Emotion and Reason



Emotion and Reason









Tutor’s name

30th, July, 2012











Question 1

How do emotions function in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics’ conceptions of the good life?

Which approach, in your opinion, makes the most sense? Why

            A model advocated by Plato on emotion affirms that happiness is the vital element in human beings. Plato values the concept of emotion but regard beings not to act out of emotions. He argues that, one should utilize reasoning and logic to channel emotions to create a constructive thing that enhance truth facts. He gives an example of art that often create emotion response to the reader but fails to cause an effective reasoning. For instance, if a person is happy and he writes a poem about her state it will motivate the readers to respond to the same state though they were not before. Following this, emotions may only perpetuate if logic and reason do not exist. The emotions may build up too much and one may not understand the need of these emotions. With this in mind, Plato concludes that even destructive emotions can be positive if one employs reason and logic to enhance a deeper understanding along with truth. This is summed up by the three components of human mind which are desire, emotive, and reasoning parts.

            In his model, Aristotle believed that emotions are in split module but, centred by ethical standards that result to desirable emotions. In this context, the right emotions are established from the principle of living a moral life. While people with desirable morals have right emotions those with undesirable life are vice versa. Aristotle believes that morals must harmonise with emotions and when they are combined dictates the human functioning. In his view, when one has a pure reasoning, the more one has the right emotions briefed in three components spirit, appetite, and spirit.

            Lastly, Stoics’ conceptions of the good life regard that for one to achieve a true well-being one may require virtues which are not inborn but inherited. The stoic account constructs the concept that human beings are born with an awareness of themselves and environmental factors dictate the state of well-being. According to Stoic, virtues are the sole foundation of happiness and all beings are capable of achieving these virtue. Failure of comprehending what is good leads to desirable emotions such s grief and anger (Haidt & Baron, 1996).

            In my opinion, Plato concept makes the most sense in that he recognizes that emotions can be constructed. In great thoughts, he highlights how poets construct emotions to readers despite lacking the stated emotions. Indeed, destructive emotions can be positive if one employs reason and logic to create a deeper understanding. For instance, a murder may desire to undesirable act out of self gain but through logic and reason on what he would benefit may be a token it would create desirable emotions to him. This is what Plato defines as constructing emotions.

            Basically, the problematic aspect of Aristotle and the Stoics argument can be outlined on their concept that the more one has a pure life the more one has right emotions and the fact that environmental factors determines the state of being. In reality, Pluto proves that even destructive emotions can be positive if one use reason and logic to augments truth.










Question 2

Master-slave analogy has been one of the recurrent metaphors to describe the relationship between reason and emotion. For various eminent thinkers including Plato, Stoics and Kant, reason is ought to be the master of emotions or passions. Do you think that this analogy righty captures the relationship between reason and emotion? Why, why not? Discuss by using the relevant readings

In my opinion, Master-Slave fails to capture the relationship between emotion and reason as it highlights two propositions. First, it suggests that emotion and reason are separate entities and secondly, reason should rule emotions since it is the greater one. Before highlighting the approach of reason and emotion, we will briefly explore the concepts of different ancient philosophers. Although the relationship between reason and emotion is the subject in most philosophical debate, it assumed that emotions equal passions (Haidt & Baron, 1996).

For instance, Plato affirm that there is a strong relationship between reason and emotion in that they are three components of human mind which are desire, emotive, and reasoning parts. Following this, reason and emotions are not a separate entity since one utilizes reasoning and logic to channel emotions. Therefore, reasoning equal emotions for each determines the product of the other. Still, Aristotle assumed that morals should harmonise with emotions and when combined dictates the human functioning. Now, Aristotle proposes that reason and emotion are one entity since one has to have pure reasoning to have right emotions. This implies good thoughts and virtues augments positive reasoning that thereafter birth right emotions.

Lastly, Stoic argues that passion is a desire that dictates reason or soul movement. From his argument, every passion is a desire that births emotions and one may suppose that desire dictates emotions. This follows that, when people are in the state of passion, even when they are taught or realize one may not be distressed as tyranny controls their being. For Stoics, reason does not differ from passion and there is no dissent between the two concepts. Passion and reason offer an outline account of the expression of the well being revealed in emotions. The outcome is that when people embrace the right passion and reasoning it would result to desirable emotions such as happiness and joy.

Based on the above debate, it’s obvious that Master-Slave analogy fails to capture the exact association of emotion and reason as it assumes that they are separate entities and the latter rules the former because of its superiority. However, as stated by the above philosophers, it stands out that emotion and reason are not separate entities since both determine the effect of the other. For instance, right reasoning result to right emotions as well as good morals. Emotions are driven by passion and desire based on the concept that wrong actions birth undesirable thoughts that augments bad emotions such as anger, grief, and bitterness. Stoic doctrine creates insight that human beings are responsible for their reasoning state which indicates the strong will of character and will (Kant, 2008).

Master-salve analogy is therefore irrational for two reasons, one it states that reasons and emotions are separate entities and reason rule emotion. Master slave analogy makes emotions inferior whereas makes reason superior. The different interpretation between the two concepts raises concern on why the approach is not effective. According to Keyes and Haidt (Eds.), (2003), an individual’s behaviour and thought affects one emotion and vice versa thus the two concepts relates to each other.



Haidt, J. & Baron, J. (1996). Social roles and the moral judgement of acts and omissions. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26, 201-218

Kant, I. (2008). Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals. Retrieved from:             http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfbits/kgw1.pdf

Keyes, C. L. M., & Haidt, J. (Eds.) (2003). Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well        lived. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

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