Why do we call certain emotions bad and others good?

When we experience some inner sensation that we call emotion we often attempt to explain it. We forget that this explanation is something that comes after the fact and is just a theory, something that is not necessarily true, concerning the causes of our emotions. From looking at my own experience of emotions they are actually profoundly opaque. The mechanism that produces these emotions is not open to us.

Often the interpretation given to an emotion is the only thing that makes a good emotion differ from a bad emotion. That is to say most emotions feel the same but given the context within which a feeling arises we assign a positive or negative status to it.

For example, take the emotions anxiety and excitement. If you look at the feelings behind these emotions you will see that they are identical. So what makes us distinguish between them? Well if we experience the physical feelings in the context where we are waiting to receive something we want – say the night before christmas – we call it excitement and if we are anticipating losing something we care about we call it anxiety.

So it is really the value we assign to a context that determines the value we assign to a particular feeling and not the other way around.

So what determines the value we assign to a context? The answer to this question is the answer to how cults can create murderer’s out of non-murderers! Tune in next time Ya’ll.

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