A week or two ago I was reading another book about emotions and thinking, The Political Brain by Drew Westen (I read it after reading this article in the NY Review of Books). I was struck by this observation on page 15:
Republicans understand what…David Hume recognized three centuries ago: that reason is a slave to emotion, not the other way around…Democratic strategists for the last three decades have instead clung tenaciously to the dispassionate view of the mind…They do so, I believe, because of an irrational emotional commitment to rationality – one that renders them, ironically, impervious to…scientific evidence on how the political mind and brain work. [italics his]
Hmmmm, I thought – do I have that? So I thought about it (rationally, I hope, despite the wild sobbing and tearing of hair). Well, I at least have an emotional commitment to rationality, I agreed. I don’t think it’s irrational, because I think rationality is better, for reasons I could enumerate – but it could be the case that that commitment causes me to overlook or forget the importance of emotion. I decided to try to do a better job of keeping it in mind.
But anyway, I have no trouble agreeing that it is an emotional commitment. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t care – everyone could be irrational and coercive up one side and down the other, and I wouldn’t care, because I wouldn’t care. The caring comes first – I get that.