08 June 2011

The Need for Systematic Logic

Thomas Armstrong makes an interesting observation:

Information from the external world is first funneled through the emotional brain before it goes on to the neo-cortex.  That means we have feelings about things before we think about them abstractly.

This would suggest, to say the least, that man is more a rationalizing creature than a rational one.  And since man reacts emotionally before he reacts intellectually, it stands to reason that man cannot be depended to act rationally at all times.

However, man is capable of using his intellectual side to overrule his emotional impulse.  One of the easiest ways to do this is by making use of a system of logic.

Systematic logic helps to mitigate the effects man’s inherent emotionality.  Note that feelings precede thoughts, which suggests that intuitive logic (a la “it feels right) is less than profitable for rational analysis.  A system of logic largely eliminates the role of emotions (which, it should be noted, may or may not be right), which enables man to overcome his emotional biases in favor of a more coldly rational approach to decision-making.

An objective system, then, can be used to overcome man’s natural tendency towards emotional response.  However, it cannot eliminate it entirely.  Man is an emotional creature with subjective tastes and preferences, and no amount of systematic logic will change that fact.  As such, a logic-system is a useful tool, but it should not be viewed as the ultimate value of human decisions and human life.

2 comments:

  1. You've beaten me to the punch.

    I hoping to write about this in the next few days.

    Our desires mainly operate through our emotions, and if a man lets himself be governed by his emotions he chooses paths and actions which are contradictory and suboptimal to his overall happiness. A man has got to think about his life and manage it intelligently so that he can balance his competing desires to get the most from all of them. This is the classical conception of a life well lived.

    It however was thrown out by the Romantic movement which justified action by the presence of great emotion. In effect making a man a slave of his passions.

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  2. "A man has got to think about his life and manage it intelligently so that he can balance his competing desires to get the most from all of them."

    To me, this is key. The romantic movement is wrong for discounting the need for rational thought. However, the rationalist movement is just as wrong for trying to choke out emotions. There needs to be balance between the two. Man should think and feel.

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