Reason and emotion

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Jonah Lehrer has an interesting piece in Wired sticking up for the value of emotions.

For thousands of years human beings have looked down on their emotions. We’ve seen them as primitive passions, the unfortunate legacy of our animal past. When we do stupid things – say, eating too much cake, or sleeping with the wrong person, or taking out a subprime mortgage – we usually blame our short-sighted feelings. People commit crimes of passion. There are no crimes of rationality.

There’s an interesting debate in the comments about some of the examples used, but I think the drift of Lehrer’s argument is right.

This line stuck out for me:

If true, this would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we’ve long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be more intelligent, at least in some conditions.

I think so much of the output of management writers seems to assume we can just manage in that cognitive area; as if we can then not worry about the workings of the unconscious.

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