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Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

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Are Reason and Emotion Sworn Enemies?

Many expert reasoners feel they are. But these supposed opposites overlap, emotions have logic and reason often blunders. Plato’s chariot and the anti-Freud can clarify.

In “The War on Reason,” Paul Bloom complains that scientists are popularizing the view that rational deliberation is an illusion. Bloom feels this “unacknowledged rebooting of Freud”, by focusing on “emotive desires,” and “scattered… instances of irrationality” misrepresents our “rational foundations.” When “thirsty, you don’t...squirm...at the mercy of unconscious impulses,” you rationally plan and execute quenching it.
http://bigthink.com/errors-we-live-by/reason-emotion-kahneman-is-the-freud-slayer

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    Mar 4 2014: .
    No, they aren’t.

    Emotion --- based on instinctive and pre-instinctive data.
    Reason --- based on all data including the new ones.
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      Mar 4 2014: Amazing fact Ying.
      How can one imagine that unity of emotion and reason is based on time frame?!
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        Apr 2 2014: Thanks!

        Time makes new data pre-instinctve or instinctive.
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          Apr 2 2014: Pre-instictive new data! You're really hyper-hi-tech Ying.
          Do you have articles about time? I'm very interested about time and you just whetted my interest more!
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    Mar 4 2014: I think there may be a misconception that highly analytic people - say mathematicians, scientists, and engineers or scholars in general- are less loving or engaged in the emotional aspects of life than those less educated or practiced in the use of reason. This, I believe, is a stereotype that research would not support.
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      Mar 4 2014: I think so too sir and I don't buy it too.
    • Mar 4 2014: Reasonable people can get angry. It is just that while we are angry, we have a very difficult time thinking rationally.
  • Mar 5 2014: Emotion is an input.
    Reason is a process.
    Decision is an outcome.

    Those who claim to act "purely on emotion" lie to themselves. Those who claim to disregard their emotions do likewise.
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      Mar 5 2014: 'Emotion is an input.
      Reason is a process.
      Decision is an outcome.'

      Great 'programming' logic Bryan! You program computer language too?
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    Mar 5 2014: Personally I strive to use a blend of convergent and divergent thinking, to solve life’s lessons. By taking equal parts of logic, emotions and spirituality I can achieve maxim results.

    *Reason can help control an emotional response, like fearing a harmless bug.
    *Emotions can get logic unstuck when selecting between two items of equal value and often gives you additional options.
    *Spirituality is something unique within all of us, it could be faith in yourself, intuition, mankind, god, nature, science, angels, or something else, it is a undeniable feeling that goes beyond logic or emotion. And like logic and emotions, it also needs to be embraced and used to maximize your thinking style.
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      Mar 5 2014: 'Personally I strive to use a blend of convergent and divergent thinking, to solve life’s lessons. By taking equal parts of logic, emotions and spirituality I can achieve maxim results.'
      My preferred method too Don.
      • Mar 7 2014: A pincer movement after luring the enemy into your chosen ground is very often an effective tactic.
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          Mar 7 2014: So... you can think like an army officer too! Or am I missing something between-the-lines?
      • Mar 7 2014: Hardly an officer, just an enthusiast for military history.
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        Mar 7 2014: Apparently you have changed your mind Poch? What is your truth? What do you actually believe regarding this topic?

        "Poch Peralta
        3 days ago: '...it's obvious that they are both useful depending on the situation.'
        I agree sir but I think logic is much more useful than emotion. In fact, the only use of emotion I see now is it's being an outlet of toxic negative feelings".
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    Mar 18 2014: The most significant TED Talk ever posted could be this one that's about Reason
    Posted by: Chris Anderson
    'Andrew and his amazing team at Cognitive fixed the audio issue and turned the entire talk into an animated movie of such imagination, humor and, most of all, explanatory power, it took my breath away.

    'And so here it is. The Long Reach of Reason. A talk in animated dialog form, arguing that Reason is capable of extending its influence across centuries, making it the single most powerful driver of long-term change. Please watch it. A) you’ll be blown away by how it’s animated. B) it may change forever how you think about Reason. And that’s a good thing...'
    http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/17/why-this-might-just-be-the-most-persuasive-ted-talk-ever-posted/
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    Mar 15 2014: Reason and emotion are both essential to the sanity of a human being. Being at the extreme of either of them would reveal a human being that stuns us with his/her animalistic tendencies (like religious extremists and evil geniuses).
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      Mar 15 2014: Great opinion and example Feyisayo. Although I think extreme emotion is worse---you also harm yourself.
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    Mar 11 2014: Could we apply logic to emotion or will it alienate people more or make them angrier?
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      Mar 12 2014: Poch,
      What people are you referring to who may become more angry?

      One can "apply" logic to emotion, and one can "apply" emotion to logic. I prefer to recognize that logic/reason and emotion work together quite well when one is not perceiving them as separate. All systems in the body/mind are interconnected, so when we perceive them as separate, we deprive ourselves the opportunity to "know" ourselves on a deeper level.

      You write...
      "Are Reason and Emotion Sworn Enemies? Many expert reasoners feel they are"

      Who are the "expert reasoners" who feel reason and emotion are "sworn enemies"?
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    Mar 10 2014: Although I can see how some emotions could be considered reason’s enemy, there is one emotion I feel is reason/logic best friend.

    I feel by far human’s best emotional trait is “Empathy”, reasoning would be worthless without it.
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    Mar 9 2014: Here is the follow-on in Big Think in which Kahneman's theory is clarified: http://bigthink.com/errors-we-live-by/kahnemans-mind-clarifying-biases
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      Mar 9 2014: That was quite a research sir. Thank you. What do you say about it?
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      Mar 8 2014: 'Scientists that have strong "reasoned" responses almost always have had a strong emotional connection to the subject...'
      Possibly the stronger their "reasoned" responses, the stronger their emotional connection to the subject?
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        Mar 12 2014: This is a good point Poch.....

        The stronger one's perception of his/her own reasoning/logic as being "right", the stronger one's emotional attachment to that information may be for him/her.
  • Mar 5 2014: No. I studied epistemology and formal logic as part of my biology degree.
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      Mar 6 2014: I didn't know there's a subject 'formal logic' until now. Now I wonder if there's 'computer logic' too.
      • Mar 6 2014: There is "logic for computer science majors"--it's usually truncated and limited. "Formal logic" is just another name for the classical study of logic, the sort that includes Aristotle's study of the syllogism but in this day and age goes beyond Aristotle and the Greeks.

        In addition, I do a lot of modeling in my work. I am of the more current school of modelers. The classical school of modeling is "models approach and unknown truth". The more current school is "All models are wrong, but some are temporarily useful."
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    Mar 5 2014: I guess emotion and reason have evolutionary net benefits. Emotions and intuition have their place but can lead to poor outcomes in some cases. Intuition works faster but can lead to false assumptions.

    given humans have emotions any reasoning should take likely emotional responses into account
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      Mar 5 2014: 'Intuition works faster but can lead to false assumptions.'
      Excellent insight Obey. But analysis, although done slowly, carefully, and thoroughly, could also still lead to error. Best would be analysis after intuition.
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    Mar 4 2014: No they are a couple.
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      Mar 5 2014: Funny Pabitra.....and maybe true as well! Another commenter says..."I have seen them making love with each other".....also interesting, and maybe true!

      As a "subjective feeling", we can, as individuals, imagine emotion and reason separated, and/or, we can perceive them working together, which is how I perceive them.

      Whatever one's belief is.....that humans were created by an entity "out there" somewhere, or that humans have evolved, which is my belief, it makes no sense to me that "parts" of our "self" are meant to work against each other. It makes perfect sense to me, that all "parts" of our "self" are meant to work together.....interconnected.

      We have all these questions and conversations on TED.....should we listen to intuition/instinct.....OR logic/reason? Should we encourage right brain OR left brain activity? Should we listen to our heart OR our mind? It simply makes sense to me to use ALL information and opportunities to "know" and understand how everything works together on our path of the life journey. I don't know why some folks want to deny the value of some "parts" of our "self"!
      • Mar 6 2014: I can imagine my hand as a separate entity from myself. Unless I have a neurological disease, it never actually is separate from myself. The same is true of imagining emotion to be separate from reason--they are only separate in the diseased mind.
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          Mar 7 2014: I understand what you are saying Bryan, and I don't agree that it is necessarily a "diseased mind" that separates emotion and reason. It seems more like a mind that is "stuck" with a certain idea....like emotion and reason are separate.

          In my perception, a person who perceives emotion and reason as separate denies him/herself the opportunity of using them together. It's like having a vehicle, and choosing to use only the engine OR only the gas line , OR only the battery at any given time. Everything in a vehicle is meant to function together. I believe this is true of the body/mind as well:>)
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    Mar 4 2014: Poch,
    Reason and emotions are thinking, feeling processes that begin in our brain/mind, and are often influenced by external stimuli. By suggesting that they are "sworn enemies" you seem to be giving these processes a life of their own outside our "self". While thoughts and feelings can at times feel contradictory, the processes in our "self" actually work well together when we "know thyself".
  • Mar 4 2014: But, whenever I have seen these two guys called Emotion and Reason, I have seen them making love with each other.

    To whom we are more closer . The Enemy or The loved One. We are close to both Enemy and the Loved one.

    When someone becomes enemy then we constantly think about our enemy that how to take a revenge. This way we fall in love with Enemy too.

    When we become pure rational then also there are emotions behind it which have made us purely rational, And when we become pure emotional then also there are reasons behind it which have made us purely emotional.

    Extreme rational and Extreme emotions are two extremes, but they are not complete extremes.

    In the state of extreme anger the reason gets muted, before invoking the emotion of anger.

    If a person becomes angry there is always a reason behind it.The key thing which is agreeable is that during extreme anger or extreme emotional state we lose our ability to reason.

    Now , look at the starting sentence of the conversation "Many Expert reasoners feel they are". Point to be noted about the word "FEEL". From where does Feeling came from . Is it a reason or a emotion ? Is feeling a reason or a emotion ?
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      Mar 4 2014: 'The key thing which is agreeable is that during extreme anger or extreme emotional state we lose our ability to reason.'
      Not applicable to at least 1%. There are just some super-cool people who don't get swayed by emotion anymore. They have 'mastered' it like Buddhist gurus. But of course they have been there before.

      'From where does Feeling came from?'
      Here, perception comes in. If we perceive that something is not right and is offending, we 'feel' and get emotional. Then we begin to 'reason': 'Why and how did that something affected us?'
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    Mar 4 2014: an expert reasoner has no business feeling anything ;)

    i think they are both elements of being human.

    for some reason, many people feel the need to choose a camp and then wave that flag for all to see when it comes to this sort of question.

    it's obvious that they are both useful depending on the situation
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      Mar 4 2014: '...it's obvious that they are both useful depending on the situation.'
      I agree sir but I think logic is much more useful than emotion. In fact, the only use of emotion I see now is it's being an outlet of toxic negative feelings.
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        Mar 4 2014: you're right that there are a lot of toxic negative feelings - they are the emotions that i view as grounded more in the material world than that other, higher realm that people often talk about.

        i'm not talking religion although i think that religion is a natural outlet that many people use to help them to find a path to betterment. that's what i see religion's purpose as being. obviously, what you choose to believe really only has to suit you.

        these "material" emotions are easily conjured. too easily some of the time - jealousy, anger, fear - and not always conjured. it sometimes feel as if they are inflicted upon us.

        this all sounds very cliche and overdone but my observation is that anything worth attaining must worked at or sacrificed for in some form or other.

        what i think of as the higher emotions - love, happiness, joy, empathy (not sure if it qualifies but when this is combined with reason, it brings out the best in people) - usually require some input or effort from the person themselves for them to work to their full effect.

        they are not as fast as the internet, i'm afraid to say

        and to assume reason without emotion is to assume reason without the higher emotions. imagine the world in the hands of corporations and governments, whose concerns are not driven by love or compassion but by, for example, profit.. ;)

        that doesn't bear thinking about. thank goodness for our softer side..our inside
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          Mar 4 2014: 'Not applicable to at least 1%. There are just some super-cool people who don't get swayed by emotion anymore. They have 'mastered' it like Buddhist gurus. But of course they have been there before.'
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        Mar 5 2014: Dear Poch,
        You have claimed to be a pessimist, and you seem to be very correct in your labeling of your self:>)

        Emotion by definition, is...
        "the affective aspect of consciousness; a state of feeling; a psychic and physical reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling and physiologically involving changes that prepare the body for immediate vigorous action".

        Poch, you write...
        "In fact, the only use of emotion I see now is it's being an outlet of toxic negative feelings."

        Being a subjective feeling, each and every one of us can experience it differently, and if you choose to see emotion as only toxic negative feelings, that is a choice you make for yourself. That is your personal choice of how you want to perceive and experience emotions.
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      Mar 5 2014: I agree Scott...
      "... they are both elements of being human."
      "... many people feel the need to choose a camp and then wave that flag for all to see when it comes to this sort of question."
      "it's obvious that they are both useful depending on the situation".

      I'm wondering if some folks want to "wave that flag" in this sort of discussion as a way of reinforcing and supporting his/her own personal beliefs?
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        Mar 5 2014: well, there's nothing wrong with an opinion but i don't see why things always have to be one or the other - i guess that's the nature of these kinds of discussions.

        all I know is that emotionless reason is what we get when we deal with bureaucracy and, in my experience, there are few things worse that that. Mind you, bureaucracy also tends to be brainless as well as lacking in empathy and emotion.
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          Mar 5 2014: I agree Scott...nothing wrong with an opinion, and I also cannot understand why some folks want to separate things like reason and emotion. In my perception and experience, they work together...reason and logic without emotion, seems kind of silly, and emotion without recognizing logic and reason seems kind of silly.....seems like the separation deprives us of the opportunity for more information. As humans, we have these processes, and it makes sense to me to use EVERYTHING together:>)
  • Mar 3 2014: I would say that thirst is not an emotion, but rather a rational sense in the same way touch, taste, smell are rational.

    Your reaction to your thirst such as fear, anger, or even joy when you satisfy the thirst, are the emotions.

    And, I think you are taking it to figuratively.

    What is actually meant when people say reason and emotion are enemies is that once you become angry, afraid or otherwise lifted into an elevated emotional state, your ability to evaluate abstract data becomes impaired.
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      Mar 4 2014: 'What is actually meant when people say reason and emotion are enemies is that once you become angry, afraid or otherwise lifted into an elevated emotional state, your ability to evaluate abstract data becomes impaired.'

      And that is why some people don't trust emotions. Logic or reasoning is cold, the exact opposite. Thanks Darrell.