Emotion: Cultural Aspects

The relationship between emotions and culture has been discussed ever since there was interest in what it means to be human, and since then that relationship has been contrastingly characterized as either inimical or reconcilable. Culture can be understood as the defining values, meanings, and thoughts of a local, national, or supranational community. When emotions are conceived in terms of psychological feelings and physical sensations, then they appear inimical to culture. This is because such a perspective suggests the involuntary nature and disorganizing consequence of emotions. The opposition between cognition as reason and emotion, implicit in this representation, is classically defended in Plato’s critique of dramatic poetry in the Republic. Plato’s supposition that emotion is pleasure or pain dissociated from thought or knowledge was correct, however, by Aristotle’s more comprehensive appreciation of emotion as not merely physical but also cognitive, in which culture and emotions are reconciled.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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