This is probably a fairly common one, but a good subject of debate.
I'm squishy and I whine a lot, so once I got a good punch in the face when a man told me something like this:
"No decision made by emotion is a good one."

Which I dispelled completely at first glance, but unfortunately I gave it a second thought. It seems that even with moral issues, you absolutely have to address logic. And often, logic does win. Is there a situation you can think of where the "emotional" decision wins over a more logical approach? Or do we say that logic and emotion are more separated than they are?

Which option do you find yourself catering to?  Stereotypically, Atheists are very cold, after all.








Tags: emotion, logic, morality

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Logic is of far greater utility compared to emotion. Often times, if you use logic in situations, not only will you improve it but you may also save yourself from a lot of hell or worse. For example, let's say a woman is at risk for giving birth to a baby with major mental and/or physical defects with a slim chance of surviving long post-partum. Let's also say that said woman has a history of depression and that the baby (unlike some with disabilities) is incapable of enjoying a pain-free, fulfilling life. An emotional woman might get teary-eyed and reject the thought of terminating her pregnancy, whereas a logical one will see the situation for what it is and terminate the pregnancy for the good of her mental/physical health and to not be responsible for bringing in an ailing person into the world. Any other outcome may not be as favorable for woman or baby. Once logic comes into play, you get a world with far less suffering. There's a reason why fascists put emphasis on "gut-instincts" and emotions over logic and reasoning.
My opinion: Emotion and logic are both important, but function in complementary ways. That is, they work a little bit like the 'coarse' and 'fine' resolution on optics like microscopes, cameras, binoculars, etc. Let me explain. Many of the emotionally-centric responses are generated by portions of the brain that are, comparatively speaking, more primitive (like the limbic system). The kinds of responses that are characterized by logic and cognition are attributed to more advanced portions of the brain (like the portions of prefrontal cortex).

The emotional parts of the brain can provide you with extremely rapid (almost instantaneous) responses despite have literally thousands of 'bits' of information coming at you. The problem is, while it does give you 'something' to work with, the picture it produces isn't very good, very accurate picture and can lead you to make decisions that may have satisfying short-term responses, but tragically-poor long term consequences. That is, it gives you an initial picture of the situation, but it is very fuzzy and very difficult to decipher. This is the 'coarse' resolution on your microscope.

The cognitive / logical part of the brain can provide enormously elegant, precise and accurate translations of the stimuli you are subjected to and can 'recommend' extremely valuable and optimal courses of action, but it does so comparatively slowly.

Think of your response to a car accident: The emotive part of your brain kicks-in at the moment just before and during impact, the cognitive part of your brain kicks-in later, when you have to decide how you are going to manage the mess that has been created.

Here's the bad news.... the emotive part of your brain can be a bully. That is, it can 'shout-down' the cognitive part of your brain very quickly and almost entirely. Without ample exercise to strengthen the cognitive part and to temper the emotive part, you can lead yourself straight into trouble. That is why, so often, we later regret the things we have said (or done) in the heat of passion.

My advice: Heed your emotional signals, but only in as much as they are 'alarms.' Alarms are just bells ringing - they don't necessarily give you much information - they're useful, but somewhat 'stupid' you might say. Strengthen, instead, your cognitive, logical, and critical thinking skills. When you face minor challenges that kick-up an emotional response, temper that response and provide yourself with the strength and patience to think things through cognitively, logically, critically. If you then communicate with your partner (or whomever) in a way that represents the cognitive features of your wonderful brain, you will find that you are ultimately much, much happier with the results.

Pay this advice forward, please. Thank you & best wishes.
I am a professional mathematician, an endeavor that is commonly seen as the epitome of reason. But if you talk to professional mathematicians, you will find that 'beauty' is one of their great motivators. In other words, emotions are what motivates the drive towards reason. It is only because of the emotional drive that we pursue those fundamental facts that logic can prove. It is the emotions that determine which statements are more important.

In another direction, reason and logic only work once we have basic assumptions (often called axioms). But how do we find those axioms? Since the time of Godel, we know any sufficiently complex axiom system is unable to resolve all questions put to it. When we find an undecidable question, the only way to resolve it it through the use of aesthetics, and thereby emotion.

Finally, there is the age-old idea that 'is' does not imply 'ought'. The fact that the world is the way it is doesn't tell us what we *should* do. THAT takes an emotional input to decide what is a favorable goal (peace or war? freedom or dictatorship?). Now, because of our common humanity, we often have very similar emotional reactions to say, child hunger, or mass murder, but that IS an emotional reaction.

So the way I see it, emotions give us the fundamental rules that logic can then apply in new situations. Logic alone cannot determine those rules and emotions alone are not good at being consistent. The two together are like the left and right sides of our brains: we need both to function well.
I have an anxiety disorder. I am almost ALL emotion.

I can personally attest to "No decision made by emotion [alone] is a good one." This is because emotion is rarely reality: It is either an exaggeration of reality (which in and of itself is "not reality" in being NOT down to earth and rooted firmly in what is truthful), or it is NOT reality at all (over-reactions and such).

I am one big ball of over-reaction and not-reality on any average hour of the day. Medication only covers it to a point; the rest I've learned over all these years to gain control of shortly -after- I experience it, sadly there is no pre-emptive strike. Even with all that, sometimes my emotions just run away with me entirely.

My "option" would ideally be decisions of pure logic. Left to my own devices? That would almost never happen. Luckily, I married a completely down-to-earth free-from-mental-health-issues kinda guy who helps me out on that one. What people like me do without a patient, logical significant other, I have no idea. Before my husband, I was at times in my life, almost non-functioning.

It isn't that I rely on him 100% to make all the decisions. Actually, I make -most- of the decisions, he's more of a passive guy is all.. but if something big goes down, and I'm losing it, he's got the whole thing covered in the "logic" department.

I think the reason I was stuck in religion so long in my life was because of my emotion. I don't think it is a coincidence that I've been with the husband about 3 years now, and that's about the time it's taken me to come down from religion, make several attempts to get out, and finally break free completely.

I loathe emotions. They imprison me. But at the same time, they're kinda great at other times... like everything in life, it's about finding a balance. Everything in moderation. And I envy people who can make that happen.

For people like me though: emotions suck.
I prefer logic, isn't religion based entirely on emotion? Emotion is seen and felt differently by all, while logic, like a formula, works in a way which is true. Also, yes, sometimes it may be cold, but after all, to that person it may seem cold, but for you maybe not.
I find logic to be an extremely useful tool. It is the perfect tool for assessing the likely progression of events based on pre-established parameters; working out the likely consequences of actions and so on. Thats great but not always of much use in determining a moral course of action. An adult or adults might sacrifice themselves to save a child. I think most adults would. It would not be based on any logical assessment of the child's utilty or any measure of worth but on instictual emotion. A highly intelligent and useful adult member of society might die to save a child with remedial IQ and six months to live. I certainly wouldn't declare the action immoral. Given the right starting parameters and the right objective it might well be illogical.

I like to think that logic is a tool we emotional humans can use to try to make the best decisions we can but abandoning the emotional input to any decision would always be a mistake in my opinion.

I wouldn't entirely disagree with the sentiment though. Unrestrained emotion would be as harmful as logic in isolation could be.
Consider a problem like overpopulation. A serious and real problem the world currently faces.
Culling a portion of the population is an entire logical action consistant with the goal of lowering the global population. It is also not an action most humans would even consider.
At the same time, being too emotional about it, being unwilling to take any action that might be negative to some people could result in disaster.
Logic is the tool that should allow us to assess the true state of affairs. It can cooly consider a situation that might be overwhelming from a purely emotional position. Emotion is what will guide our logical conclusions on a moral course of action.

So in answer to your question, I cater to both. Both are vital. Logic is capable of making the most efficatious decision, emotion helps us to make what we might feel later was the right decision.

This is a very interesting question and worth a lot of examination. Trying to find some kind of appropriate balance (appropriate to being a human being) is a worthwhile effort.
It really depends on what I'm doing that determines which side takes control.

If I'm dealing with critical issues: time, money, health; it's mostly logic.

If I'm dealing with petty issues: what to eat, what video game to buy; it's mostly emotion.

There are some mash-ups like making a pokemon line-up, what book to bring on a flight; it's a 50/50 which side wins.

In terms of absolute time, most of my time is spent in logic.

Ultimately I see it this way. If I'm looking at my long term happiness I consult logic; if I'm looking at immediate happiness I consult emotion. As it stands, I'm pretty far sighted.
Damasio's book, Descartes' Error is fascinating. I highly recommend it as an exploration of the way the brain creates the mind by mapping bodily sensations and emotions into the cognitive centers and how the cognitive centers and memories activate the body-sensing parts of the brain in order to drive cognition. There really isn't that much of a distinction between the brain and the body. Which makes sense if you consider that the nerves in your knee (or stomach or hand) wire straight up into your brain. Considering the central nervous system and the rest of the nervous system to be separate is kinda weird.
Logic by itself is utterly uncaring. Life is not logically better than death. This is something I think that gets overlooked when discussion about "objective truth" and "objective morality" are discussed. I would go so far as to suggest that the term "objective morality" is an oxymoron.
Although, we might like to be completely logical, most of us are not and that is probably a good thing. For example, pet ownership. There is no logical reason to own a pet. They make messes. They cost money. They require care even when you are not there. It can make finding a place to rent more difficult.

This winter my elderly cat had considerable dental problems. It cost quite a bit to get this problem taken care of and now he is on an expensive special diet. Logic probably would have dictated I put my cat (who was otherwise very healthy) to sleep and save the hundreds I spent nursing him back to health. All the vet bills combined for spaying, shots, etc for a new cat would have been cheaper. I illogically love my cat and nursed him back to health rather than let him die and get a cheaper, newer model or go petless.

It isn't logical to nurse old Alzhemered grandma who will never get better and will only decline until she eventually dies possibly years down the road. She is draining resources and providing very little in return. And yet, most of us would either care for granny ourselves or make sure she was in a good place where care would be provided for her. This isn't at all logical. Care for a person with advanced Alzheimer's is quite costly both financially and emotionally. If doing it yourself, it can also be physically draining. We take care of granny because we love her - not for any reward or hope of return.

Spiders are probably almost totally logical creatures. Although, I am not a spider expert, it seems like most species of lay their thousands of eggs and then abandon them. Or die nearby to provide the babies with food. They don't spend time caring for their young. They don't help out their fellow spiders when they are sick or dying. I've never seen one turn over it's fly to a hungry fellow spider. (Admittedly, I have not spent hours studying spiders, but it appears to me they are not altruistic.) Spiders might make war with each other over territory or one spider wanted another spider's spider gal, but usually spiders are pretty solitary and pretty simple in their eat or be eaten life. I don't mind spiders. I understand they are an important part of the ecosystem, but I don't find myself spending a lot of time with them either.

Emotion can drive us to do great or terrible things. But perhaps what makes us human is the ability to have both logic, reason and emotion to guide us. Spiders have very little in the line of emotion. (I have seen them exhibit what I considered to be fear.) Dogs have very little logic. A dog will do just about anything for it's owner without regard to itself. Although, dogs are more likable than spiders, I wouldn't want to be a dog (totally emotionally driven) or a spider (totally logical).
I haven't read every reply. I imagine a number of people will have already said this.

Logic and emotion are not at odds. We are emotional beings, and we are rational beings. They are different, but not polar opposites.

A purely logical life is sterile. A purely emotional life is orderless.
I find human emotion totally illogical.

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