On How What We Think Impacts How We Feel and Vice-Versa
Worldviews orientate emotions as emotions orientate worldviews. There is a dialectic between how we feel about the world and how we see it: what we feel about x impacts how we think about x, and vice-versa. Our heart and mind aren’t separated (though culture often depicts them dualistically); rather, they are constantly engaged in a conversation, shaping and forming each other. We aren’t creatures with a “heart and mind” so much as we have a “heart/mind,” per se (as we are more so creatures of ‘feelings/beliefs” than “feelings and beliefs”). Yes, the two are distinct, but they are also so constantly engaging with one another that it’s difficult to divide them (such as when “thought” and “perception” combine over a given entity like two rivers running together, as discussed in “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose). While a person does a math problem, it is easy to identify the mind as distinct from the heart, for the mind takes a primary role, as it is easy to identify the heart as distinct during romance. But even in these situations, the heart and mind are conversing (perhaps more so in some situations than in others), for I might do math because I love it, as I might date a certain person because I think she is special. Still, though there are certain situations where either the heart or mind is “in the driver’s seat,” that doesn’t mean the other isn’t present or informing the situation at all. (Personally, I doubt there is such thing as a situation where the two are totally apart.)
Yes, there are some individuals who have personalities that are more “heart than mind” or vice-versa, but in no one does the heart and the mind operate independent of the other completely. They inform one another, perhaps much more than we realize, and failure to grasp this damages critical thinking, political bipartisanship, Pluralism, and social engagement. If we grasp that how we feel about people, ideas, and places shapes how we see them, we will be better at seeing people, ideas, and places for what they really are, not so easily influenced by our heart hiding behind our mind or our mind hiding behind our heart.
A natural function of “mind/heart rationality” is self-rationalization in a manner that convinces the self it is “objective” (which garners much to others and to ourselves in a world where “objectivity” is highly praised), and belief in the separation of the mind and heart aids in this self-rationalization. Rationality can change to fight against its natural tendencies to self-rationalize, but it easily won’t if the people who use rationality aren’t aware of its natural tendencies. Gaining self-awareness through awareness of “The Heart/Mind Dialectic,” we can learn to see clearer and to not be deceived into false self-justification by how we experience arguments and the world.
Language doesn’t always aid in understanding the main ideas of this work. Technically, every time the words “feels” or “thinks” are used, they should be “feels/thinks” (and the same logic applies for any simile of “thinking” or “feeling”). But if we always used this kind of “dash-language,” sentences would become clunky and the subject would be very difficult to discuss. As a reader, we just have to keep in mind that words that imply emotion also “point to” thought and vice-versa, even if it seems sometimes that a sentence is discussing one while disregarding the other. Secondly, it should be noted that this paper might at times be difficult to grasp precisely because we are likely to read it as discussing “heart and mind” versus “heart/mind”: in a way, the paper is written in a language that is similar to our native tongue, but still different; as one who knows Spanish can make out parts of Portuguese, so one who knows the “heart and mind” can make out the “heart/mind,” increasingly better with time. Our preconceptions are likely to impede our grasping of new conceptions.
As a final introductory note (which suggests the alignment of this paper with “Compelling” found in The Conflict of Mind), it also should be kept in mind that “subjective” and “feeling” aren’t similes for “wrong,” as “think” and “objective” aren’t similes for “right.” If I am subjective about x, it doesn’t necessarily follow that my thoughts about x are wrong, and the same goes with being objective about x. For me to be “thoughtful/emotional” about something doesn’t necessarily mean I am more or less right (“thinking” and “feeling” are ways of grasping a thing more than suggest some degree of correctness). Is it the case that in some situations “thinking” about x versus “feeling” about x will increase the likelihood that I am right about x? Indeed, as the reverse holds true, but the point is that though one may be emphasized over the other at different times, “feeling” and “thinking” are never totally independent of one another. To recognize that we have a “heart/mind” versus “heart and mind” isn’t about helping us overcome our feelings so that we can become more rational, but to claim that the idea of rationality ever existing “objectively” outside of emotion is a myth. They are indivisible, but since it is the case that “emotional” and “wrong” are not similes (that “feeling/thinking” doesn’t mean “wrong/right”), this doesn’t mean we can’t discern rightly: we just need to understand the challenge we create for ourselves.
In line with thoughts presented in “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment” by O.G. Rose, when we feel like New York is a bad city, we often see the bad in it more so than the good. The bad “stands out” to us, and since we “see” this bad, rather than feel it, we can believe we “objectively” have evidence that New York is in fact “a bad city.” We easily don’t think this is simply subjective but a matter of evidence, and yet the reason we see this bad over the good could be because of our heart, which is to say our heart makes some phenomena “stand out” to us more so than others, and it is this phenomena that has a much higher likelihood of being “evidence” than other phenomena that don’t so “stand out.” Hence, what is likely to become “evidence” is relative to how we feel about New York, and hence “the case” that we collect evidence for is also likely to be relative to how we feel. The case for which we see evidence is likely “framed” by our hearts more so than our minds, but it naturally seems to be picked by our minds because “seeing evidence for a case” seems to be an intellectual act. And indeed it is, but it is not merely such and instead is also grounded in feelings (it was initiated and/or organized by the heart). Like a house hiding the foundation upon which it was built, the intellectual act hides the feelings, perhaps making us believe our “objectivity” is grounded in something non-subjective (so providing ourselves with an illusion of objectivity “from the top down and the bottom up”). The subjectivity becomes “invisible,” like a doorknob that works (to allude to Heidegger).¹ The mind hides the heart, making us able to convince ourselves that we are objective, because relative to our scope (which might fail to see the “emotional foundation”), we indeed are. When we are subjective, we can still “experience objectivity.”
Nothing is perfect, but humans don’t always apply this truth regarding perfection until it benefits them and what they think (that is to say, people act as if things are perfect, even if they know otherwise, except when it comes to things they feel are wrong). New York isn’t a perfect city, as no Democrat or Republican is flawless, as no news source is free of all bias. If it is in the world, it is a mixture of the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, the flawed and the flawless. Hence, everything in the world is that which can provide a given human being with “evidence” that “it is bad” and/or that “it is good” (based on what the human wants to believe, feels like is true, etc.). And incredibly, if not recognized, the heart can keep the mind from seeing what the person doesn’t feel/believe is true. A person who believes “New York is a bad city” doesn’t naturally see the good of it like that person sees its bad. Are they blind? No, that would make correcting the situation easier: rather, they interpret what they see in a manner that hides what they see (they “mis-see,” rather than be blind, and problematically think they can see, which the blind have no delusions about). The heart/mind begets a hermeneutics (a method of interpretation) that the mind “thinks/sees through,” without the mind realizing this has occurred. Hence, when a person sees the beautiful, wonderful Central Park, the person can experience “a park that isn’t as nice as the pictures make it out to be,” while someone who loves New York can experience Central Park as “proof New York is the best city on the planet.” And because this experience seems to be one of “evidence” (versus emotion), the person can feel objective, informed, and discerning.
Ascribing to the idea of the heart and mind as separate (of “heart and mind” versus “heart/mind,” of subjectivity and objectivity existing apart versus dialectically), the world is naturally full of people who believe themselves to be objective and informed, people who when they encounter “others” who think differently than them “rationally” think those others “must be” subjective and ill-informed (others who think the same of them “objectively”). Believing in the “heart and mind” separation, people might find themselves unable to close the separation that divides them (always seeing “evidence” that the other is unwilling to draw near).
Alluding to “Probable Cause” by O.G. Rose, if our mother were to die, would we feel more grief than if someone we never met passed away? Of course: to suggest otherwise is almost offensive. Considering this, is it more likely that our mother’s death will impact what we think about, or the death of a stranger? Clearly our mother’s death (we’ll think about what she meant to us, the funeral, how close we are to death ourselves, etc.). The death of a stranger may organize our thoughts to some degree, but not nearly as dramatically as will the death of someone we care about. Why? Because we have an emotional attachment with our mother, and it is this “heart relation” that impacts our mind: our heart organizes our thoughts. Does this mean the death of the stranger isn’t tragic? Not at all — the stranger is someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, etc. — it simply means the stranger’s death doesn’t organize our thoughts as does the death of a close loved one. This doesn’t make us cruel or heartless, only human.
If I have three dogs I love and I read a story online about animal abuse, I am probably more likely to have an emotional reaction to that story than someone who owns no pets, not because that person necessarily hates animals, but because the person simply lacks a connection to animals like me. This emotional reaction may lead to me thinking about animals and animal rights, and perhaps influence me to read the works of Animal Right activists, which will impact my worldview. Yet on the same website where I learned about the animal abuse, there could be another story that “stands out” to my neighbor about nuclear waste, because my neighbor is a park ranger, and this story may influence my neighbor to learn more about Environmentalism. Does this mean I don’t care about the environment or that my neighbor hates animals? No: it means that emotional connection causes emotional impact that organizes and orientates the mind. Failing to understand this though, I may accuse my neighbor of not caring about animals, as my neighbor could accuse me of not caring about the environment, leading to strife.
Am I biased to animals and my neighbor biased to the environment? I suppose, but the word “bias” only confuses the topic. We say a person is biased to x when a person has an emotional connection with x, yet there is no such thing as a person without emotional connections (even the person who believes “there is no such thing as love” has an emotional attachment to that worldview), and to tell someone not to be biased is to tell someone not to have connections, which is heartless and impossible. We’re human (we have emotional connections or we would be dead), and even if we are biased, that doesn’t make all our ideas incorrect (if a biased person says, “2 + 2 = 4,” it is still true, as elaborated on in “Basic Math” by O.G. Rose). Additionally, concern with bias is useless, because no one thinks they’re biased: everyone naturally thinks they are objective (even as they say otherwise). Why? For reasons explained in the first section: we don’t realize we don’t see the whole picture (we don’t realize we don’t see all phenomena equally as evidence); we don’t realize our hearts hide behind or minds as our minds shape our hearts. Additionally, what others experience of us that is “biased” we might experience to ourselves as “connection” and “experience” (experience which we undergo in a manner described in the first section without our realizing it).² The fact we are concerned about “bias” is evidence that we are aware (to some degree), of how the mind and the heart influence one another. But the thought is often fleeting, and we often fail to grasp the drastic influence it has upon our lives.
To return to the main topic: if we are in love with someone, we are likely to think about that person more so than someone with whom we are only associated. The heart leads to where the mind follows, and yet the mind often influences where the heart travels. If I believe it is wrong to enslave human beings, then when I witness human trafficking, I will feel rage toward those perpetuating the injustice. If I believe all human beings are worthy of respect, if I see humans mistreated, I will feel sympathy for those who are oppressed. And upon feeling this, I will be motivated to change how I think and act, either by searching to stop other instances of this oppression, learning to be more aware of it, or so on. A change in heart leads to changes in mind, as a change in mind leads to change in heart, the heart and mind being two-sides of the same coin of “you.”
But what comes first? Ideas or feelings? It seems to vary from person to person: for one, the idea “discrimination is wrong” comes first, and for another, the witnessing of discrimination changes how the person thinks. Why does for one person the idea come first and for another the feeling? I think it’s because people are different: the answer is axiomatic. Regardless the person though and to reiterate, ideas inform feeling as feelings inform ideas. Yet still, why does a given person think/feel something about x instead of y, while another person thinks/feels something about y instead of x? Another axiomatic matter: the answer is because you are “you.” What this “you” means varies from particular person to particular person: there is no universal explanation, just countless explanations for particular people. What is universal though is the symbiotic relationship between the mind and heart (we are “always already” both).
The mind and heart do not operate separately but symbiotically, and instances in which the heart and mind act more divided than synchronized are rarer than “The Heart and Mind Duality”-myth leads us to believe (and perhaps never the case). Misunderstanding this, we have seemingly come to misunderstand others and ourselves, missing that the mind informs the heart and vice-versa much more than we realize.³ Consider again the idea that we respond emotionally to the death of someone we know much more than the death of someone we don’t know: with knowledge comes attachment.
Let’s consider if we would have been in favor of trying to kill Hitler, as some attempted during WWII. Though perhaps as a pacifist we are against this, surely we must acknowledge that this idea is at least considerable because of what we know about Hitler. We know he murdered millions, and hence we are likely more willing to consider killing him without feeling guilty about it: knowledge informs emotions. Now, let’s consider the idea of shooting someone who runs an oil company. Unlike the Hitler example, even if we are about Global Warming and believe fossil fuel production is almost murder, the idea of killing an oil CEO likely strikes the conscious as much more morally ambiguous and immoral than killing Hitler. Why? Because philosophy, worldview, religion, experience, historical situation, etc. have a profound impact on how we feel/think: we think that if something is wrong, we’ll feel that it is wrong, but we are perhaps (subconsciously) influenced by our historical situation more than we think: even if we think something is wrong, we won’t necessarily feel that way (at least strongly) if in our day and age, the issue is considered ambiguous and many people don’t “feel” the same way we feel about it. (There is a “collective empathy,” perhaps, a network effect that is “in the air,” per se, which perhaps benefited Hitler while at the same time stopping extremism — life is tradeoffs.)
Today, we feel/think that Hitler was evil, but when he was in power, many Germans didn’t feel/think the same way. And in fact, if they believed they would feel/think “he’s evil” if Hitler in fact was, because of their framework and assumption, the Germans were lead into believing they would know if they misunderstood the situation. Failing to understand how the heart and the mind informed one another, they failed to realize that the two engage in a dialectical act that could hide the truth from the observer. As the people felt “he’s a great leader,” they lost the capacity to observe “evidence” suggesting “he’s not a good leader,” and as they saw more “evidence” that “he’s a great leader,” they felt more confident that “he’s a great leader.” Self-feeding and self-justifying, “The Heart/Mind Dialectic” can lead to self-deception while robbing from the observer the capacity to recognize that he or she is self-deceived. Had there been awareness of how the heart and mind can erroneously inform one another, perhaps the Germans would have been better at seeing Hitler for who he really was (someone who even Hitler may not have realized he was, taken by his own heart/mind). If we today are in the midst of a great evil or injustice, it is doubtful our hearts/minds will make us aware of it, as it is also likely that we will believe that we would be aware of it if a great evil or injustice were transpiring — errors we are perhaps more likely to make where we believe in a “heart and mind” versus “heart/mind” (living together versus in a duplex).
Because the mind and heart inform one another, we are all prone to self-deception, not only concerning others and reality but ourselves.⁴ If we are a lousy writer, we will emotionally “not feel like” engaging with an editor who will tell us this, and in never hearing the critiques of the editor, we then have “reason to believe” we’re talented (we’ve never encountered “evidence” suggesting otherwise).⁵ The “pain” or “fear” of encountering the editor helps us hide from ourselves “evidence” unveiling the truth about our skill-level, and in this way the emotions shape the mind to increase the feeling that we are talented, right, justified, and so on. The emotional reaction keeps us from seeing the truth, but unfortunately not by us covering our eyes (we see through them). The only “clear head” is empty.
The paper will now move into what could be called its second part, which will discuss “The Phenomenology of View(s)” and how we experience arguments, deeply influenced by “The Heart/Mind Dialectic.” I use the word “view” (with a “(s)”) to imply a profound, intimate connection between “what we see” and “what we believe” — to imply that our views are multiple yet one, “view(s).” So, let us ask: Why do we almost feel pain when we listen to someone with whom we disagree? If the heart and mind are separate, we shouldn’t feel anything at all (an idea should only strike us intellectually), right? But ideas cause emotional reactions, not just intellectual disagreement. Why? Well, again, it’s because we have a “heart/mind” more than a “heart and mind”: the two are intricately and indivisibly linked. What stimulates the mind stimulates the heart as what hurts the heart hurts the mind (sometimes one is hurt more so than the other, but the point is that they don’t feel pain separately). The pain of one runs through both, perhaps dulled by the time it reaches the other, but the pain still runs on.
How do we “experience” arguments? Note here that I’m not asking, “How do we argue?” (as in “How do we structure arguments?”), but rather inquiring into the experience of an argument itself. What do we feel? What do we focus on? What do we miss? Realizing that we have a “heart/mind” more so than a “heart and mind,” we might be better equipped to understand “the phenomenology of view(s)” and to not fail to identity how our emotional/mental experience of arguments can impede our rationality/discernment (assuming, that is, we never let our guard down, as we will naturally “feel” we never do — problematically). Consider the following:
‘The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. Those civil consequences — and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences — can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact — and the furthest extension one can even imagine — of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.’
The above quote is by Justice Anthony Scalia, dissenting from the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that legalized LGBT marriage federally. Here, I’m not interested in the content of the passage; rather, I’m interested in the reader’s emotional/mental experience, phenomenology, and reaction to it. Knowing Scalia is a Conservative, we are likely automatically skeptical and cynical regarding what he writes. After the decision, Barney Frank penned an article called “Justice Scalia is a Homophobe,” claiming:
‘Scalia begins his characteristically vitriolic dissent by protesting that ‘the substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me.’ / Yeah, right. This strikes me as the least sincere disavowal of homophobia I have encountered since former Majority Leader Dick Armey tried to argue that his reference to me as ‘Barney Fag’ was just a mispronunciation of my last name.’⁶
Barney Frank might pen what most of us feel: Scalia is hiding his bigotry behind a supposed defense of a people’s “freedom to govern themselves.” And perhaps Scalia is (that is another question for another time), but what interests me is our natural tendency to think such of Scalia (even though what he wrote doesn’t seem to contain any direct bigotry, suggesting a “meta”-layer). Scalia’s opening lines suggest that he has no problem with an America in which LGBTs receive full marital rights, given that the process which those marital rights are acquired is Constitutional (according to his understanding of the Constitution). Even if Scalia is personally against LGBT marriage, he arguably resisted the temptation of his subjectivity in his writing and wrote something else that is grounded (right or wrong) in the question of Constitutional process. But might that not just be a trick? A way to be a bigot without being directly bigoted? A way to express hatred while maintaining plausible deniability? Perhaps Scalia was just a coward. Indeed, perhaps so, but my point is that, almost without being able to help it, we can see Scalia as hating LGBTs, and if he says nothing directly against LGBTs (and even directly voices his support of LGBT marriage under the right legal process), it seems natural to conclude that Scalia is just hiding his agenda (it’s nearly automatic, almost like magic).⁷ Perhaps Scalia is indeed a homophobe and perhaps Barney Frank is correct, but we cannot determine this from Scalia’s dissent alone, and even if it’s true, it in no way changes the rationality or irrationality of Scalia’s argument (considering “Basic Math” by O.G. Rose). But perhaps Scalia exactly knows this and is using “Basic Music” to his advantage, the coward.⁸ ⁹ Perhaps, always perhaps.
Why do we naturally assume Scalia’s motives over his argument? It must be because of our experience of his dissent for some reason (never simply “a reading of”). We feel resistance, outrage, cynicism — even what I’ve written here, right now, is perhaps striking readers as a defense of Scalia, creating an emotional response against it. It’s natural, something that happens automatically, like the pumping of a heart and daydreaming of a mind. Indeed, what happens seems like the natural workings of a heart/mind-organ of some kind…Perhaps readers disagree and might claim they feel nothing reading Scalia’s dissent, and that might be true, but I would ask readers to remember their raw, first impression (and please note that first impressions matter). Was there no suspicion of performance in Scalia? Of agenda? Perhaps readers immediately discounted this feeling, but even if they did, if the impression was there, the point is made: our minds naturally focus on what is beyond the text, mainly the heart and mind of Scalia himself. “Like” seeks “like”: the heart/mind seeks the heart/mind, which is invisible, and yet the heart/mind can still never cease to try.
Where we find a person, we will find a phenomenology and unique “way” by which the world is experienced. No two people might experience Scalia’s dissent the same: what “stands out” to one won’t “stand out” to the other, and what one reader believes is motivating Scalia’s words will be dismissed as cynicism by another. Between people and through history, how our heart/mind responds to a given premise, idea, person, event, etc. can shift, and if we’re not aware of how our heart and mind symbiotically inform one another to cause potentially blinding experiences of articles, ideas, books, etc., we will be all the more susceptible to error, which we are already likely to suffer.
Not all sentences “strike us” equally, which is to say we experience a sentence we agree with differently than a sentence with which we disagree; likewise, we experience what a person we like, agree with, etc. says differently than words uttered by someone we dislike, disagree with, etc. Consider this sentence:
“Abortion is murder.”
As if from the work of Adelbert Ames, Jr., I believe the Liberal experiences that sentence differently than the Conservative (the Liberal could be offended while the Conservative feels nothing). If this sentence was in an article, the very presence of this sentence could completely transform how the Liberal reads the piece (regardless the validity or depth of some of the points, the Liberal could miss them all). Now, experience/read the following:
“Abortion is a woman’s right.”
The Conservative might roll his or her eyes, tired of Liberals creating human rights out of thin air, while the Liberal might read the sentence without any strong emotional reaction (as a person doesn’t normally respond strongly to reading “2 + 2 = 4”). If the sentence was in an article, it would probably trigger cynicism and skepticism in the Conservative, priming the Conservative to miss the perhaps strong points and arguments of the paper. But this kind of “triggering” probably doesn’t strike the Conservative as emotional or ideological; rather, the Conservative (like the Liberal reading a paper against abortion) probably experiences the “triggering” as “rational and fair,” for the Conservative “knows” that abortion isn’t a woman’s right, and it’s “just a fact” that any paper that makes this claim must be partisan and ideological (they haven’t looked clearly at the issue; otherwise, they’d think like us).
It’s hard to listen to an argument with which we disagree, let alone work through (our experience of) it. Whether it be an argument against State growth, in favor of Capitalism, about State’s rights, the Civil War, marriage, reparations , etc., humans seem ill-equipped to respond to an argument itself and are rather masters at responding to their impressions of it.9 How people interpret even the tone of the person they are speaking with is relative to their experiences: the exact same tone from someone a person agrees with can be experienced and interpreted differently than from a debate opponent. What is considered a joke when uttered by one person is an indirect insult when uttered by another, and what is taken seriously from the lips of one is taken as superficial from the lips of another. It is impossible for any speaker or writer to speak or write in such a way that addresses all the possible experiences listeners or readers might have of his or her work: it is up to the listeners and readers to check and balance themselves. But failing to identify “The Heart/Mind Dialectic,” we are less likely to fulfill this responsibility, making the writer or speaker responsible for succeeding at what every writer and speaker must necessarily fail.
We are shaped more by our experience of places, people, ideas, etc. than we are shaped by places, people, ideas, etc. themselves (an “experience” being “a heart/mind encountering a phenomenon”) — so it goes with arguments. If we are unaware of “the phenomenology of views” and “Heart/Mind Dialectic,” we might believe our engagement with the world is shaped by “objectivity,” even as we verbally acknowledge, “Objectivity is impossible.” Like “heart” and “mind,” the line between our “objectivity” and “subjectivity” is virtually non-existent (we are “subjective/objective” beings more so than “subjective and objective,” perhaps “subobjective,” we could say), and though we all claim to “know that,” we rationally end up using the notions to dismiss others more than to refine ourselves, precisely because subjectivity makes experience “toward” us in a way that makes it seem like we aren’t being subjective, as is even possible because we believe in “heart and mind” versus “heart/mind” (the mistake is foundational to the problem.¹⁰
Also, it is imperative here to recognize that humans don’t intentionally choose to ignore the presence of their subjectivity, that it seems more biological or “wired into us” than chosen or intended.¹¹ We just “suddenly and all at once” find ourselves reacting to the phrase, “Abortion is murder,” disapprovingly and with anger, as we just “suddenly and all at once” find ourselves approving, “Abortion is a woman’s right.” Yes, perhaps we only have this reaction because of years of choices building on one another, but if we emphasize the immediacy and instantaneous of the response, we might be less likely to reply poorly. Furthermore, we might be more charitable if we understand that “everyone must start from somewhere,” which is to say everyone must start from some premise or worldview to function, and so everyone must be vulnerable to “automatic responses” like we so described. It’s part of the tragedy of being human (we must start with “givens” — be kind).
We seem wired to misunderstand by the same wiring that orientates us to be/feel right at the expense of truth (our hearts/minds seem wired to hide from us the influence of the two on one another). But why do we fail to realize our subjectivity “runs all the way through?” That might require all of The Map Is Indestructible to explore: there is the way phenomena “stand out” to us as ‘”evidence’” (relative to the “case” or “narrative” we ascribe to); how a lack of critical thinking entails also a lack of the critical thinking necessary to identify that critical thinking is lacking; the way emotions strike us as their own grounding; the cultural acceptance of “assuming the worst”; “the death of skepticism”; and so on.¹² Behind all of these errors though, empowering them, is “The Heart and Mind Duality”-myth, which contributes to us failing to recognize how profoundly linked the heart and mind are, which contributes to us underestimating how much our subjectivity influences our objectivity and how much work it takes to see the world uncolored by our impressions of it. Far more work is needed than we (can) realize — which includes realizing how much the last sentence applies to us as readers of this paper. Are we capable of really believing we need work to overcome our ideology? What ideology would allow such a thought?
To state a main point of this paper: it isn’t so much our rationality or our emotions that absorb and respond to articles, ideas, people, etc., but more so a “you” (more holistically). “You,” which is comprised of a heart/mind (not simply reason and/or simply emotion, but something like the relation between them), is what responds, and yet we easily experience our “you” in this way as “reason,” contributing to the myth that the mind and heart operate separately. But here’s the key: humans don’t make this mistake because they intend to do so or because they intend to disregard opposing views; rather, it “just happens” (because we are human). We all do it (perhaps we must), and if we were to all acknowledge this, perhaps we’d all have something in common? If our heart/mind is always in the business of keeping us apart, perhaps we could come together precisely in us all sharing a “heart/mind that is always in the business of keeping us apart?”
Dualism is hard to overcome, and just when we think it’s finished, it pops up elsewhere. “The Heart and Mind Duality” must be replaced by “The Heart/Mind Dialectic” (“you”). The world isn’t really or even usefully divided into “Heart People” and “Mind People”: everyone is both (though people can vary in emphasis or which “takes the driver’s seat” more often than the other). Dualistic, “Heart People” can believe “Head People” don’t have hearts while “Head People’” believe “Heart People” don’t have brains, and this has not only lead to hurt feelings and personal conflicts, but is also ideologically advantageous, because I can dismiss those who disagree with me as “not having hearts” or “not having brains.”
Believing in “The Heart and Mind Duality,” we often fail to understand “the phenomenology of view(s)” and how our experience of an argument impacts what we think of the argument, how we respond, and how we internalize it. We emote when we think we think and think when we think we emote, hiding ourselves from ourselves. Thinking follows emotion and emotion follows thinking: none of us are free of this symbiotic relationship. The sooner we understand that we are “feeling/thinking beings” more so than “feeling and thinking beings,” the sooner we can learn to live in this world with others and ourselves. Furthermore, if “heart and mind” are always together as “heart/mind,” then the word “heart” and the word “mind” don’t mean what we think they mean. There is no such thing as those words in isolation, by themselves, and so what exactly do they mean? Little beyond emphasis, it seems — all we ever talk about is “you,” but discussing “you” directly forces me to face who I am.
¹As argued in “The True Isn’t the Rational,” a goal of subjectivity is to present itself as objective (in order to preserve ideology without the person realizing this is occurring), and when the heart hides the mind, it “works” like a doorknob and so becomes “invisible.”
²As much as we complain about it, there is also possibly a part of us that likes “media bias.” Knowing it exists, we are able to justify (to ourselves) not taking what the media tells us seriously (we can “pick and choose” as we like, which might suggest why we like “bias’ in general). The possibility that the media is over-dramatizing or misrepresenting frees us from the weight of world events, while at the same time being able to use the media as “trustworthy this time” when it supports us. If the media wasn’t biased, we’d always have to take it seriously, which might be terrible.
³Furthermore, as discussed in “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, thought divides, atomizes, and singularizes, and so thought is naturally orientated to create a “duality” of heart and mind versus “dialectic.” And yet we must overcome thought to think well…
⁴Perhaps if our minds were free from the influence of our hearts, we would somehow “be objective” and less likely to be self-deceived, but without the influence of the heart, the mind wouldn’t be motivated to engage in the world and life would easily be meaningless (costs have benefits as benefits have costs).
⁵Considering this, as discussed in “The True Isn’t the Rational” by O.G. Rose, “The Heart and Mind Duality” contributes to ideology preservation, which is a main drive of human action, and it is perhaps for the sake of preserving ideology that we have disregarded “The Heart/Mind Dialectic.”
⁶See “Justice Scalia Is a Homophobe” by Barney Frank, as can be found here:
⁷This paragraph alludes to the problem with “cynical hermeneutics,” as discussed in “The War Between Process and Justice” by O.G. Rose.
⁸The next move is to say Scalia adapted an Originalist interpretation of the Constitution in order to stop LGBTs from gaining marriage, but even if this were true, it doesn’t make the Originalist view any more or less true. Even if it is determined Originalism is wrong, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Scalia intentionally adopted a wrong view to justify his homophobia on the bench. Clearly he thinks Originalism is right, and in light of what he thinks, his dissent is perhaps reasonable though perhaps wrong. Once we begin questioning motives, there is no end to the witch-hunt, and it is doubtful democratic culture can last.
Please note that as I have of Scalia, I could just as easily make an example of Scalia’s good friend, Justice Ginsburg, and claim she ascribes to the hermeneutics of the “Living Constitution” to codify her subjectivity into law (and perhaps that’s exactly what many Conservatives think). But again, even if that is true about Ginsburg, that in no way whatsoever lessens the validity of the “Living Constitution”-hermeneutic. That must be determined separately, but due to how both Conservatives and Liberals experience the argument, it is doubtful we will see a need to engage in that determination, and hence be susceptible to self-delusion and error.
⁹Four days after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Jonathan Rauch wrote an article called “No, Polygamy Isn’t the Next Gay Marriage,” and a number of similar articles appeared around the country. Granted, the very same day as the decision, there was an article by Fredrik deBoer called “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy,” but what I want to focus on here isn’t the validity of the arguments in the articles, but our experiences of them. Though it is dangerous to assume what others feel, I think it’s the case that many feel deBoer’s article is “cheap” and an attempt to garner readership by being controversial and being “the first” to put out an article we all knew was coming (of course someone was going to try to capitalize on the decision). I think it’s fair to say that the argument Rauch makes passes over us without much emotional response, and even just glancing over his article, we can feel the matter is finished (the idea of legalizing polygamy is ridiculous, and it’s an idea usually presented superficially by Conservatives as a way to undermine LGBT marriage). Is Rauch’s argument superior to deBoer’s? That’s not my point: my interest is on how most people don’t actually follow either deBoer’s argument for polygamy or Rauch’s against polygamy point by point. Rather, we read the headlines and “just respond,” which in turn causes us to see the articles as more or less compelling than the articles may actually be, and then we proceed to go about our daily lives, convinced we have acquired more “evidence” that our worldview is correct. In reality, we haven’t really thought through the new argument concerning the topic of marriage, so much as we have had an emotional reaction, which then preserves our thoughts on the topic of marriage because we feel more certain, having “read”/reacted to articles.
Additionally, my other point is that when we read an article entitled something like “In Defense of Traditional Marriage,” I will venture to say that we often feel an emotional barrier, as if considering the traditional view is to consider something wrong, discriminatory, and/or oppressive. Twenty years ago, this might not have been the case, but now, even Conservatives can experience the article with an emotional resistance that orientates their minds to internalize the article differently (which is not necessarily bad, do note). With time, the experience of the article has changed, and so also has changed how we read the article: what is scrutinized was perhaps once taken for granted, as what is taken for granted now was perhaps once scrutinized. Twenty years from now, perhaps people will read articles entitled something like “Against Polyamory” with a similar emotional barrier, for the zeitgeist of the age then will have perhaps shifted to be more open to the idea. Or perhaps an article entitled “In Defense of Marriage” will cause emotional resistance, for the future age will oppose marriage as an institution entirely, finding it inherently oppressive.
On the other hand, regardless who’s right or wrong, rather than respond to Scalia’s dissent with cynicism, deBoer with a roll of the eyes, and Rauch with thoughtless agreement, perhaps the reader is overly zealous in agreement: perhaps the Conservative emotionally/mentally experiences Scalia’s dissent with such strong approval that he or she misses Scalia’s logical fallacies, connecting dots in his or her experience of the dissent that Scalia doesn’t connect himself. Perhaps the Conservative who reads deBoer’s article and who wants polygamy to be legalized to make a point (about “the floodgates opening”) will fail to see Rauch’s logic without realizing he or she is failing to understand Rauch. Of Scalia’s dissent, the Conservative might be too quick to agree, the Liberal too quick to disagree, and due to their emotional/mental experiences of the dissent (formed relative to the narratives and worldviews they already believe are true), the two will see and miss different ideas and lines: Scalia’s insults will “stand out” to the Liberal as unnecessary and childish, while the Conservative may think nothing of them; Scalia’s claim that he has nothing against LGBT marriage if passed constitutionally will “stand out” to the Conservative as reasonable, while the claim will perhaps be seen as inauthentic by the Liberal. And so we live.
¹⁰In line with “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, to think about “x/y” is to understand it as “x and y” (for the brain is sequential and we in time), and hence the nature of thought creates “dualities” versus “dialectics,” confusing us with supposed understanding.
¹¹Please note it is difficult for the brain to conceptualize unintentionality — thought being intentional — and this makes it difficult for us to grasp this point (as explored in “Paradoxes of Awareness” by O.G. Rose).