There is a false idea that somehow we think either with our “head” or with our “heart”. We can either be logical (rational, sane, and superior) or emotional (thereby irrational and inferior).
(image from http://transformationalprayer.com/DIY.php)
Well, it is not true. We don’t think with one or the other, we think with both. But, usually we are unaware of the partnership.
Emotions are like flags that let us know if something is important so we can pay attention. They are physiological bookmarks.
Logic, in how it is used by people other than philosophers, is one way to describe a thought process. These steps can be conscious or unconscious and are usually used to justify something rather than discover.
I will use the word thought to describe brain synapses forming and linking ideas.
Emotion, according to a professor of linguistics and psychology that I heard on CBC, is integral to our thinking process. We have a thought and an associated emotion and often we use our logic to defend or refute that thought based on our emotional cue.
Case Study from Real Life:
I worked for a couple who believed this dualism existed. They were blind to how his emotions influenced his decisions and unaware of how her emotions flagged important rational information.
An acquaintance approached them with an investment opportunity.
The man loves to make money (and give it away). His emotions were excited over this prospect of earning more. Therefore, he used his logic to justify his desire to earn money quickly and easily.
The woman picked up on some serious warning flags. Their acquaintance’s character had proven shaky in the past and his whole sales pitch was too good to be true. Her emotions waved neon signs at her and she reacted.
The man dismissed her reasons because her emotions were so loud. He couldn’t conceive that her emotions were merely markers for, and not replacements of, actual thought.
She was unaware of her subconscious thought processes and didn’t explore them further.
He didn’t see how his own emotions were guiding him because they were so muted.
They invested money and lost it all.
Case Study from the Bible:
I imagine that Paul has in his mind that women should be ruled by men. It would make sense that he has strong emotional ties to this idea- gender roles are deep-rooted in many societies. He uses logic to justify his position without examining why he has this idea in the first place.
His defense logic takes him to Genesis where he uses the creation myth that Eve was created after Adam to justify male domination. He concludes that man was made first, therefore what was made after existed only for the purpose of serving the former.
If we follow his logic, then Adam was created to serve the animals the same way Eve was to serve him. And the animals were created to serve the plants. That would have been a hard sell.
My emotions have flagged pornography as something bad. I have stayed far away from it. Now I am curious as to why. Are there good reasons for those strong emotional flags?
As we do research on this, my ideas are changing. Sex coupled with violence does seem to be extremely harmful in a variety of ways. Sex shown as respectful and empowering does not appear to have the same effects. Of course, there needs to be more (unbiased) research into this area before conclusions can be drawn.
I want to use emotions to fuel a search for truth and compassion- not to avoid or justify something.