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Critical Thinking and Emotional Intelligence


From Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, Winter, 1996. Vol. XVI, No. 2.

by Linda Elder

Emotional intelligence is a topic that is attracting a considerable amount of popular attention. Some of the discussion is, in my view, superficial and misleading. In this paper, I shall focus on the problems inherent in the manner in which the idea of emotional intelligence is being conceptualized and presented. The main questions I am concerned with are: Does it make sense to speak of emotions as being intelligent or not? If so, is there such a thing as "emotional intelligence?" And if so, how does it relate to critical thinking?

I shall argue that it does make sense to speak of emotions as being, in some given context or other, "intelligent" or not, and, consequently, that it does make sense to speak of emotional intelligence. However, I will also suggest that the way the concept of emotional intelligence is now being popularized — by psychologist Daniel Goleman (1995), in his book Emotional Intelligence — is fundamentally flawed.

Once some preliminary distinctions are set out, I will focus on a conceptualization of the mind, its functions, and primary motivators, including a brief analysis of the relationship between thoughts, emotions and desires.
I will then develop a critical analysis of....

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