Evaluate the Ways in which Emotion Might Enhance and/or Undermine Reasoning as a Way of Knowing

Whether emotion enhances or undermines reasoning must be looked at from every angle before making any plausible conclusions. The first thing to do is define the words in the statement above. These are the dictionary meanings of these two words: Emotion (Oxford dictionary)-intense mental feeling or a strong instinctive feeling. And Reason (Oxford dictionary)-motive, cause, justification; ability to think and draw conclusions; sanity; good sense or judgement what is right or practical or possible, use of ones ability to think and draw conclusions.

After reading the meanings given by the dictionary you can see the one contradicts the other because with pure reason no emotion can be used. A conclusion which has no reason and only emotion is one that is probably your first idea and has no thought evolved in reaching this conclusion. While if the conclusion was only based on reason the conclusion is only based on what is right and not if this conclusion fits the environment that it is in. A way of knowing is the path taken to achieve some kind of knowledge.

The paths possible are emotion, perception, reason and language but to finally achieve that piece of knowledge you could have taken one path and crossed over onto another path. Emotion is said to be illogical (Suzanne A Greenfield) whilst reason is logical but there can be no logic thinking with just reason because that is not logical. So for a conclusion to be logical and suited to the environment there must have been more than one path taken to reach this conclusion.

The story ‘A Christmas Carol’ shows how emotion enhances reason because scrooge fires his employee on Christmas day because he was in such a happy mood because it was Christmas and because he wanted a Christmas bonus. His reason to re-employ him comes after Scrooge sees what Christmas is and what happiness does to a person. If Scrooge had not seen this or had been touched emotionally by this family he would have stayed with firing him because Scrooge thought that that was the right thing to do because he did not believe in the Christmas spirit and in bonuses.

In the book ‘The Discovery of Heaven’, there is a clear example of how emotion enhances reason. This boy has seen the heavens and is from there he tries to convince his birth father that there is a tangible place called heaven and that it is possible to get there. Because this child is so emotionally strung up in this quest that he gets everyone convinced that there is a heaven, but he has no proof of it except for some drawings of his own and his visual recollection of this place.

Eventually the father finds other books that contain drawings like his sons and he starts calculating and he eventually finds a was to reach heaven. Now he knows that heaven exists and that you do not need to be dead to be there and if he had only listened to reason he would of thought that his son was crazy and would of ignored the ideas that he told. Because he is a scientist he needed proof and not just some vague description of a fantasy world that his 6 year old son dreamed up.

Emotion can also enhance reason because if you are sitting behind your computer depressed it will be harder to reason, but if you are sitting in front of your computer filled with energy because that guy/girl just asked you out, you are ready to reason. Also stress situations cause people to perform better than they have ever done before for example exam conditions but this only applies to certain people. Emotion undermining reason great example of this is if you make decisions while being in love. The famous quote “love is blind” or “love makes blind” (depends in which language you were brought up in).

This quote says that love is emotion and that it makes the reality of the situation disappear, so it is saying that emotion undermines reason in this case. Love makes blind is the reason that some men think that their woman, is honest to them. But love also makes blind because people don’t see the negative things in their love and see only the good and therefore some people are being used and don’t notice it. In these cases the emotion of love actually replaces reason because someone in love does not think strait and makes conclusions and judgments while being in a emotive state of mind.

There is also the very obvious and famous example of the speech given by Antony to the rioting public in the play Julius Caesar and antonym convinces the public from thinking Caesar is wrong and evil, to actually praising him. The public goes from love for the assassins to hate for the assassins all because of that one speech he gave. Antony was speaking from his heart and this helped with the facts to show how good Caesar actually was. So the crowd forgets all reason because of this emotion.

But this is clearly the most known example and the most obvious so much explanation is no necessary. Anger is also an emotion that undermines reason because for example you have a fight with your parents and you are angry at them for not letting you go out in the weekend you think to yourself oh they are such egocentric bastards and they want to make my life sour and you might not realise that this actually might be good because this way you can study for your up coming tests or write that big TOK essay due pretty soon.

Here the anger/ emotion is undermining reason. I conclude to think that in order to come to any sort of conclusions you must take more than one of the paths of the way of knowing and that emotion can either undermine or enhance reason depending on the environment and the speaker. But the emotion is always in any conclusion because it the and instinctive thing to do and there is nothing to stop emotion from either enhancing or undermining reason.

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