By Daniel Martinez
Logic. Emotion. We are human beings, and thus rationale and sentiments drive us. Often, however, we mix the two in ways ultimately undesirable, but we rarely have the foresight to prevent that. I was 16 in a shuttle van driving through Houston when I was introduced to this idea. At the time it went completely over my head, though to some degree it should have been blatantly obvious. I have since thought about it a lot, and with every day that passes, with every day that I see and understand the world, it rings more and more true. Logic and emotion are contrasting forms of the human experience that usually nullify the other when used simultaneously. Emotion is derived from the conscious observer and is used in order to justify a belief based on a subjective attachment. Therefore, emotions resolve knowledge to a personal level rather than assuming a logical position. Logic comes into play by reaching beyond an emotional level and acknowledges what is ethical, plausible, and acceptable. These two should rarely, if ever, be mixed, let alone interchanged, and it’s in our best interest to isolate them and treat each situation with the fitting perspective, methodology, etc.
Our first response to any adversity that crosses our path is usually an emotional reaction. It’s not uncommon, in fact, it’s human nature, to react emotionally and ignore all rationality. These situations tend to evolve into complete messes whereby respect goes out the window, money is lost, and well-being is sub-optimal.
A few months ago I was in my dorm’s lounge hanging out with some neighbors. It was 11PM on a weekend night, and out of nowhere another neighbor walked in. He proceeded to single out one of the girls present and insulted every vulnerable aspect of her personality. Granted, he was very intoxicated (the kid is the most eloquent drunk I have ever met), but after a three-minute tirade on how dumb she is, how idiotic her major is, and her supposed lack of a future, she was in tears. I’m not defending either party – the guy had no right to drunkenly walk in and insult her, but her reaction was about as appropriate as his behavior. She took the insults to heart without thinking about how drunk the guy was, and how irrelevant her own life is to his obvious problems. I know both of them well, and the guy has enough emotional baggage to fill up JFK. She should have looked at the situation rationally and realized that absolutely nothing in his tirade had to do with her – he’s just an emotionally troubled person who randomly singled her out and insulted her. That’s when her own insecurities took over and the tears came rushing.
Societal catastrophes stemming from intertwined logic and emotion like this occur everyday. Sometimes they’re barely troublesome, just a minor inconvenience, and other times they affect millions of people. Right now Fidel Castro’s narcissism blinds him from making any economically or politically logical decisions, and as a result millions of people are still suffering after decades of tyranny. Clearly, it’s in our best interest to treat logical and emotional problems the proper way: with careful analysis of the issue at hand and the ramifications of potential solutions.
Then there is the other side of the spectrum. Emotions are irrational; love, desire, fear, though three of the most pervasively felt human emotions that drive us or prevent from so many actions, are in essence illogical. And that’s what’s so beautiful about human nature. The use of syllogisms, propositions, and other utilities of logic to analyze and predict our emotions are but a fool’s task that can drive anyone insane—so much that philosophers and writers have driven themselves to their deaths in attempt to do this.
So it’s important to take these two monsters of the human condition and the world apart and correctly handle them. They’re such an explosive mix that has caused so much havoc in history; they reveal so much about the collective human psyche. Entire economic disasters can be traced to happy-go-lucky investors who ignored all principles of the market and history and just went with how their feelings lead them. Look at the adrenaline that fueled the dot com bubble, the greed underlying the leverage of the subprime mortgage crisis, and the denial that Europe has been in for the past two years.
An analysis of our own human nature can greatly improve the decision-making process in all situations, from high-stake investing to partying. Ask yourself, should I be thinking with my own feelings, or with rationality? Am I applying the correct strategy to the given circumstances? Analyze what’s at stake, the potential emotions involved, and the rational path that will lead to prosperity. Your life might marginally get better.