Which is more reliable reason or emotion?
Should you follow your heart or your head?
Reason and emotion are very important components in our lives for decision-making, both of them are related, but only one is more reliable. I personally think emotion is more helpful and powerful in making decisions. While reason is the way in which we try to make sense of the world using logic, rationality, comparison, judgment, and experience, emotion is an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or like, is experienced.
When we attach significance to something we attach feelings not conclusions. Even the most passionate rationalist pursues knowledge because it is satisfying or because it feels good to discover things. Emotions make our lives meaningful and the constant search of meaning is the driving force behind our search of knowledge. Hence, without our emotional responses, there would not be any reason to do anything. So, if emotions are the driving force behind our search of knowledge, then emotions should play a powerful role in the decisions that we make regarding what knowledge to pursue and what to do with that knowledge once we obtained it. Rationalism in this case can only tell us what is, while emotion is required in the reasoning process to tell us what should be, and in this way emotion in decision-making is more reliable than reason.
A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something in common: they couldn’t make decisions. They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat. So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. This studies showed how even with what we believe are logical decisions; the very point of choice is based on emotion.
Many people might associate following your heart with emotion and your head with reasoning, many might say that it is better to follow your head, since the decisions based only on reason are probably safer, and maybe more logical, but does the decision taken need to be based on safe and logic? Isn’t it better to decide on whether it would make you happy? Reason considers only what would benefit us more as a human, citizen, or something as general, and probably giving us an unhappy response, or satisfaction to the decision taken. However, emotions are more individualized, and its purpose is focused on our likes, needs and interests, giving us a happy satisfaction.
According to my personal experienced, I based my decisions more on what I like, or my interests, even though I know they are not “safer”, for example: I would decide to read the romantic book than the biology book. This decision makes me happy, since is based on my interest and likes, even though I am conscious that if I read the biology book I could learn more things for my biology class, but the romantic one I would enjoy it more. Not always following our hearts would lead us to take good decisions, but at least since it was what we wanted and felt happy about it, we can say we didn’t loose it all, although it was wrong. But if the wrong decision taken was follow by our head, we would feel very frustrated, since we neither benefited from the decision, nor did we feel any pleasure from it. This is why in decision-making following our heart is better than our head; at least we would gain something from it.
“Only those people who disengage the heart and engage the brain are able to understand the world”
I don’t agree with the following quote, since we also need emotion to understand the “world” . We understand and gain knowledge of the world through interpretations, judgments and experiences, and without emotion neither of these can be done; although it is impossible to make decisions only considering the rational part of the brain, there is no time to carefully logically think on every decision we take, so emotion as the automatic part of the brain, is the one that linked to intuition help us take spontaneously quickly decisions, which are always based on our interest, needs and likes, and mostly unconsciously we would decide on something that would make us happy and pleasurable.
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