‘We think by feeling, what is there to know?’ By these words poet Theodore Roethke in ‘The Waking’ touched on the essence of the mystery–which is the more powerful influence on our daily existence–thinking or feeling?
Perhaps it is both; and in truth they are so intimately connected that we may be unable to disentangle them.
It is clear that our emotional reactions are the most basic and quickest to assert themselves. This explains how often we feel or react to situations before we can control or ‘think through’ our responses. They emerge from a more primal level of our consciousness.
And this may be for survival reasons since our ancestors needed to react as quickly as possible in order to escape from real or perceived predators.
Neurobiologists have identified an area of the brain, the corticofrontal area which seems to facilitate emotional reactions. It was believed that damage to this area would result in an individual making decisions based on reason and rational thinking.
It turns out that damage to this area of the brain renders the victim unable to make any decisions whatsoever.
It seems as if we require our emotional reactions in order to function in the world.
When it comes to likes, dislikes either personal, professional or global, we need our intuitive/emotional selves to participate.
It is clear to me that political preferences in candidates and parties are a great example of the contribution of emotions to decision making.
I believe that we respond to particular candidates on a visceral, emotional, feeling, intuitive basis first. Later on we ‘create’ rational reasons to justify our feelings.
The point is merely this–we are complex creatures who clearly ‘think by feeling’. It is not good or bad to do so. We just need to be aware of it. There may be opportunities to readjust our emotional responses if we are aware of this basic aspect of human nature.