[lit-ideas] Re: Applied Philosophy

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 07 May 2008 20:44:29 -0700

The problem as I see it is that nature developed the
emotional brain first and added the intellectual brain
as an afterthought.  There is no way philosophy per se
can overcome emotions.  The two parts of the brain are
evolutionarily separate and distinct, with the
emotional brain prevailing, not even by philosophers.

I'm not sure what 'not even among philosophers' means, but few philosophers have said that emotions play no role in human decisions and actions. After all, Hume believed that reason was completely 'inert' when it came to getting the body attached to the mind that reason was allegedly part of to do anything. You might say that emotions and desires entirely detached from any particular beliefs would be, if not 'inert,' equally bad at bringing things about unless humans are thought of as acting blindly and without purpose. Even if emotions give us ends in the form of wants and desires, reasoning about means enable us to attain whatever our little piggy minds demand. Aristotle, being Aristotle and not Plato, talks a lot about emotions (pathé); each virtue is itself identified with the particular 'emotion' of which it is the mean. (Bravery is distinguished from both rashness and cowardice, e.g.) However, it is our reasonable selves which help to identify what things are to be truly feared, so that we're neither foolhardy in the face of Godzilla nor uninformed about the toxicity of scorpion bites.

I'm not sure Walter believes any of this, but both Plato and Kant owe us an explanation of why reason, disengaged from any feeling or desire, should play any role at all in what we do or should do.

Philosophers can't do the impossible, which is
overrule nature, however much they are among the only
ones to use that profoundly beautiful afterthought
that nature gave all of us.

Philosophers are more like Tibetan sand painters than they are like pure intellectual beings contemplating eternal truths. Their pictures of the world don't last long: what would be the fun in meditating on things that never changed?

Robert Paul,
more or less deep in thought


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