Saturday, August 20, 2016

Thinking and Feeling Working Together

In his bestseller “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” Steven Covey said that rational thinking is progressive and that feeling is regressive. He is wrong. Both thinking and feeling can be either progressive or regressive.

The Enlightenment movement that championed reason, science and democracy was based to a great extent in an emotion of discontent with the cruelty, oppressiveness and stagnation of the previous order. And Pat Robertson, anti-Semites, and the contemporary misogynist movement – all of them vastly regressive – all have produced very well-reasoned work in their defense.

Ayn Rand championed reason; but she was also a very passionate individual. She passionately championed reason, and she also effectively used reason to champion passion – an aspect of her work that is frequently overlooked by libertarians and conservatives, who care mostly about her defense of capitalism and do not take interest in the rest of her work. In her work, reason and passion feed into each other to create something that is much harder to accomplish than by either one working alone. She used both reason and passion. The result was writing that was both passionate and well-reasoned, and she became one of the most influential thinkers of 20th century as well as one of the most best-selling authors of all time.

Is reason progressive? Is feeling regressive? No. There is absolutely nothing progressive about coldness and cruelty. It takes feeling to nurture life, and it takes feeling to have meaningful relationships. The people who have a negative view of feeling become abusers. When they start feeling something for someone, they cannot stand what they are feeling, but more importantly they cannot stand their partners for invoking it. They despise them for having feelings even as they hysterically need them at the same time. They start hating them even as they cling to them. They make the lives of both of them hell. And if the partner has enough of it and leaves the hell that they have created, they become homicidal.

There is nothing irrational or “spoiled” about the evolution from rationalism to romanticism – something that we have seen in both early 19th century and 1960s. Romanticism is in fact highly rational. The mind has contempt for such things as nature and emotion until it has studied such things enough to find in them greater intricacy and beauty than anything that it itself knows how to devise. This results in respect for such things, even awe. There is absolutely nothing irrational about it; this is a rational response to the logical implications of what they study and what they see.

Whereas having contempt for feeling while feeding off of it is completely irrational.

If human nature has evolved for the benefit of the species, then both thinking and feeling are there for human benefit. If human nature is fallen or of the Satan, then both thinking and feeling are equally corrupt. In either case it is irrational to espouse either one of them at the expense of the other; they are either both equally good or both equally bad.

In either case, it makes every sense to teach both thinking and feeling. If they are both good, then they can work together to feed into each other to accomplish what either cannot achieve alone. And if they are both bad, then each side will be there to check the other, creating checks and balances on each other's sin.

My belief – based on the study of history and a lot of experience, both my own and that of others – is that both thinking and feeling are neutral. Either one can produce either good or bad results. This, once again, leads to a recommendation to teach and encourage both. We have two modalities synthesizing to produce benefit faster than either can do alone. And we also have two different approaches checking each other in each other's propensity to do wrong.

There is nothing regressive or illogical about feeling, nor is there anything evil or sociopathic or necrophilic or “patriarchial” about reason. Both can be good or bad. The more people have familiarity with both, the more they can use two different modalities in place of one. The greater they enhance their capacity to do good through the synthesis between two modalities. And the more they check and balance each modality's capacity to do wrong.


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