Psych: Re: Emotion in Reason (Was: Plea)

Dan Fabulich (
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 10:47:26 -0800

I suppose this is Psychology. It's no longer about Netiquette...

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

> The generalized pattern in both cases seems to be an ur-value or
> ur-justification coming into conflict with a rational justification
> sequence. Ur-values are emotions; ur-justifications are generally
> called "intuitions". In the case of emotions, I try to follow the
> rational justification sequence because that's what works; in the case
> of intuitions, experience shows that the best course is to incorporate
> my intuitions in the opposing logic, and if that fails... I don't know;
> it never does.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by ur-* (UnReasoning-*?).
At any rate, I totally agree with your summary of how a reasonable
person thinks and feels, but I'm not certain that you've grasped the
way in which persons who "follow their heart" make decisions.

One may well be leading with the "head," even when acknowledging
irrational values and acquiescing to these unjustified goals. On the
other hand, a person might still be following their heart when they
get up and go to work, not because they realize it's more important
than sleeping in, but because they "feel" that's what they should do.

The difference is this: Following your head means you're CONSCIOUS of
when you're going for the more rationally justified goal, whereas
following your heart allows you to remain UNCONSCIOUS of this funda-
mental distinction. Note how different that is from simply eschewing
logic alltogether, or using logic and then rejecting its conclusions.
Rather, the "heart" thinker does his/her reasoning underground,
unconscious of the complex processes which give rise to their
conclusions. This person may be extremely intelligent, more keen at
the actual process of reasoning than you and I put together, but they
won't be able to articulate it or acknowledge it, because they're not
actually aware of what's going on inside their head.

Thus, your ideas describe a reasonable thinker perfectly, but are
totally inapplicable for someone who makes important decisions through
intuition, and lives a life "unfettered" by tedious analysis. They see
no distinction between any of their goals, because their motives are
always the same: "I feel like I should do this." Whether the
conclusion is rationally justified or primally motivated, they're still
doing what they "feel" they should do. They get out of bed in the
morning because they feel like they should, not because they're being

This is not to suggest that they're necessarily unintelligent,
but rather never conscious of their decision-making process long enough
to find those distinctions which are so apparent to us "head" people.
Unaware of the process by which they arrive at their conclusions, they
seem to be "feeling" their way through every situation. Thus, they
"follow their heart."

-He who laughs last thinks slowest-