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What is the relationship between emotion biases and critical thinking can they coexist

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Print Page Change Text Size: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, Winter, 1996. Some of the discussion is, in my view, superficial and misleading. In this paper, I shall focus on the problems inherent in the manner in which the idea of emotional intelligence is being conceptualized and presented.

The main questions I am concerned with are: Does it make sense to speak of emotions as being intelligent or not? If so, is there such a thing as "emotional intelligence? I shall argue that it does make sense to speak of emotions as being, in some given context or other, "intelligent" or not, and, consequently, that it does make sense to speak of emotional intelligence.

Once some preliminary distinctions are set out, I will focus on a conceptualization of the mind, its functions, and primary motivators, including a brief analysis of the relationship between thoughts, emotions and desires. I will then develop a critical analysis of the primary theoretical views of Goleman. Some Preliminary Distinctions What is intelligence? What is emotion or feeling? Given these understandings, how might "emotional intelligence" be provisionally conceptualized?

Most simply, emotional intelligence can reasonably be conceived as a measure of the degree to which a person successfully or unsuccessfully applies sound judgment and reasoning to situations in the process of determining emotional or feeling responses to those situations. It would entail, then, the bringing of cognitive intelligence to bear upon emotions. It would encompass both positive and negative emotions. It would be a measure of the extent to which our affective responses were "rationally" based.

A person with a high degree of emotional intelligence would be one who responded to situations with feeling states that "made good sense," given what was going on in those situations. Appropriately generated feeling states would serve as a motivation to pursue reasonable behavior or action. Emerging naturally out of "rational" emotions would be "rational" desires and "rational" behavior.

Now let us consider how critical thinking fits into this picture. What is critical thinking and how might it relate to "the bringing of intelligence to bear on emotions? Therefore I am likely to attack or flee. More on this point later. I shall argue that critical thinking cannot successfully direct our beliefs and actions unless it continually assesses not simply our cognitive abilities, but also our feeling or emotion states, as well as our implicit and explicit drives and agendas.

I shall argue, in other words, that critical thinking provides the crucial link between intelligence and emotions in the "emotionally intelligent" person.

Critical thinking, I believe, is the only plausible vehicle by means of which we could bring intelligence to bear upon our emotional life. It is critical thinking I shall argue, and critical thinking alone, which enables us to take active command of not only our thoughts, but our feelings, emotions, and desires as well.

It is critical thinking which provides us with the mental tools needed to explicitly understand how reasoning works, and how those tools can be used to take command of what we think, feel, desire, and do.

Major Problems Inherent in Goleman’s Work

Through critical thinking, as I understand it, we acquire a means of assessing and upgrading our ability to judge well. In enables us to go into virtually any situation and to figure out the logic of whatever is happening in that situation. It provides a way for us to learn from new experiences through the process of continual self-assessment.

  • It is often marked by rigid, inflexible habits of thought;
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Critical thinking, then, enables us to form sound beliefs and judgments, and in doing so, provides us with a basis for a "rational and reasonable" emotional life. When searching for the ingredients necessary for a highly rational life, it is therefore crucial not to underestimate the role of the affective dimension of mind. To engage in high quality reasoning, one must have not only the cognitive ability to do so, but the drive to do so as well.

One must feel the importance of doing so, and thus be driven to acquire command of the art of high quality reasoning. What is more, it is evident that to learn to solve problems effectively, one must have the desire to do so. One must be committed to it. Thus the affective dimension, comprised of feelings and volition, is a necessary condition and component of high quality reasoning and problem solving.

Every "defect" in emotion and drive creates a "defect" in thought and reason.

Intelligence on this view, then, presupposes and requires command of the affective dimension of mind. In short, the truly intelligent person is not a disembodied intellect functioning in an emotional wasteland, but a deeply committed mindful person, full of passion and high values, engaged in effective reasoning, sound judgment, and wise conduct.

A Practical Theory of Mind Given these foundational understandings, I will now provide a brief outline of my understanding of the mind and its functions.

Before I do so, I want to point out that this theory of mind, as I conceive it, is an intellectual one, serving an intellectual agenda, and is not intended to compete with a psychological theory of mind serving a psychological agenda or with any other theory of mind serving some alternative agenda.

I am ultimately concerned with developing a theory of mind that enables "ordinary" persons to effectively take charge of their thinking, intellectually speaking, and by that means to take charge of the quality of their lives. The human mind, as I understand it, is comprised, at minimum, of three basic functions: The cognitive component of the mind includes mental actions we traditionally link with "thinking" such as analyzing, comparing, assuming, inferring, questioning, contrasting, evaluating, etc.

The cognitive function is concerned with conceptualizing, reasoning, and figuring things out. The feeling or emotional function is that part of the mind which is our internal monitor, which informs us of how we are doing in any given situation or set of circumstances. It is our gauge for telling us whether we are doing well or poorly. Because we are emotionally complex, humans experience a broad array of emotions from happiness to sadness, from enthusiasm to depression, from joy to sorrow, from satisfaction to frustration, and so on.

The third function of the mind, our ultimate driving force, is the formation of volition or will. Within this function lie our agendas, purposes, goals, values, desires, drives, motivations and commitments. As our driving force, desires, volition, and play a key role in determining our behavior. These three basic mental functions, albeit theoretically distinct, operate in a dynamic relationship to each other, ever influencing one another in mutual and reciprocal ways.

Thus, although they serve different roles, they are concomitant. They function so intimately in our experience that it is only theoretically that we can regard them distinctively.

Wherever there is thinking, some related drive and feeling exist. Wherever there is feeling, some related thinking and drive can be found. Wherever there is drive, thinking and feeling are present in some form. Despite the fact that cognition, feeling and volition are equally important functions of the mind, it is cognition, or thinking, which is the key to the other two. If we want to change a feeling, we must identify the thinking that ultimately leads to the feeling.

If we want to change a desire, again it is the thinking underlying the drive that must be identified and altered--if our behavior is to alter. It is our thinking that, in the last analysis, leads us toward or away from some action, and in the last analysis sets us up for some given emotional evaluation of the situation. For example, if I THINK that the class structure I have designed for my students will enable them to thoroughly grasp the key concepts in the course, I will then experience an emotional evaluation of some kind when I try the structure out on my students.

Such motivation is based on my THINKING that classroom structures can always be improved and that to develop as a teacher involves continually reevaluating my class plans.

Two Contrary Tendencies of the Human Mind While the human mind inherently includes cognition, feelings, and drives as basic inter-influencing functions, the triad itself can be under the sway of two contrary tendencies of the human mind, the tendency of the mind to gravitate toward egocentrism, or the tendency of the mind to take into what is the relationship between emotion biases and critical thinking can they coexist a more comprehensive, and more "rational" view.

What do I mean by this? This fact is apparent when we observe the behavior of young children. These methods can be quite sophisticated, but are often still fundamentally egocentric or self-serving.

Throughout our lives, our own desires and narrow interests are typically in the foreground of our thinking. As we mature, we learn multiple ways to manipulate others, to influence or control others to get what we want. We even learn how to deceive ourselves as to the egocentrism of our behavior. We have no difficulty coming to conceptualize ourselves as fair-minded, empathetic, kind, generous, thoughtful, and considerate, as concerned, in short, with other persons.

We recognize that it is socially unacceptable to be blatantly egocentric. Nevertheless, that outward appearance of concern for others is often just that, an outward posture that enables us to think well of ourselves as we, in fact, pursue narrow selfish interests. Nevertheless, however egocentric we may in fact become, we have, in addition, a capacity to go beyond it.

Relationship between emotion biases and critical thinking

For example, we unfailingly recognize the destructiveness of the egocentrism of others when in their selfish pursuits they violate our rights or needs. We can all therefore conceive of the considerate, the fair-minded, the "rational" person. We all approve of non-egocentric thinking in others. The result is a kind of dualism in us: These two sides each can have a role in influencing our thoughts, feelings, and desires.

What is more, because we become facile self-deceivers, it is often not clear to us when we are acting in an egocentric manner. Think of the husband who controls his wife through threat of physical force, and who deceives himself into believing that such physical punishment is "for her own good. All of these are examples of egocentric thinking, thinking which is fundamentally driven by our selfish, self-validating desires. In the pursuit of self-preservation and self-interest, egocentric thinking has certain identifiable hallmarks.

It is often marked by rigid, inflexible habits of thought. Moreover, seeing the world in a self-serving way, it routinely distorts information and ignores relevant information when working through a problem or issue.

In other words it relates to the world according to an inherently self-validating structure, recognizing that which it wants to recognize and ignoring that which it finds "uncomfortable. Emotions that are commonly egocentric include defensiveness, irritability, arrogance, anger, apathy, indifference, alienation, resentment, and depression.

Critical Thinking and Emotional Intelligence

Of course, to determine whether a particular emotion is irrational or rational, one must look closely at the thinking that ultimately drives that emotion, not at the emotion in-and-of itself.

Tendencies Toward Rationality Although we often approach the world through irrational, egocentric tendencies, we are also capable, as I have suggested, of developing a "higher" sense of identity.

We are capable of becoming non-egocentric people, both intellectually and "morally. Moral concepts, in turn, exist, only because of the human capacity to conceive of responsibilities that by their very nature presuppose a transcendence of a narrow moral egocentrism.

At a minimum, then, I envision the human mind as utilizing its three basic functions thought, feeling, and desire as tools of either egocentric or non-egocentric tendencies, both intellectually and morally.

  1. What is the relationship between emotion biases and critical thinking can they coexist the relationship between critical thinking and ethics introduction critical thinking is essential to the success of every human activity, the quality of what we do in our daily lives depend on the.
  2. To develop our awareness of the nature of the human mind and how it functions we must be careful not to over-emphasize the importance of "brain" research.
  3. These methods can be quite sophisticated, but are often still fundamentally egocentric or self-serving. How do we account for cognition that is irrational, or unreasonable?

If I am correct, then, the human mind is easily "split" into contrary drives. However, the contrary drives that exist in people are not best understood as social stereotype often has it, between the "emotional" and the "intellectual.

Contradicting the Standard Stereotypes As you can see, the theory of mind I have been focused on is inconsistent with certain stereotypes and common misconceptions about the relationship between cognition and affect.