Is it more important to feel or think?

Philosopher's reply

Dear Alistar,

A very good – and difficult – question! Let us say that we are “rational animals” who feel and think. We feel pleasure and pain. Painful feelings such as envy and jealousy, and pleasant feelings such as love and goodwill – are socially learned and bodily inherited. Some of our deepest emotions have been programmed into our “selfish” genes over years of evolution. (generations). A feeling (of jealousy?) may drive you mad, if you do not use your rational capacities – pay attention to the situation, look again, listen to others; ask, read, reflect; write, argue, discuss. To develop such respectful knowledge may take a lifetime, because the way from chaotic feeling to ordered thought is slow and strenuous. Progress (both morally and intellectually) depends in the first place upon an accept for our feelings, but must continue with a critical naming – and taming – of them. So in this case it is “more important” to think.

Best regards,
Elin Svenneby

Philosopher's profile

Elin Svenneby

Iris Murdoch's philosophy (as well as her philoso-fiction) in general and her critical interpretations of Plato especially has been of the utmost inspiration for and a fresh renewal of my thoughts on different subjects - metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics - for almost forty (slow!) years. The way she collected her ideas and integrated them into her own very special tricotage, has given us a longed-for method for a much needed, new way of thinking that is manycoloured, intricate and synoptic.

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