Emotion – UPSC Ethics

  • To understand the concept of Emotional Intelligence and realise its potential usage in present times it is necessary to understand the concept of Emotion and the inter-linkages between Action & Emotion as well as between Emotion & Reason
  • Concept of emotion is largely absent from contemporary theories of action. Philosophers of action concern themselves with intentions, wants, purposes, desires, beliefs, plans, volitions, without paying much attention to emotions.
  • Misconceived notions about nature of emotion:
    Emotions are irrational and disruptive
    Emotions are things that merely happen to people rather than people do voluntarily
    The impact of emotions on action is at best indirect and insignificant
So emotions was considered to be irrelevant to Human Actions
  • Emotion was conventionally considered as opposed to the finest human ability i.e. Reason. Emotion was considered primitive, unpredictable, undependable and thus needs to be controlled by reason
  • Emotion – Reason Dichotomy: There is the reason-emotion dichotomy; They are two different kinds of mental phenomenon, two conflicting aspects of mind. Emotion was considered inferior and disruptive to the normal and optimal functions of mind. Emotion should be under control of reason for the sake of our normal activities of thought and action.
  • Emotion v/s Action: Emotions are commonly considered as things that happen to us, out of control and Involuntarily. The passivity of emotion is usually in contrast to Activity, the hallmark of action. Actions are generally understood as things that we do, perform and initiate rather than things that merely happen to us. Most philosophical theories of action distinguish between what we do and what merely happens.
  • Post 1990 the dichotomy between emotion and reason has been questioned by a number of philosophers, psychologists and neurobiologists. The relation between reason and emotion may be that they are integral & supportive to each other, rather than antagonistic and conflicting. Emotions are typically not the result of deliberative, intellectual calculations, they are not necessarily irrational or non-rational. Emotions are evaluative and responsive.
  • In many cases, emotions rather than deliberate intellectual calculations, supply the most reliable information about the situations and ourselves and provides the best ways to efficiently achieve our ends.  Emotion may also be integral to the processes of reasoning and decision making.
  • Post 1990 conceptions: Expression of emotions is inherently an important means of social interaction and may have a crucial impact on the life of others. Regulating emotions is quite common in our everyday life. Emotion regulation is increasingly recognised as an important skill of coping with social and personal problems.
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