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  • Writer's pictureRussell Cornhill


Updated: Jun 8

The Thinking Process 4

As I stated in a previous blog, I don’t believe that intelligence is an innate part of our brain, but rather a general name for the cognitive skills we have developed over time. To me, that means that the brain is not really an intellectual machine, but rather an ‘emotions’ machine. That, in turn, means that thinking is not an intellectual process, but an emotional process. We only hope that we use those intellectual skills to guide us.

I guess many people will simply scoff at this suggestion, but really, the idea that thinking is an intellectual process is based on a concept that has become such a part of our culture and language that we have difficulty thinking differently.

Which, perhaps, is evidence that thinking is an emotional process.

Certainly, everyone understands that our emotions affect much of what we think and do. I just don’t think we even begin to realise how much.

Of course, we have to follow the typical human process of naming all our emotions. Then we proceed to classify them as good or bad. (I’d argue that both these things are emotional in themselves.) And I would hope that most of us understand that it’s not the emotions that are good or bad, but the way we react to them, though even that judgement is subjective.

And how many emotions are there? Where do they all hide in the brain?

A few weeks ago, I was half asleep and a crazy idea occurred to me. My first reaction was ‘don’t be stupid, Russell’, but after only a few more seconds thought, I began to realise the idea wasn’t really that stupid, and I’ve begun to like it more and more.

We only have one physical self. What if we also only had one emotional self? The brain, perhaps aided by other cells throughout the body, forms a single emotional self. That ‘emotional self’ changes according to various triggers. Something happens that makes us feel happy, sad, angry, nostalgic, etc., etc. We feel those changes and call them our emotions, but really, they’re only the changes to our ‘emotion’ which is always there and not hiding, waiting to pop out on cue.

But it doesn’t matter if there are dozens of emotions hiding somewhere in our brain, or if it’s one emotional self that changes, the thinking process is still emotional and only guided by our ‘intellectual’ skills.

Someone might say that there’s no emotion involved in a purely mathematical problem. Yes, the actual calculations may not need emotion, but there will still be emotion involved. We even use those cognitive skills emotionally. We generalise emotionally. We classify emotionally. Even the most analytical or physical skills will all have emotion involved, either directly or indirectly.

So, emotions can lead us to do ‘good’ things and they can lead us to do ‘bad’ things. I believe that they were the driving factor that led us to become what we are today. But temper that with the knowledge that emotions can be the most deceptive and misleading force in our world.

And we live in a very emotional world.

Yep, Just my thoughts. Nope, not much research.

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