Emotions are part of our everyday life, every moment of our life we are feeling an emotion, whether its happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, or disgust. Emotions are expressed in three ways: 1. Emotions as an obstacle to knowledge, 2. Emotions as a source of knowledge and, 3. Intuition. Our emotions are very powerful and do have a rational basis. “Emotional intelligence” is not an oxymoron because with emotions we wouldn’t have any intelligence. I agree with what Robert Solomon stated. He is completely correct by claiming that virtually all sense perception, and reasoning, must involve emotion.
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Emotions are an integral part of us and when strong enough they can sometimes distort the three other ways of knowing. Our perception of things can be colored by strong emotions, and there is doubtless some truth in sayings like ‘love is blind’ and ‘fear has many eyes’. ( van de Lagemaat pg.151). This ’emotional coloring’ makes us aware of aspects of reality to the exclusion of others. For example when we love a person we think they are perfect and have no flaws as to when you loathe them you see only their faults. Our emotions can also negatively affect our reasoning causing to not have open minds. A person with powerful emotions is likely to use more emotive language. Our emotions also serve as a source of knowledge; it is difficult to live life without emotion. Our emotions help us reason through things. For example if you look down a cliff you know not to jump because you are scared and your fear helps you reason to not jump because you will die. So with what was mentioned previously we can conclude that our feelings do have a rational basis because they help reason through things that go on during our everyday lives. Reason and emotion although are usually thought of as opposite things they are more on a continuum of some sort. Most of the time we’re somewhere along the middle of the continuum with our thoughts and feeling floating around our mind. For example if we are doing mathematical problems we will use less of our emotions and steer more to the other side of the continuum. Another way to think of reason and emotion is to think of our emotions being more or less rational. (van de lagemaat pg.156). The main problem with the previously mentioned idea is that sometimes our emotions are irrational such as fear and disgust. Although we know that it is safer to fly in a plane than to drive in a car most of us are terrified to get on planes. The last way emotion is a way of knowing is through intuition. The word intuition is typically associated with the aha moment of insight when you suddenly see the solution to a problem without going through any conscious process of reasoning. (van de lagemaat pg.158) There are three types of intuition; core intuitions, subject-specific intuitions, and social intuitions. Core intuitions are our most fundamental intuitions about life, the universe and everything. For although reason and perception are usually said to give us knowledge they ultimately depend on intuition. According to core intuitions, the laws of logic are the starting point for all our reasoning, but we cannot prove them in terms of any more fundamental laws. If asked to justify them, most people would say that they are intuitively obvious. (van de lagemaat pg. 158). As for perception, it is an important source of knowledge, but we cannot be sure on the evidence of our senses alon that life is not a dream. Yet we have an overwhelmingly strong intuition that the dream hypothesis is false and that what we are experiencing is reality. A good way to explain why our knowledge is intuitive is by playing the ‘why?’ game. If you were to ask a friend to claim something that she knows and then ask her why she believes that this is true and then ask her again why she believes that what she explained is true eventually she will say that it is intuitively obvious. We cant take these intuitions for granted but we can’t just reject them either. As for subject specific intuition we sometimes appeal to intuition to justify our knowledge claims in various areas of knowledge. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that our uneducated intuitions in subjects as logic, mathematics, physics, biology, history, economics and ethics’ are at best confused and at worst false. As for social intuitions we tend to be over confident about our own intuitions.( van de lagemaat pg 162). For example men always think they know it all and never need help in anything, we think we can fix anything and that we know how to get anywhere. The reason for this is our pride so we intuitively believe that what we think is right.
As for emotional intelligence it is definitely not an oxymoron in some cases taking into account what was mentioned before. With our emotions we acquire much knowledge. Although in some cases we tend to put our pride before everything else and stop ourselves from acquiring any knowledge. Our intelligence of the world helps manipulate our emotions. We know that a cliff is tall and that jumping from heights hurts so our fear kicks in stopping us from ever attempting to jump off a cliff unless one day we find out that nothing harmful comes from jumping off a cliff.
When Robert Solomon says that emotions are “systems of judgments” and that “virtually all of our experiences is to some degree ‘affective’, and even our most dispassionate judgmentsâ€¦ can be adequately understood only within some larger emotional context” he basically claims that all sense perception, and reasoning, must involve emotion. I agree with this statement because everything that we do has a emotional reaction. For example if someone dies you’ll feel sad, if you win the lottery you’ll be happy, if you see a scary movie you will have fear. In other words all incoming sensory perception will have an emotional reaction. As for reason as mentioned before reason and emotion are closely related and are on the same continuum. A persons reasoning and emotions are close together but may vary depending on the task you are doing.
To sum up what was previously mentioned, emotions as a way of knowing is explained in three ways: 1 as an obstacle to knowledge, 2 as a source of knowledge and, 3 as intuition. Emotions and reason are usually thought of as opposing forces when in fact they go together. Emotion and reason are on the same continuum. Without emotions we can’t reason and with reason we can block emotions. It may be confusing but for example without fear how can we reason that jumping off a cliff is bad. Another thing is that with enough reason we can block emotion or come to our senses for example after we watch a scary movie we might be scared but with reason we can stop ourselves and conclude that it is impossible for what occurred in the movie to happen in real life. Emotional intelligence is not an oxymoron because with intelligence with have emotions. Finally what Robert Solomon stated makes perfect sense because without emotion how can we interpret what we perceive or how could we reason?
Van de Lagemaat, Richard. Theory of knowledge: for the ib diploma. Cambridge, New
York: Cambridge university Press, 2005.
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