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Philosophy of Emotional Intelligence

A concept adjacent to emotional intelligence, apatheia, often incompletely translated by apathy and incorrectly by indifference, was considered by the Stoics as a state of mind not disturbed by passions, being seen as a quality that characterized the philosophical wisdom. Aristotle considers virtue to be the fair middle way between excess and deficiency of emotion (metropathia), implying the management of emotional or selfish reactions to external events that cannot be controlled. For the Stoics, apatheia was the optimal rational response to a reality caused by the will of others or by nature and which cannot be controlled. Only his own will can be controlled, through correct (virtuous) judgments and actions, experiencing contentment (eudaimonia) and good feelings (eupatheia). Seneca also affirms the importance of virtue in our own happiness, to “win the way to victory in all our struggles, – for the reward is… virtue, steadfastness of soul, and a peace that is won for all time.” (Seneca 1917, chap. Lxxviii 13-16) Pironism states that through epoché (suspension of judgment) the mind is brought to ataraxia, a state of soul balance. As in Stoicism and Epicureanism, eudaimonia is the pyronistic goal of life and all three philosophies have placed it in ataxia or apatheia.

Kant distinguished three types of “actions” (Müller-Merbach 2007) for which he develops three types of intelligence:

  1. Technical intelligence (Kant: skill) is required for technical actions. Technical intelligence cannot be measured precisely by intelligence tests. It is an indicator of how well one understands objects. Technical intelligence must refer to specific areas of tasks. Technical intelligence is important for almost any position on the labor market.
  2. Emotional intelligence (Kant: pragmatism) was largely ignored before 1995. The core of emotional intelligence is self-control. He was highlighted by the Chinese philosophers Confucius (Confucius 2013, bk. XIII) and Lao-Tzu in Daoism, (Tzu 1992, chap. 33) but also by the Greek and Roman philosophers Seneca (4 BC – 65), (Seneca 1917) Epictetus (50-138), (Epictetus 1928) and Emperor Marcus Aurelius (120-181). (Marcus Aurelius et al. 1990) Epictetus states that: “No man is free who is not master of himself” (Epictetus 1928, 477) and that “Some things are under our control, while others are not under our control.” (Epictetus 1928, 483) Goleman (Goleman 1996) and Steiner (Steiner and Perry 1997) argue the importance of self-control on the basis of current empirical experience. Emotional intelligence is based on humanism, human relationships, and social responsibility. Emotional intelligence involves the ability to understand other people, to cooperate and to influence them.
  3. Ethical intelligence (Kant: wisdom) involves many ethical doctrines that offer partially opposite advice, such as teleological ethics versus deontological ethics, normative versus descriptive ethics or normative versus intuitive ethics. In addition, many objective ethical concepts are competing.

For Kant, technical and pragmatic action are subordinate to ethical action, and the categorical imperative is superior to the two hypothetical imperatives of technical and pragmatic action. It follows that ethical intelligence will be considered superior to technical (skill) and emotional (pragmatic) intelligence. Ethics will provide the final judgment. But the wide variety of ethical concepts makes it difficult to accept the superiority of ethical intelligence over other intelligences. (Kant, Walker, and Meredith 2008)

The critical reflection of the aspects of emotional intelligence (EI) can be put on account of the different epistemological perspectives, reflecting a maturity of the concept. (Meleis 1998) Chan and Latham stressed the need to find consistent empirical evidence for the dimensionality of EI and to develop appropriate methods for its correct and useful measurement. (Sue-Chan and Latham 2004)

A concern of researchers is whether EI is a theory of personality, a form of intelligence, or a combination of both. Many studies consider EI to be a personal factor associated with competence. (Spence, Oades, and Caputi 2004) But most researchers consider EI as an emotional awareness of oneself and others, in addition to professional efficiency and emotional management. According to Dulewicz and Higgs, EI is considered a capacity at the ontological level including personal and social competence, (Dulewicz and Higgs 2000) which promotes a positive state of mind despite environmental demands, (Cummings, Hayduk, and Estabrooks 2005) and which helps to solve problems related to both emotional and cognitive abilities. (Ciarrochi, Dean, and Anderson 2002) It is also considered that EI has an inherent potential to be further developed and refined through reflection, thus promoting emotional and intellectual growth. (Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey 2002) Spence sees emotional intelligence from a public health perspective as an adaptive ability that promotes well-being. (Spence, Oades, and Caputi 2004)

The EI critique addresses the limitations of empirical research and unsubstantiated generalizations, (Fineman 2004) considering that ontological and epistemological assumptions determine the research methodologies. (Monti and Tingen 1999) It is now considered that the only way that “emotions” can be identified is through measurements and quantifications related to the methods of descriptive and statistical analysis, using different methods of self-reporting and psychometric measurements. (Fineman 2004) Recommendations have been made regarding the application of qualitative approaches in future research within EI. (Sue-Chan and Latham 2004)

Effective and creative manipulation of emotions is a gateway to a type of self-knowledge that leads to the freedom to be authentic in oneself at any given time. (Hammer and 常二 1999) In this context, an essential question is whether the EI phenomenon can more clearly articulate humanist existentialism in relation to the healthcare discipline. (Dulewicz and Higgs 2000)

Emotional intelligence is considered an ability at the ontological level, important for promoting positive moods independent of the environment. (Cummings, Hayduk, and Estabrooks 2005) Cummings’s work places perception and cognition in the context of adaptive human endeavors to effect change in oneself and in one’s own environment. (Dai and Sternberg 2004) According to Dulewicz and Higgs, future epistemological studies of EI will approach EI conceptualization as a starting point for theoretical development, philosophical support structures for different conceptualizations of EI for methodological and theoretical purposes, and EI in the context of developing professional knowledge. (Dulewicz and Higgs 2000) EI is a human state that encompasses a priori potentialities, updated as emotional experiences.

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and intuition. It is associated with attributes such as judgment, emotions (Grossmann 2017) and virtues. (Staudinger and Glück 2011) (Walsh 2015) In this regard, empirical scientists have begun to focus on the role of emotions in wisdom, (Kunzmann and Glück 2019) agreeing that emotions are essential for the efficient management of complex situations that demand. wisdom. An important finding relates to the positive relationship between the diversity of emotional experience and wise reasoning, independent of emotional intensity. (Grossmann, Oakes, and Santos 2019)


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Nicolae Sfetcu
Email: nicolae@sfetcu.com

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Sfetcu, Nicolae, ” Philosophy of Emotional Intelligence “, SetThings (February 1, 2020), URL = https://www.telework.ro/en/philosophy-of-emotional-intelligence/

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