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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Is emotion the killer of sound logic?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26783points) August 12th, 2011

Reading many of the responses to this question, it seem to me emotion is more powerful than sound logic. I can say I have witnessed it on several threads at least. I was not always a part of it but lurking in the shadows watching the duel go down. ”Jellybelly” will make a statement or ask a question that he/she really believes is pertinent, like “birds do it and bees do it, so why is doing it different than that natural, right etc?”_ Then ”Jellyjam” instead of analyzing the question or statement and logically coming up with some logic, facts, etc to equal, or debunk the statement Jellybelly made, Jellyjam will just come off with a kneejerk response accusing Jellybelly of being this or that and attacking his/hers intelligence. There are many “for instances”, similar to that where emotion totally bypasses logic. With so many highly educated and near geniuses on Fluther, is emotion their kryptonite? No matter how smart and intelligent you are can you be undone and hobbled by emotion? Why cannot superior intellect stand up to emotion, but often caves under it?

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19 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

No. It doesn’t kill logic but it does tend to cloud vision.

Unless you are a Vulcan, emotion is a part of your thought process whether you like it or not. I know there will be a shit ton of folks that would like to disagree with that but, you know, that’s just because their dander is up.

Mariah's avatar

No. I don’t think so.

I think emotion needs to be considered in many situations. Say you have an air-tight plan and you are certain you can get away with robbing a friend of yours. What logical reason is there not to do it? You’ll benefit from doing so. Why, logically, should you care about your friend’s wellbeing?

But it feels wrong, and any socially healthy person will say you shouldn’t do it. Maybe your logic is clouded – but in this case, that’s a good thing.

This argument might have a lot of holes in it, so argue at will.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m with the others. It doesn’y necessitate throwing logic out the window. It’s just when people replace one with the other that it causes problems (including replacing emotion with logic, but obviously talking about the reverse is more pertinent). But that seems to happen mostly when people don’t quite have a strong grasp of logical discourse, anyway. Personally, I think strong emotion can be a useful accent to logical arguments.

Coloma's avatar

It’s not so much the emotion or the logic, it is how everyone is triggered. This is the ‘know yourself’ mantra.

It’s good communication skills which few of us can manage to practice on a consistent basis. haha

Often, highly ‘logical’ people are emotionally insensitive to how they present themselves, and that can frustrate more sensitive types.

Likewise, the opposite, too much emotionality clouds the facts with needless drama.

I think it’s more of a communication issue than a right/wrong polarity.

laureth's avatar

Emotion, I think, is useful or it wouldn’t still be with us. Emotion tells you what to do before logic has a chance to reason it out. Quick! Someone’s attacking! What to do? Emotion tells us to fight or flee, and makes a gut-level executive decision based on your chances. Meanwhile, logic is still standing there puzzling out what is attacking, and why. If you wait for logic to keep up, you might be a splatter on the wall!

It’s hard to get rid of something so useful and so ingrained, even if the threat at hand is a stranger in an internet forum. The adrenaline flows, the heart beats faster, and before logic can step in, you’re hurling epithets. Emotion doesn’t kill logic, it just gets there faster. The adaptation that serves us so well when there’s a bear or a rapist right there, hasn’t gotten used to the idea yet that some attacks don’t warrant such a response. We’ve faced down vicious grizzlies for a hundred thousand years – and Internet jerks for maybe 20?

What I think people also need to realize is that even when using “pure logic,” they are also responding with emotion. It’s far more insidious that way, and people are less likely to realize what they’re doing. Let’s take, for example, the argument over the “flat tax” (where everyone pays a set amount) vs a “progressive tax” (wherein people who are rich pay more than people who are poor). Almost everyone has an opinion, derived from what they perceive as logical thought, about which system is better. But the answer is: both are fair. It’s fair that people all pay the same amount, and it’s fair that people who can’t afford it pay less. The option that people decide is logically best usually comes from their emotional response to the question.

It would be better, of course, if people could sit back, take a deep breath, and count to ten before hitting “Answer” on some ranty, namecalling screed. On the other hand, if we get used to a pause before action, we risk a greater danger the next time a grizzly attacks. The risk vs. reward calculation here says that a rampaging grizzly, despite being rare, is a greater danger than a common Fluther troll (and the cost for slow action much higher), so the emotional response ought to stay. There’s logic for ya! :D

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sometimes, emotion is logic’s clarifier.

CunningLinguist's avatar

There is a fascinating book by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, called Descartes’ Error, in which the author gives the results of his research on the role of emotion in cognitive functions such as decision making. As it turns out, emotion and logic are intertwined. It is impossible to make good decisions without the emotional centers of your brain intact because pure logic cannot set goals or evaluate outcomes. It can only predict outcomes and figure out how to achieve goals. This is very similar to arguments given by David Hume in the 18th century, though it runs counter to a lot of intuitions and expectations that most people have.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CunningLinguist I read somewhere that if you’re in a good mood, you can make complex decisions easier than if you were in a bad mood.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yes, there was a study on that which will be published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. It is called “Affective Influences on Evaluative Processing,” and it was done by Paul M. Herr, Christine M. Page, Bruce E. Pfeiffer, and Derick F. Davis. There was a press release about it in July of this year, and a number of news outlets have picked up on it.

tranquilsea's avatar

Emotion augments sound logic.

Vunessuh's avatar

I don’t always consider utilizing emotion as harmful or counterproductive. Emotion doesn’t automatically work against logic. They have the ability to work well together.
Emotion and logic are oftentimes subjective anyway. What you think is logical may not be for someone else and what you consider emotional or a knee-jerk response may make perfect sense to everyone else. You have nothing but an opinion regarding how other jellies operate. Whether you think they are emotional or logical usually aren’t facts and it can’t be measured by who does or doesn’t agree with your personal point of view.

Hibernate's avatar

Emotions comes after a rush. Logic takes time while if you base your answer on emotions you’ll end up saying something that will be misinterpreted. Does not kill logic but emotions and logic don’t really have a go together. Seems the people above said mostly they can work together, well good for them if they can make it happen.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Mariah I think emotion needs to be considered in many situations. Which areas of logic does emotion need be present to make it logical, or fop logic to work?

@Coloma It’s not so much the emotion or the logic, it is how everyone is triggered. How would one get triggered if not by their emotion? Logic itself, is just situations and facts, and how to come up with the most likely, or reasonable outcome. It makes not decision that doing it makes one happy, mad, sad or whatever. There will be people that will read this and make it more than it is because they let emotion divert them from actually seeing the question stripped to the bone enough to answer it.

@laureth Emotion, I think, is useful or it wouldn’t still be with us. Of course, if we did not have emotions we would not have sympathy, empathy, compassion etc.

Emotion tells you what to do before logic has a chance to reason it out. In most things, it is the logic that tells you how to act before you fathom the emotions. You are in a room and a gas leak breaks out in a fireball. The logical thing is get away from the fire. You spring up and seek an escape, if there are other people there too you might try and save them, especially family. You fall over the side of a wall, logic tells you to try to get your feet under you. This happens before you even have time to be scared you are falling. Soldiers on patrol come under fire, logic tells you to go for cover. I have spoken to many soldier who have returned home, and they say the same thing, when a firefight breaks out you go to your training. Where not to go, where to watch for an ambush, how to cover your buddies, etc. They say they do not have time to be scared. Back to the dog. If a dog attack a lot goes into your fight or flight choice. You would not run from a dog that was 6lb and more bark than bite, unless your emotion overshot the logic that the dog is so small it probably couldn’t even get its mouth around your ankle, and a swift kick would likely punt the little pooch like a pigskin on the gridiron. Even then, your logic is telling you to fight or flight even if you have not thought out how you will run, or where to, or how you will fight.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sometimes, emotion is logic’s clarifier. Example please…….

@Vunessuh I don’t always consider utilizing emotion as harmful or counterproductive. I do not believe emotion should not be used or suppressed in all situations, in the right perspective it is very helpful.

What you think is logical may not be for someone else and what you consider emotional or a knee-jerk response may make perfect sense to everyone else. If 12 people stay in the water when a shark swims in the area, believing it is a logical not to get back in the boat, because they are not seals, is no guarantee they will not get bit. If I am in my car and about to exit, then someone comes out of nowhere and cuts in, I can lay on the horn and flip the other driver off. That could be seen as logical to many but there is more to it. The reason the other driver cut in could be more than just them acting like a douche bag, they might have not been familiar with the area, that was the exit they needed, and if they missed it, they would be lost. They were inattentive, the exit caught them off guard, and they thought they had more room. They simply didn’t see you. Thinking that they did it intentionally and flipping them off could logically escalate the situation needlessly.

You have nothing but an opinion regarding how other jellies operate. Whether you think they are emotional or logical usually aren’t facts and it can’t be measured by who does or doesn’t agree with your personal point of view. First part first, If any other Jelly post in the thread they are in, it is not my opinion, I see what they said and how they said it. If they were not answering the question, they weren’t. If you asked someone if they like banana and they go off on how they don’t eat bananas because so-in-so nation don’t give the banana puckers a decent shake, they didn’t answer the question asked, that is a fact, not any opinion of mind. The second part, again, it is not incumbent of my personal views. In fact I never said anything of the sort, where you got that from who can guess. If there is a thread about, veganism let say, and one Jelly says to another because he will not give up steak and the vegan Jelly says that he is an animal butcher, that came from emotion not logic. If the meat-eating Jelly never cut up a dead animal carcass, he can’t logically be a butcher. If the term butcher is used because his desire to eat meat keeps the beef industry going, it was a emotional response and not one from logic, has nothing to do with if I agree or not.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central In most things, it is the logic that tells you how to act before you fathom the emotions. You are in a room and a gas leak breaks out in a fireball. The logical thing is get away from the fire.

Just because your intuition tells you to do the logical thing doesn’t mean it’s logic telling you what to do. A person with no logical skills could flip a coin and decide, on the basis of pure chance, to do the logical thing. That wouldn’t mean he was doing it because logic told him to do it. Emotions, instincts, reflexes, and so forth are often programmed to get us to do the logical thing without needing to use logic.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CunningLinguist Just because your intuition tells you to do the logical thing doesn’t mean it’s logic telling you what to do. Of course not. Logic is the tool you use to do the action that make the most sense. If someone was going to purchase a house with his/her cousin but that cousin has a running history of being a flake and a ne’er do well, if that person went ahead and entered in the purchase deal with said cousin, it would have been emotion, not logic, that would have made them do it. The feeling, and emotion, of being liked, or not being disliked by the cousin or the family will make them go along with what they know has a high chance of failure that will leave them holding the bag on a mortgage they can’t pay.

One of the main ways emotion gets in the way is not off a tangible danger or loss/gain of real goods, etc. Emotion blanks logic usually in things that seem not to have a black or white side to it, such as mental illness, or the benefits of medical marijuana, feminism, etc. No logic is usually found or sought after in areas where one side so supports it that they cannot fathom it being wrong in any part.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I don’t think you understood what I was getting at. Let’s say I’m unarmed and a sabertooth tiger attacks me. The logical thing to do is run away. But if I run away, that doesn’t mean I did it because logic told me to. I might have run away because I was afraid, which is an emotional reaction. So the fact that I did the logical thing doesn’t mean that I did it because of logic.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CunningLinguist I might have run away because I was afraid, which is an emotional reaction. OK, let go with that. You see a danger, you get scared (fear), and you flee to escape that danger. Even if the dear came 1st and the logic second, the logic is what made you flee and the fear did not short circuit it. What is there was a bear attacking and your fear crippled you from moving, made your knees turn to jelly and you could not escape or even think of it? At least the bear would have had a tasty morsel of you before the ranger shows up.

I seen a documentary on cable a while back about survival and survivors, why some people survived when the odds were against them, and why some people perished when they had better odds of escaping? Though the documentary didn’t find an exact science for it as they had hoped, they alluded to the fact that those who survived were able to keep calm and focus on the logical way(s) to escape. Sometimes it came down to the logic they used before hand, counting the rows of seats on a plane before the escape hat or exit. Staying low or going over the seats instead of being clogged up in the isle. Knowing where the lifeboats are on the ferry and the quickest way to get there. They often found people perished because they let their emotion (fear), grip them and they panicked. Made mistakes on which direction to go, or ran anywhere without thinking. Waited too late to start moving, so the escape route got cut off.

Logic can also be short circuited in non-tangible ways by emotion. The man in the neighborhood who hates barking dogs gets blamed when dogs start coming up poisoned. Forget the fact this man might not be physically fit or able enough to carry out the attacks or poisonings as they happened, but the hurt and anger will stop people from seeing if it were even mechanically possible for the dog hating man to have done it.

laureth's avatar

I don’t think you can fairly call a gut-level reaction to a shot of adrenaline, “logic.” That’s what makes you fight or flee. Later (even milliseconds later) is when the logic kicks in, telling you how to fight or where to flee in the best possible manner. But when the bear is attacking, it’s not like you stand there in contemplation of the options before you, deliberately weighing the costs and benefits of each one. No, man, you flee or fight!

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