Thought is encoded information.
Emotion is a response to what that information means (i.e. – whether that information has a valence of good/bad or desirable/undesirable to a person, in the greater context of their life). The body’s response to that meaning is expressed through the physical sensation of feeling.
You can think all you want about something, but it’s the motivation, or emotion, that gets you moving and mobilizes you to actually do something.
Likewise, you can’t feel without having a thought or a reflex-like semblance of one (e.g. – you see a snake from the corner of your eye and you jump back in fear before you can register consciously what happened).* This is because emotional reactions are built upon your framework for thinking, your belief systems, and assumptions about how the world operates.
But, you say…emotions are irrational, illogical, lesser, imperfect. (Just ask any Vulcan, and he’ll tell you!)
Well, it depends on how you define these christened terms. If you mean, strictly logical with no value assigned to that information, then yes, emotions are irrational.
But that’s not what these words mean when tossed around in everyday language. They’re supposed to mean the exact opposite of the antagonizing “passions” (emotions) as Aristotle used to call them.
Which is illogical in itself, as affective science continues to reveal how emotional reactions are underpinned by reason-respecting circuits—the two can’t be opposites because they depend upon each other in the brain.
So emotions are in fact reason-respecting, logical in that they follow a person’s thought processes, belief systems, and assumptive networks about the world.
Whew, that’s a relief! All this centuries-old denunciation of the emotional self as being lesser than the rational self is totally unfounded by our current science.
Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to what we are feeling, in order to find out what thoughts and belief systems lay behind them, lodged in our subconscious.
And to start asking ourselves if those thoughts and belief systems are in fact rational, logical, good for health, and in our best interests.
What do you think?
*This is not including feelings which may be generated in response to electrical stimulation of the brain done in a lab.