Sonoma State University

Philosophy 101: Critical Thinking

Paper #1: Emotions Paper

"Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth."
Mayer & Salovey, 1997


The goal of this first paper is to increase your self-knowledge and support your efforts to improve your ability to have constructive emotions; and to train your critical and creative thinking skills by asking questions, improving the wording and depth of questions, collecting ideas and information to start answering these questions, and develop creative, imaginative ideas to deal with emotional challenges. In working on this paper you also interact with other students so you will improve your skills to discuss a challenging topic and help each other increase understanding about yourself.

Important background reading about Emotional Intelligence on this page.


Deadlines for this paper:

Friday, March 5. Draft of paper #1 due by 2:30pm, in the mailbox of the instructor, only for those who wish to discuss the draft with the instructor. Sign up for an appointment on Tuesday, March 9, by checking the Office Hour schedule and emailing the instructor with your desired spot.

Monday, March 8. Draft of paper #1 due in class. Have a copy of your draft in hand to discuss and analyze with another student, using the SUCCESSFUL PEER CRITIQUES FOR ESSAYS. Staple the student's comments and your hand-corrected and improved draft to your final paper when you hand it in on Monday

Wednesday, March 10. Paper #1 due. Hand-in Paper #1 in class. Staple the student's comments from peer critique, the draft with the instructor's comments (if you discussed the draft with him) and your hand-corrected and improved draft to your paper when you hand it in. Have paper trailof all your efforts! Make sure to give the name of your writing buddy on the top of the first page!

Added March 8th:

As explained in class I want you to add one footnote to your emotion paper.

Connect it with a passage in your paper of your choice.

In the footnote you explain a connection between the passage and what Martha Nussbaum writes about the Stoics opinion of emotions, that "All emotions are false," as we discussed last Friday in class, in her article "Morality and Emotions", the Introduction, and sect. 3, a reading assigned for Meeting 12.

Format You should write your paper as a sequence of sections, each with their own heading and appropriate style. (Each section will have its own style!) Your paper should be at least 8 pages long, double-spaced (see below for length requirements for each section); please number your pages in a footer, and provide you last name in a header on the top of each page, except the first page. Check your paper for correct grammar, perfect spelling, and effective language use. The length requirement is that of a minimum,"to do the theme honor." Depending on theme and complexity the paper can be longer. The maximum length is 15 pages.



Make sure all the following content is present and in the following order:

a. Story (at least one and a half page)

Describe in detail some event in your recent life (last eight months) that provoked a strong and complex emotional response in you, an episode where you wish that you had had different emotions and/or had acted differently and/or had a stronger or waeker emotional response. Include in your description your emotional responses to the events. Should be recent enough that you have not significantly matured since it happens: the story should still be characteristic of your present emotional maturity/intelligence. In other words it needs to be worthy of reflection and form the basis of identifying a plan to improve aspect of your Emotional Intelligence.

b. Analysis (likely to be over two pages)

Show your understanding of how to analyze emotions into their four aspects by analyzing the chain of events in your story as in the example I will discuss in class: Caught near the orchard. (<---- will become a link after we have meeting 10) Apply the Consistency Test to your analysis: determine that label, interpretative thoughts, and motivation to act fit with each other.
End this section with a summary of what you learned from it, paying attention to presence or absence of the Care of Self emotion, the degree to which you acted on your Motivation to Act, the relative importance of thought vs perception as a trigger of your emotions.

c. Your Emotional Self-Profile (at least three pages)

(A) Describe and discuss your emotional intelligence by explaining how you rate yourself on Daniel Goleman's five components of emotional intelligence : Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Emphaty, and Social Skills, paying attention to each of the Hallmarks; and on Michael Pritchard's V.I.P: Vision, Initiative and Perspective.
(Discuss your V(ision).I(nitiative).P(erspective) as a subtopic to "Motivation." Illustrate this discussion with examples from other situations not discussed in your Story. Do not refer to your story in this part of the paper.)
(B) Discuss how your emotional identity has been shaped by the emotional climate of your life experiences, upbringing (family, church, school, etc.) and study and readings.

Use your notes of the interview and the ideas from the EI video about the work of Daniel Goleman and Michael Pritchard's VIP: Vision, Initiative and Perspective. Consult also

d. Explanation and Understanding (at least two pages)

Show your ability to reflect thoughtfully on your emotional response and create understanding of what happened by providing an explanation (also Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Explanation) that makes your emotions and behavior in the story more understandable.
Study the Analysis (section b) you made of the episode. Check whether some of your emotions are triggered by thoughts, memories; whether some of them involved faulty factual judgments or value judgments that do not agree with the kind of person you want to be.

Organize this section by discussing the extent to which your emotional episode reflects and is consistent with your emotional self-profile (go through the five aspects, and the VIP) and add further sections with other issues that reflect some of your own questions.

Be specific, detailed, and deep in this section. Make an Office Hour appointment with the instructor if you're stuck for ideas on how to go deeper. Use your notes of the interview. Use the insights you derived from analyzing your emotions (section b). Use the List of Emotions.

e. A Plan for Change. (at least two pages)

In a first paragraph, identify what you consider the strong point of your emotional intelligence and what are the weak points: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation (Vision, Initiative, and Perspective), social skills

Discuss the how you will "train" your emotional character (this is your solution to reach your goal) in order to improve your emotional intelligence (EI and VIP) in those aspects that you have found lacking or wanting (this is your goal).

How can you use your strengths to improve your weaknesses? What is a high leverage point to improve your overall EI?

This is the section where you especially need to be creative to find an effective solution to reach your goal!

Be specific, but realistic: since by putting this plan together you are committing yourself to really do this in the timeframe that you specify, you do not want to say things that you already know you are not going to do.

External Links:

Consider the fact that skills and habits spread in social networks by contagion and imitation: hanging out with people that have these skills rubs off.

Is happiness catching?

Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study.

Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. Connected : the surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives. New York : Little, Brown and Co., c2009.

Training can include reading specific novels (give titles) to expand emotional vocabulary and create vicarious experiences to improve awareness and regulation; joining specific clubs or organizations to improve social skills; design a program of music making or listening for mood control, or improved concentration; keep a journal to improve emotional awareness; do writing exercises to describe situations from other points of view; or reflect on compassion; for behavior therapy for social anxiety; understanding the concept and process of forgiveness to rid oneself of anger or the feeling of being a victim; the social skill of effective communication; of atonement, reparation for a wrong or injury, to overcome feelings of guilt; contemplate the concept of gratitude, counting one's blessing rather than burdens, towards ones parents or others; start practicing mindfulness, yoga, meditation, aikido, seishindo; develop the other part of your brain, etc. (one page). [NB. In the last project of the semester you will need to report on the progress you have made in this program of self-improvement.] Consider the Keys to Life-long Self-development.

f. Bibliography.

Put in references in the text (sections a - e) wherever you have used ideas and quotes from your readings, and collect all your references in this bibliography. Follow this format and refer in your writing to your bibliography in this way.

NB. I expect at least five external references quoted in the text of your paper. External references are sources not brought into the class by the instructor, such as books or articles you find in the library or online sources with a url distinct from the class website. More quotes from external sources is better.

Further suggested reading to give your paper greater depth (make sure to refer in the text to your additional readings and list them in your Bibliography).

Daniel Goleman's website

Emotional Intelligence Consortium

Hear an interview with Daniel Goleman on Social Intelligence (mp3 file)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Emotions

Daniel Goleman on "mirror neurons"
Scientific American article on 'mirror neurons"
Scientific American article on autism and "mirror neurons"

Positive Psychology, a new branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions

CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) enhances "children's success in school and life by promoting coordinated, evidence-based social, emotional, and academic learning as an essential part of education from preschool though high school."

Consider using the ideas of Martha Nussbaum's "Philosophy as a Therapy of Emotions". Read further up on her at here. If you wish to delve deeper into this topic complete reading her Morality and Emotions.

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness, by Jon Gertner

What is happening in the minds of people who have developed a greater capacity for forgiveness and compassion? See here.

Robert J. Emmerling, and Daniel Goleman. "Emotional Intelligence: Issues and Common Misunderstandings."

Emotional intelligence is an elaboration of Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences, esp. the interpersonal and intrapersonal categories. See

Character Education web sites list, gathered to help support Utah's Character Education Program.

Handbook of mental control / Daniel M. Wegner, James W. Pennebaker, editors. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1993.

Chapter 9 Resiliency Strategies: Coping with Stress/Avoiding Despair, from In Search of Harmony: Becoming Your Own Hero at Work Copyright© 2002 by Vivian Ellis Zabriskie

See this Listmania list on EI

Greater Good highlights ground breaking scientific research into the roots of compassion and altruism.

The how of happiness : a scientific approach to getting the life you want / Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Thanks! : how the new science of gratitude can make you happier / Robert A. Emmons.



The draft of the paper is worth 3% of the class grade and graded P/F.
The final paper is worth 15% of the class grade; each section gets a number of points, weighed by a percentage (letter grade):



Self profile


Plan for Change














Bibliography refers to the richness of your references in the text, and the completeness of the bibliography to list all these references. Process refers to the extent to which you improved your work through repeated rewriting; Challenge refers to the challenge your choice of topic presented to you.


Last Updated 02/18/10 ZGS