Thursday, July 02, 2015

Enlightenment and Romanticism: Thinking and Feeling

The Enlightenment philosophy of 18th century claimed that divine truths are discernible through rational inquiry. It was followed by the Romantic philosophy that claimed that divine truths are discernible through passion and inspiration. The first is good for producing scientists and  engineers; the second is good for producing artists and poets.

Both modalities are capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes. Both thinking and feeling are capable of both correctness and error.

Both modalities are capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes. Both thinking and feeling are capable of both correctness and error. The first, at its worst, leads to coldness, cruelty, out of touch ineffectuality, prosecution of feeling and aggressive bigotry directed against things that one has not seen or proven. And the second, at its worst, leads to people who fall for whatever feeling comes their way and live chaotic lives.

My belief is that combining modalities – such as practicing both thinking and feeling – result in wisdom attained faster, and with fewer errors, than through either modality acting alone. The feeling understands the experience on the part of the participant. The thinking sees its external effects. Together they arrive at an integrative picture that sees the phenomenon both within and without. And that creates a picture that is more complete than either modality acting alone.
Neither Enlightenment nor Romanticism are wrong. They are both part-right. The first stresses thinking and the second stresses feeling. Both are part of the human makeup and will always be part of the human makeup. The feeling-haters have come nowhere close to overcoming feeling; they are constantly in the grip of one bad feeling after another. And the people who have a low view of science and rationality must square their attitude with the fact that they are living in a civilization that owes vastly to science.

In a way, Enlightenment and Romanticism pose check-and-balance on one another. The first checks the feeling-oriented people when their feelings are taking them to a wrong place; and the second checks the thinking-oriented people when they become cold, out of touch or abusive. That is in the better scenario. In the worse scenario, the thinking-oriented people are stomping upon others when they have good feelings such as romantic love or compassion, and the feeling-oriented people are blocking scientific or technological progress.

I want to see people be educated in both good thinking and beneficial feeling. I want to see people develop into full human beings, not into a half of a human being. People should be able to both think and feel.
This will combine two great ideas that have been formative to the Western civilization as we now know it, and will make most of their potential to virtue while reducing their potential for wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a bit too much emphasis on geography here. Your claims are definitely valid. Very well written!

5:46 AM  

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