Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Importance of Sartre's 'Sketch for a Theory of Emotions' for Aviation

Sartre's 'Sketch for a Theory of Emotions' could prove to be a tangible asset for air traffic controller and pilot training. It could be a solid reference for the teachers who have to teach the role of emotions in decision making.

Large Systems engineers would definitely benefit from it forcontrolling themselves when working under heavy load or usinghigh concentration for long durations.

Philip Mairet's translation from Routledge Classics says"A conciousness becoming emotional is rather like a consciousness dropping asleep" p. 51. In fact Sartre refers to emotions as a special type of consciousness as in an "unreflective conduct" which is not unconscious as in the act of writing.

He explains the origin of emotions as a " lesser existence or a lesser presence(or a greater existence, etc.). In a word, during emotion, it is the body which, directed by the consciousness,changes its relationship with the world so that the worldshould change its qualities. If emotion is playacting, the play is one that we believe in p. 41.

As Sartre suggests, we degrade ourselves into a lower, fictionalworld when we are faced with facts that we cannot manage to overcomewith our ususal abilities. At this point, our consciousness "gets caught in its own snare." It has created a fictional worldto escape into and now it believes what it has created, as in dreams p.52.

Sartre's explanation on p. 52 of Rouledge's edition may explain vertigo situations and false sense of safety caused by'over confidence' and similar feelings in aviation.

Sartre's 'Sketch for a Theory of Emotions' is a difficult to absorb but a precious treasury that can be used to understand Crew Resource Management and other situations in aviations. It has to be studied by teachers and the results have to betaught to pilots, ATCO's and engineers. The aviation world could be a better place if only this were done.

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