“Reason: The arithmetic of the emotions.” ~Elbert Hubbard
Something happens when one delves into a world without sleep. Reflection. What more, reflection tainted by decreased judgment. With that said, there is a certain clarity to be gained from this edgy state of mind when it comes to the role emotion and logic plays in our life. Anyone who has ever been on the wrong end of an all-nighter knows that logic gives way to emotion very quickly once sleep deprivation sets in. I wonder if this heightened sense of emotion the truer state of our beings, or if we should continue to heed the more logical side of our existence?
The Case for Emotion
Besides allowing those of us exposed to high levels of gamma radiation to deal with our rage issues, emotion has many useful advantages. Happiness, Joy, Love. All are compelling reasons for listening to one’s heart when making decisions. Love in particular enables a great deal of progress in society. On a basic level, our very survival as a species requires it. One might argue that love is not a prerequisite to reproduction. However, take it out of the equation and pretty soon looking out for the next generation seems less appealing. At its core, love and emotions in general, are what drives us. They gets us out of bed every morning. They inspires us. Without this key component to our being, we would merely go through the motions like robotic automatons heading towards an inevitable end.
The Case for Logic
What’s that you say? Emotional responses are merely chemical reactions in the brain and can easily be overcome by logic. Well…you might have a point. At the very least the point does sound pretty logical. Bringing us to the grand champion of logic, Reason. It enables us to function in a society where disappointments are common place. It allows to make decisions, based, not just on what is best for us in the current moment, but what is best in the long-term. It helps us realize, that while eating bacon every day would bring us great joy, it also bring us high cholesterol and clogged arteries. Finally, it is the tool by which we solve the great challenges and mysteries of the universe. Without it, we might never have emerged from our primitive hunter and gather society to the intellectually sophisticated existence that allows to adapt to an every changing world.
The Case against Emotion
Rage. Sadness. Jealousy. Negative emotions are the cause of some of the world’s greatest tragedies. I mean, the entire motivation behind Darth Vader’s atrocities are based on an emotional reaction to fear of losing a woman. While emotion can inspire us to greatness, it can also lead us to commit terrible acts as well. At the very least, it clouds our judgment, causing us to make decisions that may not always be the wisest course of action. Ask anyone who’s ever felt the stings of unrequited love. Limerence is a fickle mistress indeed. Emotional rejection has led many a spurned lover down the path to the dark side.
The Case against Logic
Take that emotion. Logic would never lead us into a foolhardy relationship. In fact, the reasonable thing to do would be to avoid the whole situation entirely. Furthermore, why bother with helping others, when our energies could better be spent increasing efficiency and productivity. Literature, poetry, massive public works projects. All wastes of time and money. It would be far more logical for humans to live an existence devoid of all frivolity. What’s that you say? You enjoy frivolity. Well, it’s not logical, so you can’t have it.
Alright, so maybe this is an extreme example, but at the end of they day, many of things we enjoy in life are emotional. It is hard to find a rational reason for heroic acts of romance. Spending hours watching movies, engaging in wacky hijinks, pursuing the objects of our desire…none of these are logical. However, without these seemingly illogical wastes of time, life seems pretty boring.
And the Winner is…
Neither. Alone, emotion and logic are equal parts beneficial and detrimental. If we ran around simply listening to emotion we would end up at a point where the disappointments of the world would leave us with no choice but to give into our rage. Which, as we all know, leads to the unsavory practice of youngling slaughter. Unbridled logic on the other hand leads us to decisions completely devoid of the human element. Fortunately, we draw on both of these elements in our decision-making (or at least we should) allowing us to not only feel inspiration but to know how to channel it to ensure the best possible outcome.