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Degree of letting emotions influence you

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I was thinking about this, and I found it difficult to find the distinction (if there is any) between some situations where emotions may influence your choices.

Ayn Rand says that we shouldn't be guided by emotions, but by reason. I can understand this completely when it involves me being hungry and having two choices: 1. Act on emotion/feelings/whim and steal an apple. 2. Use reason to clarify individual rights and that it'll be in my long term self-interest to buy one. As I said, I find it easy to make the distinction between those two examples, and in such cases people should one be guided by reason.

But what if it involves choices which, at least as it seems to me, are hard to make guided by reason? I'll give you some examples. In general, if you meet two people, you like one of them most, probably because of their personality, your preference doesn't seem very rational, as you don't know anything about them. Or when you're looking for a house and you seemingly make an irrational decision (e.g. you choose a house which is more expensive with less m2 over a cheaper house with more m2) just because you like the first house more because you have some kind of connection with it. And what if you're hungry and you can choose between an apple and a pear, same price, same amount of calories, and you choose the pear, just because you're feeling like it. You aren't acting on reason but on emotions in such cases. It seems to me like those preferences are based on your personality and taste, but is this rational?

Now, I know that choosing between an apple and a pear is not the most important choice in your life, and this is where I started to get confused, but if you should always act by reason (which is moral), what should you pick? Would you say that in such cases, reason doesn't apply because choosing an apple over a pear isn't more moral, even if you could qualify your food as immoral/moral? Or is it rational because you want it, and it doesn't harm others? But this seems like a contradiction to me because in that case the foundation of your rationality are your emotions.

I'd like to hear some opinions about this, and how you, Objectivists, apply reason in your everyday decisions.

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I was thinking about this, and I found it difficult to find the distinction (if there is any) between some situations where emotions may influence your choices.

Ayn Rand says that we shouldn't be guided by emotions, but by reason. I can understand this completely when it involves me being hungry and having two choices: 1. Act on emotion/feelings/whim and steal an apple. 2. Use reason to clarify individual rights and that it'll be in my long term self-interest to buy one. As I said, I find it easy to make the distinction between those two examples, and in such cases people should one be guided by reason.

But what if it involves choices which, at least as it seems to me, are hard to make guided by reason? I'll give you some examples. In general, if you meet two people, you like one of them most, probably because of their personality, your preference doesn't seem very rational, as you don't know anything about them. Or when you're looking for a house and you seemingly make an irrational decision (e.g. you choose a house which is more expensive with less m2 over a cheaper house with more m2) just because you like the first house more because you have some kind of connection with it. And what if you're hungry and you can choose between an apple and a pear, same price, same amount of calories, and you choose the pear, just because you're feeling like it. You aren't acting on reason but on emotions in such cases. It seems to me like those preferences are based on your personality and taste, but is this rational?

Now, I know that choosing between an apple and a pear is not the most important choice in your life, and this is where I started to get confused, but if you should always act by reason (which is moral), what should you pick? Would you say that in such cases, reason doesn't apply because choosing an apple over a pear isn't more moral, even if you could qualify your food as immoral/moral? Or is it rational because you want it, and it doesn't harm others? But this seems like a contradiction to me because in that case the foundation of your rationality are your emotions.

I'd like to hear some opinions about this, and how you, Objectivists, apply reason in your everyday decisions.

Life isn't a false-alternative between being a "logical" emotionless Vulcan or a mindless hedonist. Your emotions are the result of lightning-fast calculations done by your subconcious, based on your premises. A person with healthy, rational premises should be able to trust his emotions and use them for guiding decisions. Indeed, what would be the purpose of living if we denied our emotions?

This could be helpful as well:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/emotions.html

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I'll give you some examples. In general, if you meet two people, you like one of them most, probably because of their personality, your preference doesn't seem very rational, as you don't know anything about them.

Liking someone "at first sight" isn't necessarily irrational, and is a rather harsh and robotic way to look at life. Human beings are surprisingly good at recognizing a personality of "sense of life" in another person that resonates with them.

I remember the first day I met my fiance and my reaction was :), and several years later is still :). If we didn't listen to our emotions and act on them we'd miss some pretty magical things in life.

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Liking someone "at first sight" isn't necessarily irrational, and is a rather harsh and robotic way to look at life.
I meant to say "and thinking it is irrational would be a rather harsh and robotic way to look at life".

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I was thinking about this, and I found it difficult to find the distinction (if there is any) between some situations where emotions may

Now, I know that choosing between an apple and a pear is not the most important choice in your life, and this is where I started to get confused, but if you should always act by reason (which is moral), what should you pick? Would you say that in such cases, reason doesn't apply because choosing an apple over a pear isn't more moral, even if you could qualify your food as immoral/moral? Or is it rational because you want it, and it doesn't harm others? But this seems like a contradiction to me because in that case the foundation of your rationality are your emotions.

I'd like to hear some opinions about this, and how you, Objectivists, apply reason in your everyday decisions.

Your assumption is that an emotional choice is necessarily unreasonable. If a juicy pear delights you more than an apple will, then it is logical to choose by how you feel and eat the one which is more pleasurable (If suffering was your aim, it would be more logical to do the reverse). That assumes no other factors apply of course.

Sometimes your gut feeling will be more accurate than a reasoned decision if there is insufficient information for such decision making. It is then that a lifetime of information stored in your subconscious comes to the fore. Of course this implies that your subconscious has been rationally programmed in the first place.

I make constant use of my 'gut feeling' in my life; it is now my autopilot, and I seldom have need to regret relying on it. Certainly if it fails me, then an urgent 're-programming' is in order.

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I was thinking about this, and I found it difficult to find the distinction (if there is any) between some situations where emotions may influence your choices.

Ayn Rand says that we shouldn't be guided by emotions, but by reason. I can understand this completely when it involves me being hungry and having two choices: 1. Act on emotion/feelings/whim and steal an apple. 2. Use reason to clarify individual rights and that it'll be in my long term self-interest to buy one. As I said, I find it easy to make the distinction between those two examples, and in such cases people should one be guided by reason.

But what if it involves choices which, at least as it seems to me, are hard to make guided by reason? I'll give you some examples. In general, if you meet two people, you like one of them most, probably because of their personality, your preference doesn't seem very rational, as you don't know anything about them. Or when you're looking for a house and you seemingly make an irrational decision (e.g. you choose a house which is more expensive with less m2 over a cheaper house with more m2) just because you like the first house more because you have some kind of connection with it. And what if you're hungry and you can choose between an apple and a pear, same price, same amount of calories, and you choose the pear, just because you're feeling like it. You aren't acting on reason but on emotions in such cases. It seems to me like those preferences are based on your personality and taste, but is this rational?

Now, I know that choosing between an apple and a pear is not the most important choice in your life, and this is where I started to get confused, but if you should always act by reason (which is moral), what should you pick? Would you say that in such cases, reason doesn't apply because choosing an apple over a pear isn't more moral, even if you could qualify your food as immoral/moral? Or is it rational because you want it, and it doesn't harm others? But this seems like a contradiction to me because in that case the foundation of your rationality are your emotions.

I'd like to hear some opinions about this, and how you, Objectivists, apply reason in your everyday decisions.

Many of your examples indicate the false assumptions many make about what reason consists of. This usually arises when there is a failure to apply reason to ones actions and to introspectively know what one is doing. Let's consider your examples.

The choice is not between an apple or a pear, but between are you hungry for a fruit or are you hungry for something else, say a steak. Or wider, are you hungry or is your child hungry and which do you feed first? Or narrower, if you want a pear rather than an apple, is one available in the frig or do you have to go 5 miles to the store to get one? The choice between which one you really feel like having ("I want a pear and not an apple") is not a choice between rational and irrational but between rational options based upon choices you've already made in the past. Choosing and apple because you feel like having an apple is not being guided by your feelings. It is acknowledging that you have feelings and acting within a rational context to achieve the value. You are indeed acting within reason.

Your more complex examples involving interpersonal relationships involve similar choices, within a rational context. Defining one's likes and dislikes about people is one of the things that one needs to do during one's life. Some people like redheads better than brunettes, some thing that high cheekbones are attractive and are attracted to people with those features. When one experiences an emotion, it is reasonable to introspect and discover the values involved are.

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I'm trying to integrate these ideas and so far succeeding partially, but I still happen to run into a couple of confusions.

How do you make the distinction between using your ratio or you feelings? Or do you consider those not so different as they seem because your feelings are derived from your rational thoughts, values and premises? Does this mean that, when you're are completely rational, you can completely trust on your feelings and emotions when you have to make choices? Or would you even consider to call your emotions (when you're totally rational) more valuable because they'll help you to make the right choices when you have insufficient information?

Thank you for your very clear explanations, greatly appreciated!

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I'm trying to integrate these ideas and so far succeeding partially, but I still happen to run into a couple of confusions.

How do you make the distinction between using your ratio or you feelings? Or do you consider those not so different as they seem because your feelings are derived from your rational thoughts, values and premises? Does this mean that, when you're are completely rational, you can completely trust on your feelings and emotions when you have to make choices?

You are getting the general idea. Feelings are not an alternative to reason, but are dependent on how you think or don't think. Think of feelings as automated thinking. When you drive your car, you are not actively reasoning when to push in the clutch; you only do that in the beginning as you program your automatic responses. If a cat runs across the road in front of you, it is not reason that makes you put on the brakes so much as a learned response.

Or would you even consider to call your emotions (when you're totally rational) more valuable because they'll help you to make the right choices when you have insufficient information?

My automated responses present themselves as an emotion, and are the way I see the world around me. As long as my automated responses are in harmony with reality, I have no need to constantly consciously question them. However, if my 'gut-feelings' fail me, then I will not rest until I see where they failed me. For example, if I trusted someone who cheated me, I would look for clues I had missed, and what lessons I could learn. Such lessons go into the subconscious and are integrated into your 'gut instinct'

Note, my point is only to point out that feelings are not necessarily the antithesis of reason.

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How do you make the distinction between using your ratio or you feelings?

I go by the principle "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If there is no conflict between your thoughts and your desires and no conflict between your desires, there's nothing to fix or be concerned about.

It is only when a conflict arises that you have to think your way through it. When you do, your emotions are a critical part of the thinking process because your emotions are an automatic reaction to something you have perceived. What you need to do then is to use introspection and reason to identify what, in reality, you are emotionally reacting to and then use reason to evaluate whether and how much it is relevant to the current context.

As an example, here's a personal situation I often cite. After I read Ayn Rand's books, I heard she was going to be on TV. I eagerly tuned in, but as soon as the camera focused on her and she began to speak, I had a strong negative reaction. I was shocked.

Then I asked myself, "What am I seeing and hearing that I don't like?" I realized that she had the same accent and a strong physical resemblance to my boring, misery-worshiping Russian Jewish aunts. She's was not my aunt, I realized. She was the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged -- and the negative feeling vanished.

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As an example, here's a personal situation I often cite. After I read Ayn Rand's books, I heard she was going to be on TV. I eagerly tuned in, but as soon as the camera focused on her and she began to speak, I had a strong negative reaction. I was shocked.

Then I asked myself, "What am I seeing and hearing that I don't like?" I realized that she had the same accent and a strong physical resemblance to my boring, misery-worshiping Russian Jewish aunts. She's was not my aunt, I realized. She was the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged -- and the negative feeling vanished.

If it hadn't vanished despite your conscious knowledge and positive evaluation of her, what would that have indicated? If, say, you wanted to get rid of a feeling because everything you know renders it mistaken, but it persists anyway?

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I'm trying to integrate these ideas and so far succeeding partially, but I still happen to run into a couple of confusions.

How do you make the distinction between using your ratio or you feelings? Or do you consider those not so different as they seem because your feelings are derived from your rational thoughts, values and premises? Does this mean that, when you're are completely rational, you can completely trust on your feelings and emotions when you have to make choices? Or would you even consider to call your emotions (when you're totally rational) more valuable because they'll help you to make the right choices when you have insufficient information?

Thank you for your very clear explanations, greatly appreciated!

It is important to distinguish between what is rational, in principle, for any human and what is rational for you as an individual. And this is where emotions often come into play. For example, it is rational to be a mechanical engineer but if you have no interest in engineering it would not be rational for you to become an engineer when your interests lie in becoming, say, an actor. If all of your thoughts and values and desires consist of learning to be an actor, then it would be irrational for you to hold that you should become an engineer. One must not reify abstract principles. It is important to let yourself emotions be experienced and then identify why you feel that way. Use your reason to understand what values give rise to those emotions, why you feel a certain way, and what is the best way to achieve your values.

I would never say it is "completely" safe to trust your emotions. The context will inform you of the level of introspection you need: when you need to be aware of reality and when you can "just let yourself go." Sitting on the couch and saying "I feel like reading a book now" would be appropriate to act upon; driving in a car at 70 mph and having the same feeling would not be appropriate to act upon.

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Life isn't a false-alternative between being a "logical" emotionless Vulcan or a mindless hedonist. Your emotions are the result of lightning-fast calculations done by your subconcious, based on your premises. A person with healthy, rational premises should be able to trust his emotions and use them for guiding decisions. Indeed, what would be the purpose of living if we denied our emotions?

Good point. My hero Spock had emotions (as did all Vulcans). He worked under the discipline of Kolinar so he never let his emotions outrun his reason (except during Pahn Farr, when he had the mating urge)

Live Long and Prosper

\\//

ruveyn (I was born on the wrong planet)

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Then I asked myself, "What am I seeing and hearing that I don't like?" I realized that she had the same accent and a strong physical resemblance to my boring, misery-worshiping Russian Jewish aunts. She's was not my aunt, I realized. She was the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged -- and the negative feeling vanished.

If it hadn't vanished despite your conscious knowledge and positive evaluation of her, what would that have indicated? If, say, you wanted to get rid of a feeling because everything you know renders it mistaken, but it persists anyway?

I would never try to "get rid of a feeling" because it would be a warning that there was more about my emotion that I needed to discover. At that point, I would try to home in on what was still bothering me.

For instance, I wanted to like Nathaniel Branden, but he often said and did things I found disturbing. When this happened, I considered possible positive reasons for his behavior, but none of them settled the matter for me. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped for the best, but was wary and continued to question until I had enough evidence to conclude he was a nogoodnik.

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Poor formulation on my part. I did indeed mean to refer to the source of the emotion. Attempting to "excise" the emotion itself instead of the premises that cause it would be mistaken. Thanks for the examples you provide.

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