In Theory of Knowledge class we have been studying Emotion by investigating some statements and questions concerning this way of knowing. We began with novelist Arnold Bennett’s statement:
There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.
We then considered if our emotions can be trained. We questioned to what extent we can control our emotions, not only in terms of how we act on them, but also what we actually feel? To help us consider these questions, we watched the 60 Minutes television program report on Alex Honnold, the young free solo climber (and IB Diploma graduate of Mira Loma High School) from Sacramento, California, who is climbing some of the biggest and hardest climbing routes, without ropes or protection.
In addition to the linked report, here is a clip of Alex climbing in Yosemite, California:
The more I personally thought about these questions, the more I thought about the world of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where it seems like emotions–or lack thereof–play a central role in the work. Specifically, I am reminded of the scene in Act Four when word gets back to Maduff that his family has been brutally murdered at the order of Macbeth, and Malcolm advises him to “Dispute it like a man” (4.3.199). Macduff’s response is fascinating, and telling of where Shakespeare considers true manhood lies: “I shall do so; / But I must also feel it as a man” (4.3.220-221).
These ideas seem to always bring us back to the excerpt from “Eloisa to Abelard,” by Alexander Pope, which was included in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and where the film gets its namesake:
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.