to what extent can emotion operate in isolation from other ways of knowing?In what ways and to what extent can emotion operate in different areas of knownledge?

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elocutus55 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emotions are an offshoot of the basic ways a human comes to know anything in the world. At its most fundamental, knowing for humans is first the sensory perceptions in the brain as it interprets sensory inputs from the various nerve pathways. On a more elevated level, the act of knowing becomes a function of intelligence and therefore a core of "consciousness," that is, the awareness of self, emotions, physical environment, etc.

In the realm of consciousness, then, exists the emotional inputs and conceptions formed in the cerebral cortex. Emotions, essentially, are non-referential valuations on experience or lack of experience. To emote is to generate a response in a different part of the brain that where simple information is stored.

However, the emotions cannot form or be experienced without some other way of knowing. At least this is the theory of brain-centered theory which proposes that all intellect and emotion are contained within the functioning parts of the brain and nowhere else. Other theories have been put forth on occasion to suggest that emotion is a complex set of reactions which can become external from the brain and exist in the realm of extra-natural experience. Spirituality, paranormal experience, etc. can be said to exist apart from the normal divisions of the brain.

Now, to answer directly as I can to your question, I must say the question is a bit obscure. By definition, it is an illogical question in that it posits the supposition that emotion can exist in isolation from capacities to know. In my view, this is fundamentally impossible. One might say this is like asking if one can separate taste from the food tasted. If I eat an olive, how can the taste not have emanated from the olive? Likewise, emotion is sort of the taste of what we already know and have experienced.

In ordinary psychology, the advice is often given to a patient to "detach" emotion from circumstances which have been a source of pain. In this way one can see a distancing of emotion from memory and intellect, but unlike some Eastern religions, I don't think complete detachment in humans is possible. One might successfully distance emotion from intellect in the sense that one's emotional responses are dulled and heavily moderated. This may seem effective, but no one can prove the extent or way such detachment operates. This is an unmeasurable activity.

In sum, emotion cannot operate in isolation from knowing.