Theory of Knowledge – Emotions

26 Oct

An Introduction

Did you know?

  • The word ‘emotion’ and ‘motivation’ both derive from the Latin word ‘movere’ meaning ‘to move’
  • Relationship between emotion & cognition – what we know, think, believe, desire & value –still under debate
  • Emotions responses related to sense perceptions, internal states, thoughts or beliefs about things or people, real or imagined

Emotional Intelligence

  • Subject of research on brain & learning
  • Understanding our own emotions called ‘intrapersonal intelligence’
  • Howard Gardner: linguistic, spacial, logical-mathmatical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical
  • Some ways of identifying emotions include language, sense perception & reasoning.  These provide interconnected ways of associating emotions we experience.

Emotional Education

  • Can emotional intelligence be measured or taught?
  • Consider the ambiguity of language & interpretation of culture in this
  • Current Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, teaches that humans should strive for happiness.  He says the route to this is through loving kindness to others.


‘I believe that happiness can be achieved through training the mind…When I say ‘training the mind’ in this context I am not referring to the ‘mind’ merely as one’s cognitive ability or intellect . Rather, I’m using the term in the sense of the Tibetan word Sem, which has a much broader meaning, closer to ‘psyche’ or ‘spirit’; it includes intellect and feeling, heart and mind. By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude or entire outlook and approach to living’


Road blocks:

  • Think about what empathy involves.  Jesus Christ taught about loving a neighbour as thyself & similar religious teachings emphasize the relationship between oneself & others.  There are difficulties in genuinely ‘standing in the shoes of others’
  • Make a list of what limits us imagining the experiences of someone else


PARADOX?: Should our first step in cultural awareness be to realise that people everywhere are just like you and the second step, without denying the first, to realise that they are not.


Emotions & IB Subjects:

  • What is the role of emotional response, imaginative engagement & empathy in treating the literature of language A1?
  • What is their role in your Group 2 subject?
  • In your Group 3 subject, are they part of the human subject matter being studied or part of the human method of study?
  • In science and maths, have you entered and ‘emotion – free’ zone? Consider the creation and communication of knowledge in these subjects
  • In Group 6, what is the role of emotion as subject  matter or method?

Things to consider:

•Blends of emotions
•Is “tired” an emotion?
•What is included and what is excluded in the definition?
•The speed of change of emotions
•The distinction between moods and emotions
•The difficulty of naming emotions
•Variability in the degree to which people are self-aware
•Inclination to hide or show emotions depending on the culture, social context, and personality
•Social context and personality
•Social constraints on saying what you think someone else is feeling
•Difficulty of knowing someone else’s feelings
•Use of other ways of knowing to identify emotion (language for naming, sense perception in observation of physical clues to emotion)
•Definitions of “knowing” involving “knowing someone” or “knowing that someone is sad” (with a foretaste of language and link with discussion on what “knowledge” is and how named in different languages), and so on….
•Consider Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence (including intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence)
•Do your own Emotional Intelligence tests (beware!) i.e. how do we know emotions and  how we know through our emotions. [Link: The 7 Forms of Emotional Intelligence]


Sample Questions

  • ‘Emotion shapes thought, influences behavior and affects the way humans pursue knowledge’
  • ‘Emotions can be classified as good or bad.  There can be correct or appropriate emotional responses’
  • ‘Analyse how emotion affects our ability to make judgements’
  • ‘A person’s personal point of view should be considered an asset in the pursuit of knowledge, not an obstacle to be overcome’.

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