Ch1 L31: Head Vs. Heart

  1. In the last post, we studied the case that the tattoo of a tiger could make the primitive people believe that they possessed the tiger’s hunting skill [1], because they prematurely generalized [2] that if two things have the same form, they’ll have similar characteristics.
  2. In order to falsify this belief [3], you must be able to dissect things and find their constituents. For us who live in the rather demystified world, it sounds very easy and logical. However, I doubt if it was easy for our primitive ancestors. Besides, I don’t think that we could always use the rational mind to make decisions.
  3. In the 21st post, we discussed how we experience a thing [4]. First, we perceive its existence; then our emotions tell us if we like it or not [5]; Afterward, if the thing doesn’t induce too much emotion, we can think about it to see what it is.
  4. Let’s study a case: what would you do if you had a half-rotten apple? Would you throw it away or eat the fresh part? If the half-rotten apple aroused too much fear, then you would throw it away; but if you can control your emotions not to stir up, then you will slice the fresh part and eat it.
  5. This example sheds light on one of the differences between emotional and rational decisions. The emotional judgment is holistic; either you wholly like it or dislike it, and if the emotions run wild then you will love or hate it.
  6. Earlier we discussed how thinking attempted to modify the hierarchy of meanings [6]. Generally speaking, the fight between head and heart takes place when their evaluations oppose each other [7].
  1. We should also know that emotions evolved prior to thinking [8]. That’s why they’re more powerful up to the point that they can veto the rational decisions. Thus, we need to train thinking to be able to leash the emotions.
  2. Let’s get back to the half-rotten apple. If you had a rough day, you’d more likely throw away the apple; because you didn’t have enough energy to overcome the initial disgust. You might even start to curse or do something irrational [9].
  3. Daniel Kahneman [10] has elaborated this fact in “Thinking, fast and slow” [11]: “People who are cognitively busy are more likely to make selfish choices, use sexist language, and make superficial judgments.”
  4. “Love is blind” points out the same fact that when you’re in love, a highly emotional situation, you can’t analyze your beloved to find the similarities and differences, to see where you might have problems in future.
  5. Therefore, we need to be aware of the economy of energy, how we spend and gain it [12]. Because if we squander the energy dealing with unimportant issues, we will come short facing important problems.
  6. One technique to control emotions is to question it to find out why they’re triggered. Think about someone who wants to commit suicide. To rescue them, you’d need to buy some time to let their emotions subside. Then they could start to think. As we discussed before [13], thinking is a slow process and it requires more time; on the other hand, emotional decisions are made quickly. So, any practice which can slow down the process benefits thinking to come up with a better decision [14].

Footnotes:

[1] Link to the previous post.

[2] Link to the post about generalization

[3] We discussed about beliefs and how they can be examined in the 28th post about counterexamples. Link

[4] Link to the 21st post

[5] There are two circuits to send the message to both limbic system and neocortex. The former is shorter which makes sense because when it comes to danger, we don’t have enough time to think about it and we must quickly react. For more information, you can refer to “Emotional intelligence” by Daniel Goleman.

[6] I can say that we’re still studying the hierarchy of meaning which started from the 14th post. Link

[7] The diagram also shows why negative times negative is positive; and negative times positive is negative. We can also see that if a line passes through the first and the third quadrant it’s gradient is positive. On contrary, the line passing the 2nd and 4th quadrant has a negative gradient.

[8] We discussed this fact in several posts based on the triune brain. Link

[9] That’s one of the reasons why, in general, the poor make more wrong decisions, because the poverty drains their energy, not because their intelligence is lower. Link to a TED talk about it.

[10] Link to the Wiki page about Daniel Kahneman

[11] Earlier we used some of Kahneman’s ideas about thinking from “Thinking, fast and slow”, another must-read book. Link

[12] We started our journey from survival which requires energy. Link

[13] Link

[14] Any fast experience excites emotions more than thinking, action movies with fast cutting, the flashing lights in discos, fast music, etc.

*The featured image is taken from the following webpage:

Link

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