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What part does emotion play in the acquisition of knowledge? Does the role of

What part does emotion play in the acquisition of knowledge? Does the role of emotion vary across the different areas of knowledge (Natural Science, Human Science, History, The arts, Ethics and Maths) ? Thanks a lot for responses

I think your question presupposes that "emotion" is a fairly simple phenomenon, whereas I suspect that it is extremely complex. But let's sidestep that concern and just try a simple case out.

Scientist A believes that he will very much impress his lover if he unlocks the secret to some phenomenon. Scientist B has no such motivation (and, let us suppose, no other motivator that makes him as eager as A's desire to impress his lover), but works on the same problem.

In this case, it looks to me as if scientist A's success (if he achieves it) will be partly explicable in terms of his emotional motivation, whereas that would not be the case for B. Indeed, it seems reasonable to think that A's emotional motivation might provide stronger motivation than we would find in B. On the other hand, we might worry that A's emotional motivation might also cloud his judgment somewhat, and make him more likely to make mistakes. But this much seems obvious, such an "extrinsic" motivator can certainly function in such a way as to make the acquisition of knowledge more likely.

As a kind of generality, I think it is fair to say that those who have enthusiasm (from the Greek enthusiasmos, which essentially means to be possessed by a divine spirit) are more driven to the discoveries and acquisitions of knowledge than those who are not enthusiastic about their pursuits. I see no reason why this would differ across different disciplines. An excited and enthusiastic mathematician will not necessarily be smarter than a bored one, but I would expect the enthusiastic one to be more likely to advance knowledge. The same, I expect, would be true of historians, scientists, and even philosophers!

I think your question presupposes that "emotion" is a fairly simple phenomenon, whereas I suspect that it is extremely complex. But let's sidestep that concern and just try a simple case out. Scientist A believes that he will very much impress his lover if he unlocks the secret to some phenomenon. Scientist B has no such motivation (and, let us suppose, no other motivator that makes him as eager as A's desire to impress his lover), but works on the same problem. In this case, it looks to me as if scientist A's success (if he achieves it) will be partly explicable in terms of his emotional motivation, whereas that would not be the case for B. Indeed, it seems reasonable to think that A's emotional motivation might provide stronger motivation than we would find in B. On the other hand, we might worry that A's emotional motivation might also cloud his judgment somewhat, and make him more likely to make mistakes. But this much seems obvious, such an "extrinsic" motivator can certainly function...

How can I know that I have (or have not) experienced the feeling or state or

How can I know that I have (or have not) experienced the feeling or state or experience of 'hatred'?

As I understand it, hatred is something like anger, only whereas anger can be brief, hatred is much more durable.

Anger might lead you, while you are in its grip, to want to do something hurtful or harmful to another, or in some other way act in a way that is contrary to or which undermines or frustrates the other's interest, where the other is the object of your anger. Hatred is a settled disposition to want to hurt or harm, or to undermine or frustrate the object of hatred. Like anger, hatred can be controlled--one can resist the impulse to hurt or harm, or to undermine or frustrate, when angry and when filled with hate. But the impulse nonetheless there. People who are angry or who hate may often avoid those at whom they are angry or whom they hate, because they do not wish to experience so vividly these negative impulses, or posssibly, because they fear acting on them.

You can conclude that you have hated someone or something if what you have experience is like being angry at them for a long time and in an apparently resolved, habitual, and settled way.

As I understand it, hatred is something like anger, only whereas anger can be brief, hatred is much more durable. Anger might lead you, while you are in its grip, to want to do something hurtful or harmful to another, or in some other way act in a way that is contrary to or which undermines or frustrates the other's interest, where the other is the object of your anger. Hatred is a settled disposition to want to hurt or harm, or to undermine or frustrate the object of hatred. Like anger, hatred can be controlled--one can resist the impulse to hurt or harm, or to undermine or frustrate, when angry and when filled with hate. But the impulse nonetheless there. People who are angry or who hate may often avoid those at whom they are angry or whom they hate, because they do not wish to experience so vividly these negative impulses, or posssibly, because they fear acting on them. You can conclude that you have hated someone or something if what you have experience is like being angry at them for...

How can one acquire knowledge through emotions only?

How can one acquire knowledge through emotions only?

The anglo-american philosophical tradition has not been very kind to the emotions until relatively recently, when there has been an upsurge of support for the idea (latent, however, in Aristotle) that emotions can have cognitive content - they can tell you stuff about how the world is. The emphasis has rather been on the opposing dynamic of emotion - their ability to disrupt rational processes and so constitute an obstable to knowledge. Certainly, emotions can be an obstacle to knowledge; but it is important not to underestimate their positive cognitive power too. In the early eighties, feminist philosophers started writing about the role of emotions in telling you important things about your social experience: your anger that you are treated a certain way might be telling you something, namely, it's unjust to be treated this way. If you are living in a social-conceptual environment that offers you no tools to making sense of your experience as one of mistreatment, your anger is vulnerable to seeming misplaced, hysterical, when in fact the contrary is the case - your anger is a rational response to the treatment you are receiving, but collective forms of interpretation have not caught up yet. In cases like this, emotions can be a crucial cognitive resource for social and ethical change. And more recently there has been a lot more work vindicating the cognitive contribution of emotion.

Cases like the anger example above support the idea that emotion can have not only intentional content (it is directed to the world, it is about the world) but also cognitive content (it represents the world as being a certain way, and thus permits of truth or falsity). The anger example is primarily a case of ethical/political knowledge, but we can easily imagine more plainly empirical versions where what our emotional responses are telling us concerns, for instance, someone else's psychological states. For example, an emotional response of distrust or suspicion can tell us (defeasibly, of course - like any evidence) that someone has malevolent intentions towards us. These sorts of human response are crucial indicators for us in our social dealings with other people. At the minumum, they provide us with evidence, and if suitably reliable, can provide for empirical knowledge of others' psychology (intentions, attitudes). But more than this, rather than the emotions constituting evidence on which knowledge might be based, perhaps the emotions can themselves constitute the knowledge. Perhaps your anger, your suspicion, your trust, your sympathy can be the form of your cognitive grasp of the relevant facts.

It really depends upon what it is that one is supposed to come to know this way--and it will also depend upon just what one takes the requirements of knowledge to consist in. Some epistemologists have argued that we have a kind of privileged access to knowledge of our own mental (including emotional states) themselves. These philosophers would think that at least one sort of knowledge we could attain through emotions was knowledge of those emotions themselves--knowledge that we were in such-and-such a state at a given time (for example, knowledge that I am angry right now, or sad). But others do not think that we necessarily know our own states in any privileged way--we might really be angry, but not know that we are, or we might think we are angry, but actually not really be. As for other sorts of knowledge, such as knowledge of the world outside of our own consciousness, I am inclined to think that we cannot "acquire knowledge through emotions only." As important as the emotions are in...

Can people be held responsible for their emotions? Or, why can't people be held

Can people be held responsible for their emotions? Or, why can't people be held responsible for their emotions?

I agree that the idea of being held responsible for our emotions ispuzzling. It seems that in order to be responsible for X, it has tohave been up to me whether to X. Actions seem to be good candidates forresponsibility, since they seem to be something over which I havecontrol– when someone annoys me, I can choose whether to utter somecaustic remark or instead bite my tongue. But what about my feelingannoyed in the first place– do I have any choice about that? And ifnot, then can I really be held responsible for this emotional reaction?

Aristotle is very helpful on this point. While it is true that on theparticular occasion on which you feel the emotion, you can’t help butfeel it, you are nonetheless responsible for your emotion since youwere responsible for becoming the sort of person who feels this sort ofemotion. Being susceptible to bad emotional responses (i.e., having a badcharacter) is, on Aristotle’s view, like being sick.

"For neither does a sick person recover his health [simply by wishing];nonetheless, he is sick voluntarily, by living incontinently anddisobeying the doctors, if that was how it happened. At that time,then, he was free not to be sick, though no longer free once he has lethimself go, just as it was up to someone to throw a stone, since theprinciple was up to him, though he can no longer take it back once hehas thrown it. Similarly, then, the person who is [now] unjust orintemperate was originally free not to acquire this character, so thathe has it voluntarily, though once he has acquired the character, he isno longer free not to have it [now]” (Nicomachean Ethics III 5, 1114a12-23).

Aristotlebelieves that we can train our emotional responses by forcing ourselvesto act in the right way. Even if our emotions rebel at first, we willeventually come to take pleasure in the right actions. Contemporaryphilosopher Daniel Dennett suggests another strategy for taking controlover our emotions:

"Suppose I know that if I eversee a voluptuous woman walking unescorted in a deserted place I willprobably be overcome by lust and rape her. So I educate myself aboutthe horrors of rape from the woman’s point of view, and enliven mysense of the brutality of the crime so dramatically that if I happen toencounter such a woman in such straits, I am unable to do the awfulthing that I would have done otherwise" (Elbow Room, p. 134).

As Dennett assumes here, we can control at least the forceof some of our bad emotional reactions through education. Since, dearreader, you are one of the fortunate for whom being more or lesseducated is up to you, you can be rightly held responsible for many ofyour emotional responses.

I think adults can be held responsible for their emotions, on the ground that we have good evidence to think that people can learn to feel the right emotions at the right times for such emotions (and not to feel the wrong emotions, when it is inappropriate to feel those emotions). Few of us are masters of this, of course, but that doesn't mean that we can't (or shouldn't) be faulted when we feel inappropriate emotions, or don't feel appropriate ones.

Why can't I remove my emotions (such as falling in love) by rationality?

Why can't I remove my emotions (such as falling in love) by rationality?

The relationship between reason and the emotions is one that has been wondered about for a very long time--going back to our most ancient literature, including the Old Testament and Homer's Iliad. I doubt that I will be able to resolve this one for you, but I do have a suggestion to make.

I'm not sure this is a philosophical question, but I also think that you (or most people) can do what you say you can't do. If you think that you are feeling a certain emotion that is not compatible with a rational assessment of things--for example, you feel as if you are falling in love with some movie star whom you will not likely ever meet--then there are various rational steps you can take to get rid of the emotion. Ever heard the one about taking a cold shower?

OK, maybe it is not as simple as that, but we certainly can look for things that will divert our attention from an emotion, or will use the energies of the emotion in different ways (and thus serving to deflect it, as part of a strategy of extirpating it altogether). Simply reminding ourselves of the irrationality of some feelings we may have will help us to get rid of them (or transform them into something else). There can also be rational strategies for getting help--if an emotion is especially troublesome, it is rational to seek assistance from professionals who can work with you on why you may be feeling some things that seem very irrational to you. Understanding the source of an emotion is also a potent tool for restoring us to a reasonable life.

The relationship between reason and the emotions is one that has been wondered about for a very long time--going back to our most ancient literature, including the Old Testament and Homer's Iliad . I doubt that I will be able to resolve this one for you, but I do have a suggestion to make. I'm not sure this is a philosophical question, but I also think that you (or most people) can do what you say you can't do. If you think that you are feeling a certain emotion that is not compatible with a rational assessment of things--for example, you feel as if you are falling in love with some movie star whom you will not likely ever meet--then there are various rational steps you can take to get rid of the emotion. Ever heard the one about taking a cold shower? OK, maybe it is not as simple as that, but we certainly can look for things that will divert our attention from an emotion, or will use the energies of the emotion in different ways (and thus serving to deflect it, as part of a strategy...