Reason and emotion are, most of the time, two conflicting forces. Emotion itself sometimes acts as a barrier to reason, and can even manipulate your rational thought processes. Reason as a way of knowing is usually independent of emotion, and tends to work better that way: “The sign of intelligent people is their ability to control their emotions by the application of reason”1. However, it is also apparent that these two forces can complement each other in becoming the justification behind the moral ethical system.
Knowledge is the psychological result of facts, information and skills acquired through a variety of different ways of knowing. In order to answer the topic question, one must assess different areas of knowledge to see how these two areas of knowing work in relation to each other. In the case of mathematics, when these two ways of knowing are compared, it is blatant that reasoning serves the most prominent role, and emotion seems to not play any role at all. For example, when one is trying to deduct or prove a statement, one goes about using sequential and logical steps to reach the final consensus.
However, emotion can in fact have an effect on this rational process and even change the outcome. Taking for example two students that possess equal intellectual capacity, and have both prepared equally for an upcoming mathematics exam. An hour before the exam one student experiences an unfortunate event that causes him to be angry, whilst the other remains calm and peaceful. Upon doing the exam the student who is calm and has less distractions in his mind (i. e. ’emotionless’) will focus better, and hence perform better than the student whose emotions cloud his logic.
The presence of intense emotion would then always manipulate rational thoughts either in a positive or negative manner, but it is by this nature that reasoning plays the most prominent role in mathematics, and emotion is rendered inefficient. Similarly, the scientific area of knowledge carries significance in the process of understanding, where the experimental and hypothesis-based procedure can closely be related to that of mathematics, to assist us in the differentiation of reasoning and emotion, as well as the belief or knowledge gained.
With the progression of time, humans learn to recognise more areas of knowledge through the inventive nature, and we are introduced to the areas of art and music, where the systematic trend of reasoning seems to transition into that of emotion. Since art is based around a subjective and personal medium, emotions tend to play a bigger role in determining knowledge, due to the ability to communicate one’s natural reactions into perceptions and create within oneself an individual perspective on the artwork.
This is best experienced when dealing with music, that of which the literal language from the lyrics is not understood by the listener. For example, when playing a song from a foreign language, I was able to construct a certain image in my mind of how I interpreted the pulsating sounds of the instruments in relation to the emotions being triggered inside me. However, upon viewing the English translation of the lyrics, I found that the literal meaning is completely different to upheld subjective meaning.
Additionally I found that my initial interpretation made more sense to me and carried much more meaning in comparison to the latter meaning which I developed through reason. Thus, emotion can in fact act as a good indicator for certain areas of knowledge, and this is true in many of the arts; such as the use of provocative visuals in movie-making, using emotive techniques in poems and prose, and using certain tunes in music.