Although it sounds strange, emotions are extremely cold and logical. This is because emotions are essentially effect. Emotions are the “summary” of what has gone before, who and how one lives, and what one wants, does and feels. Thus, emotions are seen as information, even though they are a bit cryptic because they do not tell us anything directly, but rather reveal the confluence of many things.
What is a feeling?
The following offers a precise definition of a feeling: “A feeling is information on the suitability of the object to the faculty” (Leonardo Polo). In defining the meaning of this phrase, the first thing we discover is that feelings are information. They tell us something about what happened, especially its appropriateness or inappropriateness.
For example, we can sense a student’s boredom while studying Spanish geography. The student is exercising a power (in this case intelligence) on an object (Spanish geography) in an act (studying) that forms the person. Boredom arises when that person (the agent), in studying (act), uses his intelligence (faculty) on the object (the subject studied) and does not feel challenged.
Then we need to find the things about which the emotion informs us. A feeling does not tell me about reality (mountains and rivers), which is learned in the object (the subject of Spanish geography), and it does not tell me about what the student is doing (studying), nor does it tell me about my faculties (intelligence) or about the person studying (the student). It tells me what is happening inside the student when all these elements come together in a certain way. It only gives me information on how this multiple encounter occurs. The graph below illustrates this:
Knowing this, we see that it is impossible to attribute boredom to just one of the elements. Mountains, geography, studying, intelligence, the student— none of these elements are in themselves definitive. Boredom is in fact the effect of this multi-element encounter. If one of the elements changes (for example, the student’s attitude) everything may change.
How do we know?
Given that a feeling is the “trail” that action leaves, like the trail of a comet, we must first ask what happened. A feeling is not uncovered by asking what you feel, which serves to fan out the feeling, not to discover the causes that led to a given situation. Questions should go along the lines of what happened and why it happened that way. And if questioned appropriately, it follows that having gone through everything analyzed it is normal that one feels a certain way. Only in discovering this logic of feeling can we really know a feeling. It is only logical that given what one has lived through or done that one feels a certain way. Feelings are not capricious.
With a “magnifying glass” we learn to discover all the information contained in a feeling and it is thus a source of information on a given personal status. This implies that one need not do anything with feelings— that they are fine as they are. Touching the feeling would involve distorting the information and it is important that the information is accurate. A person’s state is uncovered when this information is known and the consequent act will correspond to that state. A change of state truly constitutes personal growth.
Thus, this proposed definition of feelings allows us to speak of an emotional education based on personal development focused on this goal.