What We Know from Our Emotions

by Mr. Quale on March 21, 2012

in Class Extensions

Joel and Clementine try to preserve memories on ice

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.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Zane Williams March 26, 2012 at 21:20

As Toby and I were discussing last Tuesday about the Saphir-Warf hypothesis, you can not express anything unless you know the language to back it up. I agree with that statement because though when saying “I can even imagine how great (something) was you had to have been there” is a good arguement on how we can’t show our emotion about it. I think that uncontiously we are expressing the emotion on our face or through our body language, even if we don’t think it we know how to express the emotion our tone of voice in our sentences is all about emotion. For example… If Enternal Shunshie of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carry, is depressed that the other main character changed her phone number and she “pretends” not to know him though really she deleted him from her brain. You can tell he was depressed by his body language and the tone of voice that he had, but near the end when he says “Okay” and the two characters started laughing even though they find out that they deleted each other from each others mind, he knows that she changed him, making him to be happier thous showing his emotion by smiling and moving closer to her.

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