Quotes on emotion
These quotes on emotion will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the role emotion plays in our acquisition of knowledge?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as a way of knowing, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at , and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it).
1. The nature of emotion
Humans have a sense of spontaneity and emotion. We have a dichotomy between grief and happiness.
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 see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind.
H. P. Blavatsky
The first and simplest emotion that we discover in the human mind is curiosity.
First feelings are always the most natural.
2. Emotion and language
Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
In fact, words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better.
John B. S. Haldane
Words cannot express quite a lot of feelings, whereas a noise or tone or drone or sound, an accordion falling down a staircase, can somehow capture an emotion much better.
3. Emotion and memory
What we hold in our heads – our memory, our feelings, our thoughts, our sense of our own history – is the sum of our humanity.
4. Emotion and reason
Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
Logic will never change emotion or perception.
Edward de Bono
Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.
5. Emotion and sense perception
I think that animals aren’t less intelligent than humans, they’re just of a different intelligence. We have five million smell-sensitive cells in our nose, they have two hundred and fifty million – they can smell emotion. They can smell different types of emotion; they just have another type of intelligence.
6. Emotion and the arts
The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion.
Art evokes emotion. It doesn’t have to be a thing of beauty.
Painting is the only universal language. All nature is creation’s picture book. Painting alone can describe every thing which can be seen, and suggest every emotion which can be felt. Art reaches back into the babyhood of time, and is man’s only lasting monument.
William Morris Hunt
The writer’s joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought.
I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.
7. Emotion and ethics
You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.
Pearl S. Buck
Fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity.
As every student in Philosophy 101 learns, nothing can force me to believe that anyone except me is conscious. This power to deny that other people have feelings is not just an academic exercise but an all-too-common vice, as we see in the long history of human cruelty.
8. Emotion and the human sciences
When you experience the emotion of sadness, there will be changes in facial expression, and your body will be closed in, withdrawn. There are also changes in your heart, your guts: they slow down. And there are hormonal changes.
Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.
Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honoured. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.
9. Emotion and religion
The true meaning of religion is thus, not simply morality, but morality touched by emotion.
Religion has endured since the dawn of human consciousness precisely because it encompasses so much of being human. No idea has endured so long, gathered up so many disparate needs and wants and feelings, and inspired so many different paths towards understanding it.