Is mind superior to body and emotion?

We have long conceived of a separation between mind and body in western society, with supremacy of mind over body. This basic idea that reason should dominate is captured in the classic statement by Descartes ‘cogito ergo sum’, ‘I think, therefore I am’. However, if your thoughts are affected by your bodily feelings, or even your perceptions of how the society around you sees you, then what are you? What are your thoughts? Are they really separate from your body and your feelings? And do we have a better understanding of the relationship between reason and emotion as a society today? Compare Disney’s take on the role of emotions in human action in 1943 and in 2015 (and note that the producers of the 2015 ‘Inside Out’ film considered including ‘logic’ as an emotion, but later decided to drop it). Which of these depictions makes more sense to you?

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Posted in SOC327 - Emotions Bodies and Society, Tutorial 2, UOW.

24 Comments

  1. Slovic, Paul, et al. “Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: Some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality.” Risk analysis 24.2 (2004): 311-322. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0272-4332.2004.00433.x/full

    Thoughts and identity are rarely separated from somatic markers which affect our perception of reality and therefore our decision making and risk assessments. Disney’s two productions on the role of emotions in human action in 1943 and 2015 depict society’s progress in terms of our grasp of the relationship between reason and emotion. The first film projects the danger of being led by emotions and the second production presents the danger of not engaging with them particularly during key events in an individual’s life. In this article Slovic discusses how our rational and experiential systems should be seen as working in unison rather than fighting for supremacy. Being led by our emotions or reason come with their own set of advantages and challenges, so to allow one system to lead us around completely can potentially result in extreme responses and outcomes. Studies show analytic reasoning is not effective unless guided by emotion and affect. Therefore a split can exist only to identify where reason ends and emotion begins, instead of being used to identify a hierarchy. Where the mind claims supremacy, an individual is susceptible to responding in cold rationality (another key characteristic of the Nazis in their efficiently systematised genocide of the Jews and other marginalised groups), whereas when emotions reign, they can temper an individual causing them to appear highly irrational and erratic in risk assessment and decision making. These systems will balance one another and their importance should be emphasized equally. The mind and emotions can make wonderful servants but very lousy masters.

  2. The most poignant change from the 1943 to the 2015 take on what goes on inside our heads to me was the necessity for emotion. The 1943 take makes it seem as though someone could be a functional human being without emotions, and this is just not the case. The narrator in the end of the 1943 video says that reason should be firmly in the drivers seat handling the controls with emotion by his side. But, to continue with this metaphor, I believe that if emotion is never at the wheel, we will never be able to predict the emotional ramifications of our decisions and thus the quality of our lives.In Inside Out Riley made the irrational decision to run away from home without her emotions in the driver seat to help her. I think this is a great example of how important our emotions are when making decisions and pondering future consequences.

    Barbalet tells us that although it may have been inadvertent (because it does not support his arguments), Weber indicates that “emotion can not be eliminated from human affairs” and “it has a positive role in clarifying intentions and ordering action” (38). To someone with as conventional of views about emotion and rationality as Weber, this is a very important admission. I think those ideas are clearly understood today. Emotions are important! Sitting down and thinking about what or how you feel can be just as rational an exercise as doing one’s homework, and in fact the prior is probably much more difficult!

    I think that we are our emotions. Our emotions drive so much of what we do and why as well as determine how we react to the world around us. “I think therefore I am” should really be “I think AND feel therefore I am”. In class we discussed Descartes’ theory that our capacity to think separates us from machines and animals. But with our present knowledge about animal intelligence and rapid increases in Artificial Intelligent technology, I think we will soon find that is actually our ability to feel that separates us.

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  3. I feel this is a complex relationship to understand. I think no matter what you choose to believe, whether your mind and body are directly influential of each other or not, it can always be flawed when it comes to this discussion.
    I strongly believe that our thoughts are affected by our bodily feelings, however when needed can be independent, and our thoughts are definitely dominant to our bodies. Biologically, if your body tells your mind its hungry, your mind will decide to eat. This is a simple example of the connection between your mind and body.
    However, on a much deeper level, our thoughts are made up of things we see, experience, learn and discover. I definitely found I loved both concepts shone by Disney, but the one that really made sense to me was his take in 1943 on reason and emotion. I feel it had a strong, logical message and this theory accounts for many explanations as to why we think, do and feel certain things in society today, and society 100 years ago. If this idea is true, that our thoughts are comprised of reason and emotion, I’m choosing to assume that this means that over time our idea of what is reasonable and accepted in society has changed. How differently are human thoughts now than they were back then in the 1940’s?
    As for whether or not we have a better understanding of both reason and emotion, and how the relationship between the two operate, I’d have to disagree. I think there are many extremists in the world that fall victim to allowing their emotions dominate over reason, and that can explain a lot of the devastating terrorist acts and mass murders that have taken place in our world recently.

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  4. Inside Out is a truly beautiful film and that doesn’t even include how I feel for Amy Poehler (fan girl moment, sorry), but unfortunately I don’t think it quite accurately portrays how Western men view women’s emotional intelligence quite as well as the 1943 short film, which is very saddening. The 1943 short film shows that men and Disney’s writers/producers thought that women clearly couldn’t handle their independence/emotions as these were the reason for women gaining weight, eating what they wanted and flirting with whomever they wanted. The film shows the woman letting her emotions choose her decisions which causes her to want to flirt with men and gain weight from eating deserts and a large lunch, then the voice over says “You have the evidence that uncontrolled emotion can cause you a lot of trouble”, thus reaffirming the idea that a woman cannot be trusted when she lets her emotions decide.
    This is the part in the short film that really stuck with me as many women still today encounter these opinions from men and the media about their bodies and their emotions. Women are seen as weak and slaves to their emotions, which will in turn, ruin their/Western society’s hopes of finding a partner.
    Disney’s Inside Out definitely shows a more positive view on women’s emotions and reasoning and supports James’s view that ‘reason and emotion are not opposed phenomena but distinct names for aspects of a continuous process’ (Barbalet 1998, p.45). When it comes to women, Western society prefers to separate emotion and reason and dictate how a woman should act and to specifically separate wrong and right, so as to control women’s emotional intelligence, thus encouraging the idea that women are less than men.
    Films like Inside Out and other Disney movies that feature females as main characters in emotionally intelligent roles help to oppose sexist views and teach younger persons the importance of acknowledging the continuous and confusing process that is emotional intelligence, where both emotions and reason are interacting together.
    My understanding of my emotions and my reasoning is subjective, yet from my readings of Barbalet, I can conclude that reason and emotions cannot be opposed (1998, p.61) and are instead linked and work as one to create a human’s emotional intelligence or rationality. This means that whilst emotions and reason seem very different and appear that one is purely good and the other is evil, as depicted in the 1943 Disney short and remains heavily promoted by Western media, they are one of the same and work harmoniously to differentiate between Western society’s ideas of right and wrong so as to allow you to abide by the rules.

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  5. I think that the 1943 Disney film has depicted emotion and reason within the body as a constant battle as to decide which one takes the lead and this is not necessarily the case for every individual. I believe they are to act in unison and to be better controlled and managed with where the body learns to do this.

    In 2015 today the body still has complex thoughts and emotions and I think the thoughts are separate but can be trained well to work with our conflicting emotions to ensure decisions are made correctly and to get through daily life. The mind and body can be trained to block out the negative emotions which confuse us and will not make it so complex and difficult as it is depicted in the Disney film.

    Barbalet says there are three different notions of reason and emotion and the one which has widest currency is the idea that emotion undermines reason. I believe this is true within today’s society and at times emotion needs to be discounted and suppressed.

    Although in today’s society compared to the 1943 film emotion can benefit reason as it can be a sign which means a positive feeling and a feeling which is positive and to go with this initial feeling as it is usually right.

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    • I think that the 1943 Disney film has depicted emotion and reason within the body as a constant battle as to decide which one takes the lead and this is not necessarily the case for every individual. I believe they are to act in unison and to be better controlled and managed with where the body learns to do this.

      In 2015 today the body still has complex thoughts and emotions and I think the thoughts are separate but can be trained well to work with our conflicting emotions to ensure decisions are made correctly and to get through daily life. The mind and body can be trained to block out the negative emotions which confuse us and will not make it so complex and difficult as it is depicted in the Disney film.

      Barbalet says there are three different notions of reason and emotion and the one which has widest currency is the idea that emotion undermines reason. I believe this is true within today’s society and at times emotion needs to be discounted and suppressed.

      Although in today’s society compared to the 1943 film emotion can benefit reason as it can be a sign which means a positive feeling and a feeling which is positive and to go with this initial feeling as it is usually right.

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  6. I feel as though this is an intricate relationship to comprehend; whether you choose to believe that mind and body are directly linked and therefore influenced by each other, or that both are two different concepts altogether, can in term, cause flawed discussion around this theory. When thinking about this concept, I believe that our thoughts are in fact affected by ones bodily emotions/ feelings; A good example of this would be when one feels thirsty, our body would send the feeling of being thirsty , then ones mind will have a drink. I definitely found that I loved both concepts shown by Disneys take on ‘Reason and Emotion’ in 1943; As it had a strong clear message that without Reason one would have irrational thoughts and without emotion one would be emotionless. I feel as though this idea of reason and emotion working together is still the same within todays society, with the only difference being that over time our idea of what is reasonable and accepted within a society changes.

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  7. In response to the question ‘Is mind superior to body and emotion?’ I do not hesitate to respond with no. Society it so caught up with the competition between the two that it is \ overlooked the two play a vital role as one. The body and emotion can be analysed as two separate entity but at the end of the day they are both one in the same. Your mind has the ability to affect you body for example, if you are feeling sad your shoulders slump. And visa versa for example, if you have a headache you feel frustrated. This proves they intertwine and rely on each other for something as necessary as communication. When you are happy you show it by smiling. How else would someone know you are happy when you receive a gift and are happy inside but sit there with a poker face?
    On the topic of Disney picture film about emotion, the reason I believe Logic was cut out of the movie is simply because Logic is not an emotion. Reason is a thought process and is not something children relate to feeling. If somebody asks how you are, when is your response ever ‘oh, I am quite reasonable. I feel quite logical’.
    When something happens you can’t chose which emotion you want to feel, it is natural. Logic is something that society has instilled in us as individuals and I think they left Logic out to make a clear distinction between the Riley (the main character) and his emotions.
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  8. This topic is inspiring increasingly philosophical thought…if your thoughts are affected by your bodily feelings then what are you and what are your thoughts?
    The radical approach, when considering these questions, gave the most encompassing theory of the intrinsic relationship between emotion, rationality and the body. Your thoughts are undoubtedly affected by sensations in the body…as are sensations provoked by thought… One does not exist independently of the other… You are both. Although emotions have historically been considered involuntary, instinctive, even primal, and needing to be harnessed or controlled, feelings and emotions are more complex and have the capacity to bypass even the most rational. As Plato mused thousands of years ago, a thought still entirely relevant to society today, it is affect and not cognition that primarily influences action and belief.

    In my understanding and applying the radical theory, neither Disney depiction (1943 or 2015) of reason and emotion makes more sense than the other. Both exemplify individual interpretation of the relationship between emotions and the body, and no doubt were/are relevant and applicable to some experience.

  9. Argh, I forgot the hashtags…try again #S327UOW16 #TUT2 #Mon1530

    This topic is inspiring increasingly philosophical thought…if your thoughts are affected by your bodily feelings then what are you and what are your thoughts?
    The radical approach, when considering these questions, gave the most encompassing theory of the intrinsic relationship between emotion, rationality and the body. Your thoughts are undoubtedly affected by sensations in the body…as are sensations provoked by thought… One does not exist independently of the other… You are both. Although emotions have historically been considered involuntary, instinctive, even primal, and needing to be harnessed or controlled, feelings and emotions are more complex and have the capacity to bypass even the most rational. As Plato mused thousands of years ago, a thought still entirely relevant to society today, it is affect and not cognition that primarily influences action and belief.

    In my understanding and applying the radical theory, neither Disney depiction (1943 or 2015) of reason and emotion makes more sense than the other. Both exemplify individual interpretation of the relationship between emotions and the body, and no doubt were/are relevant and applicable to some experience.

  10. My ideas around the mind and body are quite simple and i believe that when we talk about the mind being superior to be body is correct. We often are told that what we think makes us control bodily movements but with the term ‘cogito ergo sum’ – ‘I think. therefore I am’ simplifying the mind and body as mere implements to make us create emotions. Disney emotions have become more and more complex with time and therefore they are trying to create new emotions. The older disney cartoons showed a simple idea of emotion and therefore showed how mind and body are interconnected.

  11. I believe we do have a better understanding of the relationship between reason and emotion today. The 1943 Disney film depicts emotions as negative and being lead by your emotions will achieve negative consequences. On the other hand, the 2015 Inside Out film represents a more positive view on the mind and the body as thoughts can be trained to block out certain negative emotions that may puzzle an individual.

    The critical approach highlighted in Barbalet’s reading focuses on “emotion as a solution to problems rationality cannot solve”. With this belief, that emotions cannot be eliminated from human affairs identifies the key aspect that we are creating a better understanding between reason and emotion. Reason and rationality are expressed through the critical approach as limited and incomplete. Reason and rationality cannot be separate from emotions as there are specific boundaries on them. The 2015 Disney film recognises this critical approach where Weber in effect “indicates that emotion can not be eliminated from human affairs and also that it has a positive role in clarifying intentions and ordering action”.

    The 1943 Disney film demonstrates a conventional approach where Descartes expresses that “there is a division between mind and the body”. This notion of “what one does must be a consequence of what one thinks” demonstrates the non-relationship between emotion and reason in 1943. Descartes also states, “emotion is understood to arise not from the mind, but the body” which can be seen in this 1943 Disney film.

    Overall, the two films reveal very different concepts of emotion and reason that can be seen through the critical and conventional approaches in Barbalet’s reading. I believe emotion and reason are intrinsically linked, as the critical approach highlights, where our bodies can feel our emotion and actions.

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  12. I believe that my thoughts are not separate from my body and my feelings. For example, if I am hungry and I have not had anything to eat all day, my stomach/body will in turn react by grumbling, my mood will be affected because I do not have the energy required to complete tasks, consequently transforming my emotions from being happy into “hangry.” My brain/thought processes will then tell me that I must eat in order to avoid being hungry/hangry. The body, thoughts and feelings are therefore one. One cannot function without the other.

    In relation to answering the question, “do we have a better understanding of the relationship between reason and emotion today,” the answer is yes. This is evident when we compare Disney’s take on the role of emotion in human action in 1943 to 2015. The 1943 cartoon portrays the Conventional Approach where emotion undermines reason. Barbalet (1998; p.39) explains that in this approach, emotion is to be discounted and suppressed. In Western society, females are said to be more emotional than males and therefore more prone to irrational decisions as seen when the female overeats in the cartoon. In Inside Out, the Critical Approach is explored. Here emotion is a solution to problems that rationality cannot solve. In this take on the role of emotion in human action, logic is taken out.

    Out of the two depictions, the latter resonates with me the most. Today it is ok to make decisions based on your emotions because emotion cannot be eliminated from human affairs, it also plays a positive role in clarifying intentions and ordering action (Barbalet, 1998; p. 38). When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters because it helps you to build stronger relationships, succeed at work and achieve career/personal goals. This is something that we learn, and it is something that the character Riley learns in Inside Out as she experiences changes in her life.

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  13. Barbalet discusses the idea that a human being is uniquely characterised by thought, completely locating “responsibility” in the individual person: what one does must be a consequence of what one thinks.

    In both of the Disney films, ‘Reason and Emotion’ (1943) and ‘Inside Out’ (2015), i think the role of emotion shows the development and somewhat advances that have occurred over time of the linkages between reason and emotion.

    I tend to lean towards Descartes suggestion that emotion is a compelling force which leads a person away from the decisions they make, the reasons they have, the choices they take and being responsible for disruptions they perform.

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  14. The mind and body function together, our body tells us what we need in order to survive and function and our mind controls our emotion and therefore the feeling in our body is effected by the emotion we are feeling. our body can feel a certain way such as when we have a stomach ache our mind is notified that something is wrong. When we feel nervous our body responds with an uncomfortable feeling to also let us know something Is wrong. The body and mind communicate with each other. if the mind is not communicating with the body then we can not move our body and if our body was to not communicate with out mind we would not know when to eat or go to the toilet. The movie inside out was about emotions however logic is not an emotion but a thought process, logic can not be expressed on someone face like anger or happyness can. Everyone has a different opiniom on what is logical so it might not of made sense.

  15. I strongly disagree with the classic statement by Descartes “Cogito ergo sum”, “I think, therefore I am” because thinking is not the only factor that defines our existence. We are reason, emotion, subconscious and body. Our conscious thoughts are both reason and emotion which we try to balance out through a process named “mindfulness”. Reason cannot exist without emotion and emotion cannot exist without reason, but it can be difficult to not have an excess of emotion or reason to the point where they are out of balance. Emotions are controlled by our reason depending on what is acceptable in the society that surrounds us including culture, religion, etc. For example, ones behavior of publicly screaming or crying may shock others because they are used to suppressing their strong feelings and releasing them in other ways such as venting to friends or constantly discussing how they feel rather than waiting until an emotional explosion. Facebook is also an outlet for people to express their anger or frustration at the world, but the amount of people that do not accept it or disagree with the points made are generally high even though they probably experience the same feelings but just have a different manner of expressing them. Another part of our thoughts are the different levels of subconscious thoughts that exist within places such as our dreams and instincts. They are not decisions we can reason and feel with. Fight or flight is an example of such an instinct. The James-Lange Hypothesis states that the physical reaction occurs before we feel the emotion– that our bodies and emotions sometimes compel us to act before we are even aware of what we are feeling.
    However, our thoughts are not separate from our bodies and our feelings. We could not feel, think, or react to anything without a body and brain to do the work for us. Otherwise our thoughts would be existent within space and time. The majority of society does not really understand the relationship between emotion and reason because reason is often valued above emotion to the extent where many are so focused on their work and success that they ignore what makes them truly happy or that they conceal their feelings behind the image that they are trying to convey.
    Both of the depictions make sense to me for the Disney Clips- they are just two different perspectives of viewing emotion and reason. The recent clip focuses on several emotions and logic balancing out behaviors, whereas the older clip focuses on reason balancing emotion. The older clip would make more sense to me of the two because reason and emotion are separate from each other rather than reason being considered an emotion. Also the newer Disney clip only shows a few of the emotions whereas the older one has many more of them (I could not see the entire inside out clip so it may have had more emotions than I observed but this is derived from what I could discover).
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  16. Weber states “Rational action, in realizing motives which are long-held and seriously regarded, must be against the emotions because the emotions are spontaneous and impulsive forces which distract a person from their purposes” Emotion has the ability to “create disorder in human affairs, whereas rationality will bring order into the conduct” (Barbalet, Page 36)

    I agree with this statement by Weber and I believe that the 1943 Disney film emphasizes the damage we can do by letting our imagination run away with us and allowing our emotions to overtake our common sense by using Hitler’s destruction as an example.

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  17. The idea of a split between rationality/logic and emotion I feel still persists today, although there has been a movement more towards the recognition of and expression of emotions as being considered healthy for human beings.
    The 1943 cartoon expresses what is discussed in the lecture and the Barbalet reading as the ‘conventional approach’ to emotion and rationality, where both concepts are considered directly opposed to each other, and rationality holds a strong place on top as the literal “driver” of the brain. Emotions here are considered a hindrance rational decision-making and are portrayed as being animalistic in nature and related to basic survival needs like food and sex. Emotions need to be controlled and suppressed to ensure the proper functioning of people in society.
    Inside Out on the other hand is more understanding about humans and their expression of emotions, but I feel there is an element of the emotion/rationality split that carries over due to it being a prevalent idea in society still. The main character being a child already allows for a certain amount of expression of emotion that is considered “healthy” or “normal” that would not be for an adult character. Like mentioned in the 1943 cartoon, this is because children have not yet learned the proper social actions and emotional control needed to be a rational decision-maker. Inside Out does portray this need to control emotions as something all people must do as they age and develop, but this is more seen as not allowing one emotion to control others, rather than the total suppression of that emotion itself. It is okay to be sad, but not okay to let that sadness determine everything you do. Despite this, I believe the 2015 film demonstrates what Barbalet calls a ‘critical approach’ to emotions and rationality, where they complement each other and both play a part in setting goals and actions.
    I align more with the critical approach way of thinking, as I believe that emotions play a significant part in our decision-making. Just from personal experience I can say that there has almost always been some emotional factor in the decisions I have made, but, in a somewhat contradictory way, I do not believe that (at least consciously) they were the ultimate factor in these decisions. There has been a difference in the decisions and actions I have made that have emotional factors, and those that have been made purely out of emotion. Often those made purely out of emotion do not take into consideration long-term effects, and in hindsight often feel like they were made impulsively.

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  18. Both films depict the constant struggle of rationalised thinking and the way that external situations can have an large impact on our choices and emotions.

    reason and emotion (1948), focused on the manipulation of others feelings to get ones way, this included preying on the subjects, using sympathy, and then hate and pride to lead people to follow this pre-democratic way of life. It was evident that people’s reason and emotion were vital to overcome this fight between what is morally right and emotionally and to avoid the manipulation of the mind.

    Inside out (2015), focused on sadness as an emotion and it’s impact on the persons reasoning. It was evident that the emotion was negatively changing the environment her and her choices.

    The films both portrayed dangerous outcomes of allowing the minds imagination to predict choices and reasoning and the way that the environment around you can take part to nourish or destroy reasoning.

  19. The link between body and thoughts and emotion is strong, as everything you feel in your body will somehow effect your thoughts and emotions. An example of this is when you are in pain, it could cause you to worry, or when you’re hungry, your mood may worsen.

    However I also believe that mind is superior to body and emotion, this is reflected by some people who dedicate their lives to understanding and commanding control of mind and spirit, allowing them to endure tremendous bodily stress while remaining calm and showing no signs of pain. An example of this seen through some Japanese Buddhists who are able to walk calmly across hot coals putting ‘mind over matter’ so to speak.

    The depiction of how emotions effect human actions that makes most sense to me would have to be inside out, as the effect sadness has on peoples, mind and actions can sometimes be irreversible. The link between sadness and human actions is often the greatest as very few other emotions evoke such uncontrollable and overwhelming reactions.

  20. The mind and the body are not separate. To prove this is Eysenck’s theory of arousal. Within his theory arousal is managed by two circuits:
    1. Reticulo- cortical circuit: controls the cortical arousal generated by incoming stimuli
    2. Reticulo- limbic circuit: controls arousal to emotional stimuli
    Eysenck suggests that arousal is a central variable allowing personality to be linked to a number of responses. Eysenck linked arousal to two of his personality dimensions, extraversion and neuroticism
    • Neuroticism comprises emotions/traits such as anxiety, worry and moody emotions
    • Extraversion comprises emotions/traits such as sociability, sensation seeking and being carefree and optimistic
    When an individual’s ARAS (ascending reticular activating system) continually makes them overly aroused, they will attempt to avoid stimulation because they already have a lot of it. Consequently, this person will be introverted because they will avoid stimulation and exciting situations. (vica versa)
    An example of this theory in practice within our society: an extraverted personal assistant would portray work life as exciting (chatting, meetings etc). In contrast to this an introverted personal assistant would be quiet and work alone. However both personal assistants may be both just as effective.
    Thus, it is evident that emotions may not be as Macinis & Plummer (2012) suggest ‘socially constructed’. But rather our emotions are a product from the mind and are not voluntarily created or actioned.

    • Disney’s focus on reason and emotion does not provide a fair analysis of both emotions. There seems to be a strong depiction on how being over emotional leads to poor decision making but there seems to be a lack of analysis of how over reasoning can too. However Disney does clearly identify how reasoning and emotion are two completely separate entities. In Contrast to ‘Inside Out’, Disney groups emotion as a single entity. Inside Out portrays several different emotions. The decision to cut logic is consistent with Disney due to the portrayal of the separation between them. To answer the question of whether it was correct to drop logic as emotion- I agree it should be dropped. Logic neurologically is the left side of the brain and is separate from the neurologically function of emotion. Inside Out clusters all the emotions to be separate emotions that work together in the mind. I don’t think the way Inside Out portrays the emotions would be a suitable fit for logic unless it was somehow made distinctly separate like Disney’s depiction.
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