It might be argued that history requires greater emotional contribution, to relate to the subject and try to empathise more with the previous populations thus gaining a deeper understanding. In history I am studying the Rule of Mao in China. I can read and understand and process the knowledge of how he treated people during the great leap forward and to some degree I can empathise with the suffering of the people at the time.
However someone who has gone though a similar type of situation or knows someone, close to them, who was there at the time will look at the information in a different way, and feel a stronger connection about it. They can relate more with the information and grasp in a more vivid manner the real impact of the situation. In my family no one has ever participated in any wars, thus hearing about what people went through shocks me, but I never truly experience the full impact of knowing how it really affected the people. Thus, it seems that the study of history demonstrates a stronger relationship between knowledge and emotion, than science.
But in the end History is a very analytical and factual subject does not depend on emotional involvement. Historians try their best to look at different interpretation and different ‘facts’, in order to be able to choose the most viable explanation reasoning through the information and establishing what seems likely and what seems unreal. The problem when processing history is that no one can say for sure what happened and why, one can only provide interpretations. Most historians try to remain emotionally distanced to make their interpretation more reliable. Reasoning is a very important tool in history; one has to be able to process all the different information to come up with our own argument, so once again one looks for patterns and continuity from the information.
When I was researching about the women’s uprising movement in the 19 century in the United States for my history course work, I had to do a lot of investigation since I had never done this topic. I looked for continuity of the information using dates and narrated events first. Then I investigated different interpretations in relation to the causes and value of the movement. One does need reasoning to try and understand why things happened, we do this by looking at the environment in the country and the causes behind the environment which influenced that event, linking trends together to try and justify people’s actions and reactions.
It can be argued that art also relays on reasoning. When painting or evaluating a painting there are already certain rules and patterns that have been established. When an object in a painting is bigger than the rest of the objects normally the artists is trying to emphasise that object. Using these established rules one can reason through the artist technique and try to understand the painting. Furthermore knowing the artist life does also contribute when trying to determine why the painter painted the painting.
When I try to understand the painting of Marilyn by Andy Warhol, at first I think that he used several colours to make his painting bright and vibrant. He used a famous character because at the time pop art was linked with celebrities and publicity brands such as Pepsi. I believe he painted Marilyn Monroe in different vivid colours to portray the different postures a person can have. I had to use previous background knowledge of the painter and the art period combined with the established art techniques to interpret the painting. This helps us understand the concept of the painting without needing a deep emotional assistance, relaying instead on reasoning through the art techniques and background knowledge of the painting.
Nevertheless one of the true characteristics of Art is it tries to appeal to peoples emotions. Some art pieces are very hard to reason with and sometimes if you reason to much they lose their charm. Art allows people to express themselves in a whole new level, portraying things in an unrealistic manner defying all the knowledge we have of what is right in the world. It appeals to people emotions and aims to shock them in one way or another. When you feel a certain emotion towards a painting it helps you create your own interpretation and understand the message that it sends across to you more effectively. When I look at the painting by El Greco,The Burial of the Count Orgaz, it is so divine and well painted that it captures my attention intensively.
It portrays the death of the Count Orgaz and creates what seems to be a perfect image of the death and the afterlife of the soul rising to heaven. It is a complicated painting to define the mood; it seems sad and gloomy but also happy and triumphant. It raises so many emotions from fear to relief, that it brings the painting to life. The figures in the painting itself portray different emotions, from sadness, happiness, anger. To truly understand those emotions one has to relate to them. Art depends a lot on the ability to feel something towards the paintings because most times the paintings are hard to categorize, you can only feel something towards them that can’t be fully explained.
In conclusion it seems clear that there can be knowledge without emotion. One can use reasoning to understand new information and build upon it using previous patterns and established rules. Nevertheless emotion can help understand information and it plays an important part is areas such as art, while it is more dispensable in areas such as biology and history. The need for an emotional connection depends on how much a person has to relate with the information on a personal level.