Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Some thoughts on logic and emotion

I know people who consider themselves rational and logical, and deny that their emotions control or even influence them.

I know people who are highly emotional and intuitive , and who make decisions based on their feelings and their intuition.

In my experience, both paths tend to lead to disaster.

The person who strives to be rational and logical often ends up making many of his decisions completely emotionally. Why? Because he has not developed the tools to understand his emotions, or even to recognize them for what they are. So he does what seems right to him, unaware how heavily what "seems right" is influenced by his emotions...and without the tools to understand his emotions, he often ends up completely unaware of the reality of the effect they have on his decisions.

On the other hand, the person who lets her emotions have the driver's seat--the person who allows her emotions and feelings to tell her what to do--is no better off.

You see, there is no part of human perception that is without flaw. Just like you can think you know something intellectually, and be wrong, so can you also FEEL something, and still be wrong. Emotions, like rational thought, are not infallible. Emotions and reason are not two different things, and they are not subject to different rules.

Emotions are nothing more than the way the ancient parts of our brains--the parts that do not have language--communicate with us. Emotions happen for a reason, and the things you feel have a source.

However, it is possible to feel that something is true--to feel it so completely and so absolutely that you KNOW it, more surely than you know your own name--and still be wrong.

People who put their emotions in the driver's seat often tend to believe those emotions without question. If they feel defensive, that means that they MUST have been attacked. If they feel frightened, that MUST mean that there is something to fear.

And emotions tend to create the reality they exist in. Feelings color and flavor our perceptions of the world. When we feel that something is true, we tend to see things that support that feeling and ignore things that don't. The irony of this is that by doing so, we can actually take something that we feel is true, but is actually false, and MAKE it true. The person who feels that he can not trust someone, or that someone is hostile to him, may end up behaving in ways that actually do make that person hostile to him. The person who believes that her partner wants to leave her, and that her partner doesn't love her, may behave in ways that alienate her partner, and make that feeling come true.

Feel with your heart, but check your facts.

Understand your feelings. Don't deny them, but don't put them in the driver's seat either. Examine them. Look at what they are saying, and then decide for yourself whether or not what they are saying is true. Decide for yourself whether or not the things you see are real, or are fabrications ceated by your feelings to try to support themselves.

People who deny their feelings can, in extreme cases, become monsters, and commit acts of atrocity. People who trust their feelings implicitly, and who let their feelings guide them, are easy to manipulate and easy to lead; it's no accident that the overwhelming majority of cult members are people who are very intuitive and who trust their feelings. In extreme cases, feeling that something is true and not challenging that feeling also leads to atrocity; a person must have passionate feelings indeed in order to fly an airplane into a building.

Feel with your heart, but check your facts.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
Dude, I just want to cross-post this everywhere. Brilliant! Such a great way to state the head/heart debate.

In fact, would you be up for an interview for PW to talk about this? You state everything so much more coherently than me, and this is so important to know.
May. 21st, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC)
I'd be delighted to! Might have to wait 'til after I get over this nasty head cold, though; about two days ago, evil gnomes snuck into the house in the middle of the night, surgically removed my nose using advanced biomedical nanotechnology, and replaced it with an exact replica that looks just the same as my original nose but is actually a gigantic snot factory in disguise. So now I sound all funny and have difficulty talking.
Jun. 3rd, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
What if the gnomes just placed a nanotech snot factory in your normal nose? ;-)

I love the post, by the by. It encapsulates a lot of vague beliefs that I have.
May. 21st, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I needed to remember this, this morning.
May. 21st, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Y'know, this was exactly the dynamic tension that led me to want to write a lengthy response to this post, before my time was suddenly consumed with other issues.

As insightful as the original post was, I felt it dismissed actions of the faithful (as I define them). Though I count myself proudly as among the Faithless, I feel, through observation, that holding a faith in Something Belived But Unknowable can give survival and reproductive advantages to those that hold beliefs in only that which can be immediately demonstrated.

This more recent post, I feel, more adequately posits the role of the dynamic tension between belief and rationality.

Nicely done.
May. 21st, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you Franklin... I havent heard it put quite that way before.

Altho I totally understand the premises of it, and understand it, from many classes in psychology, I can see where it has led me down the wrong paths of consicousness before, and led me to feelings that have not been healthy for me.
May. 22nd, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
Good points, and indeed I have known someone who feels he's very logical who twists things around amazing amounts at times to fit his beliefs/emotional stuff, that he claims doesn't sway him. And many people do not look at why they are choosing/doing whatever they are doing much at all.

You lump 'intuition' and 'emotions' into the same category, though, and I'm not all so sure about that.

For myself I do indeed have some 'emotional/gut' feedback that is how my intuition tends to communicate to me - I 'feel' my hunches. Yet, when I have pressed for answers (especially when my intuition did not seem 'reasonable' to me) I have discovered that there were very good reasons for that intuitive take. Now note that I have multiple times torn apart my intuitive hunches, because I like knowing/understanding. But that sometimes took hours, days, or even months to find out what the facts were that I was not necessarily *consciously* aware of, that my unconscious picked up on. Having had that proven to me again and again (either because I did or didn't follow my intuitive feedback) I now tend to give it a lot of weight in my decisions.

Now perhaps many people are not attuned or sensitive enough to actually get good 'intuitive' information -- or maybe they've been taught to ignore it because on the surface it gets dismissed as not really important data the same way emotional data might be. We get exposed to thousands of bits of data at any given instant, and there's only so many pieces of it that our conscious mind focuses on at a time, but that doesn't mean that it didn't go somewhere, and maybe even get processed.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )