On the road to Emotional Intelligence : The Emotions Map and other things ..


Emanuel Derman (here) draws a nice similarity between how Spinoza in his ‘Ethics’ approached human emotion as Euclid approached geometry :

  1. Defining three Primitives and ( Pain (sorrow) , Pleasure  (joy) , and Desire ) and then proceeded to
  2. Defining emotions in their relation to their primitives. These definitions are nicely illustrated in the diagram below.


A Map of Emotions – Enlarge to see the definitions of the different emotions and how they related to primitives


So in this sense , we can start defining some emotions in terms of these three primitives :

  • Love (Hate) : Pleasure (Pain) accompanied with the idea of external cause
  • Sympathy : Pleasure (Pain) from another’s Pleasure (Pain)
  • Fear (Hope) : Expectation of Pain (Pleasure) tinged with Doubt

You can also see some more definitions here : http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/spinozasemotions.html


It is valuable to have an understanding of the different emotions that affect us… This point is also stressed in the two books by Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence and The New Leaders) … Being aware of our emtions and how they influence us (self awareness), and of how to control our reactions (self control) are pillars of emotional intelligence, and are studied heavily in those two books.


Interesting and related (not directly) table :

Basic emotion Serotonin Dopamine Noradrenaline
Shame/humiliation Low Low Low
Distress/anguish Low Low High
Fear/terror Low High Low
Anger/rage Low High High
Contempt/disgust High Low Low
Surprise High Low High
Enjoyment/Joy High High Low
Interest/excitement High High High

Lövheim Cube of emotion : Some Basic Emotions and the corresponding Levels of some neurotransmitters


Sources :




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