Definition of emotion


Emotion is excitement in consciousness. It is arousal devoid of thoughts.
Pure emotion is mentally blind (irrational).

Emotion = (biological) arousal, excitement, energy.

Emotionality = excitability, impulsivity, lack of rationality (irrationality).

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Emotion vs. Feeling

The words emotion and feeling are used interchangeably in colloquial language, as if emotion means a strong feeling. However, clarity requires a distinction to be made between both: emotion is pure (biological) arousal or excitement, and a feeling is a mix of emotion and thought where the emotion preponderates. Emotion is the essence of feelings, and feelings are mentalised emotions.


There are only two kinds of emotional excitement: positive and negative. They can occur at varying intensity levels.

Positive = pleasant, attractive

Positive emotions are experienced as pleasant or enjoyable. We feel attracted to things that we experience as pleasant. These are our likes.


Negative emotions are experienced as unpleasant or painful. We feel repelled from things we don’t want to have or experience. These are our dislikes.


Desire is the fundamental motivation for human expression in thought, word and deed. It's a sense of longing or craving for something. Desire is positive emotion that accompanies a thought about something. This kind of emotional excitement activates our behaviour, making us want a certain thing.

Pure desire is not rational, but emotional in nature. It doesn’t result from intellectual conclusions. It originates from direct experience of bodily pleasures and bodily needs.

Definition of desire:

Longing, craving for sth./so.

Motive for behaviour based on positive emotion


In ancient Greece Aristotle asserted that emotions were an essential part of virtue. He called them passions that correspond to appetites or capacities. In modern times there've been several theories that contributed to our current understanding of emotions. The most important ones are the James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, Schachter-Singer and Cognitive Appraisal theories.


Emotion rarely occurs in its pure form as mere arousal (energy, excitement). It is mostly intermingled with thoughts of some kind which creates the experience of a feeling. Feelings are emotions intertwined with thoughts, a mix in which the emotion preponderates. Because emotions are mentally blind excitements, feelings are by nature diffuse and vague. The thoughts in them mostly refer to mundane aspects of our daily lives and aren’t all too complex.

Feelings are the result of an interplay between emotions in varying intensities and countless thoughts we have about ourselves and our environment. As everything else in life they are subject to biological and psychological evolution.

Emotions and feelings developed from animals. They are mammalian elaborations of general arousal patterns that can already be found in reptiles. Neurochemicals step-up or step-down the brain's activity, and human emotions are an enhancement of this evolutionary process.

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Urges precede the development of feelings.

Feelings emerge due to unfolding mentality (thoughts).


In feelings the emotional aspect preponderates at the cost of mentality.

Origin of emotion

Emotion as biological arousal can express itself in combination with thought, which is called a feeling, or in combination with bodily functions, which is called an urge. In the context of evolution emotions first emerge as urges in primitive animals, and develop only later into mammalian and human feelings.

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