Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of emotion as a way of knowing.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the James-Lange theory, human emotions mirror the way our bodies feel. If our bodies feel good, we smile, which in turn sends sensations of happiness to our bodies. Therefore, human emotions can reflect the sensations that our bodies receive in an automatic way that is not always processed through the rational parts of our brains.

Much of knowledge, however, does rely on having an understanding of our emotions and those of other people. For example, when we speak with other people, it is helpful to understand their emotions to know how to communicate with them. Even studying academic subjects such as science requires emotion, as we need to understand how science affects people. If we don't, we won't have a good sense of ethics, or what is morally right.

However, our emotions can also lead us astray in making judgments. Humans are flawed at interpreting data and tend to filter information through their own cognitive biases. For example, the way we feel about someone and our similarities to that person may cloud our judgment about whether that person is guilty or innocent of a crime. Emotions often interrupt rational processes. 

Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The major strength of emotin as a way of knowing is that emotional knowing precedes cognition. We feel things before we are consciously aware of the reasons behind our e,options. For example, a person walks I to a dark room and feels fear and anxiety. Upon turning on the light, he learns that there is a dead body in the room. The e,option of fear came before his awareness of the danger of the situation. In addition, emotional knowing (also called "intuition"), is derived from the brain's subtle pattern recognition skills. Emotional awareness can keep you out of a dangerous situation. Negatives include emotional attachment, which can cause you from making decisions that are clearly not in your best interest. Emotional k owing sometimes a,so supports illogical biases and prejudices
maidan | Student

Relying soley on emotions as a process for decision making has both positive and negative aspects.

The positive aspects of such a mindset include the relatively low amount of psychological suppression involved in decision making. What I mean is the feelings that your emotions spark are natural wants, that is, they are natural responses akin to what any other animal would experience. Such primal (and I don't use the word primal to insult this method) thinking means those thoughts are not suppressed. If you know anything about Taoist beliefs, its tenets are comparative to the spontaneity that emotional dependence would bring an individual.

The fact that these are indeed primal thoughts also form the negative aspect of such thinking. The majority of us repress alot of emotional desires because of the advancements of our society, so those who dont tend to stick out and may face social antagonizing. For example, if I tried to kiss every girl I've ever wanted to kiss whenever I wanted to, well I don't think I have to say it would have negative results!

Emotional knowledge definately has a purpose in our lives, but soley relying on it, in the 21st century, would not be a safe bet for a healthy lifestyle.

truthseekah | Student

I agree with above.  The taoists and many indigenous people are much more in tune with their emotions and what they reveal.

In the industrialized/commercial nations, however, the plethora of distractions make this much more difficult.  Most are out of touch with their emotions.