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  1. #1
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    Default Do Emotions Impair Rationality?

    Please explain your answer.

    Defining your terms is always helpful, i.e. "emotions" and "rationality".

    My answer will come in time.

  2. #2
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    This is how I see it:-

    Rationality is using logic to make decisions. Any decision. To be clear, it is to act on all available information. Not to be omniscient.

    Emotions are things like fear, anger, happiness, sadness etc.

    So, in order to make a conscious decision, one needs to have a goal. That goal can be anything, but is ultimately not based on logic. Hence not based on rationality. It is instead provided by alogical things, such as instincts, emotions, values, programming (in the case of computers) etc.

    So when a strong emotion occurs, the "goal" of the decision, is being changed. Fear may change it to "get as far away from that bear as possible". The long term goals are erased, and no longer being considered.

    Essentially, one still performs as well on a maths test. As long as they are still trying. So one hasn't lost any rationality.One is still using this rationality, but for a different goal.


    This brings me to my conclusion. The "rationality" (definition change, "" signifies) that is impaired by emotions. Say, you'll be rich if you run past the tame bear to the goal, so rationally (former definition) you will try because the bear won't hurt you. However, fear hinders this, and when the fear disappears, one reverts back to the "rational" (the long-term state) state. Then one regrets not passing the bear. Concluding one was "irrational" during the fear.

    This new "rationality", is simply a moral judgement (not rational). It has nothing to do with logic or rationality in the normal sense, but is instead emotional consistency. Or in it's broad form, irrational (values, instincts, programming etc) consistency. The "rational" state calls the state of fear, in the example, an "irrational" state, simply because the "rational" state does not like it (it clashes with its values, as it wanted the money).

    EDIT: All that being said, emotions might hinder rationality/logic. I just don't think someone's behaviour demonstrates this. One would have to make the subjects take tests to prove it.

  3. #3
    The High Priestess Amargith's Avatar
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    To the first post: only if emotions aren't handled properly.
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  4. #4
    That chalkboard guy Matthew_Z's Avatar
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    And now for my incoherent ramblings.

    My definitions: (anything here is not in the MBTI sense of the word)

    Rational - the ability to perceive clearly and make judgments accordingly; sanity

    Emotions - instinctive or intuitive feeling; largely subjective

    Logic - formal deductive reasoning; largely objective


    To begin, I would like to propose that Logic and Emotions both intersect with parts of the overarching judgment-making ability known as Rationality. To be rational is to perceive and reason clearly. To speak of rationality, logic, and emotions is to speak of objectivity and subjectivity. Rationality strongly implies objectivity. Logic follows much of the same route. Emotions, however, are subjective. (albeit influenced by objective factors) Therefore, it would appear that logic is closer to true rationality than emotions are. However, it would be most fallacious to, at this point, state that emotions are inherently irrational. Emotions tap into an inner wealth of information that cannot be reached by logic alone. This information call allow one to see more aspects of a situation, including the ones not externally apparent. "This makes me feel sad." How can one objectively quantify that? Is the statement wrong? It is not. Using objective reasoning, logic, one can reach a conclusion using this most subjective input. To ignore this dimension of input would be irrational as it excludes part of the picture from which a rational judgment is to be based off of. Conversely, to act in an illogical manner off of these feelings would be equally irrational as it would not be a judgment made through a "clear" thought process.

    To conclude, emotions and logic, when used together properly, naturally compliment each other. Without the other, a degree of rationality is lost. For this reason, both elements must be included, with balance, in order to be rational.

    Edit: As a last note, the key is to interpret emotions, not ignore them.
    If a deaf INFP falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

  5. #5
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    Yes and no.

    Emotions are often needed to handle situations that may require a quicker reaction time than logical thought processes can provide. For example, fear is a great one... it's needed for self preservation, sometimes yeu need to just run like hell, if yeu stopped to consider yeur situation, yeu'd already be dead.

    On the other hand... letting them get carried away can be just as bad, or worse. There's been more than one war started by blind hatred or love, working on emotions without them being tempered with reason can go very badly.

    Want to see whot happens when yeur emotions run rampant without any intelligence to back them up at all? Watch a soap opera, see people throw tantrums and 'get back at' each other off imagined slights, without putting any time into reason at all. Watch them destroy their best friends' life simply because they are in a bad mood. This is a prime example of 'humans' being no more valuable than animals, for supposedly being 'smarter', alot of the time we don't use our brains -_-;;

    Of course the other hand can be almost as bad, turning one into a cold emotionless machine with zero sympathy or understanding. Sadly I tend to trend more towards this side than the other, I'd like to maintain a healthy balance but it's alot harder than one would think.

    Short answer is yes, emotions do screw up rational thought, because they are literally the exact opposite of it, however they're also needed to some extent. The trick is just letting them have some effect without letting them run rampant without a leash.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew_Z View Post
    And now for my incoherent ramblings.

    My definitions: (anything here is not in the MBTI sense of the word)

    Rational - the ability to perceive clearly and make judgments accordingly; sanity

    Emotions - instinctive or intuitive feeling; largely subjective

    Logic - formal deductive reasoning; largely objective


    To begin, I would like to propose that Logic and Emotions both intersect with parts of the overarching judgment-making ability known as Rationality. To be rational is to perceive and reason clearly. To speak of rationality, logic, and emotions is to speak of objectivity and subjectivity. Rationality strongly implies objectivity. Logic follows much of the same route. Emotions, however, are subjective. (albeit influenced by objective factors) Therefore, it would appear that logic is closer to true rationality than emotions are. However, it would be most fallacious to, at this point, state that emotions are inherently irrational. Emotions tap into an inner wealth of information that cannot be reached by logic alone. This information call allow one to see more aspects of a situation, including the ones not externally apparent. "This makes me feel sad." How can one objectively quantify that? Is the statement wrong? It is not. Using objective reasoning, logic, one can reach a conclusion using this most subjective input. To ignore this dimension of input would be irrational as it excludes part of the picture from which a rational judgment is to be based off of. Conversely, to act in an illogical manner off of these feelings would be equally irrational as it would not be a judgment made through a "clear" thought process.

    To conclude, emotions and logic, when used together properly, naturally compliment each other. Without the other, a degree of rationality is lost. For this reason, both elements must be included, with balance, in order to be rational.

    Edit: As a last note, the key is to interpret emotions, not ignore them.
    What exactly do you mean by objective/subjective?

    How can logic/rationality be any more objective than emotions?

    I largely agree with what you state outside of that issue, but I need clarification on that part, if I am to understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katsuni View Post
    On the other hand... letting them get carried away can be just as bad, or worse. There's been more than one war started by blind hatred or love, working on emotions without them being tempered with reason can go very badly.

    Want to see whot happens when yeur emotions run rampant without any intelligence to back them up at all? Watch a soap opera, see people throw tantrums and 'get back at' each other off imagined slights, without putting any time into reason at all. Watch them destroy their best friends' life simply because they are in a bad mood. This is a prime example of 'humans' being no more valuable than animals, for supposedly being 'smarter', alot of the time we don't use our brains -_-;;
    How are any of those scenarios irrational (unintelligent)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katsuni View Post
    Of course the other hand can be almost as bad, turning one into a cold emotionless machine with zero sympathy or understanding. Sadly I tend to trend more towards this side than the other, I'd like to maintain a healthy balance but it's alot harder than one would think.
    How is any of that more rational/intelligent? (if that is what you are implying)

    Seems like those scenarios are seperate emotional states. Emotional states that condemn one another, usually.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katsuni View Post
    Short answer is yes, emotions do screw up rational thought, because they are literally the exact opposite of it, however they're also needed to some extent. The trick is just letting them have some effect without letting them run rampant without a leash.
    See, to me, most people are only rational because of their emotions. Without them they would have no desire to be rational in the first place. And rationality would have no desire to do anything if it did exist without emotions.

    So, to me, emotions are not the opposite of rationality, they are its source. Or at the very least, part of the rational process.

  7. #7
    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    I don't think rationality and emotions need to be separated. (Actually, they can be separated but they are not exact opposite things. They are just two completely different things that can have something to do with one another or not.)
    And rationality can mean any kind of a judgment. Rationality in itself is such a subjective word so it could mean anything.

    Making decisions based on facts.
    Making sound decisions based on multiple types of information.

    Anything. Basically, an irrational decision is one made without making any consderations at all. A decision to kill one's self based on a sense of overwhelming feeling- that's irrational.

    A decision to kill one's self based on -
    1.) No such thing as an afterlife.
    2.) My wife died and I have nothing left.
    3.) I'm going to die of this terminal illness anyways. (I suppose that could be an emotional choice or a thoughtful choice depending on the person.)
    4.) My country, my religion, rightness.

    Etc.. Would everyone consider that to be a good decision? No, a lot of people would say that its irrational. But I think that any adult with their wits about them that can reason and think, (in any way that they choose how to) can make rational decisions. Decisions where implications have been fully considered. Emotions, logic, fact, beliefs.. Rationality covers such a large scope of reasoning and one person's rationality is not another person's rationality.

    Emotions are a bit more defined and agreed upon. You can make irrational decisions based on emotions, yes. There is probably a bigger chance of making a "wrong" decison based on emotions than making a "wrong" decision based on pure logic. But do they always? No.. You can have strong emotions that can aid in making a very sound and rational decision.
    Depends on the person and their intelligence level and their maturity and their upbringing and so on..

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortnsweet View Post
    Anything. Basically, an irrational decision is one made without making any consderations at all. A decision to kill one's self based on a sense of overwhelming feeling- that's irrational.

    Emotions are a bit more defined and agreed upon. You can make irrational decisions based on emotions, yes. There is probably a bigger chance of making a "wrong" decison based on emotions than making a "wrong" decision based on pure logic. But do they always? No.. You can have strong emotions that can aid in making a very sound and rational decision.
    Depends on the person and their intelligence level and their maturity and their upbringing and so on..
    So, do you think emotions are actually the cause of that irrational behaviour? Or is it just the lack of consideration that causes it, regardless of emotion?

    Either way, it certainly gives the appearance of emotions as the cause.

  9. #9
    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erm View Post
    So, do you think emotions are actually the cause of that irrational behaviour? Or is it just the lack of consideration that causes it, regardless of emotion?

    Either way, it certainly gives the appearance of emotions as the cause.
    Well, since emotions would be the cause of the lack of consideration, it would follow that they are also often the cause of irrational behavior. On the other hand, someone who has the power to think and reason should probably consider things and not allow those emotions to get ahold of them to begin with. So its like a chicken and egg thing.

    So clearly emotions can be at the root of irrational behavior, but I don't think that they always do. On the contrary, I don't think that it is common that they do. Sometimes emotions and rationality can be in outright agreement. So they are not really exact opposite things, rather two things working together, or disagreeing with eachother.

    Hmm.. I can't really describe what i'm trying to say well.
    I think that the opposite of "emotional" is "unemotional"
    and the opposite of "rationality" is "lack of reason".
    So, irrational behavior is caused by lack of reason.
    And, emotions can cause lack of reason, or, lack of reason can cause someone to let their emotions cloud their judgement.



    Argh. More to say I spose but don't want to go off on tangents or go in too many circles.

  10. #10
    Member dani_elle's Avatar
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    Emotions can be rationalized but I don't think emotions by themselves are rational.

    Not to say emotions in themselves are useless to the human existence... I truly think they exist for a reason. In some way I kinda think emotions and instinct may be interrelated. (just a personal theory, heh.) Just like one of the posters above said: for one, it triggers the flight syndrome which will help us survive in dire situations.

    It can go both ways. Emotions can provide a form of motivation (for me at least) For example, something as negative as a fear of failing can be a positive influence if you gear it towards pushing yourself to reach greater heights.

    On the other hand, the fear of failing may repel you from trying to attempt what you want to achieve because of such a fear. That's just the thing about emotion, it can go both ways.
    I am an ENFP but I value justice over mercy.

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