On the Dangers of Confusing EJ and EQ
It is important to draw a distinction between emotional intelligence (EQ) and emotional judgment (EJ). Emotional intelligence is empathetic: it entails the hard act of thinking our self into another person’s shoes. It is an intellectual endeavor for the sake of achieving the proper emotional disposition toward other people and requires deep thinking. Emotional judgment, on the other hand, is the act of gauging the validity of a truth based on one’s emotional reaction to it. The problem with EJ is that it requires one to consistently experience a positive emotion in order to verify, justify, or appreciate experiences, ideas, and so on. Not only is the human body incapable of maintaining such a high and constant emotional level, but emotions are unreliable. Rationalism, alone, is also unreliable, for the rational mind requires the acceptances of premises before it can even begin thinking, premises which often can neither be proven nor invalidated (say until attempted), which might be when it is already “too late.” EQ can help an individual accept premises and interact with what cannot be rationalized, making one’s IQ more effective and truer. IQ requires EQ as EQ requires IQ for a person to judge, feel, and think properly, efficiently, and meaningfully. EJ is EQ without IQ, and it’s as dangerous and misguided as movements like positivism or scientism when they disregard EQ for IQ.
For the EJ (or one who deals with tendencies of emotional judgment), something is judged as true if a positive emotional reaction is felt upon experiencing it, while something is false if instead a negative emotion is felt. Perhaps an emotional reaction is an indication of the direction one’s judgment should head in, but it shouldn’t constitute the whole judgement. “The truth” can be something a person doesn’t want to confront, and if the person has EJ tendencies, the individual could conclude he or she is justified to avoid the truth (in it making the person feel negatively), and thus the truth can be perceived as false. Also, reaching the truth usually takes long periods of unemotional thinking and introspection, both of which an EJ is likely to avoid, feeling that such actions are unproductive. Problematically, even if given a chance, thinking and introspection might “prove” unproductive for an EJ if grounded in emotionalism (rather than empathy or facts), which can lead to over-analysis (as there is no rational end to emotional thinking). Because it was done in a mode of subjectivity versus objectivity, having attempted introspection without results, this may seem to validate the EJ’s suspicions. Consequently, the EJ may forgo introspection, thinking it was given a fair chance, even though more objective introspection is necessary for determining truth.
Being one’s own standard of judgment, it tends to be the case that an individual that is susceptible to EJ will associate no emotional reaction with the negative. A lack of emotional reaction does not connote “sadness” though, yet the EJ will likely still project “sadness” onto neutrality — a dangerous step. For example, if a child tells her mother that she had a good day at school and the mother doesn’t feel anything (perhaps because she is busy with the dishes), the mother could come to believe that she doesn’t care. The mother could then conclude that she is not happy that her daughter had a good day and could try to make herself feel happy, feeling guilty and blaming herself for not loving her daughter like she should. Yet trying to feel happy is often a futile effort, for feelings are organic (they are not readily chosen). Upon failing to feel happy, the mother may come to judge herself as a poor mother, and upon doing this, she may try harder to feel something, only to fail again. And if she does finally succeed, the success will only last as long as does the emotion (which might not be long, given how tired she might feel after her effort). Due to her EJ tendencies, the mother may enter a cycle of failure, setting herself up for depression.
It is vital to draw a distinction between “feeling happy” and “being happy.” One can choose to be happy, but one cannot readily choose to feel happy. If one chooses to be happy, the person will have prepared his or her self to feel happy when the emotion organically and unexpectedly comes, but the one who doesn’t will find that all attempts to feel happy easily fail and are temporary. Feelings are often like the wind, coming and going, unable to be bottled up; we can only choose to put themselves outside for when the wind might blow.
In response to the idea that we need to choose to “be happy” versus just “feel happy,” some may argue that this is dishonest: if I don’t feel happy, then I cannot simply “be happy,” and claiming “I am happy” would be ingenious, dishonest, and possibly self-destructive. Though there’s legitimacy to this concern, the mistake is thinking of “happiness” only in terms of being an emotional state felt now as opposed to a goal to live out and practice constantly. If I only think of emotions as something that come and go, then I can only think about saying, “I am happy,” in terms of an assessment of my current state, and if I don’t feel happy, saying, “I am happy,” would be false. However, if I also think of emotions as goals to strive toward, to say, “I am happy,” is like saying, “I am practicing happiness,” similar to how saying, “I am a doctor,” means “I am practicing medicine.” The phrase “I am happy” can both be in reference to how one feels now and what I am practicing to both feel and better control feeling, but where EJ is involved, only the first meaning is at play. This results in not thinking of emotions as goals, only states, and so emotions come to control people more than people control emotions.
This is not to say that if a person feels sadness, the person should always deny the truth of those feelings, but it is to say that a person should not engage in EJ to determine the legitimacy of that sadness but instead EQ. While EQ can help a person determine if the sadness is evidence of a deep problem that needs to be addressed and how to address it, EJ will only result in a person concluding that “I am sad; therefore, x is bad.” Perhaps “x is bad,” but that should be determined by EQ, not EJ. Additionally, acknowledging the feeling of sadness now should be for the emotional goal of not feeling sadness later: emotions need to be simultaneously understood as both assessments of present states and goals to reach so that the right dialectical balance is struck.
If a person wakes up in the morning and says, “Today I’m going to be happy,” and that means, “Today I’m going to feel happy,” that individual has promised to accomplish something the person has little direct control over. This is a risky endeavor; failure is probable. One never knows what conversations will arise, what tasks will come one’s way — what a day holds can never be known until the day is over. If one believes that he or she must feel happy to validate the day, the person will easily end most days feeling like a failure. Considering this, it is of the utmost importance that a person instead commits to “being happy” versus “feeling happy.” The first position takes into account the realities of life, while the second raises the bar too high. In a way, the second is an attempt to live by law instead of by grace: grace “is.”
In line with what we have already discussed, it is also important to draw a distinction between “being” and “doing nothing,” and to make clear that to choose to be happy is to not simply accept the status quo. “Being self-aware” can challenges “being,” and if one is bent on feeling positive emotions, one will be overly self-aware. Judgments require objectivity, and the more self-aware an individual is, the more subjective he or she will likely be. This is because the person focuses on how he, she, and others feel, which is prone to suddenly change, versus more impersonal and constant truth. Feelings are also not a good foundation for empathy; empathy grounded in reason is much more likely to “put one in another person’s shoes.” “2 x 2 = 4” is easily relayed between individuals because it remains true over time (there is little room for interpretation), while emotions are much harder to translate and prone to oscillate without warning (they are more “time bound” than timeless). Expressions like “2 x 2 = 4” have a much better chance of being relayed correctly versus what is more emotive.
In EJ, subjectivity builds upon subjectivity, as if objective, often constructing an entire system explaining the nature of a given situation, without truth. The irony is that the system will, relative to itself, make sense, and therefore seem to fundamentally validate the EJ. For example, a person who sees no emotional response from another will fear that that person isn’t happy. Consequently, the EJ person will ask questions or act in a manner that makes the other feel uncomfortable. This will make the other appear unhappy, which will confirm to the EJ that their emotional judgment was valid. What we fear is what comes unto us, as what we feel, we can feel into reality.
In many circumstances, the soft-hearted person is not solely after their own experience of positive emotion, but for the sensation that comes from knowing that others also feel good. This desire must ultimately be based on what the soft-hearted person has emotionally judged as a positive emotional experience, and he or she will naturally assume others desire the same emotional experience in the same way. If a soft-hearted individual believes another is experiencing a negative emotion, the person will emotionally judge that he or she needs to step in and “make things right,” which is achieved when the other feels good. Yet this very act can be what makes others upset or feel awkward. If the individual were to judge their need to step in or act based on facts rather than feelings, these kinds of mistakes, beget between subjectivities, could be better avoided. Yet to the EJ, feelings are virtually facts, and identifying the difference between a fact and a feeling requires objectivity which an EJ can struggle to possess. This is why EJ tendencies can be so problematic: they trap the person within a self-justifying loop, which, motivated by good intentions, is hard to recognize needs correction.
Emotional judgment is contradictory yet can be prevalent. EJ is often behind the decision between friends to keep the truth from one another in fear of hurting one another’s feelings, the justification behind unsustainable programs, and the like. The less EJ the better, but rising IQ is only a positive force insomuch as it rises with EQ. Ironically, EJ can keep people from experiencing emotions fully, turning emotions instead into forces which lead us into wandering into “dead ends.”
For people to choose to be happy is for them to choose to open themselves up to authentic emotional experiences. People who are determined to feel happy have set themselves up to end up like a drunkard, always looking for another emotional gulp, focused on what will make them feel a certain way versus what things “are” and taking pleasure in the being of those things. A person should enjoy a sunset not because it makes them feel joy, but because it is a sunset. A sunset is wonderful because it is itself, not because it makes people feel wonderful. In this, we can glimpse the critical difference between EJ and EQ.
In a way, it is egotistical to believe a sunset is wonderful because “feel it to be” versus because “it is” The first statement implies the sunset is validated by, and needs, the viewer, rather than the viewer need to raise his or her self and perception up to meet the wonder of the sunset. This isn’t to say there isn’t a subjective dimension to beauty, goodness, or truth, but that if we believe beauty isn’t both an attribute of things and a perception, but rather only a perception, then beauty cannot call us to higher states of being, nor can we readily fight EJ tendencies (a line of argument addressed full in “On Beauty” by O.G. Rose). Similar logic can be applied to art a viewer does not like. Like art, which requires distance from the viewer to be appreciated, emotions require distance, fashioned by reason, for the feelings to prove more fulfilling. Order is paramount: if feelings come before “being,” both can be lost, founded on ironic egotism, but if being comes before feelings, both can be actualized, the very thing the EJ longs to do.
It is not possible to feel nothing at all, because there is no such thing as nothing. When an EJ says, “I just don’t feel anything,” the person must mean something like, “I don’t feel what I want to feel in the way I want to feel it.” To be is to feel and to feel is to be: except regarding perhaps a rare genetic disorder, one cannot be and not feel (even “feeling nothing” can constitute a feeling). Still, the two must be in the right order, and being precedes feeling. If one concentrates on feeling at the expense of who he or she is, then the person will easily lose both emotions and identity. It is a grave mistake for one to construct their identity on their feelings, rather than construct their feelings on their identity. This is because once he or she stops feeling what one expects to feel, the person will “feel like nothing,” which is a contradiction that easily brings about despair, anxiousness, and depression. Existentialists have called this experience “alienation” and identified that a person can avoid it by jumping on a (Capitalist) hamster wheel, per se (if we never sit still, we won’t have to face it). Considering this, emotional judgment likely contributes to society’s unwillingness to introspect productively. Without objective introspection, there cannot readily be an understanding or development of one’s identity, as necessary for authentic experience and a foundation for feelings to be constructed upon. If one doesn’t know one’s self, the person doesn’t know who feels and their emotions will always be out of reach.
An area where a lack of true introspection has dangerous ramifications is in relationships. Physical interactions trigger emotions: feeling a person stimulates feelings. A person with EJ tendencies who also engages physically with another before commitment will likely lack a clear sense of whether this is someone with whom the person should be in a relationship. In fact, the EJ may pursue a serious relationship with someone totally destructive to the EJ, blinded by emotional, physically-stimulated judgment. “Rational judgment,” however imperfect, should come before physical involvement; if physicality comes first, it becomes much harder and more painful to crawl back to dispassionate assessment. Sex with someone who a person is not committed to can severely dull a person’s judgment and make that person believe the relationship is stronger than it actually is (though only a given person can know — problematically, the point is that precise person might struggle to know). Emotions aren’t a firm basis for a marriage and physical activity will contribute to misjudgment, rather than validate “true love.” Sex however that stresses “full” and rational awareness could bring about great joy. We can only love who we know, and though none of us fully achieve “full knowledge,” we can still strive to do the best we can to “honor” the fullness of the other. Also, though the word “know” equally implies the intellectual and the intimate, the intellectual must come first, which is to say love must be thoughtful. Those willing to “die to” their feelings can love others “until death do them part.” “I love you” indirectly needs to mean “I (want to) know you,” and in that expression, it’s important to note that “I” comes first, which requires thought and introspection to define. There is a big difference between “being in love” and “feeling (or ‘falling’) in love”: the first remembers what it has felt and why, while the second lasts until the emotion wears out. “I love you” signifies both a fact and a feeling, and each signification requires the other for meaning.
The longer an individual continues a relationship without a foundation, the more that person will likely want to avoid introspection and serious thinking about it, (subconsciously) aware that this very act risks ruining the relationship and causing emotional turmoil, which the EJ will want to avoid, naturally associating negative emotions and pain with “(doing something) wrong.” This could tempt the individual to avoid the inevitable longer, causing more pain in the long run. The longer the individual waits, the more painful it could be when the person finally confronts what must be confronted, which could make it more tempting to put it off. And so a vicious cycle could begin, especially if the relationship is between two EJs, suddenly into engagement, then marriage. The irony of these kinds of situations is that often the parties involved know something is wrong, even though everyone acts like all is well. When a person finally names the problem, it is no revelation: it can be a breath of fresh air; the truth all stared at, but pretended not to see, is finally present. Addressing such a situation though can be very painful (like removing a drug from an addict), which can make an EJ conclude persistence is wrong. However, if the EJ perseveres, freedom and authenticity could be achieved.
Another problem with the EJ mindset is that it doesn’t motivate a person to act until he or she feels motivated to act. In the situations mentioned above (which crop up in everything from personal decisions to politics to economics), a person will not “say what needs to be said” or “do what needs to be done” until the person feels urgency or like he or she should — which might easily be when it’s too late to act. To make a difference, a person must intellectually consent to the urgency long before the urgency is felt (if the person is likely to make any meaningful difference), but an EJ, unless feeling motivated or emotionally justified, will probably not act. When the EJ does, what occurs will probably not feel good, which the EJ could then use as evidence that he or she should have never acted in the first place. Also, if a person does not act unless he or she feels motivated, and if that person inflates “feeling nothing” with “not wanting to”, when the person “doesn’t feel like painting” (for example), the person may conclude that he or she “doesn’t want to be a painter.” The EJ may then quit painting or never try to be a painter, as the EJ may abandon a business, and so on.
Alternatively, if a person acts because the person “feels urgent” rather than because “urgency is needed,” the person will be prone to making mistakes. Also, determining whether a situation actually requires urgency requires objective introspection, which, as already touched on, an EJ can struggle to have. Urgency without introspection is problematic, and an EJ who acts when action will make things worse will be hard to get to back down until that individual doesn’t “feel urgency.” To calm down, the EJ needs to listen and think objectively, but the EJ, “feeling urgent,” will find these kinds of activities to be the exact opposite of what needs to be done — an irony which will prove hard to escape
Not only does an EJ mindset easily move an individual to put off action until it’s too late or act when it’s better to wait, but it also works against the person’s constitution and determination to stand by their actions or statements. The person will emotionally judge their non-emotional judgment as an error, and so be tempted to backtrack. If the decisions or actions of the EJ upset others, it will be tempting for that EJ to “rationally” conclude that he or she made a mistake and to apologize. If the EJ backs down, the vicious loop will continue: the more the EJ backtracks, the harder it will be to break the cycle. The EJ must “die to their self,” per se, to escape the loop and develop the determination necessary to be successful and fully human. This is because the EJ self is constructed from “feelings” versus “being,” per se, and that self must make way for a self of being. Feelings are to color one’s identity, not be one’s identity.
If a person is told that something is wrong and that person, an EJ, does not feel as if it’s wrong, the person will not necessarily listen to the council. Speaking with an EJ can be difficult, in this regard, because words can entail emotional charges that a given speaker, less emotive, may not grasp. The difference between getting an EJ’s support or acceptance could hinge upon saying, “I’m looking forward to it” versus “I’ll be there.” Ironically, individuals aware of “the EJ paradox” who are trying to explain it to an EJ may not be attuned to the words they are using, and so use terms that make the EJ feel uneasy and lean toward feeling that what is being said is wrong. When the one trying to explain the situation gets frustrated, this can be further evidence to the EJ that he or she is right. Perhaps an EJ reading this paper will conclude it is wrong because they feel that the paper is cold, thus proving the paper’s thesis? Hard to say.
Thinking and feelings are not enemies: thinking is the foundation of feelings; furthermore, thinking without feelings is lifeless. It is not an “either/or,” but a question of order. Being is first, while the feelings of that being must follow. This isn’t to imply hierarchy, but rather to simply claim that the foundation of a house must come before the house — that’s just the way of things, how they work. Hierarchy is an improper framing.
If I am happy, then nothing can take my happiness away; if I feel happy, it will last until I feel sad. If I am in love, nothing can take my love away; if I have fallen in love, it will last until I stand up. There is freedom in choice, but in emotion one’s freedom is controlled. If one freely chooses that which causes emotions, the loss of control will be an expression of one’s freedom: one does not gain both freedom and emotion the other way around. Authenticity requires freedom, without which one will struggle to gain the liberty to be one’s self. Emotions enslave unless they are secondary to being and identity; subjectivity cannot be a foundation but must be founded upon being and what being undergoes. One can also be enslaved to the emotions of others if a person needs, for example, others to be happy when he or she is successful to fully enjoy the success. Emotions are more gripping than ideas, even good ideas: they feel like they’re in control and/or that they ought to be in control. Consequently, it’s easy to give emotions power over our lives, but this temptation must be resisted. In the wrong order, emotions burden; in the right order, emotions make the facts of life alive. Choose to be happy, rather than wait for it and miss out on life. Step outside of your emotions to truly find them.
We should live for truth, not feelings, and authentic emotions can follow. Truth can set a person free from volatility, and help a person live without being a victim to the tossing and turning of emotion’s ocean. We shouldn’t just feel happy but choose to be happy. We shouldn’t look to the sensational for sense; we should look to sense to sense.
1. People can experience “awe” and know they are beholding something greater than themselves before they can articulate how they know such is the case. This suggests that emotions can help “point out” an insight or situation to a person before the intellect grasps it, but still only the intellect can verify, judge, and/or articulate that insight or situation (emotions cannot determine if a phenomenon is important, only suggest it might be). Though they can help an individual determine what to forecast, emotions cannot constitute the forecast itself.
2. To be paralyzed wondering, “Is this emotion pointing out something important or should I push it away?” is easily to be paralyzed by a “fear of loss” rather than introspection. True introspection doesn’t cause paralysis, for it’s always directed toward an end of action. Action without thought and thought paralyze.
3. Premises aren’t always perfect filters, but they can be more stable and reliable than feelings. Since nothing is perfect, object-based judgment doesn’t guarantee correctness, only freedom from “loops” like those described in this paper. “Objectivity” and “correctness” aren’t similes, and in fact “objectivity” could lead to closedmindedness, hence why we cannot dismiss emotions entirely — we must order them.
3.1 Empathy, which is aligned with “critical thinking” in O.G. Rose, attempts to iron out the imperfections of premises.
4. How a person should “take feelings into account” requires empathy to determine. The EJ, though seemingly considerate, often doesn’t take into account the feelings of others, because it judges the nature of those feelings along the EJ’s terms. The selfless act is unintentionally self-centered.
5. Helping an EJ can prove especially hard because EJs mean well. They will feel they don’t need help, only to help.
6. As with extroverts/introverts, there aren’t so much “pure EJs” as there are EJ acts and dispositions. The term describes a “mode” more so than a personality.
7. Expressions like “get some rest” or “take care of yourself” can sound selfish to an EJ, making the EJ susceptible to burnout. Once this happens, the EJ can be trapped in a loop of feeling tired and lifeless. Rest can prove necessary for facing hard truths, and if replaced by stimulation, hard truths might be ever-harder to face.
8. To be controlled by emotions is to be pulled under by a wave, while to control one’s emotions is to surf.
9. We can’t completely figure out thinking with thinking (“autonomous rationality”): we need emotions. Likewise, we can’t completely figure out emotions with emotions (“emotional judgment”): we need thinking.
10. To assess an individual accurately, we must step into that individual’s “system” of logic, reasoning, and definitions. If a person considers it “sensitive” to back away and “give space,” then to judge that person as “insensitive” because the assessor considers it “sensitive” to move closer would be erroneous. Assessing others necessitates empathy; a person must always assess another by their terms. Failure to do this easily causes conflict.
10.1 An important function of empathy is to try to define actions and terms in line with an “other”: if a person “puts their self in another person’s shoes” but doesn’t also take up that other person’s mode of engagement with the world, the empathetic act falls short.
11. An introvert who deals with EJ tendencies is in a precarious situation. Extroverts can feel uncomfortable around introverts, and though introverts can also feel uncomfortable around extroverts, they aren’t as likely to say something about how they’re feeling as are extroverts. If an extrovert asks an introvert, “Are you okay?” or “Do you not like being here?” an introvert can feel as if he or she is doing something wrong. If prone to making an emotional judgment, the introvert may conclude, “There is something wrong with me.” The introvert may then try to be more extroverted, but unable to change his or her makeup, the introvert will not derive the same kind of energy as does the extrovert from extroversion. Consequently, the introvert won’t feel anything, and from this might again make the emotional judgment that, “There is something wrong with me.” Having cut-off their self from the introverted lifestyle that energizes the introvert, the introvert might set his or her self up for depression.
12. EJs seem susceptible to “emotional induced illnesses” (EIIs). They also seem prone to stress and anxiety, because upon feeling fear, the EJ can judge, in regard to what is causing the fear, “do not engage with.” Yet fear takes action to overcome and best: to simply recognize that fear is in one’s head is like diagnosing cancer without treating it. Unfortunately, the EJ can judge it as irrational to face fears, thus preserving anxiety.(A)
A. Note inspired by The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz.
13. Sometimes we must venture through life on autopilot (we might not like doing taxes or what is monotonous, but sometimes we must). These times can be especially hard for an EJ.
13.1 To undergo EJ-tendencies is to be engaged in a kind of self-awareness. When we’re self-aware, we can pay too much attention to everything we say or do. When an EJ does this, the EJ is setup for perpetual disappointment in his or her self, for there are many instances throughout a day in which an individual is “on autopilot.” Once a person recognizes a single thing he or she does “wrong,” that person can start seeing lots of similar things. Self-awareness can be a vicious cycle.
13.2 Since it is not possible for a person to always think with an emotional charge, it seems inevitable that an EJ becomes disappointed in his or her self.
14. A single choice or sentence can set off an entire chain reaction of cause and effect. Every EJ-charged choice can make a world of difference.
15. It can be difficult for an EJ to trust, for it usually feels “frightening” to trust someone, especially if that person fails to provide what the EJ feels is an adequate explanation, plan, etc.
16. Memory isn’t stagnant but malleable. If an EJ remembers something but doesn’t feel a positive emotion, the EJ can determine that the experience being recalled mustn’t have been a good one. If an EJ has a bad encounter with a friend, an EJ can suddenly remember all engagements with that friend as bad, carrying the present emotion over into the past.
17. An EJ can have a hard time accepting that “it doesn’t matter what others think,” for an EJ can associate being independent with “being mean.”
18. “Interest” can be an avenue through which EJ occurs subtly: when someone says, “I just don’t find that interesting,” it can suggest that a person has decided something is not worthy of attention because the thing fails to make the individual “feel something.” However, just because we don’t feel like engaging in something doesn’t mean the thing is actually unimportant, and to suggest otherwise could be to say that for things to be important, they must make us feel like they are important. We are thus lord and master, as opposed to a humble student.
19. Such as throughout Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio, it has been suggested that humans cannot be rational without emotions (something “nonrational”). This work doesn’t disagree, nor does this work think emotions are a negative. The hope of this paper is to note the proper order for reasoning and emotions. To say emotions must follow reasoning isn’t to say emotions don’t matter or are disposable, but that, as a car needs oil to run, this is the necessary order for human flourishing. Without emotions, a person cannot be rational about emotions, which color all of life. Furthermore, without emotions, life can feel like nothing, and empathy (necessary for civilization) can prove impossible.
20. Love embraces the idea of a person, while true love (perhaps an impossible ideal) embraces an actual person. True love can be hard for an EJ, because real people are hard to want to embrace. They’re imperfect, and it’s easier to love imperfections than to love “truly.” However, love without truth can lack a rock upon which to stand, and emotional waves will easily topple it.
21. To claim sunsets are wonderful not because we think they are but because “they are” can seem strange: isn’t a sunset “just light” until there’s a viewer to describe it otherwise? Does a tree make a sound if no one hears it? As argued in “On Beauty” by O.G. Rose, though a sunset cannot be “meaningfully” beautiful without a viewer, it can still be beautiful, in the same way that a circle is still round even if no one is there to observe the circle. “Meaningful x” is viewer-contingent, but not x itself.
Like goodness and truth, beauty is argued in O.G. Rose to not just be a matter of taste but an attribute; in fact, it can be problematic to think beauty doesn’t entail any substance, because then it is a thing that doesn’t have any reality unto itself and can’t be something that we raise ourselves up to. Instead, beauty becomes just a term we use to describe something we like. If beauty is mere taste, we are lords over beauty, as opposed to beauty be something we humble ourselves before and of which we try to make ourselves worthy.
Can we prove that beauty is an attribute and a taste versus only a taste (similar to what Roger Scruton would argue)? Not absolutely — little in this life can be proved beyond a doubt — but “On Beauty” argues that we are better off to make our default a view of beauty as having substance versus a view of beauty being merely subjective. This isn’t to say beauty doesn’t entail subjectivity or conditionality at all (for example, I have to learn to read to be able to enjoy Tolstoy), but it is to say that we are better off to believe beauty cannot be reduced to “mere subjectivity,” even if this isn’t something we can absolutely prove one way or the other.
Where certainty is in doubt, a practical and consequential argument can be valid. We’re just better off to assume “beauty is substantive,” considering the downfalls of EJ to view beauty, truth, and goodness as only emotional.
22. It is perhaps the case that an EJ is prone to believe that every thought that enters the mind is an indication of what the EJ believes. If an EJ thinks for a moment that a person is overweight, the EJ may become upset at his or her self for thinking this way about someone. The EJ may then try to stop thinking such thoughts, which might make the EJ more likely to think them.
23. An EJ can believe premises such as “I am upset, therefore you must be doing something wrong”: they can come to believe that the fact they feel x means y, even though nothing necessarily follows from a given feeling. If we feel sad, we therefore feel sad. Perhaps we happen to feel sad at the same time I am failing to eat well, but it is not the case that “because you are feeling sad, I am thus not eating well.” This may seem obvious, but in practical life an EJ can “live out” this fallacy as if it were the case, all while knowing intellectually the logic doesn’t add up.
There is a temptation to believe “feeling x means y,” because then by feeling something we can create evidence for a case we want to justify. Of course, x (like any system) cannot be its own justification, but if people let x “practically get by” with being its own justification, it likely will, for this is much easier then seeking out external justification. Likewise, if society allows people to feel justified in premises like “I feel x, therefore y,” people will do it, especially if the society even moralizes such self-justifying, emotional premises. In this society, much unnecessary suffering will likely be experienced.
24. Not all brains are the same. While one brain naturally associates, another naturally analyzes; while one conceptualizes, another actualizes. The person with more of a left brain will have trouble understanding the right brained and vice-versa, but it’s important that both learn how to empathize with the other. Otherwise, especially in relationships, pain will easily prove common.
For example, if an analytical individual disciplines an associational child in random settings, the child could come to be constantly on edge. If a father voices his disappointment at such a child during lunch, then during every lunch, the associational child will wonder, “Is father upset?” However, the analytical father, who can easily separate phenomena, will not readily understand why the child would worry about this, and in fact, might get offended, only able to understand that his child would think this way if he or she was choosing to, because that is how the analytical father’s mind works (and it is natural to think that others think like us). Rather, the child is thinking such thoughts without willing them: since his or her mind is associational, thoughts come without warning whenever the child encounters what can be associated with something else. It’s subconscious. Therefore, it is very important that the father only disciplines his associational child in controlled settings. For example, whenever the father must speak sternly, he should remove his child to a set place (say out to the garage); by doing this, the associational child will “know the rules,” per se, and understand that when there is something wrong, he or she will know it (for there are constant things the father will always do when upset). If there aren’t set rules and environments, the child won’t easily know when things are good and when things are bad, which can cause significant anxiety.
The logic outlined in this point applies to many situations, and when there is such a lack of empathy, it is especially devastating to right-brained EJs. For, rather than think “Is father upset?” (as used in the example), the EJ will think “Father is upset” and/or “I did something wrong.” Consequently, the EJ might always be upset at his or her self and slip into dismay while assuming hurtful things about loved ones.
25. As we seem prone to Emotional Judgment, we are likewise prone to not be convinced until Emotionally Convinced.
26. It is hard to fight our emotions, and yet those who succeed can be thought of as not having emotions in the first place by EJs, thus EJs can conclude “it’s easier for them than it is for me.” The EJ can erase all the honor one deserves in overcoming emotions (which is not the same as erasing or disregarding emotions, no more than training a child is to hate the child) — causing pain and irony.
27. The EJ can conclude that because x, y, and z all make the EJ feel sad, they are therefore related, and that a discussion about x should also logically discuss y and z, as a discussion about y should also involve x and z, etc. Problematically though, x, y, and z may each to themselves be very complex, and switching between them may be to change the topic radically, even though “the emotional topic” would not change. This can make a discussion about x very difficult, rendering the possibility of finding a solution virtually impossible, the fact of which may intensify the sadness and increase the conviction of the EJ that he or she is dealing with a “real problem” (not just something imagined). The EJ’s conviction that x, y, and z are related may also increase, further increasing the difficulty of solving the EJ’s problem.
28. There’s a lot about ethics that entails self-sacrifice and practical martyrdom, actions that, when carried out, will likely feel hard. Considering this, ethical action can be very difficult for the EJ, precisely because when they carry it out, they can feel bad, and thus judge the ethical action to be unethical. Perhaps religion once had the important function of forcing EJs to face their feelings over ethics, but religion is weaker today.
29. Emotional Judgment: “I feel x, therefore x.” Emotional Intelligence: “I feel x, therefore why do I feel x?”
30. As with other essays in this collection, the point of “Emotional Judgment” is to provide a guide with which people can harmonize. Often, when it comes to problems in relationships, we are told that it is an issue of miscommunication, that we need to “talk about our problems.” However, no matter how long two people who speak different languages talk, they will never overcome their differences, and if people never get a translator, it won’t matter that they recognize their problem is one of miscommunication. It takes a philosophical framework to maximize personal relationships. Philosophy and love aren’t enemies; in fact, I believe they can’t live apart. Hopefully, “Emotional Judgment” provides a translator for a Japanese woman married to a Chinese man somewhere…