Re: Emotions "vestigial"? was Re: On being Extropian

Crosby_M (
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 11:49:00 -0400

Steve Witham wrote:
<Emotion is the logic of values, your internal economics. [snip] With
logic alone you can calculate outcomes from premises, but not prefer one
outcome to another. Not even have a concept of "interesting" versus
"boring" theorems.>

Steve quoting Bertrand Russell:
<Logic is, and by rights ought to be, slave to the emotions.>

On Sunday, October 20, 1996 4:59AM, Ira Brodsky wrote:
<You falsely divide the world into "logic" and "emotion." What about
knowledge? [snip] You are clearly better off if your premises come from
understanding, not emotion.>

I think Steve's point is that logic and emotion are *both* components of
higher-level constructs like knowledge and understanding. How is this a
false division?

May I suggest another division? There are both rational and irrational
emotions. In a slightly different way, there is formal knowledge and
annecdotal knowledge. Rationality has both completeness and consistency

Your response seems to be an emotional reaction to Russell's quote: A
justifiably visceral reaction (which I share) to 'good things' (logic,
rights) being yoked to 'bad things' (slave, emotion). Your reasoning,
that Russell's statement is foolish, is _correct_ in so far as it goes
(using your understanding that emotions are too often irrational); BUT,
it's probably not _consistent_ with Russell's context - Russell was
probably using 'emotion' to refer to 'good' emotions, like loyalty,
charity, love and the aspects that QueeneMuse mentions:
<with emotion you can create. You can generate. You can luminate. With
emotions you can fulfill and enrichen. You can move and you can soar.
[snip] In a well balanced, non reactive type B person, most emotions are
useful ... If emotions have a bad rap in the world, it is precisely
because people think they are at the mercy of them.>

To which Ira responds:
<I think what you are really saying is that, contrary to Bertrand
Russell, emotions can be a good thing *if* they are tamed by reason and

This could be just as one-sided as B. Russell's 'reason slaved to
emotion'. Emotions can also effectively constrain reason (in warning
you what it is worthwhile to apply your logic to) and inspire
understanding. This sounds more like what QueeneMuse and Steve W. were
getting at.

As Natasha Vita More added:
<Rather than putting a chain on or caging our emotions, we might think
of exercising the management of emotions.>

My point is that value-free logic doesn't exist.

That quote from Bertrand Russell is so startling and powerful because it
comes from a mathematical genius, someone who knew as much about logic
as anyone in human history, and yet had a rather difficult time
harnessing the emotions in his own personal life. (This from a Wall St.
Journal review of a Russell biography that I saw within the last few

Mark Crosby