Emotion vs. Reason

I once had a conversation with my cousin where she started a lot of her sentences with, "I feel like..." so for instance she would say, "I feel like that answer should have been accepted."

This really bothered me and I had to stop her and say, "No one is going to care how you feel in a general conversation especially if reason and rationality are the topics at hand...personally I'm only interested in what you THINK."  I made it clear to her that how she felt was important too but not nearly so much as what she thought.

I often find that this is a cornerstone of many debates I have had over the years.  Are you operating from a place of emotion or are you operating from a place of logic?  If you are deciding what you'll have for lunch then by all means go with your gut...but if you have to make an important decision for yourself or another person then you should try and make the most rational one.  In retrospect many obese people have probably gone with their gut in the kitchen too often so maybe logic should rule there too.

I have found that this is a common theme for many of my stances and opinions.  Everything from politics to entertainment seems to be affected.  

How does this relate with Atheism?  I'm pretty sure that you could group most Theists as those who use emotion to justify their beliefs and most Atheists as those who use logic for that justification.  What about those Theists that try and use logic to support their points?  I think this is a result of a cart before the horse situation; an example of I feel this way so I am going to search for evidence to support that feeling.  To be fair, we all do this to some degree I'm sure.  

I associate emotion with rational thought in that I feel good when I have a rational point.  I think this is fundamentally different from using logic to justify an emotion because in my case my OCD brain is sated that all the pieces seem to fit together and I derive happiness from this.  This is a very different process than feeling a certain way first and then scrounging around for evidence to support it.  I don't know that there is anything inherently wrong with that process other than the increased possibility you will blind yourself to any data that doesn't support your point.

Now the purpose here is not to devalue emotion but to put it into context.  Emotion is really one of our greatest tools.  Duct Tape is a pretty great tool as well but it cannot be used for every project, you have to use it in conjunction with WD-40 to have a complete toolbox.  


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it's situational. Depending on what is needed i either apply emotional thinking or logic. 

Haha, Awesome

First, don't assume a person using the phrase, "I feel that/like..." has reached their conclusion through feeling-driven thought. That's just a phrase. "I feel like" is a stand-in for "in my opinion," "I think that," and "I believe that."  I've noticed that "I feel like" gets a lot of mileage from women and other people who lack the social power to be assertive while arguing or by people who wish to engage in a less abrasive form of persuasion. Just like the usage of "I believe that" can mean "I affirm" or "I assert," rather than, "I base this conclusion solely on a belief," "I feel that" is another phrase with more nuanced meanings.

As for the rest of your post, I would have to agree that logic-driven thinking tends to dominate feeling-driven thought among atheists because many of us have skeptical personalities. This is not to say that atheists are free from emotional thinking on issues related to religion or other realms. We're humans, not machines.

When I was very young, I couldn't distinguish between emotional and logical thinking because the two were often in sync when it came to problem solving...I would feel a certain conclusion was right without needing to go through the process of arriving at that conclusion. I was highly successful with this mode of thinking. My responses were seemingly intuitive but I would venture that they were probably informed by a subconscious, nearly instantaneous process of analysis. This is why it took me ages to understand why people were so put off by 'intuitive' and 'emotional,' thinking...it worked just fine for me! Actually, I wish my brain were still so well-oiled!


I might argue that even if "I feel" is used as a stand in, that situation would then be interpreted as the speaker backing emotion over logic because the logic itself isn't enough on it's own.

It is interesting that your emotion and logic were in sync most of the time, I don't think I had really considered that possibility...do you think that was because you had an attached emotion to analysis and so what was logical always felt good?  I know the reverse is true that people can feel a certain way and equate that to logical...but I'm thinking you wouldn't be here if that were the case.

In many contexts "I feel" is simply a colloquial way of saying "I think" or "I suppose" or "It seems to me that" and really makes no particular reference to emotion. The word "feel" itself is not necessarily a reference to emotion, when you think about it. "I feel a quarter in my pocket" is a completely unemotional statement.

Even "I feel the presence of The Lord" really is a statement about purported (and imagined) perception, not emotion.


I'm aware that the phrase isn't always literal.  I should have said that this went on for several days of my visit and was not a one time occurrence.  Even then you are correct to say that the meaning of a phrase must be considered before the words used to express that meaning.  So to better explain my own meaning, the example I used was just that, an example meant to serve as a lead in to the real issue of Emotion Vs. Logic.  

I think it is kind of an art commenting on art situation that you are telling me not to be so focused on her word choice because it can mean several different things and then I'm telling you not to be so focused on my example choice because it is one example of a larger issue.

They most definitely are against each other or at least can be.  

Consider this:  You have just met someone and you instantly feel an attraction to them.  You know you like this person but you also know that if you come on as strong as your emotions are telling you to that you run the very real risk of scaring this person away.  So you logically conclude that if you proceed more gradually, going against your emotions, that this would be more comfortable for the other person and you have much less risk of scaring them off.

If you obey your emotions you'll come on super strong and scare them, maybe.

If you obey your logic you'll let them know you like them in a more gradual and hopefully successful way.

These 2 situations are completely at odds with each other and produce completely opposite results based on choosing logic or emotion.  

Now you ARE correct when you say you need both to function...but they don't have equal power in most situations.  Such that if you proceed logically you'll still be obeying your emotions that told you that you liked this person in the first place.  If you proceed with your emotion you'll know that IF you scare this person off that was a very likely logical conclusion.  Both are used but one wins.


I completely agree that what you deduce and what actually happens may be completely different...but I don't think that means we shouldn't attempt to understand where we are coming from just because we could be wrong.

What happens when you ASSume?  I don't get it Hehe


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