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Stealing from myself

So I posted a comment over at Anarchist Shemale’s blog (well worth reading, by the way), and decided I might as well post it over here too. It’s sort of philosophical: I disagreed with the notion that reason is superior to emotion. Like this:

So, just for fun, but not actually kidding overmuch: I’m not convinced reason is in general superior to emotion. Whose reason? Whose emotion?

Most of us are inherently tribal, and most opinions seem to me to be essentially signaling mechanisms related to tribal affiliations. So says me. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I ain’t.

Most folks, however lovable, might as well be house pets. Do I care what they convince themselves is reasonable? Not really. Do I care about them, as thinking/emoting beings? Sometimes. Hell, I’m an anarchist foster dad. I love lots of house pets. People, too.

Why do I say they’re house pets? Because they don’t reason well. Does it therefore matter whether they believe that reason trumps emotion? If so, why?

I have this coordinate rating system for people. This is rude of me. But: first, I’ll state as if I knew what I was talking about that deductive logic, as a process, doesn’t exist. That’s not how neural networks function. Pattern recognition, however, is a thing. So…deductive reasoning relies strongly on the ability to recognize valid steps in what we laughably call deductive reasoning. Many many people simply can’t. Thus, the conversations we overhear in elevators in which housepets veer sort of close to concepts, and use body language and tone of voice to win what they consider to be arguments. It’s cute. But anyway, that’s one axis. One continuum. To what extent does a given creature accurately recognize the difference between valid deductive logic and intuitive/wild crazy leaps based on emotive factors?

Here’s the second axis: do these monkeys use language to communicate/inform/argue, or strictly to influence others to get what they want? People at opposite ends of this spectrum confuse each other: think IT staff (mostly) vs. politicians. They can’t meaningfully communicate at all, on any subject with emotive significance.

Is reason truly superior to emotion for an entity who does not possess the basic pattern-recognition skills required by deductive logic? How about for one that only uses words for emotive effect? Does the second actually “reason” at all? How can you tell?

Then what if a third axis is introduced, and we leave Flatland for something more entertaining by considering the emotional strength of tribal affiliation (thus bringing us back to where I started)? “I believe thus and such because smart/good people believe it, so that makes me smart/good, whoopee!”

Just saying. Nice post, though.

I don’t want you guys to misinterpret: I say house pets, because they’re lovable. Loved, too, in many but sadly not all cases. But most people probably won’t contribute much to the world at large. Fill the emotional needs of others, yes, sure. Maybe contribute food and other necessities too. So do animals in the wild, even insects. But will they contribute original thought or analysis or art that inspires us? Most folks never will, because they can’t. That doesn’t mean they’re not valuable, and deserving of love and affection. Doesn’t mean there aren’t several I’d gladly take a bullet for, because I love them and want to do whatever I can for them. That’s a separate matter entirely. But it does mean there’s not a lot of point in worrying about their opinions, present or future, or appealing to them via reason. That’s…just not their thing. It probably never will be.

It is what it is. Luckily most folks, regardless of all that, are actually pretty decent. By which I mean they have a degree of empathy, and mostly treat others as they’d like to be treated. I have no idea why this is true, but I’m convinced of it. It makes me happy.

Is this at all relevant to the main business, whatever that might be, of this blog? Not that I can tell. I’m maintaining my every-day writing streak, though, so there’s that.

Really should have taken on the end of this trilogy (unless there are more books later) earlier. I’m having a blast.

Have fun out there!

1 Comment


  1. // Reply

    I’m starting to disagree with ‘most folks…are actually pretty decent,’ mostly because of 1) stuff happening, and 2) the people who, by their inaction, don’t stop it. Even when voting is secret, and they could have taken that tiny stand for decency. Brainwashing 101, I guess.

    House pets is a beautiful analogy – and perfect. And I’m ashamed of myself for agreeing with you. Non-thinking house plants might work as well, except that many people don’t get the ‘cute-adorable’ reaction from house plants.

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