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Unexamined emotions as a form of dishonesty?

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Jonathan Weissberg
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Let's take a person who agrees broadly that reason is our only source of knowledge. Even just someone who knows that thoughts precede emotions and thoughts have or should have a basis in the 'world out there' (on the perceptual level). If that person then proceeds to make a decision based on an impulse whose source he does not know, no matter how tiny, would that qualify as dishonesty in the Objectivist conception of it (the refusal to fake reality)? For example, let us say this person has decided he wants to sit down and read a book and proceeds to do so, but while he is reading he feels an impulse to check a social media application on his phone and does so (without identification or the reason for why or at least attempt at identification and then acknowledgement of such before making a decision), would that qualify?

Since this person knows, on some level at least, that reason is his only source of knowledge, is he not disregarding this fact (faking reality) implicitly by acting on any unexamined impulse at any time? 

And on this question, do we distinguish between "context dropping" (and active evasion let's say) and someone who is simply not very good at holding the context even though the material might be in his mind somewhere in explicit form?

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Jonathan, this is a response to only part of your inquiry.

I rather think that proceeding according to the principle that reason is the only source of knowledge and only proper guide to action entails contouring one’s hour-by-hour activities by one’s craft of one’s setting. We have deliberately decided not to have a smart phone. We don’t want that continual possibility for distraction, which we see among friends and family, and our stage of life (retirement) does not require we have one. My older sister, age 80, has opted to not introduce a computer into her life. We just write letters or talk on the phone.

Proceeding by reason alone entails knowing that reason is pilot of the full living system we are, and that includes knowing to include sex, social interaction, taking breaks, getting sleep, listening to or making music, getting exercise, and hobbies. I’d say, too, that some spontaneity is part of the good in life. There was some spontaneity that I turn to writing this note just now, taking a little break from this morning’s study of Hegel’s anti-foundational conception of method in philosophy. I can be continually aware of roughly how much time is passing, and what I am doing just now in the fuller context of the day and decade.

It seems a joy and a smart habit to always be cognizant or open to becoming cognizant of reasons for any action-impulses whatever. Then too, Rand once remarked that all thinking is a creative process. I think that correct and that rational thought itself requires internal spontaneity in the quest for reality and its connections.

Edited by Boydstun
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19 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Since this person knows, on some level at least, that reason is his only source of knowledge, is he not disregarding this fact (faking reality) implicitly by acting on any unexamined impulse at any time? 

First, reason is not the "source" of knowledge. 

It is a process by which some kinds of knowledge can be gained in tandem with other processes, memory, perception etc. Reason also can be used to validate purported knowledge, memory, experience, intuition.  Reason can be also used to help guide or inform choices on the basis of perception, held knowledge, memory, experience, intuition, feeling etc.

 

Disregarding reason in the moment and jumping off a cliff in response to a solitary maladaptive impulse would be catastrophic.  But not only reason works to dissuade one from a single rogue impulse... as the psyche is filled with multiple impulse systems which in a healthy mind should be well balanced.  What should happen when such a dangerous impulse comes into consciousness, is the invocation of the will to focus and use reason.

 

Now, having already decided to allow weekends to count as  "cheat nights" after weeks of dieting and exercise, the subsequent impulse to eat a tub of ice cream fakes nothing about reality.  In such a situation the person is not engaged in dry philosophical rationality, but has permitted oneself the follow those impulses... we would say "within reason", but better to say when those impulses do not require examination by purposeful or attentive reason.  That is not to say that intuitively, the person would not in fact stop himself from eating 4 tubs of ice cream... common sense autopilot intuition can be a good enough guard dog to warn and wake up reason when it is needed, but that does not imply it must always be operative in all things at all times, ... within a permitted scope it certainly is NOT always needed.

 

The acquisition of Knowledge is only but one aspect of being human.

Knowing the fact that Reason is not the key to all of human experience, always and at all times, is not any denial of reality but a form of wisdom about what it means to be a whole and integrated human being.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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10 hours ago, merjet said:

To examine fleeting and superficial ones is not faking reality, but focusing on more important things.

Oops. To not examine fleeting and superficial ones is not faking reality, but focusing on more important things.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/9/2021 at 8:46 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

First, reason is not the "source" of knowledge. 

It is a process by which some kinds of knowledge can be gained in tandem with other processes, memory, perception etc. Reason also can be used to validate purported knowledge, memory, experience, intuition.  Reason can be also used to help guide or inform choices on the basis of perception, held knowledge, memory, experience, intuition, feeling etc.

Thank you for this added clarification. When you put it this way I agree that reason cannot be the "source" of all knowledge as it is just one faculty among many others including perception, memory and emotion. If I rethink this as I've been prompted to do now, I'm not sure I'd be asking this same question in the way I did. A more precise way to think about this would simply be: reason is the only tool for validating conceptual knowledge.

On 2/9/2021 at 8:46 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Disregarding reason in the moment and jumping off a cliff in response to a solitary maladaptive impulse would be catastrophic.  But not only reason works to dissuade one from a single rogue impulse... as the psyche is filled with multiple impulse systems which in a healthy mind should be well balanced.  What should happen when such a dangerous impulse comes into consciousness, is the invocation of the will to focus and use reason.

Yes, my original concern was for not for something as obvious and perceptual as this, but very small unanalyzed decisions which may have much more long-range impact.  

On 2/9/2021 at 8:46 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Now, having already decided to allow weekends to count as  "cheat nights" after weeks of dieting and exercise, the subsequent impulse to eat a tub of ice cream fakes nothing about reality.  In such a situation the person is not engaged in dry philosophical rationality, but has permitted oneself the follow those impulses... we would say "within reason", but better to say when those impulses do not require examination by purposeful or attentive reason.  That is not to say that intuitively, the person would not in fact stop himself from eating 4 tubs of ice cream... common sense autopilot intuition can be a good enough guard dog to warn and wake up reason when it is needed, but that does not imply it must always be operative in all things at all times, ... within a permitted scope it certainly is NOT always needed.

Let's say it's not a cheat night and you've worked very hard for the day. Might it not make sense to be spontaneous in the moment and have one extra ice cream tub today just to reward this very hard work? Let's say that you can reason that it's fine because you'll remove one ice cream tub from your cheat day. Thoughts? 

The reason I bring this up is not because I'm opposed to spontaneity but simply because I find this kind of in-the-moment decision of what I should do for some things not very good at helping me become who I want to be long-range.

On 2/9/2021 at 8:46 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

 

The acquisition of Knowledge is only but one aspect of being human.

Knowing the fact that Reason is not the key to all of human experience, always and at all times, is not any denial of reality but a form of wisdom about what it means to be a whole and integrated human being.

 

Agree.

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On 2/9/2021 at 12:02 PM, Boydstun said:

Jonathan, this is a response to only part of your inquiry.

I rather think that proceeding according to the principle that reason is the only source of knowledge and only proper guide to action entails contouring one’s hour-by-hour activities by one’s craft of one’s setting. We have deliberately decided not to have a smart phone. We don’t want that continual possibility for distraction, which we see among friends and family, and our stage of life (retirement) does not require we have one. My older sister, age 80, has opted to not introduce a computer into her life. We just write letters or talk on the phone.

Proceeding by reason alone entails knowing that reason is pilot of the full living system we are, and that includes knowing to include sex, social interaction, taking breaks, getting sleep, listening to or making music, getting exercise, and hobbies. I’d say, too, that some spontaneity is part of the good in life. There was some spontaneity that I turn to writing this note just now, taking a little break from this morning’s study of Hegel’s anti-foundational conception of method in philosophy. I can be continually aware of roughly how much time is passing, and what I am doing just now in the fuller context of the day and decade.

When you turned to write this was it 'spontaneity' in the sense of not having planned to take a break by browsing a forum or spontaneity in the sense of having planned to take a break and then chosen from a set of possible pre-deliberated-upon options for what you will do when you take breaks?

 

Quote

It seems a joy and a smart habit to always be cognizant or open to becoming cognizant of reasons for any action-impulses whatever. Then too, Rand once remarked that all thinking is a creative process. I think that correct and that rational thought itself requires internal spontaneity in the quest for reality and its connections.

So then if I understood this correctly then one should be cognizant of action-impulses, i.e., one should use reason to validate the life-affirming nature of an impulse (when appropriate). If one didn't, and if one acted on some unplanned impulse. Would I be right then to say that would be considered dishonesty? My motivation in asking is to try concretize ethics & its application better.

And what do you mean by internal spontaneity? I am interpreting this as the ability to consider new data observed or provided by the subconscious and then start thinking in a new, perhaps unexpected, direction. As opposed to planning to think about one issue for the whole day and sticking to that no matter what. In both cases however, you may still be operating within the scope of having planned to dedicate a day to philosophy.

 

Edited by Jonathan Weissberg
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15 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Might it not make sense to be spontaneous in the moment and have one extra ice cream tub today just to reward this very hard work? Let's say that you can reason that it's fine because you'll remove one ice cream tub from your cheat day. Thoughts?

Much that you do in life might "make sense", but would it "make sense" to use up 90% of your time and energy making sure every single one of those little things you do is the absolute most optimal and correct thing to do.. up to a 99.8% margin of error...

Being literally crippled with thought and living only 10% of your life... I would suggest, does not "make sense".

 

Trusting your intuition to know when you need to really need to engage in serious rational thought about what you are doing, how to make a choice, how you are going about something, I would suggest "makes sense" in the big picture... much of these things can be approached in an intuitive manner... and once something comes natural it should be autonomous/intuitive. 

 

Remember learning to drive, or when you took your first driving test?  Your mind was a flurry of activity trying to make sure you remembered to do everything to operate a vehicle, stay aware of the road pedestrians and other cars, and to follow and proceed in accordance with the rules of the road...

Today, you do almost all of this automatically, unless there is some sort of emergency or unique event which needs your focus... you have from experience trained yourself to know when reason needs to kick into high gear and what to focus it on in that situation... which means you can choose in the moment to think about more important things, things that you should take the time to think about. As it turns out, you can do such thinking, conveniently and relatively interruption free, while driving.

15 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

The reason I bring this up is not because I'm opposed to spontaneity but simply because I find this kind of in-the-moment decision of what I should do for some things not very good at helping me become who I want to be long-range.

ABSOLUTELY.  

Recall the original question you posed dealt with

On 2/8/2021 at 8:30 PM, Jonathan Weissberg said:

acting on any unexamined impulse at any time

 

In a sense, we all need to develop the intuition to know when the context or the issue at hand requires examination.

I would not go so broad as "for some things" acting on unexamined impulse at any time is wrong... at least not if "some things" is meant to identify concrete categories of things, like baking, or accounting... but if one categorizes those "some things" as anything falling within some abstract categories or meeting some standards such as:

importance (gravity of consequence to your well being)

uniqueness/infrequency of the context viewed against your experience/skill to deal with it intuitively

etc.

 

Then those "some things", should raise those flags necessary to get you to examine what the situation is and what your impulse is telling you, with greater scrutiny, and you can then take the time to think it through rationally.

 

It am not sure how the "flag raising" mechanism is formed or trained, but I think reflection on mistakes you have made in the past, conscientious introspection, and a conscious decision to pay attention to certain things in future all have a role to play in ensuring you stop and examine things when most appropriate and simply live your life and go with the moment when most appropriate for that.

So in a sense, tying this flag raising faculty in with reality:

A person is implicitly faking reality, or not living life in accordance with it, by failing to examine and grow from, prior actions or inactions which had inimical consequences on his life (whether the actions or inactions were on impulse or not).

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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