What is an emotion?

William James wrote: “our feeling of [bodily changes] as they occur IS the emotion.”

Do you think the emotion is physiological in its origin or just logical? This is one of many questions I seek to answer in my study of emotion/s. I think that physiological response related to emotion is a byproduct of emotion and separately that shock is not an emotion thereby making a separation for the potential to many physiological responses two of which would be:

  1. Shock physiological response.
  2. Emotional physiological response.

I also make a distinction between physical hurt and emotional hurt, and suggest that emotional hurt can follow physical hurt(just not immediately) a short time after. My ultimate suggestion is that emotions are a result of things that do not make proper sense and some of this sense is predetermined and some of this sense is not predetermined. Physiological sense is mostly predetermined and logical sense is not predetermined(at least at the time of birth).


Aaron … perhaps you are putting the cart before the horse … ergo … we know the manifestation of emotion(s) … the source(s) is largely a mystery.

I propose emotions experienced by all living organisms emanate from the same fountain.

Much like a TV broadcast … produced in a tiny space and time … yet … disseminated in many cases today to a worldwide audience in many languages and with a long shelf life. A TV broadcast covering some horrific event is received with glee by some … with heart wrenching by others … with indifference by most.

Today’s technology echoes this concept … cloud computing may be a manifestation of Theillard’s Noosphere.

thoughtsofamisfit.weebly.com/clo … uting.html

“What is an emotion?”

Emotions are a fluid energy source…a life perpetuating energy source that is the foundation upon which all thoughts are inspired ie. I believe that emotions supercede thoughts as a baseline of being conscious. First there is an emotion, one which a mind may not yet be aware of until it is amplified with reactionary thoughts that point to its existence. Thoughts amplify emotions, not the other way around. You feel, you think, then you act further, rinse and repeat.

Perhaps emotions are communicative beyond our interior world, beyond our external material world…they may be primal order itself for that is obvious when our emotions speak to us of imbalances inside of us as well as around us.

How can I harness this power (it is raw power) in beneficial ways, not curbing it at all, but channeling its potential to influence all spheres of being positively?


That is not necessarily true though there are times when our emotions may crop up when we do not have a sense where they came from. Something from without triggers something from within. It is like they come from out of the blue.

But there are also times when we are quite aware of what has stimulated our emotions. We can put a name to these catalysts and describe why it is we are feeling them.

But again, perhaps what you are saying is that there are times when emotions crop up as a result of events which to us have no meaning. We can find no explanation for - as in terrorist acts. Of course, after the fact we can kind of understand the whys and the wherefores - the only thing is that these things make no sense to us.

How about
emotions being time/space motions of reflections/projections


Thank you for responding - I want you to keep in mind that I am not following one particular thread of thought here regarding emotions. So do not be turned off by my response. There exists that which connects everything in life and it is what we have called the universe or some derivative notion or maybe some super notion.

I am an explorer - an explorer with some ideas of my own that I am happy to share - a little friendly debating thrown in on top and voila.

May we discover something . . .

I will never have a problem putting the cart before the horse - this is often how new things are discovered - we can only reach the truth by avoiding falsehood. Do we really know the manifestation of emotion/s and are their source/s largely a mystery? I could answer this question myself but I am more interested in what you have to say on the topic pilgrim-seeker_tom.

I will not necessarily deny this as my research is taking me in all sorts of directions - there is a saying that emotions are in the world not in the mind.

Yes, I perceive this like a butterfly effect with some segregation . . . hence why I like the emotion is in the world notion.

I believe you are correct to an extent - perhaps I should read the suggested article as I have no idea what Theillard’s Noosphere is.

thoughtsofamisfit.weebly.com/clo … uting.html

I truly welcome your thoughts on this that I say pilgrim-seeker_tom and like I said, don’t be turned off by my responses - we would be missing an opportunity.

Still, I like to dig deep on this kind of stuff.



I have no super profound input yet - I am only getting started and I am a noob . . .

Rinse and repeat . . . hmm . . . yep I like it. I have been following a logical course for the most part but let us run with this to make sense from an angle that I believe capable of rooting out and stomping on some of the complexities of such a subject. So if we follow a fluid energy source we are still to take into account to differing affects as Tom explained above yet I can go with the fluid energy because it is apparent that when emotionally afflicted we go on to afflict and hence a continuum. As a life perpetuating energy source that is the foundation upon which all thoughts are inspired - I think we are on to something here WendyDarling for what is purpose that is not based upon emotion but simple reasoning. I am willing to debate some of what we have here and on the other hand run with some of it into AD’s post. This presents to me some metal gymnastics - perhaps welcome in my current state of mind.

I am glad you say that the mind might not be initially aware of the looming state until it is amplified through a reactionary thoughts that points to it’s existence.

Makes me wonder: is there a way to impede emotions? As opposed to amplify.

I am impressed by what you have written WendyDarling - truly I am - it follows a significant portion and in turn will prop up some of my research - thank you for introducing me a while back to your line of thought - it has proved useful. I think females are more capable of helping one to get to the bottom of the emotion conundrum that has plagued mankind for millennia. I should perhaps restrain myself here a little as we should not discount the males ability toward logic but logic can get us lost at times, as you yourself have pointed out, infinitely. To your comment in the quote - I have followed a similar but not same course in my meaning thread as to a fluidic medium that meaning may be - see my quote from gib in my signature. Primal order then is something that I have become deeply interested in and this is evident in my explorations with James. What is primal order? There can be no real starting point from what I discern - these points seem to be a trickery of the mind, a wishful thinking on the part of man himself. Do you really think it is possible to maintain a balance? I have said a few times at ILP, balance is an illusion - a mathematical trick of the instant.

This power can be harnessed I believe - even when not in a balance - even in beneficial ways - we would have to work out how it is to be impeded before answering the curbing situation ^^ See above ^^ but channeling its potential to influence all spheres of being positively << I am willing to explore this further.

Let me come back to this further - I will first see how my next response pans out . . .

Arcturus Descending

I will confess up front that I am going to be exploring from many different angles . . .

If I am to follow the fluidic notion that WendyDarling presents and I am not mistaken it seems as though there are two votes pertaining to a very similar concept.

My question to you >> does the emotion start outside of us? Be cautioned it is a trick question - so do not think too hard to answer.

To say that we are at times aware does make sense to me >> further the stimulus must always be a result of something that originated in the surrounding universe. Can you provide me an example of an event that has taken place in your life that has originated outside of your consciousness that has made you feel emotionally affected - I suggest all events.

As mentioned in my sig - - - the point remains that you can’t get at that meaning before grasping the surface meaning, which is to say there is always meaning.

You need to first grasp the surface of what I am pointing at - good luck . . . :wink:


Such a large amount of information potentially contained within such a small post.

Sure, can you give me something to read that elaborates?

Time and space from my point of view is continuous . . . reflections to me are about looking back and projections are about looking forward and the two can be perhaps switched - confusing? Perhaps . . . motion is infinitely continuous even from a calculus standpoint but for me in both directions.

Emotion to be motion then the emotion is continuous, suggesting something similar but not exactly the same to what Wendy has suggested - why does this suggest externalism to me? Rhetoric implied . . .

You have whet my appetite now :smiley:

If you are asking if our particular reflections and musings can lead us into the flow of emotions, sure they can ~~ whether they are positive or negative emotions. The universe and everything around us is capable of affecting us. I am not sure if there is any time when we are not being affected - sometimes it may simply be subtle.

As for the projections, I think that the same goes. Certain outward things trigger our emotional life - projections I think come about from suppressed or repressed inner realities which we have not yet brought to the foreground ~~ they lay in our unconscious or semi-conscious minds.


Why confess? Is this not what philosophers ought to do ~~ explore a thing from different angles?
Nietzsche would be proud of you, Mr. List. :evilfun:

Now you know that it is not a good idea to tell the likes of me to NOT think too hard. Take that any way you desire.

Maybe you need to define what YOU mean by “outside of us”.

The way I look at it, at least for now, :mrgreen: our emotions are within. What may affect us can be from within and without - either things and emotions not properly dealt. I look up at the stars, they are without, but they cause different emotions to rise up within me.
Some wave of emotion might be triggered within me from perhaps a dream (within) which I may have due to not having resolved something or other from within.

As for the first part, I certainly hope so ~~ perhaps more often than *at times".
As for the second part, sure, considering that we can also look upon ourselves as being something (beings) who originated in the surrounding universe and still exist there.

Can something, in actuality, come from nothing? I think not and perhaps there is more in that so-called nothingness than we know of as of yet. What does physics now show? We’ll forget about that.

We are always being affected, even as we dream and even when we do not dream. A good sleep affects our mental and physical health.
Is there a moment when nothing actually affects us? :-k
Can we even, in actuality, say that when we are simply being, existing in or out of time, for instance, contemplating, depending how one considers it, that we are not being affected by something? I think not.
We are still observing even on a subs conscious level. What are our atoms attending to in those moments?

First a question here. Wouldn’t you say that an event which so affects us would also be within our consciousness, not outside of it?
lol You suggest all events. Do you mean to ask me to list all events? I am joking.
Yes, I would suggest that all events do have some effect on us. They are measured by degrees and by importance though.

Okay I will strip myself naked here. lol The one which has affected me the most took place when I was a wee bit of a girl when I thought that I had been abandoned, was being abandoned by my father, who, as it was, turned out NOT to be my actual father which has no bearing here since to me he was at the time, my Daddy.
For all extents and purposes, that little girl had been abandoned by her Daddy, both outside of and within her consciousness, at the same time.

No, not surface meaning. Way below surface meaning, where we live at our core. The deeper we go, the more the meaning, because there is where we get at the true cause.

I like to dive.

Arcturus Descending

Your post has led me to some interesting thoughts . . .

Within what is my question to you - within the brain? within the mind? within the consciousness? within what?

I have more to comment on here but I would be interested in your separate answer on this . . .

The way I look at it, within all three, the brain, the mind and one’s consciousness. They are inter-dependent. They are all related and affect each other.
It is like a flow and an ebb to me. All three are affected by our emotions and our emotions are also affected by the state of all three of them.
Those three can also affect the functions of the body within. The healthier we are mentally, the healthier our brains are, our bodies can be. If our brains, minds, consciousness are negatively affected by our emotions, and vica versa, the more unhealthy we may be physically and mentally.
The more unhealthy we are within our bodies, the more affected our brains, minds and consciousness are capable of becoming.

As the saying goes: “As above, so below” and vica versa.

So, not so much within then but affecting what is within?

We are speaking of emotions here. So, are you asking if our emotions are not so much within, but affecting what is within?

I would say that our emotions are within and that they also affect what is within when an outside catalyst acts upon them - as I said before.

I personally do not see how one can separate the human from his/her emotions whether they are active, lying dormant, negative positive or otherwise.

If someone is watching a person being emotional and acting on that, that still does not mean that the emotions are outside ~~ just that we can see the results of these emotions.

Of course, there can be the impersonal non-judgmental observations of the human mind and self upon its emotions but still, in my book, these emotions, whether positive or negative, are still within.

Do trees, oceans, buildings, stars, paintings, sculptures, ad continuum carry emotions within? If you say yes, proof it to me.


Why do you say this?

Have you never had the experience of our emotions giving way to negative thoughts? Some may call them ANTS or Automatic Negative Thoughts.

In my book, emotions do amplify thoughts - it may happen in the now or these emotions may prey on thoughts to the tipping point where they (Ts) may rise up/surge, become unfortunately more powerful taking over the human being, where there is no Will or rational thought left but just the thought, so Loud, that nothing reasonable and normal can enter in.

They feed on one another and it is not a happy result. Look at the world.

That’s the order of conscious engagement I experience, my baseline is made up of emotions that are not always recognizable to me at any given time until a thought exposes them by trying to influence them. My emotions muddy my thoughts, not the other way around. I don’t deny that there is play between emotions and thoughts affecting one another, I’m simply stating that thoughts do not register without an emotional impetus whether we understand that impetus is another story. Often, when emotions pool under the surface of our daily experiences, we will not understand why we feel the way we do and our thoughts will at times be counter productive or moot in regards to figuring out the state we’re in, for those thoughts did not inspire our underlying feelings ie. the thoughts don’t jibe with our baseline emotions which may be called negatively angst or positively hopefulness.

Am I making sense here…at all?

Here is a model that I am working with where mind is a separate thing to brain, emotion and reality. The mind, in red, is bound to reality, logic and emotion. Logic is in what we commonly refer to as grey matter(even though it is more complicated than this). Our mind is connected to the brain through imagination and thinking. Most of the functions of the brain are memory based. Emotion seems to present a problem to memory based architecture.

We do not always feel the same set of emotions which tells me that while there is a problem with memory based emotion because of flow that the emotions are still outside of the mind. This is just for starters - there are all sorts of problems with the logic of emotions.


I sense that we actually agree on a lot of things in an around about way - just that we have different ways of describing what it is that is in our respective heads.

Thoughts to me are a part of how the mind works - that is how the mind and the brain interface - a thought requires a memory state to function - this memory state is a complex state that is made up of many memories - imagination it seems is an ongoing process that can be interrupted by intention - in this case your baseline, I would imagine is made up of a complex memory state and your conscious state(which is ever changing). Now I have shortened the process here a little but if I were to expand then it would seem that each person is a universe unto their own.

Where emotions fit into this baseline is difficult to nail down because we don’t seem to remember the emotion as it was - we remember perhaps its essence of what it was for want of better words to help me explain. They are not recognizable because there is an energy build up based on states and some emotions are in the world with their own strategic agendas(perhaps going off track now). Emotions muddy your thoughts because you can release a new energy state into the mix based on old emotions.

I am glad to hear this and what you state is true it seems - but how do we explain it or elaborate on it - it being the emotional impetus. I do not believe we understand that impetus the way we would like to because it never matches our rational states or the states we would prefer to be in and these states are numerous.

It is funny how we keep thinking of an ideal state when if we were to be honest there are many states that we would choose from.

I am not sure whether it is the emotions that are pooling or it is the mood that pools - emotions are more like a stone being thrown into that pool that ripple the pools surface and sink to the bottom of that pool that we call mood. The combined set of emotions are perhaps the mood at any given moment and I think that more goes into the mood than just emotions alone. If you were to reword what you have to account for mood then I totally agree with what you are saying.

You are making perfect sense by the way - I figured it would be a woman who would make sense of this and so far so good.

Emotion is one of the hardest things for a man to put into words - I think it has to do with culture more than anything though. I feel the man is also capable of expressing what emotion is just that he is tainted through some bullshit cultural components that we could all do without.

Am I making sense here…at all?

I will begin with your question - yes, Wendy, you are making sense.

Unless I am not comprehending your deeper meaning here, it would appear to me that you are agreeing with me that emotions affect thought just as much as thoughts affect emotion…well, perhaps not just as much. That might depend on the individual. That would be my human experience. Emotions do have a way of fogging up our so-called lenses of perception.

I kind of look at the dynamic between thought and emotion as a teeter totter. When all is well and still, the teeter totter is in balance, equilibrium has been achieved. Otherwise, one rules the other - depending on your perspective. Higher or lower could be both more negative or more positive - if that made sense.

I think that there is a guide here. It is somewhere below the conscious level where that little Buddha (I will call it) sits by the river in stillness until it sees and hears the river’s agitation and churning.
It is capable of making itself known through intuition or in this case through sensing and observing things which we are not quite aware of or deeply aware of in our conscious level. I think that it comes to people who are more aware and pay closer attention on that level. It is capable of whispering to us “Be Still”. It stands between thought and emotion, soothingly whispering “Shhhhhhh”.

Perhaps if we can often imagine and place ourselves as the little Buddhas deep within who are sitting by that river unaffected or unprovoked by that which lies above or around, we can even without commanding it to, affect the river’s movement back to stillness.

Listen to the Buddha’s Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I wonder just how much that answered the question - what is an emotion? lol