Existential Tuesday: Can you control your feelings with your thoughts?

What happens first: a thought, or a feeling?

Thoughts and feelings – and instincts, intuitions, etc – are all part of our cognitive process, and it isn’t always easy to differentiate one from the other. To make matters worse: there are therapies that claim you can control your emotions by changing your thoughts, but there are also psychologists who claim it’s the other way around. So which is it?

Whichever way it goes, I’m interested in finding out how we’ve learned to use our brains. Are you mostly rational? Constantly thinking? Rooted in your senses? Are you aware of your feelings as they happen, and how they’re linked to your thoughts? If your education was anything like mine, you’re mostly trained to operate as rationally as possible. How has that worked out? Are you happier because you think more? Freer because you’re more rational?

To be whole human beings, or at least proper armchair philosophers, we should investigate the entire spectrum of internal processes. Rational thoughts, irrational thoughts, feelings, dreams, senses, and everything else that vies for attention and control of our state of being. Which part of cognition happens first? And which is most true?


Existential Tuesdays are small weekly* lunch discussions in the Nook of the TUD Library. Practice your critical thinking skills, learn to see the world from different perspectives, and hang out with your fellow deep thinkers in Delft.

Interested in other events in the Nook? Sign up for the newsletter to find out what else we’re planning.

Join us for a deep dive into the NON-RATIONAL. Check out our programme for the fourth quarter:

April 30th – Existential Tuesday – Have you ever had an independent thought? – the Nook, TUD Library
May 14th – Existential Tuesday – Is everything somehow alive? – the Nook, TUD Library
May 21st – Existential Tuesday – Can you control your feelings with your thoughts? – the Nook, TUD Library
May 28th – Existential Tuesday – Do you trust your gut?  – the Nook, TUD Library

June 5th – VOX Book Club – We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin – the Nook, TUD Library
June 10th – SG Café Het buikgevoel (in Dutch) – Theater de Veste

Visit the location's website here.