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lopezpor's avatar

Should emotions be undervalued when compared to reason?

Asked by lopezpor (241points) June 10th, 2010

I know some that completely undermine emotions because they are not “rational.” Do you think that cold, rational people have it right this time?

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11 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

No well balanced person (other than a radical behaviourist) should ignore the importance of emotions in selecting appropriate behaviours in complex situations.

Even the most rational among us takes into account what makes them or other people feel happy, safe, or loved.

josie's avatar

Emotions are a great clue to what is going on, but they are not always accurate, well placed or helpful-Thus it is good that they can be trumped by reason. Examples:
Some people are afraid of dogs, even if the dog in question is obviously friendly, tail wagging, head down, subordinate etc. This is the absence of reason. Some dogs are friendly and the signs are obvious.
Personal observation-Combat soldiers are (almost) always frightened, but can learn to operate in spite of their fear, which increases their chance of survival-a great example of how reason can be lifesaver in spite of emotion.
We may be enraged by another person’s behavior, but for social or legal reasons we choose not act on our rage-this is reasonable
We may have strong sexual urges toward someone, but if acting upon them would be inappropriate, we choose not to-also reasonable
Summary-emotions are real, but they are sometimes misplaced or misused. Reason is the last chance to make sure that our actions are appropriate to the emotional impulse.

nebule's avatar

no no no… we feel before we think…that says a lot

Qingu's avatar

I guess it depends on what you mean by reason. If you mean “should I believe things that aren’t true because I have an emotional desire to,” then no.

In complex moral and behavioral questions, though, I think emotional states can actually factor into proper reasoning about the situation.

marinelife's avatar

No, Emotions are just as important to understand and analyze as reason. Frankly, if you ignore them, they will come back to bite you in the butt.

SmashTheState's avatar

It depends what you mean by “feelings.” In his landmark book, Rational Emotive Thinking, Albert Ellis (one of the founders of cognitive psychology and the creator of RET, Rational Emotive Therapy) descibes two different types of emotions. There are the emotions we feel instantly, by sheer instinct, and which fade quickly; and there are the more complex emotions which we craft in response to our experiences. While the former are useful for, say, keeping us from harm by causing us to react negatively to pain, the latter, when negative, cause us all sorts of physiological and psychological harm. Ellis correctly points out that there is absolutely no benefit to actually feeling a negative emotion of the second type, since the few benefits they seem to offer (such as getting our way with a temper tantrum) are easily obtained by faking, without the need to actually feel such emotions.

RET provides a structure for making the emotions subservient to the intellect, by breaking down emotional reactions into small, axiomatic statements which can then be consciously modified. Does this make the intellect more to be valued? Hard to say. It is beneficial to press the emotions into the service of the intellect, but the opposite is to be avoided. So on balance I would say yes, that emotions are less important than the intellect.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I don’t believe that reason is more important than emotions. As a matter of fact, I’ll tell anyone and stick to it for the rest of my life, that it’s completely impossible to avoid your emotions if you’re a normally functioning human being.

@SmashTheState I definitely hear what you’re saying about negative emotions possibly doing more harm that good. However, I don’t agree that there are no benefits to feeling negative emotions. I don’t know why, but many artists draw from their most negative experiences and emotions to create some of their best art. I would also argue that negative emotions – if evaluated and checked – are exactly what make you realize how great positive emotions are. Without negative emotions, would we really know what positive emotions were?

CaptainHarley's avatar

It would be best to allow emotions and reason to walk hand-in-hand. Emotions add color and intensity to life. They also inform us of when there is something on which we need to focus our attention. We ignore them at our peril.

Trillian's avatar

You can never have an “All this or all that” generalization. Emotions serve a purpose. Yes, they can cloud one’s judgment, but they also predicate things like “mercy” and “compassion”. Take things as they come and stop trying to see things as all black or all white. It is not realistic.

Coloma's avatar

Don’t forget, emotion is not the same as intuition.

Emotions that bounce off of intuition are always right on , emotions that bounce off of emotion are sloppy and devoid of reason.

The most congruent way to live is, to live in integrity with intellect and intuition.
Apples & oranges compared to logic and emotion which are fragments of the entirity of being in mastery of all of your senses and sensibilities. lol

mattbrowne's avatar

Reason doesn’t work without emotions. That’s just the way our brains work.

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