Lesson 14: Emotion

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Tuesday 14th January 2014

The images above^ shows a variety of emotions we feel in our everyday lives. The primary emotions consists of happiness, anger, sadness, fear, suprise and disgust. Emotion is described as a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others or instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. We have and feel emotions because

I believe it is hard to judge where emotions come from because emotion is not a tangible object that is measurable. Emotion is very much like human sciences and it is difficult to measure accurately and precisely due to the fact that people think because everyone feels differently about different things, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and everyone’s brains processes information differently. Emotion is more of an intangible realm like dreams and imagination. Sometimes, when we explain emotion, we relate different emotions to different parts of the body. For example, we say love comes from the heart, anger from the spleen, fear is something we feel in our spine, and recognizing that something is right is described as a ‘gut feeling’. However, others believe differently. Others like some psychologists or physicians would argue that it is not the body but the mind that feels these emotions by releasing different levels of chemicals to the brain called neurotransmitters in response to certain conditions the person is experiencing. For example, more serotonin is produced when a person is in love. The brain registers this increase in level, and as a results we feel happy.

Social emotions is another classification of the ranges of emotions, like primary emotions, however they consist of the following:

  • Ambition
  • Contempt
  • Embarrassment
  • Envy
  • Gratitude
  • Guilt
  • Indignation
  • Jealousy
  • Pride
  • Shame
  • Sympathy

These emotions are triggered by the social interactions made by an individual, and interferes with how we view the world because emotions created by an individual can differ from another individual at that exact moment. For example, person A, B and C could be in the same social group or at the same social gathering. Person C may make a small joke about person A. Person B may believe it is insensitive and rude therefore feel sympathetic, or even guilty for not rebutting that person’s comment. Person C may find it hilarious and therefore feel most likely happy, however person B would be feeling the opposite, feeling upset, hurt and maybe even a little bit angry. All these different emotions can be triggered due to one incident/event during social interactions and this happens countless times in everyone’s daily lives.

We also have emotions in regards to the future, such as:

  • Worry
  • Ambition
  • Determination
  • Drive
  • Passion for a goal (the emotional energy and drive to do things and to create ideas)

These emotions are triggered through the thought of the anticipation beyond the present.

To what extent can we control them? In my opinion, I believe you cannot actually control emotions. You can try to force yourself to believe and pursue your thoughts in a certain way because that is the ‘right’ thing or that is ‘for the best’, however in reality, what you actually feel and believe cannot be easily manipulated. I say this because


What relationship do they have with reason?

What does the James-Lange theory say about emotion?

Limits of emotion as a Way of Knowing? Relationship between emotion and experience?

Do people act their way into feeling or feel their way into action? What is the relationship between emotion and experience?
How did your feelings or emotions affect (positively or negatively) your ability to perform, to make decisions or to reason? How did you deal with such situations?

Real life situations:


Key terms learnt in this topic:

Empathy – Empathy is our ability to understand and connect to another person’s emotional state.

Apathy – Apathy literally means “without passion”. It is a state of mind where a preson makes decisions without consideration of emotions.

Social emotions – Social emotions are emotions triggered through our social interaction. Some examples include ambition, contempt, gratitude and sympathy.

Emotional colouring – A termed used to refer to the effect emotion can have on our perception causing us to be unaware of some aspects of our life. (E.g.”Love is blind” If we love someone we tend to ignore the faults others may see in them)


– Where do emotions comes from?

– Key terms

– Linking Questions to Emotion

Emotion in relation to Reason

IS ToK blog

More on Emotion

How to understand, identify and release your emotions


Lesson 12: Memory, January 7th 2014

What is a memory? From a dictionary, memory is described as the following:

1- the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information

2-  something remembered from the past

3-  the part of a computer in which data or program instructions can be stored for retrieval

Indeed, all of these definitions are correct. However, my own definition of memory is the ability to recall what we remember, felt/experienced and know. It is the pathway to our own past, something like a vision we create and see in our mind but also a path to our wisdom as memory is what creates us to be who we are now. This is because of what we remember is what we know, seen or experienced therefore we act the way we act next because either we went through it before and we have a better understanding of the situation therefore we know the best way to act upon it. Another scenario is if it’s like a task or skill, we memorise how to conduct that specific ability or skill such as mathematics and solving multiplication or division problems.


Do you consider Memory as a WOK by itself (and why?)

No I don’t think memory is a WOK by itself. I believe this because memory is constructed over time through the use of other WOK’s such as sense perception. Memory is built up by how we see, what we smelt (was it pleasant or disgusting?) and other senses as well as emotion like what we felt (did we feel happy or sad at that time?).

I think memory is like a virus in terms of characteristics. I say this because as we all know virus is not considered to be living because it doesn’t have the living characteristics that the ‘5 kingdoms of the living’ have (5 kingdom of the living- bacteria, protists animals, fungi and plants). Instead, viruses find host cells to invade, control and then to apply their own characteristics. They rely on other organisms to enhance their own ability. This is like memory. Memory relies on other WOK’s such as sense perception, and we use them to enhance the ability of memory to recall the past, recall what we remember or what we felt/experienced or what we know or knew. Memory is the process of recalling, repeating what we know and felt, however without the other WOK’s we would simply be recalling and repeating but we would have no data to repeat/recall.


We interact memory with other WOK’s therefore you could assume that memory should be very reliable. However there are existing problems with Memory and here are some reasons to why memory is not always reliable:

~ Confirmation bias

~ Selective memory

~ What we remember of an incident or an event may differ from someone else’s memory of the same event.


Real life incident which made everyone open their eyes that memory is not always so reliable (the courtroom + rapist story + psychologist and their questions twisting what the victim saw etc)


Testing memory effectiveness – tray game