After reading Loves Knowledge by Professor and contemporary Philosopher Martha Nassbaum, I had the urgency to write my blog post on the multifaceted self-inflicted challenges that beset us as human beings. The main challenge I want to focus on is the ethical value in emotions, which influences our perceptions of the world.
Prof Nussbaum argues that understanding our emotions can help us build a morally just society and relate to one another in a way that is deeply respectful and moral. It helps us extend our humanity toward people we have previously rejected as ‘the other’. As such, emotions are extremely significant to our effort of living a good life.
This argument above brings us closer to the idea of regular examination of one’s emotions as a basis to understand our beliefs, ourselves and our perceptions. Asking questions such as what emotions trigger tolerance and justice in the world? Can emotions tell us something about the world? How often do we revisit and refigure our perceptions about the world?
It is true that unwarranted and unfounded emotions are discarded just like beliefs especially when discovered they are false. As human beings, our interaction with each other is a constant application of our perception, as we grow; these perception are altered to some extent. However, at what point should we actively know the right time to change our perceptions about the happenings of life in our homes and communities? I concur with Prof Nassbaum that a change in ones feelings also brings with it a change in one’s beliefs – as such we should venture to sincerely question our perceptions.
Emotions are reactive when connected to beliefs about how things are and what is important – hence our consistent inquiry into our most deeply rooted views about the world ought to be changed from time to time. We have to do this by recognizing the important features in our moral situations for example; if you grew up taught to mistreat other people due to the colour of their skin, their religious and political views, their sexualities and capabilities then you have the urgency to rethink such a moral stance on your perception of the world. Thus, discerning the unimportant features of perception of the world liberates. Perceptions must be governed by responsibility through simple tasks of expanding our moral imagination as easily as reading this blog post itself is an alternation to perception.
I’d like to fuel my reflection with a quote from Aristotle related to this subject matter of feelings, emotions and perceptions “right emotions at the right times with reference to the right objects towards the right people with the right aim, and in the right way is what is appropriate and best, and this is a characteristic of excellence. Let’s live a good life by changing our perceptions from time to time!