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Theory of Knowledge: Emotion

Lesson 1


Everybody has emotions. Are they an obstacle (a filter) to or source

(a lens) of knowledge? Emotions are important to everybody and
affect our decision-making. Some people believe emotions are more
important than reason. Are emotions reasonable? Is there, or should
there be a balance between reason and emotion?


• to introduce the above concepts to students

• to introduce some theoretical concepts which will be expanded in
this section on knowledge.


1. to examine whether some emotional responses are similar for

most people
2. to appreciate how emotions influence our reactions to situations
3. to examine what causes different emotional responses
4. to recognise how emotion can be a source of knowledge
5. to recognise how emotion can be an obstacle to knowledge


Activity 1:

As students enter the class slowly show powerpoint of slides called

“Group Emotional Reponse”. Say nothing. At the end ask students
what they felt. Hopefully the group will have felt similar emotions.
Disgust for the first 3 slides. Peacefulness or happiness for the last 3
slides. (Emphasise Obective 1) People, like politicians, journalists,
parents, rely on the people they want to influence, to feel a certain

Activity 2:

Students choose a partner. Give an “Emotions Dialogue” to each

student. The “Server” in the pair is given a piece of paper (see Six
Basic Emotions cards) with an emotion on it. They keep this secret.
Later, they must act as if they have that emotion, while the
“Customer” acts normally. Students read the dialogue and practice
alone for a few minutes. Without saying which emotion is being shown,
choose at least 6 pairs, one for each emotion, to perform in front of
the class. The class has to identify the emotion being shown. There are
6 primary emotions, hopefully represented here: anger; sadness; fear;
surprise; disgust; and happiness. The customer must say how they
felt. (Emphasise Objective 2)

Activity 3:

Answer the Emotions questionnaire individually, then discuss as a

(Emphasise Objective 3)

Activity 4:

Briefly introduce the concepts of:

• James-Lange Theory
• The role of beliefs
• Emotional Energy

(Described on pp 148-150 of Lagemaat)

(Emphasise Objective 3)

Activity 5:

Introduce the concepts that emotions can be an obstacle to and a

source of knowledge:

Discuss how emotions can be an obstacle (filter) to knowledge

- how do they distort perception, reason and language?
- think of situations where this is true and why.
- rationalisations
- irrational behaviour

Discuss how emotions can be a source (lens) of knowledge

- they help narrow down our choices
- people without emotions or with too many emotions are
seen as “abnormal”
- emotions are often rational
- intuition
- reason-emotion continuum

(Described on pp 151-158 of Lagemaat)

(Emphasise Objectives 4 and 5)


Are emotions a lens or a filter when it comes to ways of knowing and

areas of knowledge?

(questions for discussion or journals on p168 of Lagemaat)


How emotionally intelligent are you? Do this quiz:

Brigette van Dorsselaer