SOC327 2017 Tut2 – Thu 1030

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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17 Comments

  1. In accordance with most of the responses on this thread, I would state that I agree with the more ‘radical approach’ towards Reason and Emotion; i.e. “…reason and emotion are not opposed phenomena but distinct names for aspects of a continuous process” (Barbalet p.45). However, I do believe that feeling remains defined within society as the less ‘productive’ of the two. Contemporary language and discourse positions thought, and the act of thinking, in relation to progress, study, and success. When an error is made, one is often asked “what were you thinking?” implicitly referring to an absence of reasoning, and not of feeling.

    TWITTER: @rpatulny Feeling remains ‘less productive’: “But if I didn’t think about anything I’d never get anything done” #S327UOW17 #Tut2 #Thurs1030

  2. In modern western society, the idea that the mind (rationality) is superior to the body (emotions) still dominates. I mentioned this in my tweet, where I gave the example of the pervasive belief that women are ‘too’ emotional for certain jobs where a large amount of influential decision making is required, such as Prime Minister or President. Such a belief is portrayed in this article where it is stated “women make rash decisions emotionally – they make very permanent, cemented decisions – and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen”. This example reiterates the idea of supremacy of mind over body, with emphasis on the disruptive influence emotions have on the “proper conduct of human affairs” (Barbalet 1998). This way of thinking is parallel to the conventional approach which positions reason and emotion as opposites, with reason at the core. This is similar to the way in which it is represented in Disney’s 1943 film, where reason is placed at the centre and emotions are seen as disruptive. However, in Disney’s 2015 film, there is evidence of a different depiction of emotions, as it challenges the perception that emotions are distracting, and rather displays them as working together to achieve a goal, and this understanding makes more sense to me as emotions and rationality are inextricably connected.

    Although this film and some literature being written on inter-relations between emotion and rationality depict that there is greater understanding, I think this understanding is limited to a small part of society. I believe that majority of society still positions mind above body, as illustrated in the example earlier. I agree with Barbalet (1998) that the conventional opposition between emotion and reason persists because of cultural values, so wider change is needed in order for there to be a better understanding of the relationship between emotion and reason in society. So this begs the question, what can elicit this cultural shift in values to move beyond the idea that emotions are unproductive to rationality?

  3. According to Simone Schnall’s TED talk, How your Bodily State Affects your Perception, the way we perceive ourselves depends on the way we feel. She advocates that our feelings influence the way we act upon our objective realities, therefore contributing to the way others perceive us. Perception is a psychological process that affects the way we think about ourselves, the way we act in certain situations and the way we interact with people. This idea coincides with the unique responsibility of human action described in Barbalet’s writing on Emotion and Rationality, on how our ability to choose reinforces the notion that whatever one does is a consequence of what one thinks (Barbalet pg. 33). In regard to thoughts in relation to body and feelings, I believe that they are all intertwined. From Aristotle’s point of view, he believed that the mind (thought) and body met at the heart (emotion), which may lead someone to think that thought processes are directly linked to your feelings and body. When I think about this, I agree in the belief that thought, body and feeling are all connected to one another where the feeling-driven emotions influence our bodies where it affects our perceptions, thereby collectively curating thought.

  4. I believe that while there is a split between the different functions between the body and the mind, both are interrelated and both can not function without the other. There is a much more deeper understanding of this interrelation today than in the past, as shown in Disney’s 1943, WWII Propaganda video showing the impacts that reason has upon emotions and our physical behaviour, as well as decision making as an outcome of this. This video compared to a modern representation of emotion and reasoning between the body and mind can be shown in the 2015 film “Inside Out”. Our perceptions of our world and the behaviour and decisions we make based upon that are highly influential in our vast range of emotions. This in turn leads back to the inter relational relationship found between our mind and body. The movie “Inside Out” in comparison to the 1943 Disney production shows that the relationship between emotions and the body is much more complex and influential on one another.
    Simone Schnall’s TED talk “How your bodily state affects your perception” explains how our perception of ourselves within society can impact our behaviour and emotions. This also is a valid explanation of how these judgements of ourself and our emotions are dependant upon one another to influence our actions, as discussed with the example of making the journey up a steep hill. Where our answer of whether or not we want to walk up the hill is a reflection of our emotions and perceptions of self impacting our physical behaviour.

    #S327UOW17 #Tut2 #Thurs1030

  5. I think it’s interesting that the creators of Inside Out chose to drop logic/reason from the emotion characters that controlled Riley, citing the reason to be that they wanted Riley to be “separate from her emotions”. It seems like, had they chosen to include logic/reason, it would or could have played out similarly to the Walt Disney animation – in the sense that the core emotions and logic/reason may have battled over control of Riley when it came to decision-making and how she chose to react to situations.
    In regard to the relationship between physical bodily feelings and perception, I think emotion plays a very large role (for example, the perception of the weight of a box held by people discussed by Simone Schnall). This concept is particularly interesting because it also brings into play the role of memory and past experience, which in turn shape emotion, feeling, and perception. In this sense it is clear how all of these things – i.e. thoughts, emotions, and physical bodily feeling – are intertwined and are influenced by one another. Without contribution from all of these things that make up our thoughts, our emotions and the ways in which we deal with emotional stimuli wouldn’t be the same.

  6. It is essential to recognise the contribution of both the mind and the body, combining to be useful by achieving goals and making constructive decisions.

    While the Western world once viewed the mind as superior and separate from the body, society is seeing a shift in views away from this conventional approach. The conventional approach places rationality at “the centre of human being and, consequently, distrusts emotion” (Barbalet, 1998). This is reflected in Disney’s 1945 film, where emotions are shown to be a disruption, with reason acting as a strong driving force for an individuals actions. Emotion was depicted to be wild and immature, dressed in Tarzan like clothing, opposed to reason, showing an educated and responsible looking character. These portrayals represent the importance placed on reason, with the expectation that emotion will follow and let reason take control. These views however, are becoming out-dated, as replicated in the 2015 Disney film, which shows how emotions are intrinsically connected and equal, cooperating with each other to achieve a goal. Thus, a shift of societal views is reflected, exposing the radical and critical approaches, which consider the contribution of emotions to rational action.

    Whilst at times reason can be a dominant force in decision-making, emotions cannot be overlooked, playing a significant role in our actions. I therefore am in strong support of these later approaches, viewing emotions and reason as intertwined. These can be shaped by external forces and change over time, differing with each individual. Emotion should be used to inform reason, and teach individuals what is accepted according to society’s expectations, through perception.

  7. Today, our understanding of the mind and body has developed and is continuing to do so. This being said, many continue to believe that emotions cloud rational judgement and are therefore a separate and inferior entity to the mind.

    This is most certainly the case in Disney’s 1943 portrayal of the mind and body split. A personified emotion and reason are seen to fight for control of the human body, representing the irrational influence that emotion has upon reasonable thinking. In Disney’s more recent 2015 film, ‘Inside Out’ on the other hand, emotion does not simply take over the body of the protagonist Riley, but rather contributes feelings which assist rational thinking.

    Personally, this more recent film makes the most sense to me as it represents a modern approach to the mind and body working as one collective rather than being separated. It also heavily resonates with Simone Schnall’s research which proves that that our internal judgement of the world around us is affected by bodily feelings, as demonstrated in her TED Talk ‘How your bodily state affects your perception’.

    I, like Maddison agree with Jack Barbalet (1998) when he says that the “opposition between emotion and reason persists because of the cultural discounting of background emotions, which are rarely acknowledged.” In my opinion, western culture should recognise that thoughts are not entirely separate from the body, but work together in accordance with the body and its feelings.

  8. “Joy, Sadness, and the core memories that let Riley develop her personality are thrown out of headquarters and into the wilderness of her mind”. (http://www.cinemablend.com/new/6th-Inside-Out-Emotion-Got-Cut-From-Movie-72055.html)
    I think that there is truth to this. We are products of our environment, some memories can through people out. If our thoughts get too caught up in say sad memories then our emotions can take over. We need a happy medium.
    #S327UOW17 #Tut2 #Thurs1030

  9. The conventional approach to the Mind and body see them as two separate entities. Rather I would agree with the radical approach and understand them as “distinct names for aspects of a continuous process” (Barbalet p.45). The comparison in Disney’s 1948 animation depicts emotion as disruptive, a nuisance causing disasters for that of the animation. The 2015 production produces a perspective valuing emotions a lot more. However there still is societal thought, still to this day, which values the mind over feelings. We place a bigger emphasis on the mind compared to emotions and continuously deem feelings as something inferior or weak. Even today our cultural ideologies present women as emotionally uncontrollable and men who express their feelings as somewhat inadequate. A complete cultural and social shift in thought would help in understanding the mind and body as intertwined, working in conjunction with one another.

  10. The conventional approach to the Mind and body see them as two separate entities. Rather I would agree with the radical approach and understand them as “distinct names for aspects of a continuous process” (Barbalet p.45). The comparison in Disney’s 1948 animation depicts emotion as disruptive, a nuisance causing disasters for that of the animation. The 2015 production produces a perspective valuing emotions a lot more. However there still is societal thought, still to this day, which values the mind over feelings. We place a bigger emphasis on the mind compared to emotions and continuously deem feelings as something inferior or weak. Even today our cultural ideologies present women as emotionally uncontrollable and men who express their feelings as somewhat inadequate. A complete cultural and social shift in thought would help in understanding the mind and body as intertwined, working in conjunction with one another.

  11. Reason and emotion within todays society are very much both needed equally for us to function. Our emotions cause our actions and those actions have consequences, those consequences then lead to an emotion which in turn leads to a thought, should we actually do that action. Of course in todays society there are those who may or do not think before acting and the consequences of those such actions have a bigger, almost rippling effect with in our society. In Disney’s 1943 film it shows reason being ruled a majority of the time by emotion almost taking over at times. It also depicts the weakness of emotion and how using fear, sympathy, pride and hate can get someone what that what. This is defiantly something that happen far to often in our society today. Especially with in our mass media and politics. Take Terrorism for example, the emotion of fear has been used in a way that now sees our society very apprehensive of this culture. but reason tells us that not all ethnic groups are terrorists. But does this stop us from judging?

  12. I believe that emotion and reason can literally affect each other and they cannot be separated. The understanding of human social development can give us insight into the roots of human behaviour. The human being has evolved to think, to argue and to discover. Humans tend to act more rationally than emotionally. As shown in Disney’s 1943 film, “Reason and Emotion”, the humans experience troubles when they make decisions based on their emotions, consequently the main character tries to suppress his emotions. However, he cannot completely put his emotions away. As Simone Schnall explained at her TEDx talk, human emotions do influence action, but most individuals might not be aware of this. She clearly demonstrated this through an example; if two groups of people stand in front of a steep hill and one group thinks about a very supportive person in their life and the other group thinks about a supportive person that had disappointed them, the two groups will see the hill in front of them from a totally different perspective. The first group will see a less steeper hill than the second group. Interestingly, both groups believe that their own view is the true reflection of reality. They do not understand or perceive how their emotions influence their reasoning. Barbalet (1998) states that even rationality cannot move on without a little bit of emotional interference. This statement supports my view that the conflict between emotion and reason is not valid, as the two cannot be separated.
    #S327UOW17 #Tut2 #Thu1030

  13. The ‘Inside Out’ example made more sense to be as it explains how logic as an emotion could have disrupted the other emotions and how they responded. It states “you don’t choose whether you feel fearful or anger, it just kinda comes to you. What you do with that then is your choice.” Our thoughts, talking in relation to the body and mind split work individually as two different functions, but I believe together they provide to function as a harmony inside us.

    #S327UOW17 #Tut2 #Thurs1030

  14. Barbalet analyses Weber’s notion of rationality, explaining rational action as ‘that which follows from the actor’s own deliberative considerations’. I wonder then how this theory holds true when the rational action predicated on rational thought does not work out as intended. Think of a scenario where someone ‘appears’ to need help. According to Simone Schnall, each of us will perceive this situation differently; therefore, what each of us may consider the objective reality of this situation is actually our own subjective interpretation of the situation. Maybe the elderly lady who appears to need help crossing the road had already crossed the road. She is standing at the curb, looking around and appears distressed. She has a walking stick, two bags of groceries and looks to be about 90. Using the visualisation exercise Schnall did with her audience, consider two people are observing this scenario; one has a grandmother who does yoga and rides a motorbike, the other has a family history of dementia on her mum’s side. Each person draws on their own experiences (and all of the thinking and feeling and reasoning that came with them) to assess the reality of the situation and whether or not to take action. Given all of this, I think my body IS my thoughts, feelings AND actions. And ‘logic’ no longer seems very logical!

  15. The ‘Inside Out’ (2015) example resonates more with me as I feel it is a more accurate representation. I would suggest that the five emotions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness and joy) are first tier emotions. From these, more emotions stem out of each one – for example, irritation could stem out of anger and excitement could stem out of joy. I think they were right to leave out logic due to the impact it could have had on the emotions and sequence of events. Logic/reason is often absent when raw emotions are involved and I think leaving it out of the top 5 is a comment on that.

    Extending on this, is the body actually inferior to mind? What about body language? I believe that mind and body are equal as they both have the potential to reflect our state of emotions.

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