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The Meanings Of Reason And Emotion

1317 words - 6 pages

When studying the meanings of reason and emotion it is often that reason is defined as being synonymous with logic, and emotion with spontaneity. Common associations relate logic with conscious thought and contemplation, and emotion with impulse and reflex. Emotions can undermine reasoning when they “run away with us” (Bastien 66), clouding our judgments and causing us to make bad choices. However, emotion can also enhance reasoning by giving useful guidance whenever the environment fails to provide all the information needed for thoughtful analysis.
There is that “unfortunate and unwarranted implication” (Artz) that emotion has no place in reasoning and most of us have been taught that good decisions are the product of dispassionate and objective thought. Emotions can be considered impediments to rational deliberation, as they can be powerful experiences that usually do not last long and sometimes make us do things we later regret. Today, we are angry with a coworker and want to yell at them. Tomorrow, we reflect and wish we had acted more rationally, regardless of how compelling our argument seemed to be. When you lose your temper in the middle of an argument and start to fling ad homonym remarks at your opponent, it might just cause most rational people to not consider you as having advanced your position at all. Most would say that you lost the argument when you lost your temper. Another obvious example of emotional contamination in rationality can be found in advertising where emotional appeals are often used to cloud the reasoning of consumers. As our impressionistic culture continues to strive for the “newest” and “biggest” enrichments of society, it is easy to be bewitched by the advertisements that readily allure any television watcher, radio listener, newspaper reader, Internet user, or streetwalker who is constantly bombarded with screaming billboards. “We purchase status, social acceptance, quality of life, and the possibility of meaningful relationships in the form of automobiles, deodorant, toothpaste, beer and jewelry” (Artz). An unemotional observer would clearly see that when we are buying deodorant, all we are getting is deodorant. However, this perspective is often lost on a viewer who is caught up in the emotional appeal of the advertisement.
While there is some basis for the widely held belief that emotion undermines rational thought, the subtle and important relationship between reasoning and emotions is completely missed. What if our emotions were not operating at all-could we still make good and appropriate decisions? The strange case of Phineas Gage demonstrates this as false. After an iron rod was blown into his cheek and upward through his skull, Gage was still able to walk and talk and function normally immediately after the accident. However, his behavior changed drastically as prior to the accident, he was very decisive, rational and efficient, and after he became so uncouth, profane and irritable that his former...

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