I have never really thought about the difference between emotions and feelings before the TOK lesson on Friday. True, we can feel emotions, but we cannot emote feelings. We can look at that last statement as a simple kind of play on words. I once heard a joke that went like this: What is the difference between pea soup and chopped beef? Answer: ‘Everyone can chop beef but no one can pea soup.’ Okay sorry, I got carried away.
So what is the difference between emotions and feelings? Humans are emotive beings, and thus we talk about our feelings. So are the two interchangeable and the same? I think that feelings and emotions are very closely linked, and are almost the same thing. They differ in terms of their stimuli.
Feeling usually refers to something experienced as a result of external stimuli reacting with one of our five senses or someone’s sensibilities, attitude, or emotional perception.
Emotion, technically is a state of consciousness in which various internal sensations are experienced. Emotion can be produced by a thought, memory, or external motivator and can often change our physical state.
Looking at this, we could say that the biggest difference between feelings and emotions is that feelings have to be triggered by an external motivating factor whereas emotions can probably be completely internalized. This is a little difficult to grasp as we end up feeling our emotions, so emotions are a kind of ‘external stimuli’ acting on our sense perception.
Feelings and emotions are also different in terms of how long they affect a person. Feeling’s usually experienced for short periods of time only, and fade quickly. Touching something hot creates a feeling of heat, which soon passes. Someone jumping out at you would probably only startle you for a few seconds. Emotions on the other hand, of joy or sorrow, last longer. Emotions are internal and would require a change in mindset to alter.
There is a very fine line between emotions and feelings, and in conversations in daily life, we probably use them interchangeably. However, looking at the two words in detail, we are able to see some quiet but distinct characteristics that make them different