Here is part two of an essay on the question why we feel.
Feelings versus Rationalism
So, should we all give up on rationalism? No, we certainly should not. What we have to do is find the right balance, to know when we have to listen to a gut feeling and when we have to remain rational. For this reason above all, we have both the capacities to think and to feel.
Finding the balance won’t happen over night. I honestly fear humanity is not even close to the first step. Today, what matters most is pure rationalism: complex algorithms try to predict the next inflation or deflation on the stock exchange, the industry sees humans as pure target groups for their products, and collects data through RFIDs to be able to decide who buys what.
America has gone to war, but not because they hate Iraq, but because they wanted their petrol. Abusing its citizens’ fear of terrorism was only a pretext. It was a pure calculation of how their weapon industry would profit from a war.
Considering what I have said before: what do you think would have been Bush’s decision if humanity would give empathy the same importance as rationalism? Would he still have decided to kill innocent people and send his army into a senseless war that resulted in more problems than existed before?
What about love and hate?
Arguing about whether love is a good emotion to be around would be senseless. Saying that love is not anything like amorousness might however be important here, as otherwise the term could lead to some confusion. Amorousness is the fact of falling for somebody, while love is in a certain way the next level of this emotion – although amorousness can be skipped and there are many different incarnations of love. Amorousness normally disappears after a maximum of thirty months, whereas love can remain a whole lifetime.
So much for the biochemical approach, but what about the importance of love in our society? Show me where it is important. Other than in families, which become rarer and rarer, love does not play a great role in our society. As I previously said, what matters is an algorithm.
And hate? Is it not an argument against the claim that we are lucky to feel? Well, everything has its weakness, and for what concerns feelings it is certainly hate. Is it? Hate can in fact be a positive feeling, too. It is the utmost measure to protect us against the people who have deeply hurt us. It prevents us from trusting them again and in that way, ensure our well-being and survival. But if we accept this emotion as part of our feelings, will this not lead to new catastrophes based on irrational hate? No, not if we find the right balance by learning to understand and in that way “control” our feelings, not through some medication, but through our mind that has come to comprehend the essential links between our conscience and the absolute moral.