Challenges, Concerns, Benefits

 The overall benefits to human society exist with the recognition that these elements of emotion exist within all of us. We are naturally prone to react in certain ways triggering reactions of different degrees relative to each individual. By accepting this, and continuing to maintain a balance between this and the logic, which we as a civilization have collectively placed upon a golden pedestal, we will succeed in coming closer to the endless pursuit of perfection. The challenges and concerns only exist with the misuse and misunderstanding of these natural elements within us. We cannot live in Freud's primal society. While this may seem most natural to us, rules and standards have been developed and placed upon society for the collective benefit of the whole. I am not contesting that this is the desire of everyone, but only using it as an example to point out that our emotions need to be expressed, but in a way that can be deemed beneficial to not just the individual, but the society as a whole.

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     Mental States & Perfection





While this topic does not deal with ethical decision making in the typical sense of the question, it does deal with the concerns in a somewhat unconventional way. The best example of what I am attempting to say would be by readdressing the story "My siblings, Church, and the Curious Punching Incident." Decision making in general can become problematic when based in emotion. This can also hold true for ethical decision making. Take the story for example. Sitting in church next to my little sister of 11 years old, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, a tiny hand enters my field of vision and slaps me square in the middle of the face. A quick sharp pain spreads through my eyes and into my brain contaminating my thoughts. I look over and see my sister laughing hysterically. Immediately I want to punch her, and hard. Everything inside of me is pushing me to cause her the same pain that she just caused me. Of course basing this decision in the emotion of the moment would be a mistake, and therefore I constrained myself. A similar situation took place involving my two brothers some four feet to my right. My little brother took the same course of action as my little sister, only this time, my other brother was the victim. He, presumably, felt as I felt when I got hit, but unfortunately did not demonstrate the same restraint. He proceeded to beat on my brother while the church sermon continued as if nothing was amiss. The moral of the story is that ethics and good decision making can become jumbled and misconstrued when emotion is allowed, in its rawest form, to dictate the actions.




My presentation examined the element of emotion that is implemented into the daily lives of each individual. The input and personal reflection of the class played a large role in sculpting what my project became. Some of the credible names that were discussed during the course of my presentation were: Sigmund Freud, Donald Miller, and Ayn Rand. Also the two movies Closer  and Punch Drunk Love were each integrated into the presentation to fuel discussion. Each of these figures contributed to the shaping of discussion throughout the class. While this topic is largely universal, the focus of the presentation was brought into a much more localized realm. By bringing the issue of emotion, and relating it the to personal experience of the class, it proved to be a much more enjoyable, and realistic conversation. Historically this topic on the whole has existed since the first human beings. Even if the story of  Adam and Eve is not believed as Truth, by examining it on a purely representational level, an interesting perspective on the earliest forms of human life, is gained.

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Personal Interest

The levels of interest in this topic run deeper than I myself even recognize. On a purely simplistic level, this idea of emotion is so relevant in each individual's life that it can hardly be ignored. Our feelings are shaped throughout our lives, but at the same time, they continue to play a role in how we perceive the world around us. Emotions exist as the driving force behind the lives we lead. Making the issue all the more pertinent. Personally, the draw towards this subject strikes closer than a superficial outside perspective. My fascination with the capabilities that lay beneath the surface of human emotions and human relations has somewhat of an extended history. From first hand experiences to those somewhat removed, the ability that one person has to drastically dictate the feelings of another has remained a constant thread through these relationships.  Whether in joy or in pain, each emotions exists due to a trigger, and all too commonly, the trigger exists within a human relation. At the same time, I recognize the necessity of these emotions, realizing that existing without them would be removing an element of our own humanity.

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Emotion Through Literature

Instead of examining the controversies attached to the subject and the groups that are for or against them, Iíll discuss briefly the history of dealing with the subject through literature. Because of this topics subjectivity, literature proves to be one of the more beneficial mediums to examine this topic through. One of the interesting things about literature is that it recognizes elements of truth in the world, and attempts to expose them to a universal light that can be understood and appreciated by the masses. One of the major threads that can be drawn through the ages has been the close examination of emotion and its effects on human relations. From the earliest known literature such as Beowulf or Chaucerís The Canterbury Tales, strands of human relations take the forefront of these stories. Struggle and feelings become centralized themes that are immortalized through the written word. William Shakespeare and John Donne became literary legends by exploring different human emotions within different environments. Some of the most famous pieces in literature are journeys into the human psyche, attempting to put a face on something that would otherwise remain abstract. Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and Hamlet all thrive on the emotional conquest of the protagonists. During the industrial revolution, when men became obsessed with reason, still the emotional conduct of men remained at the heart of literature. With writers such as Rudyard Kipling again there are attempts to create universal ties to these strange and seemingly unexplainable reactions that occur within the human body. Also with writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there is the attempt to combine these emotions with the subtle use of pure reason and intellect. Even in modern day, the exploration of emotion remains at the heart of much literature and has expanded into the realm of pop culture as well. In class we examined two movies that each attempted to depict some form of reality through the relationships that the characters were involved in. Which, in itself, is what we as viewers enjoy in literature, movies, and really anything else that portrays elements of reality. We look for levels to which we can relate and find within ourselves, then appreciate the artistís ability to make known what we ourselves could not label.

The Science

My presentation did not really examine the elements of science and their explanation of emotions, this was mostly because I saw science as more of a bi-product of the emotions of human beings. For example, clearly chemical reactions take place in our brains while certain emotions are being employed, but it is not because of the chemicals which we feel these emotions, it is a reaction due to our perception of an event or piece of information that causes these reactions. However, the closest explanation I can give regarding the science behind emotion would be similar to the presentation Mike O. gave on the chemicals involved in making us happy. The firing of synapses and the different chemical reactions that take place all have a direct effect on the way we feel. But these only take place because our recognition of some need for them to take place.

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The Role of the Individual

One of the main issues that needs to be dealt with in regards to the citizen and the issue of emotion, is the healthy expression of emotion. Emotion is something that everyone has to deal with, and problems only occur when improper outlets are used for the necessary outpouring of emotion. If it is a problem, several different approaches can be taken. Unhealthy emotions can be attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain. If this is the case, the individual is at a severe disadvantage in dealing with the issue alone. Severe depression and other disorders are due to these types of imbalances in the brain. The only way of dealing with this is professional help. Other types of mild emotional disorders can be attributed to different factors. Emotions are developed through and individualís perception of the world around them. If the perception is skewed, the emotion will come out wrong. Emotions need to be expressed in manners that are acceptable and healthy, meaning no harm is caused to the individual, or those around them.

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There really is no direct regulation of this area in society. There is regulation of course, but not in the sense that the question implies. A government does not require a certain amount of people to feel a certain way for so many days, or some nonsense like that. However, society in itself has regulated the emotions of individual and the degree to which they are expressed. The best example of this can be found in the writings of Sigmund Freud and his book Civilization and its Discontent. A simple overview of his theory (which by no means am I endorsing as absolutely true) is that humans have inside of them these primal emotions and desires. Going back to the earliest forms of life in which these rawest forms of desires were expressed freely, men could kill, rape, and were uninhibited to do whatever they wished. These desires have been, over time, hidden away and layered over by hundreds and hundreds of years of societal training in the hopes of convincing ourselves that we are truly civil to the core. In this scenario, society in itself acts as a regulator, even if it was unintentional. The conventions of society act as a standard to which our own innate emotional makeup must comply to. Every once in a while, some deep seeded Freudian desire slips out, and the society in which it takes place becomes shocked. When in reality, according to Freud, these few instances are when man shows his true humanness.



















A Case Study

While there really is no specific case study for the concepts of emotion that we examined in class, I thought it might be relevant to examine the scene the class viewed from the movie Closer as a type of case study, in its most basic form. In the movie the four characters that took part in the events were divided up into two groups, for the purpose of this study we will not name the individuals to make it somewhat more universal. In group 1 there was woman X and man X, in group B, there was woman Y and man Y. The relationships and the effects of both sets of men and women was witnessed and seen as a type of example of emotion and its effects. Woman X and man X were a married couple that seemingly were well off. Woman Y and Man Y were not a married couple, but had a relatively strong relationship between the two. In both, the constant was the strength of the emotional ties between the individuals in their respected groups. Woman X proceeds to inform man X that she is leaving him for man Y. Meanwhile, man Y informs woman Y that he is leaving her for woman X. Man X and woman Y are both devastated by the news and fall into their respected states of vulnerability. The news more or less destroys the individual on a temporary basis causing them to act "out of themselves" and revert back to the most naturalistic of responses.














Connections to a Specific

One of the better connections that can be made between my presentation and another students would be with the intelligence lecture, provided by Amanda. On a basic level, the ideas of intelligence and emotion are very much connected and at the same time somewhat contrasting. One of the main facets of my presentation was the relationship between emotion and reason, with particular emphasis on where the importance lies in our society. In her presentation, Amanda touched on the issues involving intelligence, such as the development of the meaning of the word, and also the different connotations the words holds with different societies and individuals. The connection between the two is interesting. A balance needs to exist between the intelligence (regardless of how it is defined) and the emotional nature. So, in one sense, the two need to work together to create a useful member of society (which is actually one of the definitions of intelligence). The differences between are fairly basic. Our intelligence, or our ability to reason, can be muddled by the emotional makeup of an individual. Both however are mandatory components for the overall quest for humanity's ideal.


"He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Albert Einstein

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Connections to the Whole

The connection between the topic of emotions and those discussed by other members of the group (eating disorders, self mutilation, suffering and sexuality) is that at the core of each of these issues is emotion and the individual's capacity to experience this range of feelings. Suffering can be seen as a type of hovering theme over both self mutilation and eating disorders. It is because of the individuals perceptions of the surrounding society that fuels the psyche. Feeling inept or inadequate when measured up against these standards resonates somewhere inside the individual causing them to believe that they are not meeting up with some absolute. Their "feelings" generate these thoughts and prove to be the driving force behind the actions. Our emotions can be directly correlated with our perceptions, so the same ideas attributed to self mutilation and eating disorders can also hold true for suffering in general. What ideas the individual has on suffering will be paralleled with the individuals feelings. In regards to sexuality, the terms of connectedness are much more general. Our attraction to a certain individual (regardless of sex) is oftentimes out of our immediate control and can be attributed mainly to the way we feel. These feelings are sometimes inexplicable, but such is the case with emotions.

The connection to the overall theme of the course, being humanity's life long pursuit for perfection, would be that emotion can be seen as having one of two roles in this pursuit. It is either the main thread that exists as a constant, leading us towards this abstract idea of perfection. Or, it is a detriment, something that must be dealt with along the way. One way or another, our humanness is centered within this realm of emotion. How we deal with these feelings plays a part in how we shape our ideas on perfection. This element plays a large role in the overall journey.


Self-Mutilation    Eating Disorders    Sexuality    Emotions    Suffering


Honors 210

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