Do we need emotions?

Do we need emotions?

This human experience its literally like a vessel of emotions, a container of emotions. Emotions mess up everything? Do we really need emotions?

Many philosophers, academic and psychologist throughout history have had an opinion about this. Like Plato who said that reason is the predominant factor in human experience and emotions are lower in the hierarchy.

He described it in The Allegory of the Chariot. Plato describes the mortal horse as a

“crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow…of a dark color, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur.”

This horse represents the body. The second one is:

“upright and cleanly made…his color is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only.”

This horse represents the mind.

And the charioteer is in search for heaven. He beholds the essence of beauty, wisdom, courage, justice, goodness, truth and absolute knowledge. He represents the soul.


Paul and Anne Kleinginna have expanded this understanding to this statement.

“The emotion is a complex set of interactions among subjective and objective factors, mediated by neural/hormonal systems, which can:

give rise to affective experiences such as feelings of arousal, pleasure/displeasure

generate cognitive processes such as emotionally relevant perceptual effects, appraisals, labeling processes

activate widespread physiological adjustments to the arousing conditions

lead to behavior that is often, but not always, expressive, goal directed, and adaptive.”

Paul and Anne Kleinginna

Moreover, the goal of an emotions and its activation is for the individual to adapt to the constantly changing environment. Imagine just for one second if we wouldn’t have at the beginning of the existence of human life for any agent that can mediate between us and the environment. What would have happened? We wouldn’t have adapted. And categorically perished altogether.

Emotions are crucial to survival through adaptation. Emotions give us continuity.

Foto de Kira Louw en Pexels


Thanks to the advances of neuroscience now we can pinpoint emotions to specific areas of the brain. The emotion that has been the most studies is fear, thanks to brain scans we now know that the amygdala in the brain is a important participant in fear activation. Now we know that a lesion or damage on the amygdala create emotional problems.

Cognitive aspect

Other authors have debated about the cognitive aspect of emotions. Do they help us make decisions? Can emotions generate motivation? How do they help in relationships?

Magda Arnold explains how the evaluation of the environment is key for the emerging of the emotion. Is the way that emotions force us to scan and analyze the environment to determine if there are any dangers around. Scan, evaluate and decide the best coping action to engage.

Emotional Intelligence

In 1990 was first used the term “Emotional Intelligence”. In 1995 Daniel Goleman made it famous writing several book about the subject. He describes it as 4 fundamental pillars:

Self-awareness, perception

Self-management, facilitation

Empathy, comprehension

Skilled relationships, regulation.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel explains that emotions are here for us to use them and manage the outcome of them. To use them optimally and adaptively.

In conclusion, I am a big fan of emotions, I know what they can teach, and the evolution that my mind, body has experienced until now. Nevertheless, I want to motivate you to listen to your emotions more they have something valuable to tell you.

Check here my Youtube Channel where I talk all about emotions.

If you enjoyed this article check here about What is love.

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