Why Does Sartre Say That Our Emotions Are Transformations of the World

888 Words Dec 28th, 2008 4 Pages
In this essay, I will attempt to explain why Sartre argues that emotions are transformations of the world in his book, “A sketch for the Theory of the Emotions”. According to Sartre, an emotion is a response to a situation, an interaction with the world. Emotions control the way we act under certain circumstances and in certain situations, which is our behaviour, and we feel like we have no control. However, although we blame our behaviour on our emotions (“I hit that man because I was angry”) Sartre argues that we are actively in control of our emotions. But emotions need stimuli to occur, they do not just happen. We may be control of our emotions, but an event or situation is still the reason we feel emotions. As I will show in this …show more content…
From experience, I know that feeling disgusted isn’t pleasant, so I transform my world to feel better.

“Magic is based on a specific experience of emotional states which man observes not nature but himself, in which the truth is revealed not by reason but by the play of emotion upon the human organism.”

This means that “the truth”, or “reality” in a person’s perspective, is perceived by the emotional affect upon a person’s mind, and it is not necessarily the actual reality of the world, so the world has been changed, albeit “magically”. The “truth” of a reality is not true at all; it is a projection of the emotional state of a consciousness. A person’s emotions take over at this point, as because I can’t reach the grapes, my emotions of disappointment and disgust are projected onto the grapes. In the “true” reality, the grapes are probably absolutely fine, but because I can’t reach them and because I am in such an emotional state makes me believe they will taste bad, and so I don’t require proof. Controlled or not, emotions reside over my behaviour.

Another example that Sartre uses to explain how our emotions transform the world is fear and fainting. In some situations, for example when fear or terror takes hold of the mind, a person will faint. If a man was to point a gun at me, and I believe he has the intention of killing me, I would be so terrified that I would faint. Fainting does not help the situation at
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