Archive for the ‘Emotions’ Category

Suppression is futile

June 20, 2009

Why Thought Suppression is Counter-Productive

It is better to confront your thoughts and emotions and work through them. Trying to distract yourself, with speculative philosophy for example, is counter-productive.

Suppressed emotion tends to show itself anyhow in a deformed manner. Certain ancient philosophers (e.g. Socrates, Plato) tried to suppress their emotion in favour of ‘reason’. In not confronting and dealing with their emotions, they came to hate and reject this world in favour of another. In trying to idealise mankind in themselves through reason they only deformed it. That’s the real practical joke.


What does it mean to be happy?

June 20, 2009

How to find happiness? Good question. A few responses:

Smackdown! Homer (Simpson) vs. Aristotle: What Does it Mean to Be Happy?

Aristotle’s conception of the good life in a nutshell is: (pleasure + honour [in political/social spheres]  + contemplation) x excellence [virtue]

Thomas Hurka on Pleasure – some pleasures are more equal than others

The Happiness Machine – much like the above

Man is by nature an aggressive animal

January 23, 2009

And religion in general does nothing to tame the beast. Although, it does promote the delusion that it does.

Mythbusters: Let Us Prey

Leach and his co-authors also looked at subjects’ religious orientations. While those who claim to practice religion in the service of God are no more peaceful than the rest of us, they believe that they are. Meanwhile, those who say they’re religious for personal gains (e.g., relief and protection) give themselves higher aggression ratings than do most people—and indeed back it up in the lab.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how

January 18, 2009

Not a cognitive why, rather an emotional why. Man needs and strives for meaning. Real meaning is meaning for life, it is meaning that moves and sustains us. This life-giving meaning is to be found in the emotions.

Philosophy ought to give us meaning to better navigate though life. Wisdom is  a lady to be known with the heart; she is to be found in the loving attachment to life.

We may know things ‘intellectually’, yet are incapable of acting on that knowledge. The problem is that the implication of such knowledge hasn’t really sunk in.

By ‘intellectually’ I refer to cognitive/rational/propositional beliefs (“knowing with the head”), such as the belief in creedal statements, affirmations, and ideas constructed through logic (*cough*). The communicative medium of influence is primarily the written language.

The other type of belief is emotional/affective (“knowing with the heart”) and deals with implicational meaning. It is intuitive and holistic in nature and developed through the synthesis of various different meanings. It far more influential on behaviour than cognitive belief alone. The communicative mediums of influence are speech, body language and the written language, which includes myth, poetry, metaphor and other figurative language.

Philosophers have traditionally exalted cognitive belief. They have have proposed the cognitive-reasoning faculty as man’s highest endowment. I have condemned other (pseudo-)philosophers for their poo-poo’ing of the emotions and will continue to do so until they wake up to themselves. People are living with the affective, while philosophers are off with the fairies in their cognitive dreamland, their ‘white mythology’.

Further reading

Frontiers of Cognitive Therapy – specifically, p. 37

Cognitive vs Affective – “People do most things based on affection and justify their choices later with cognition.”

Primacy of Affect Over Cognition in Determining Adult Men’s Condom–Use Behavior: A Review – for those of you with no life who are interested in empirical studies. If you bother to read this it is probably a sign that you will never have need of a condom.


January 4, 2009

Have the courage to risk rejection. Rejection is nothing in itself; it only hurts when your expectations are inappropriate, and even then the pain of rejection will be soon be overcome as your reinterpret the event in a light that restores your self-esteem. The problem is wrong expectations, especially of others, which comes from not knowing them well enough.

Man does not want happiness

January 4, 2009

A warning from Nietzsche that the pursuit of happiness may not be an end in itself.

If we possess our why of life we can put up with almost any how. Man does not strive after happiness; only the Englishman does that.

Man, in his basic natural state, does not seek out happiness exclusively. He unavoidably makes many choices that sacrifice potential happiness for the sake of other life instinstcs, such as sex and competition for status.

The ‘Englishman’ is a socially-constructed identity; there is no Englishman (or Utilitarianism, the cloaked reference)  in nature. Happiness too is obscurely socially-constructed; it has come to mean much more than pleasure.

Beware of ends that may be little more than social myths.

Cultivate gratitude

January 4, 2009

It only takes 2 minutes, but if you’re really stingy you can cut it down to 30 seconds.

Better Mood from Gratitude: 2 Minute Exercise – Start Now!

Synthesizing happiness

January 4, 2009

A few TED talks that rate a mention, with the implications I draw from them:

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

  • Point: Choice limits our ability to synthesize happiness. It increases our expectations through retrospective value-comparison of other options. Gilbert makes this point as well, but notes that we tend to choose paths that keep our options open, to our detriment.
  • Implication: We must make a commitment to a single option, path or way of life, with a courgeous leap into faith, with no regrets and no looking back, and then choose to be happy.

Dan Gilbert: Why are we happy? Why aren’t we happy? and Exploring the frontiers of happiness

  • Point: We frequently misjudge the extent to which different circumstances projected into the future will make us happy/unhappy (pre-frontal cortex).
  • Implication: Be cautious in regards to ‘delayed gratification’; don’t worry about the future.
  • Point: We ‘synthesize happiness’; with time we will reinterpret the world and our past in order that we are happier.
  • Implication: Regret won’t last, bad circumstances won’t seem as bad in the future, you and I ‘get over it’ – all can be forgiven, so just speed up the process.

A theory of laughter

December 27, 2008

Laughter is a response evoked when we have surprisingly succeeded in interpreting the world in a way favourable to us.

Humour breaks down restrictive stereotypes and beliefs; it is the destruction of the austere, of the all too serious. These beliefs are a block to social connectedness, freedom, power and enjoyment.

But it is not only the intentionally humourous that defies the austere and makes us laugh. Any interpretation of the world, though usually light-hearted, can make us laugh.

I personally get a kick out of reading Schopenhauer. What a lovable, laughable old crank! When I interpret Schopenhauer I see the complete idiocy of taking a pessimistic attitude to the world. That makes me feel better about the world and I laugh.

12 Laws of the Emotions

December 23, 2008

12 Laws of the Emotions

PsyBlog is releasing a new series on emotions. If this article is anything to judge by, it will be quite good.

Hopefully, this kind of research will help to dispel common myths about emotions, such as the idea that they are ‘irrational’, simply ‘feelings’, and hazardous to the flourishing of the human.

The Wikipedia article on Nico Frijda states:

Emotions are, in this view, tendencies to engage in behaviour influenced by the needs of the person.

Sounds pretty rational to me.

I would (and will later) argue that rationality is actually bounded by emotion, that emotion dictates rationality, and that only an idiot could argue that emotion could ever be opposed to it.

From an existential perspective, the most notable law is probably ‘The Law of Concern’ – in regards to passion:

We feel because we care about something, when we have some interest in what happens, whether it’s to an object, ourselves, or another person. Emotions arise from these particular goals, motivations or concerns. When we are unconcerned we don’t feel anything.