It’s interesting to discuss emotion in a “Way of Knowing” TOK context given that it seems all experience is mitigated by emotion.

Thought experiment: Imagine a human void of emotion. None.  Is that person still human?  Why or why not?

Below is a document that will serve as your formal psychological primer on emotion:


 As the quotes in the above PDF indicate, emotion has a strong sway over our thoughts and behaviors!  It’s not wonder we’re studying it in TOK! 

Emotion can serve as both an OBSTACLE to knowledge and a SOURCE of knowledge

Emotion can serve as an OBSTACLE to knowledge in the following ways: 

  1. Perception
  2. Reason
  3. Language

**Let’s discuss some ways in which emotion impedes the above WOKs**

Emotions as a SOURCE of Knowledge.  Analyzing emotion as a source of knowledge is more tricky because it’s hard to separate ourselves from emotions because they’re so central to our everyday lives!  An easy way to view emotions as a source of knowledge is through the lens of MOTIVATION.  What do our emotions compel us towards? 


As we’ve discussed, EMOTION can affect our REASONING.  Emotion can often impede our ability to reason accurately and justly. I love this example from our text regarding rationalization from Aesop’s Fables: 

A famished fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: “the grapes are sour, and not as ripe as I thought.” 

People often do things that are emotionally based but “unreasonable.” Rather than admit our folly, we come up with RATIONALIZATIONS to legitimize our foolish choice/behavior/thinking. 

Download the Learning Helper below and work through it to become more fluent in the phenomena of rationalization while simultaneously becoming aware of some of your own! 

Rationalizations Examined

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