An overlooked, but ubiquitous ideology of modern culture concerns the relationships between reason and emotions. This ideology falsely presents reason and emotion as opposites, as if to be more emotional means being less rational, and vice versa. I refer to this as the False Dichotomy of Emotions.
The Enlightened Scotsman1, captures the notions succinctly when he stated, Reason Is and Ought Only to Be the Slave of the Passions. Therefore, I argue for neither the rationality nor irrationality of emotions instead of their Arationality.
Foundations of Reason
Reason must be understood as an active process involving the application of logic to draw conclusions within a specific context. The context can encompass everything, from empirical reality, abstract mathematics, and moral dilemmas. Logic is a deductive system with its own language, providing the foundations for the application of reason.
Logic relies on premises to engage in deduction. Even in disciplines considered objective, such as Mathematics, foundations such as the Zermelo-Fraenkel Set Theory2 are crucial. Similarly, scientific methodologies, including Karl Popper’s concept of Falsification3., provide frameworks for scientific inquiry. When evaluating claims of irrationality attributed to emotions, particularly in ethical and moral contexts, determining the rational solution requires addressing the question of which premises should guide our reasoning.
When individuals claim rationality for their arguments and present them as unbiased, it can become oxymoronic due to the inherent nature of reason. This irony is often observed in communities like the Manosphere, where arguments are frequently built upon concealed ideological assumptions. For instance, a Red Piller often relies on prescriptive assumptions about how men and women should behave, which forms the supposed “rationality” behind their position. Unfortunately, little skepticism is directed toward these unfounded and erroneous foundations themselves.
Similarly, arguments rooted in capitalist principles often arise in discussions surrounding equal pay in sports, with the WNBA being frequently cited as a counter-example. Advocates of maintaining the pay disparity argue that the WNBA has historically incurred financial losses, while the NBA generates substantial profits. They contend that the principle of supply and demand dictates the need for differential pay. However, it is important to recognize that the underlying axioms driving such arguments are capitalistic in nature, rather than inherent to our social order. From an ethical standpoint, these principles are fundamentally flawed. Contrary to the assumption that humans are primarily driven by a desire for profit, I would argue that our true nature encompasses ethical considerations, including the desire for inclusivity. By aligning with this ethical desire, increasing the pay to a respectable level for WNBA players can indeed be seen as a rational course of action. At least, over the maximization of profit.
Our ethical and moral disputes are often shaped by the premises derived from our virtues, which can be influenced by our emotions. Unfortunately, there are instances where the left fails to provide a substantial response to these challenges. They resort to the statement that “The world isn’t rational” or similar variations, which are merely meaningless non-arguments.
Emotions, contained in values, exist outside of reason, independent of it. They are not opposites competing for a common depleting resource. Rather complementary, to be mutually maximized, as to create grounds for optimal action.
- David Hume
- Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory. Wikipedia. (n.d.). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zermelo%E2%80%93Fraenkel_set_theory
- K. R. Popper, “Science as Falsification. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations,” Routledge and Keagan Paul, London, 1963, pp. 33-39. http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html