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The opposition of cognition and emotion in psychological theory has, I believe, been one of those "killer dichotomies" (Berthoff, 1990) like nature and nurture, or language and thought, that has advanced many a scientific career while muddling science itself. The idea that reason and passion are alternative ways of responding to events is an ancient and persistent one, often accompanied by the companion ideas that reason is the more highly evolved, the more mature, the more masculine, the more civilized, the superior alternative. Human emotion resides somewhere beneath human cognition, somewhere under the frontal lobes, where it is stimulated by the body, the autonomic nervous system, and the primal hormonal soup, but not by the heavenly cerebral hemispheres, whose only relation to the emotions is that of gentlemanly victim attacked by the riffraff, struggling to quell the rebellion. I have exaggerated this idea but not invented it. Like all such dicho-tomies it makes us attend to the rather barren question "whether", in this case whether cognition influences emotion, whether cognition is necessary for emotion, or whether cognition is antithetical to emotion, and not to the more interesting question " how". For the time being, I am taking the perspective that the relation between cognition and emotion is mutual, dialectical, and marvellous.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright Wiley 1991.