Being these days a regular curmudgeon, I am always getting upset about the ceaseless attacks launched against reason and logic in these foolishly emotion-drenched times. The disciples of feeling would reduce human beings to unthinking bags of hormones. The taste for irrationality is growing.
The current popularity of intuition and irrationality says the left brain is inferior to the right brain. In reality, there are two sides to this question! (Image: public domain)
Annoyingly, I came across just such an “attack” in G. L. Rico’s, Writing the Natural Way. Rico lists two sets of very different character traits, inferring that each set resides in one hemisphere of the brain. A careful examination of these sets (the items in bold below) reveals a clear bias in favour of those traits associated with the right hemisphere, often considered the seat of feeling and other irrational – or non-rational – aspects of the mind. Traits associated with the thinking left hemisphere are couched in ways that sound negative by comparison. To amuse my(nasty)self – and to turn the tables on an unsuspecting G. L. Rico – I typed up the lists in bold and then set out my own alternative interpretations in plain text. Do not take what you find here too seriously, but at least think about what I am rather strenuously suggesting. Take a minute or two to compare Rico’s original lists.
The sense of loneliness and yearning for something beyond personal needs, something lost or forgotten, some Eden is the longing to return to a state of unconscious union with the world, an abolition of fretful ego in favour of carefree unknowing, a state like that of crocodiles basking on the river-bank with a belly full of fish. All is well! All is right with the world! We hunger for sheer, unadulterated, unexamined contentment. In short, we want to regain the childish condition Jung so aptly called the “participation mystique,” the situation where, as small children, we could not tell what was “us” and what was the world.
The purpose of consciousness is language which enables us to communicate and co-operate. (Photo: Wikimedia)
These are irrational times. Subjectivism (noun: the doctrine that knowledge and value are dependent on and limited by your subjective experience – WordWeb) is something I believe in myself, but the idea is being misused to justify some highly questionable moral and spiritual positions. We see this in Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi. Martel is a fine writer. His book is a great read, but its message is just plain foolish.
Can we skip thinking, ignore reality, and believe something just because we like the sound of it?
Einstein had his cosmic religious feeling, but today’s preference for emotion at the expense of reason represses or impairs the urge to work out a personal philosophy of life. (Photo: S. Brunier/ESO)
What Einstein referred to as the “cosmic religious feeling” is a drive, like sex, hunger, thirst, and so on. Fear exists to make one run when flight is necessary. Anger makes one fight when struggle is necessary. Thirst makes one drink to avoid death by dehydration. Hunger makes one eat to avoid death by starvation. Lust makes one copulate to ensure the survival of the species. The cosmic religious feeling makes one quest for answers – the purpose being to advance the cause of Man’s ever-growing consciousness and to enhance our scientific understanding of the cosmos. The tools of this quest or task are introspection and intellectual striving. One of its interesting by-products is art.