Reason and Feeling

At this political time especially, we are faced with the question: what are the place of reason and feeling in a discussion? While most would agree that reason is important, more disagreement surrounds the question of what that reason should look like and how it relates to feeling. People resort to feelings during a disagreement as a way to get others to take their opinion seriously. Sometimes feelings end up carrying the discussion. What is it in “reason” that drives us to do this?


Reason is the crux of a discussion. We must rely on reason if we are to come to any agreement. Many people, especially women, have the correct instinct to reject reason, however, if it seems to treat feelings as useless.

This happens when reason goes too far in analyzing. To analyze is to cut things up, to find the root of similarities and differences. When we don’t accept a balance for analysis, we compartmentalize.

To compartmentalize is to cut things up so far that we no longer consider them under the same rules of logic. We put them into separate parts of our mind. A person may have the abstract compartment, the concrete compartment, the sports compartment, the home life compartment, the work compartment, the religion compartment. The rules of behavior or thought that are true for one compartment are not necessarily true for the others.

This wrecks havoc with integrity of behavior and thought.

Hypothetical people

Of course, we can go off the deep end on the other side by letting our feelings drive us. I have had this problem personally and ended up having to laugh at myself.

We start by objecting to oversimplification of complex issues and get carried away. We start seeing those people who might feel this way. We find a way to crawl into those hypothetical heads. We defend them tooth and nail.

But really. Is it worth losing our own peace, the good of unity between ourselves and those to whom we object, for hypothetical people? People who do not exist do not need defending. And even if they might exist, is it really worth giving up unity? Sometimes we must be meek in these discussions; we must show that special patience that puts the greater good above “getting it right”.

Reason and feeling

In discussion, no one is required to respect our feelings. We can’t change someone’s mind because we’re angry or hurt. We may change what they do out of guilt or peer pressure, but this is the result of manipulation not conviction.

If we want to convince anyone, we must use reason.

It takes patience to do this, but if something is true while we feel it, it will still be true when we slow down and analyze. Feelings are not meant to help us convince anyone, except perhaps ourselves. They grab our attention and call us to analyze them. When we come to the core, we will find reason.

Reason is the only way for human beings to build common ground into a common good. On that we must rely.


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