I grew up with a very logical father whom I adore(d). That, combined with some natural brain wiring has always made me prefer the logical side of the mind. Still, I always had more empathy than my dad, and I discovered it made a huge difference in life. We are not an island, it is good to have some ability to interact with others on an emotional level. I went through some very bad sections of my life, however, that were characterized by my total abandon of reason in favor of emotion and feeling. Every time I have allowed myself to lead totally with my emotions, despite my logical side, I have always ended up in trouble, turmoil, etc., be it psychological, financial, or some combination.
That said, I discovered, when my defense mechanisms kicked in, that logic and reason is not the answer either. My default defensive position is to shut down all emotion and feeling and mimic Mr. Spock from Star Trek as closely as possible. In the end, placing logic as the sole dictator of one’s mind really can destroy the soul. It is not that it makes you evil, it’s that it makes you soulless. A robot. Robots are not bad, they just aren’t good either. I prefer to be good, and I think “good” is essential to human interaction and to “good” in society.
So, yes, the Libra libertarian says it’s all about balance, big surprise. Actually, you would be surprised how hard it was to really embrace emotion after what my emotions did to me. Every bad decision I ever made, every time I have ever hurt myself badly, and every time I have ever really hurt other people I was leading with my emotions. On the other hand, some of the greatest beauty in my life also came from leading with the heart also, though most of those times I was still using my reasoning side at least a little bit.
The champions of reason always rail against the idea of the ends justifying the means. This is true. What they usually miss, however, is that the means do not always justify the ends, either. I fully agree that doing what “feels right” or doing something with a lofty goal does not excuse doing the wrong thing along the way. Caring for the poor by stealing from the rich is still wrong. However, declaring that one’s actions are “right” just because they are logical and consistent without concern for the outcome of those actions is equally problematic. What is it that makes a certain path “right”? Consistency is a key factor, to be sure, but one of the key things missed by Ayn Rand, for instance, is that just because something makes logical sense does not make it right, and more importantly, it does not make it realistic in terms of human philosophy. Humanity does not always act logically, often leading to things of beauty and even leading to innovation. A moral code cannot depend entirely on the means nor the ends, both must meet the criteria one has set for morality. If following perfect logic, for instance, leads to war and destruction, is that end justified by the means? According to whom? Is not, in that case, logic held as nothing more than a god in some religion? One must remain open to observations of reality, and reality does not always make sense, especially when that reality is the reality of the human experience and human nature.
The mind is more than feeling, the mind is more than reason. Faith, emotion, logic, reason…these are all aspects of the mind. All of these should not only be recognized, but utilized. To ignore any one of them leads to issues, and often one simply is in denial of engaging in that which they deny. That usually means they are caught off guard by it, they do things thinking they are acting with reason when they are really motivated in some ways by emotion or belief. In doing this they act out of balance or they lose credibility with others who can see the reality they are missing.
Everyone has beliefs, everyone has emotions, everyone engages in thinking, though perhaps it is not very good reasoning, it remains a part of the mind. Even if you recognize all the parts of your mind, if you fail to use them, or you allow one to overwhelm the other, you end up in trouble. When you fail to temper emotion with reason you end up acting foolish or even making a decision that seems right only because you fail to consider the consequences. In many cases this leads to more evil and negative consequences than would be had if the “caring person” did nothing at all. When you fail to temper reason with emotion and caring, you end up abandoning your fellow man, a state of soullessness, but eventually a state of peril, since no man is an island. Man is a social creature, without others we would not have survived, and it is not likely, even now, that we would survive without each other. Besides, emotions not involved tend to become erratic and involve themselves in other things. It is sort of like the best and worst part of you, and if you let it do its own thing because you ignore it, you end up allowing it to become a loose cannon.
One of the side effects, for me, of embracing the whole mind is that I was able to understand more clearly matters of faith. I had a crisis of faith in my younger days that lead to a rethinking of my whole belief system. Yet, it was not faith at fault, but corruption and those using the faith of others to gain power for themselves. I never have really reconciled my faith, not entirely. I am sort of an agnostic with Christian roots. Regardless, I learned key things about faith and its place in humanity and in my life. Faith is to emotion as science is to reason. Faith is of great value and great power. Science is too, but when those who champion science decry faith and deny its value they make a grave error. Faith may not always make sense, and yes, faith has been the root of much evil in the world. However, the exact same can be said of emotion. Just because something does not make sense does not mean it lacks value. Many people have found the strength they needed to help others, to help themselves, etc. by the power of faith. I never fault or belittle faith for this reason, it has power and can be used for good.
A caring intent is the evidence of the soul. Reason alone cares not, so reason alone will ignore the soul, and eventually, starve it. Suppressed enough, the soul may disappear altogether. The soul, however, remains as fragile as intent itself. If, in the process of achieving intent, the means are corrupt, then the soul is corrupt as well. If, in the process of intent, reason is abandoned and the goal of the intent is not achieved because the result of the well-intended act is more pain, then the soul is equally corrupted. If the social safety net is achieved by violence, then is it really an act of a good soul? If the safety net feeds the hungry but turns them into dependent slaves, and the scourge of poverty grows rather than being stayed or reduced, then the reasonless emotion cries out and redoubles it efforts, wreaking greater havoc and becoming an instrument of evil. Thus, both the abandonment of reason and the abandonment of emotion lead to the destruction of the soul. The two must be in balance. For some, the emotions may lead, but reason must temper it, thought and logic must prevail against feeling’s impulsiveness and its ability to be manipulated. Emotion without reason is foolish and lacks wisdom. For others, like myself, reason must lead, but I cannot allow it to rule me totally, lest I become soulless and cold, a robot rather than a man. Reason, without emotion, is heartless and will lead to a life without beauty and passion, hardly a life at all.
And we must remember that if reason leads to pain, then it is not justified just because it is reasonable. Another solution must be found. Logic, no matter how pure, is not singular, many solutions may be found. If one does not lead where it should, another must be sought. This is the beauty of innovation, an aspect of the mind that is neither emotion nor reason, but is as important as either one. It is what fills the needs of humanity, be those needs born of reason or of emotion. It is often the arrogance of either emotion or that of reason, thinking they are right and closing off to the possibility of other solutions that squelches innovation, and leads, often, to battles between emotion and reason, rather than emotion and reason being in balance and seeking the help of innovation to find a solution that works for both sides.