPREHENSION of the situation, producing a response. If one is a masochist, i.e. one holds the intellectual idea that self-inflicted pain is good, then DESPITE THE PHYSIOLOGICAL SENATION OF PAIN, a masochist would respond with an EMOTIONAL STATE OF PLEASURE AND SATISFACTION. Thus, the EMOTION is the INTEGRATED response of the physical (self-inflicted pain)WITH the intellectual contexts or ideas or beliefs (masochism – pain is good) that eventually will result in the kind of emotional response (gratification).
Hence, all of your emotional responses flow from the kinds of ideas and beliefs you hold. Irrational and whimsical belief systems result in irrational and incomprehensible emotional feelings (for example, feeling angry or lonely for no real apparent reason).
A person who holds consistent, logical, and rational beliefs within a philosophical system that holds the right kind of values, will find that his/her emotional responses aligning itself with the rational beliefs and ideas. He/she will possess the necessary emotional strength that flows from a robust philosophical belief system. He/she will have the proper self-esteem that flows out of a recognition of rational values.
Thus, emotional responses are NOT arbitrary, instinctual, or purely biological. Many times one is not aware of the subconscious ideas that one holds — giving rise to emotions that one cannot decipher the reasons behind… yet, subconscious ideas do not necessarily confound the understanding of emotional responses. It is the illogical, contradictory nature of some of the ideas that people accept that is the true cause of confusing and incomprehensible emotional responses.


One Response to “Emotion versus Thinking”

  1. which is why Catholics hold emotions can and should be ordered by the will…if your entire being is ordered toward a certain “idea” (the good, for instance), emotions alter depending on how you’re shaping your mind and will…

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