The Theory Of Human Emotion

1561 WordsFeb 14, 20177 Pages
Human emotion is often defined as the enemy of pure reason and logic as it may inhibit rational decision-making. Though emotions can seem to limit logical reason at times, emotions only transform reason in different ways. Voltaire in his book, Candide, mocks this inevitable combination of emotion and reason, while Rousseau in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality criticizes it for its effects on society. Human sentiments do not simply impede, but rather they change human reasoning in what that may be ridiculous and even destructive ways, but whether the combination is to be satirized or criticized it is still a defining part of humanity. The ideal of pure logical reasoning without influence from emotion is just that, an ideal. Humans are…show more content…
This ideal of emotionless reason is therefore unreachable and unrealistic. It is emotions that Rousseau defines as egocentrism and greed which lead to the bad and those are the emotions he implores people to separate from reason. However, other emotions such as compassion or pity could possibly transform reason in ways beneficial to other humans. Not all emotions are classified as destructive in Rousseau argument. The idea that pity is the emotion that “is a natural sentiment, which, by moderating in each individual the activity of the love of oneself, contributes to the mutual preservation of the entire species” (Rousseau 38). By this definition humans should strive to have more pity for others and in equal measure with concern for oneself to better society. Therefore, the combination of the right kind of emotion, such as pity, combined with the natural reason that is inherent in humans is the basis for humanity in a modern era. A state of pure reason cannot be returned to as the definition of humanity has changed to include human sentiment as natural and even necessary. 3 Human sentiment influencing reason is inevitable and the combinations of the two can be ridiculous or destructive, but they are still a defining part of human nature. Voltaire’s mockery of human nature and human sentiment takes many forms in his work, Candide. The characters of Pangloss and Martin
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