Month: September 2010

The Seat of Emotion

Posted September 17, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Philosophy / 8 Comments

Nowadays, the source of emotion and passion is considered to be the heart; poetically referring to the soul and physically tied to the feeling of love (increased heart rate & increased blood flow). Reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I’ve noticed DH Lawrence using the loins and bowels as the seat of emotion and passion, which got me thinking about the philosophy behind the heart. In earlier times (Biblical and Archaic) the bowels was the source of pity or compassion and the loins the source of strength and power.

Interestingly enough, some of the early philosophers and scientists including Aristotle considered the heart as the seat of thought as well as emotion and passion, often rejecting the value of the brain. But the Roman physician Galen was one of the first to consider the seat of passions to be the liver, the seat of reason to be the brain, and the heart to be the seat of the emotions.

Thought we don’t often talk about the liver in reference to passion it is often said that the liver governs anger, the kidneys fear (the adrenals sit atop the kidneys) the lungs sorrow/ depression and the stomach or spleen as the source of anxiety and worry. Though these physiological responses to emotion are often obvious, modern society considers the seat of emotion and passion to be the heart and the seat of thought to be the brain. The heart is often represented with the shape & typically coloured red suggesting both blood and passion or strong emotion.