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  • Writer's pictureRussell Cornhill

The Emotional World

The Thinking Process 5




Is thinking an intellectual process influenced by our emotions? Or is it an emotional process that we try to control with the cognitive skills we have learned over many years?


As stated in previous blogs, I favour the latter. I believe it far better fits the way we humans have acted and interacted, both in the past and in the present. Now the obvious question is how did we learn if we had no innate intelligence? I feel the answer is as obvious as the question. Our emotions drove us.


I believe any living organism with a brain has at least some potential to develop those things we attribute to the human brain, such as emotions, consciousness, thought, self-awareness, and possibly some cognitive skills. No doubt, the size and complexity of the brain would be the major factors. I believe it’s the strength of our emotions that has driven human beings to achieve what they have.


Now imagine the earliest humans, where thinking would have been almost primarily in the form of images until language is developed. Thinking skills would improve slowly as language develops. Survival may have been the main focus of people in those earlier times, but allied to that were the desires to communicate, to work with each other and to improve their existence.


Those ‘improvements’, along with the development of cognitive skills, would have been a very slow process. They may have been aided by such things as our physical shape and other factors, but they would not have come about at all but for the two major functions of our brain—memory and emotions. We can’t learn anything without memory, but our emotions are the driving force.


People often talk about the possibility of different realities existing. It may be true, but usually the ideas are very imaginative and have no real basis in fact. However, while it may be stretching the point a little, I think you can say that we already live in two different realities—the physical world and the emotional world. We obsess about the physical world and think of emotions as just our feelings and only important in regard to relationships. But the very ideas that guide our societies and cultures are emotionally based. Personally, I would add myths, religions, philosophies, ideologies, and the basic ideas behind business, education, the media, sport—in short, just about every aspect of our culture and lives.


Even the basic concepts of good and bad, or morality in general, are emotional based. They have no place in the physical world. They don’t exist except as emotional concepts in our head which is why they are so subjective. Their meaning can vary over time, from one culture to another, from one country to another, or even among individuals.


Because these concepts are emotionally based, I would argue that many are dubious while a few are actually wrong. Yet once a concept becomes imbedded in our culture and our language, it becomes almost impossible to change, unless the change is brought about by another, emotionally stronger concept.


Yes, I realise that means my own ideas are emotionally based, as much as I may try to apply those cognitive skills, and rethink, and rethink. Like everyone else, I guess I think with my heart.


And there you have a case in point. The concept of the heart as our emotional centre is wrong. Hopefully, we all know it’s wrong. Yet if I’d said ‘brain’ instead of ‘heart’, many people would have assumed I was talking about intelligence. It’s a good example of how ingrained a concept can become, so that we keep using it even when, with a moment’s thought, we know that it’s wrong.


So, even though most of us understand how deceptive emotions can be, they have still been behind most of the concepts that rule our human world.



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



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