Gulliver’s Travels - Part 2
Search for knowledge is what people have been seeking for as far as history could narrate. That pursuit for the meaning and purpose of an existence naturally complex, so much vast and varied, has made mankind scour on the surface, in the mantle, down in the deep waters and infinite earth’s universe for explanations about the nature of things, and for the ultimate answer to all that are mystifying to us.
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Jonathan Swift, a classic traveler, has expressed that activity in the following:
It is easy for us who travel into remote countries,
which are seldom visited by Englishmen or other
Europeans, to form descriptions of wonderful
animals both at sea and land - Gulliver’s Travels introduction. Whereas a traveller’s
chief aim should be to make men wiser and better,
and to improve their minds by the bad, as well as
good, example of what they deliver concerning
foreign places. (Swift)
Within the huge human epistemic undertaking is the study of the structure of our emotions and passions. In particular, to add clarification in the search for that construct, how human passion and emotion play its parts in humans’ actions and activities that give rise to situations, learning its impacts and influences.
In Hume’s Treatise, passion and emotion studies are traced back to the mind as a perceptive organ that produces impressions and ideas. Under the sub-category of impressions of reflections fall passion and emotion. Though not exactly synonymous terms–by itself–passion being of the impressionistic side, is characterized as soft, less forceful, subtle, staying behind-the-scene type of experience. Emotion, on the other hand, is cognitively direct, strong, and tends to be at the forefront.
In common understanding, emotion and passion, as we know, are thought of as unstable, brief, reactive, romantically associated with the heart, therefore not a result of the rational part of the brain that is prudent and wise. That any such less thought of decision or action are rooted to the emotions and carries the stigma of being not true or erroneous. But emotion and passion are said to be that “it is important for cognitive functions, and are not just there to interrupt, distract, or mislead you…” (Hauptli). So far, what the emotions/passions can do much better than the ability to know factually is limited, since only small numbers of studies have been done. One practical and empirical fact that has been established though is that the power of emotions/passions is to “determine our actions and influence the will.” (Hauptli).
In a romantic passion, the heart is said to be in command, symbolically. That is, by following our sensual dictates, decisions are normally made in accordance to the strong pull of sensuous attraction, and it result to short-term benefits. These we witness as common in relationships built on such foundations, collapsing easily after the sizzle is gone. Expressed in a libertarian sense, a marriage of “reason” tells us about the long-term social prospects and benefits, whereas marriage of “passion” tells us about the immediate short-term benefits.” (Rideau).
Emotion as made synonymous to passion, are further classified into negative and positive. Actions or decisions with negative influence tended to be created in a tunnel-vision-type of perception. Such that when one is in a life-threatening situation, the thought processes call to action the instinct measures, which normally is either to fight or
take flight. Such reaction attests to our instinct to survive as being instantaneous. Positive emotions, on the other hand, allow one more space and time and to make decision to how to react. This is typical of the less life-threatening situations.
Passion in its most classic example is shown in Virgil’s Aeneid, a burning passion that kills. Character Dido was passionately in love with her husband Aeneus; she committed suicide when Aeneus left her. Also in another scene, while following his own fate, Aeneus killed Turnus, a messenger of destruction sent by the envious Juno to distract and trick Aeneus fate from greatness as a leader of Troy. (Virgil)
Passion in its most non-violent or calm state is also an activity of the human thought process. A good example, and one that easily comes to mind in this our high tech period, is a state of abundance of food that mostly are enriched that indulgence in it could mean certain disease. Abstaining from fatty food, which to most appetite is devilish, serves as a warning to the mind, and in kind, it defeats the craving.
Emotionalism as occurring in the medical context, have some interesting situations with patients. Some doctors claim that patients who receive uncertain or blunt statements from them about cancer have been noted to elicit highly emotional response like they become nervous. This “illusion of certainty” (Gigerenzer) needs to be eliminated, and communication made more clear in order to be well understood by the patients that in curing certain types of cancer, a great deal of uncertainty is a fact.
Gigerenzer, Gerd, Heuretics, March 3, 2003 http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge113.html
Hauptli, Bruce W., Hauptli’s Lecture Supplement on Hume’s Treatise, Copyright © 2005 Books II and III, http://www.fiu.edu/~hauptli/Hume’sTreatiseBooksIIandIII.html
Rideau, François-René, Reason And Passion: How To Be A Convincing Libertarian http://fare.tunes.org/liberty/li-2002-04-07.html#htoc5
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver’s Travels, Chapter XII., pg. 1, Part IV: A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms
Virgil, The Aeneid, Written 19 B.C.E http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.1/bookid.89/sec.40/