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How rational are feelings or emotions?

Discussion in 'Love and Attraction' started by Thea, May 17, 2015.

  1. Thea

    Thea Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    I tend to be an unemotional person, because I don't find feelings rational. I like to be able to explain and understand things, but feelings are one thing that aren't or are they?

    An example would be why I still have feelings for a friend that let me down or a lover that has lied to me. That's not rational, but maybe that's a human trait, one that we can never fully understand.

  2. truespock

    truespock Well-Known Member IQ: Over 150

    Feelings and emotions are not only NOT rational, they could even be said to be ANTI-rational. Strong emotions are believed to be intended as mental releases, something rather like a biological fuse box. They often come in sudden uncontrolled bursts and , as such, can easily overwhelm the reasoning process. Of course we need our emotions; they are a big part of makes us human and keeps us (relatively) sane. I surmise that the trick must be to learn to give vent to the passions in life without allowing them to circumvent the rational mind. Good luck with that.

    We all have a tendency to cling to people and situations in our lives which are proven not to be good for us because of their familiarity to us, i.e. the classic abused wife who remains in the relationship simply out of the terror of changing her life (read personal identity) as much as culling the abuser would do. Remember that positive alterations to one's 'comfortable' situation are every bit as traumatic to the human psyche as are negative ones.

    There's a lot of psychological truth to the old adage, "Better the devil you know."
  3. B00Bz

    B00Bz Active Member IQ: Over 150

    I am not comfortable saying whether or not I believe emotions are "rational" because I am not very well acquainted with the specific details of the definition of the word and would rather not look it up now or debate it as I think this is a more interesting discussion. That being said I think that emotions do serve an important purpose, or more accurately, did. It seems pretty clear to me that human intelligence allows us to change our environment much faster than we evolve physically. This means that the chemicals in our brain that generate sensations that we describe as emotions are in most cases outdated as a means of alerting us of the situation we are in. Now, since rationality is very specific, and these changes that we term emotions happen to us on a level that I would probably not describe as rational, I would say that emotions are not rational. However, if we are able to rationalize why we get these feelings we will understand a whole lot more about who we are and how we work, which is a very practical pursuit.

    tl/dr: No they are not rational but they are not mutually exclusive from rationality either.
    Matty likes this.
  4. yabootystank

    yabootystank Active Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Man, I love this question, because I used to think about it so much, when I was on this psychology binge. Emotions are something incited by the nervous system, since we only react to external stimuli, even on the most pluralistic level, but they tend to exaggerate reality, and miss the objective in our thinking, so they are not rational, computational things 98% of the time, but are more reality inspired, like how old bands inspire new bands to make music based off of them.
  5. KimchiNinja

    KimchiNinja Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    Well, I think emotions are somewhat understandable.

    Many seem based on survival. Humans survive by working together in small groups, even if your group member lets you down, it's more rational to stick with the group than to wander off and get eaten by a wolf while you sleep alone in the dark. As a female it could be more rational to be attracted to a strong male that can protect you (who happens to be a liar), than to be with an honest male and get eaten by a wolf cause he doesn't know how to start a fire. ;)

    Perhaps they aren't that irrational, just out of context in modern life?
    MotleyNoumenon likes this.
  6. jeanlejeune1993

    jeanlejeune1993 New Member Claimed IQ: 130+

    I'm not sure if i am correct but to me emotions and instincts seem to be very much irrational impulses which human beings have in response to reasoned conclusions or use reason to facilitate, IE in a survival situation humans will try to do the most reasonable thing to ensure their survival and/or that of another because these are the goals set by emotional programming, there is no reason for this outside of this emotional programming, if humans did not have an instinct or strong emotional drive to preserve themselves or others they wouldn't mind dying or seeing others die. its hard to wrap your mind around from the human perspective because these emotional impulses are so central to what we are. that being said though i do think these emotions became ingrained through natural processes which can be understood through reason, IE if a life form did not care about itself or others it wouldn't care about staying alive or keeping others alive therefore only the genes which lend a propensity for self preservation or empathy(or any other emotion or instinct) were passed on.
  7. AguirresPriest

    AguirresPriest Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    That's way too little information to know if the decision is rational. :whistle: There are a billion reasons when having feelings for that friend or lover might be rational, and another billion why it might not be.

    Some people are awfully quick to judge others.
    Kegs likes this.
  8. webplodder

    webplodder Active Member Unclaimed IQ

    I don't think you can ever entirely divorce emotions from rationality because without the dynamics of emotions nothing would ever be accomplished. That's not to say we should allow our emotions to become too overwhelming but if we take an extreme example of a computer that has no emotions, what would compel that computer to ask questions or be inspired by the world about us without some kind of driving force?

    Emotions are also important to enable us to relate to others and 'feel' what other people are thinking. After all, we're all human and, therefore, social beings so emotions are crucial in participating in the world. How would we fall in love without emotions, for example? One could argue that love isn't rational but, in a way, it is. The purpose of falling in love is to form a close relationship with another person, possibly resulting in offspring, which to me at least, demonstrates a kind of rationality in terms of survival of the species.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  9. Bryce

    Bryce Member Claimed IQ: 130+

    You should try not to let your emotions cloud you logical judgement but it is sometimes unavoidable as you mentioned in your question. That is probably because there may be some logic to emotions. For example, you may still have feelings for a friend that let you down because they did something to make up for it, or they have done enough good things that you are willing to let it by. In such cases, it may be logical to continue to get the benefit of the relationship even though your trust in them has fallen. During the process of our evolution, the ability to determine when a relationship is still beneficial and when it is no longer beneficial has been vital to our survival as a species.
    AguirresPriest likes this.
  10. Solaire

    Solaire Active Member IQ: 140+

    I've been there. The personality of the wife is slowly erased as her feelings, thoughts and perceptions were invalidated slowly to the point where she needs confirmation for her emotions, feelings, thoughts and perceptions from the abuser. Cutting ties with the abuser is more than just terror of changing life, it basically leaves her without a sense of self and therefore without skills to cope with the issues that arise. She strongly believes the reality that is told her by the abuser, which is usually a projection of his reality (and therefore she will start apologizing for the things she has done that can be considered abusive and starts to be even more subservient). Not to mention the trauma bonding, the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) and the push / pull cycle where dopamine is associated to the pull cycle by the brain and therefore cutting ties with the abuser is also detoxing from dopamine. It's horrible to detox, let alone when you're confused about your feelings and reality and are even confused about the feelings that arise from detoxing. You have no grip on the emotions that you feel or how to cope with them as your abuser took on that role and he is not there anymore. Very few people get a grip on the cause and manage their way through to healing, sadly. The stigma that is on males being abused by females is even worse (while, for example, borderline and certain types of narcissism tend to be more common in females than males).

    A bit more on-topic: I don't believe feelings or emotions are rational, but they're there and I like them, so I make good use of them. Positive emotions are plain awesome and I make sure to embrace them every single moment of the day.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    Bryce and Moloch like this.
  11. Moloch

    Moloch Well-Known Member IQ: Over 150


    To me, and this took some effort and takes some effort every day, emotions are. I accept that I have emotions (difficult sometimes) and I accept that they have a place. I still struggle with dealing with them. It is hard, my emotions are intense and overwhelming and I have plenty. At the same time they are part of the experience that makes me human and for that I do think it is good I have them. The acceptance gives me some form of peace.

    And I write poetry on occasion to deal with them. Most of that is bad. Some is good. It is irrelevant... like emotions the poetry just is.
    AguirresPriest likes this.
  12. Bryce

    Bryce Member Claimed IQ: 130+

    I thought you were a reptile!
    I am just joking. I also do think that you are right when you say that they have a place. I believe that they are a result of millions of years of evolution and that they are overall advantageous to have.
  13. Veku

    Veku Active Member Unclaimed IQ

    They are both absolutely converse. Feelings can lead to a "rational" advantage but that is only when you retrospect, subsequent to the occurrence of an event. If you have the option to go back to the past and attempt something that you already attempted for the second time, rationally, you would stick with what you already know is going to yield the desired outcome( the result of what was once irrational thinking).
    Picking a different option is basically just feelings taking over. Although you may stumble upon a more desirable resultant, you would also be exposed to undesirable outcomes. If the options are limited and narrow enough, the probability of you stumbling upon an undesirable outcome would be intensified as you toss a known desirable outcome. [thanks to you being motivated by the desire for better(feelings)]

    Without feelings, i would have no reason to exist and nothing to stand for. I would become an absolute nihilist and abandon the worldly order. Feelings lead to hypocrisy and I have no problems with that as I don't pretend to be a white knight. Fortunately, I've had some extremely admirable role models in my life that have burdened me in favors; favors which still make me quiver. Attempting to repay these favors will keep me occupied for the rest of my life and save the world from another nihilist ;)
  14. Ziq

    Ziq Active Member Claimed IQ: 130+

    Feelings and emotions are metarational. They form the basis of intuition and belief, basically axioms.
  15. conrad

    conrad Member Unclaimed IQ

    It's emotions (and also instincts to some extent) which drive us to to what we do - and rational thoughts are just the post-instance for rationalizing and justifying our actions. Freedom is that we can do we want, but we cannot chose what we want. That is not to say were are slaves and robots to our emotions, we still can chose NOT to do something. But the notion that we're driven by some kind of rational code like a computer program, like a program pointer executing the code we let it point to, is a spooky notion,. In pursuing in what we want we might be able to take rational decision. but the base drive stems from emotions. This is similar to is what I've heard from a contemporary philosopher and I think it's has something to it.

    There was a time some decades ago, in the 60's,when the notion of being totally driven by logic and rationality was some kind of a sought-after model in the media. Star Trek's First Generation Mr. Spock was a prototype of this. Later, some decades later, Data the android was totally logical and rational as well, but wishes nothing more than being human, equipped with emotions. Analogous to that, today, there's a shift and an insight that humans aren't as rational as the founding fathers of enlightenment hoped them to be, but rather that we have to reconcile us with the emotional equipment we have and which we cannot and musn't shed.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
    Moloch and AguirresPriest like this.
  16. Surpidoooo

    Surpidoooo Member Unclaimed IQ

    I just came across this article


    “These networks had been shown to be important in many psychological functions, but we showed that, whatever else they are doing—helping you think, remember, pay attention or see—they are also regulating your body and creating feelings,” says Barrett. “For centuries, the mind was thought of as a battleground between emotion and rationality. Then the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio famously argued that rationality and emotion are both important for wisdom. But there is no ‘both.’ The division between rationality and irrationality is artificial; your brain isn’t wired like that at all.”

    Sorry, if this short, but I actually don't have time right now.
    Moloch likes this.
  17. Rapier

    Rapier New Member Unclaimed IQ

    Maybe feelings are rational in the way they can allow one person to sense how another person is feeling and act accordingly. I'm reminded of Spock in Star Trek who could not really appreciate how humans felt and assumed they could always think logically.
  18. mfrittman

    mfrittman Active Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    The brain is a hodgepodge of structures with various purposes. Some of the structures, such as the prefrontal cortex, are significantly more developed in humans than any other creature; some are very similar to structures in an alligator brain. Many of the more primitive structures produce emotional responses that have to be interpreted by other areas of the brain. The amygdala, for instance, evaluates the environment and produces fear when things aren't quite right.

    The hypothalamus evaluates various behaviors and ranks them. Betty's hypothalamus tells Betty to eat vegetables and exercise. Alan's hypothalamus rewards him when he drinks himself to oblivion and punishes him when he tries to stop drinking. These structures produce impulses that are regulated by the cerebellum. The temporal lobe, prefrontal region and parietal lobe work together to analyze data and solve mathematical equations. Logic is the realm of these regions.

    Are emotions logical? No. They aren't produced by the same parts of the brain that produce logic. Still, there is a certain type of logic to the way the brain functions.
    Solaire likes this.

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