Key emotion ideas

Key emotion ideas

These key emotion ideas will help you to understand theory of knowledge, and produce a powerful TOK essay and presentation. You should try to the terms as much as possible, and ideally link them to key TOK thinkers.


It’s hard to define emotion, and say where emotion ends. If we rely on the OED we find out that it is ‘a strong feeling, such as joy or anger’ and: ‘instinctive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.’


Nationalism is the emotionally-based belief that humans should be defined by the political entity in which they live, and that their allegiance should lie first and foremost to the government and people of that place. It often assumes a superiority of one’s own nation in comparison to others, and can act as a psychological bias when it comes to a study of history, human sciences, and other areas of knowledge.


Propaganda is the communication of ideas or images in such a way that subjects will be emotionally persuaded of a particular ideological standpoint or political cause, and support it. It is frequently dressed up as art, but the difference is that it has a particular agenda, and is never impartial. It is worth pointing out that the Spanish word ‘propaganda’ means ‘advertising’, and the two have a lot in common.

Somatic marker hypothesis

The somatic marker hypothesis is a hypothesis put forward by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. It proposes that emotional experiences we have in our lives leave a chemical trace behind in our brain, and these chemicals are unconsciously accessed when we are faced with a similar event again, helping us to find a resolution.


Stoicism was a Hellenistic (ancient Greek) philosophical movement that massively influenced the early Christian religion. It is based on many principles, but one of the central ones is that the effects of damaging emotions can be overcome simply by refusing to view them as damaging. Important Stoic thinkers include Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca.

Ways of knowing

Alongside the six areas of knowledge, the TOK course is divided into eight ways of knowing: emotion, faith, imagination, intuition, language, memory, reason, and sense perception. These ways of knowing are how we gather our knowledge about the world.

Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Key emotion ideas (21st August 2014). Last accessed: 20th March 2018


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