Why talk about emotional intelligence? The term itself, which was introduced to the American public by Daniel Goleman in a popular book some years ago, is important primarily for its shock value: emotional intelligence sounds like a contradiction in terms. Traditionally, we have viewed emotions, or what used to be called “passions,” as one distinct side of human nature. Reason, rationality, and intelligence, meanwhile, stand distinct and apart on the other side. Yet those of us who have studied emotions as part of the human experience long ago recognized the intelligence of emotions, so eliminating that false dichotomy and to show the interdependence of philosophy and psychology.
Philosophers talk about ethics and the good life, whereas psychologists do rock-bottom science. Yet philosophy has always needed to appeal to empirical psychology, just as empirical psychology has always needed to refer to philosophy. One without the other is incomplete.
A battle continues over the nature of emotion—whether it is primarily a physical feeling or some kind of intelligent engagement with the world. I make the existentialist case that our emotions are not dumb feelings or physiological reactions but sometimes intelligent, if often short-sighted, strategies for coping with the world.
Adaptado de Robert C. Solomon.