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EmotionTwo cognitive styles use emotion: the Mercy and the Teacher. Exhorter strategy works with excitement, which is derived from emotion. The emotion that we feel is the sum of Mercy and Teacher feelings. Even though these two types of feelings are produced in a totally different fashion, they both feel the same.

Neurology tells us that the brain has two emotional processors, known as the amygdalae. One amygdala is in the left hemisphere, and the other is in the right hemisphere. My hypothesis is that the right amygdala produces Mercy feelings, while the left amygdala is responsible for generating Teacher emotion.

Mercy Emotion

Mercy emotion deals with experiences and is easy to describe, because we learn about it from our physical body. Certain experiences, such as eating dark chocolate, feel good. Other experiences, such as getting a stomachache, feel bad. Feelings can vary widely in intensity. I may love listening to Mozart but be only moderately repelled by country music.

The Mercy feeling I have for an experience is affected by the emotions that I have for related experiences. Therefore, I may be turned off by cowboy boots because they remind me of country music. If my feelings for some experience are intense, then this memory will act as an ‘emotional absolute’ that emotionally colors all related situations. For instance, I may dislike going to a certain restaurant chain because I once got food poisoning at one of their restaurants.

The first Mercy feelings come from physical sensations of pain and pleasure, but these quickly spread through mental association to color other less physical experiences. For instance, when a baby is hungry, he hurts and he cries. Then mother comes and feeds him. As a result, mother herself starts to produce good Mercy feelings in the mind of the child, just as the Pavlovian dog begins to salivate when he hears the bell that announces the arrival of food.

Eventually, Mercy feelings can become totally divorced from physical feeling. For example, when children argue over who will do the dishes, they say, “You do the dishes. No. You do the dishes.” In contrast, adults arguing over the same topic tend to say, “I’ll do the dishes. No I will.” In both cases, Mercy experiences and Mercy feelings are involved. However, for the child the main feeling is the unpleasantness of doing chores, whereas the adult feels most strongly about being a ‘good person’ and receiving emotional approval from others.

Teacher emotion

Teacher emotion comes from ‘order within complexity’. Whenever many items fit together, the result is Teacher pleasure. The more the items, and the better they fit together, the greater the positive Teacher feeling. In essence, Teacher feeling is like the ‘lightbulb’ that goes on over a person’s head when he comprehends something. Teacher pain comes from disorder. When a piece does not fit, when a theory falls apart, when chaos strikes, then this produces negative Teacher feelings. 

One could also compare Teacher emotions to the ruler of a kingdom. The monarch of a small kingdom does not feel very importance. If he wants to increase his status, he must gain more subjects, add more land, build his economy, or encourage his subjects to cooperate more closely. All of these steps will add to his Teacher emotion. However, if people start leaving the kingdom, if he loses land, if his economy falls apart, or if his people start to rebel or disobey his orders, then he will experience Teacher pain instead of Teacher pleasure.

The physical body fills the mind with experiences and Mercy feelings. Teacher emotions, in contrast, are not taught by the body. Instead, they are learned as a person discovers or builds mental order. One of the goals of school is to develop Teacher emotion in the student. Mercy thought may find it unpleasant to sit in a chair and have to study. However, Teacher strategy feels good about acquiring information and fitting it together. Notice that information by itself is not sufficient to produce Teacher feelings. Instead, Teacher emotion is generated when information is assembled and put together.

Teacher emotion can also appear in more practical forms. For instance, the car mechanic feels good when his engine runs smoothly and all the part work together harmoniously. Likewise, it produces positive Teacher feelings whenever many people or items operate together in harmony, such as marching in a parade, dancing in a formation, functioning in a bureaucracy, fighting in an army, or being some ‘cog in a well-oiled machine.’

You will find a more detailed comparison of Mercy and Teacher feelings here. (Link to pg. 27 of book on Christianity.) Because Teacher and Mercy emotions feel the same, it is possible for one to substitute for the other. I discuss that concept further here (pg. 47 of book on Christianity)

Exhorter Excitement

Exhorter excitement comes from Mercy and Teacher feelings. Without emotions, there can be no excitement. However, excitement differs from emotion in two ways: First, emotion likes pleasure and hates pain. Excitement, in contrast, only wants intense feeling. Intense pleasure is exciting, but so is intense pain. Second, excitement gets bored. When emotion finds something that it loves or hates, it holds on to these feelings. Excitement, however, gets bored whenever there is no change.

Obviously, these two differences can lead to major conflict between excitement and emotion. For instance, if Mercy and Teacher thought insist upon clinging to what they love, then Exhorter thought will eventually get bored and try to move on, even if this means moving away from something that is very good or very pleasant. On the other hand, if Exhorter strategy becomes addicted to pain and disorder, then Exhorter excitement will destroy emotional sensitivity.  

In general Exhorter excitement and mental addiction appear to be strongly related. My hypothesis is that the function of Exhorter thought is related to mental drive and addiction and neurology tells us that addiction is related to the brain chemical of Dopamine.