(If you read the title of this blog as Fred Sanford from the iconic sitcom Sanford & Son, I owe you a debt of eternal, unceasing gratitude.)
How often do you utter the common, yet nonsensical, phrase, "I don't know why... but I just feel I believe it!"
What you are guilty of the philosophical black hole known as Emotivism, or the theory that your beliefs can be justified by innate emotion or "feeling."
Example: take a criminal is interrogated for a criminal act. They are asked the inevitable question of why they committed it and may answer, "I just felt it was something that needed to be done." In that statement, there is no evidence that can be supported by research or probing.
Emotivism is not valid as an argument because it cannot be proven by fact. How can you prove whether someone's gut feeling is right or wrong? How can you analyze an "intuition" or "inner voice"?
And Emotivism isn't only a valid problem in the justice system, it has spread into our everyday lives with alarming regularity. How many of us have ever dealt with someone, be it a co-worker, boss, or friend, that urges you to complete a task or do something because "I feel it's the right move." There is nothing added, nothing explained, and you're left in the lurch with your tail between your legs.
People use Emotivism ask a mask for one main deficit in their lives: the fact that they have no defined moral system. Emotion is used as the last resort of the irrational man who wants to justify his actions without committing to why he did what he did or believes what he believes.
We see this often in two main areas of our lives: politics and religion. These two bastions of shoddy arguing are the main lifeblood of Emotivism, as most of the justification for views and decisions is "it just is."
In Politics, we see men and women pull every trick on their constituents using the false claim that they have an infallible instinct towards what is moral and what isn't. In Politics, an empty statement is very rarely questioned in depth, as a politician's bread and butter are smoke and mirrors.
In Religion, the preferred masking of Emotivism is Faith. You are a bad person because I believe you are because the [insert religious tome here] said that [insert moral claim] is immoral. You are expected to take a black cloth and blind yourself to the truth and survive on pure dogma.
The central question then is how do you create a morality for yourself that doesn't involve emotion? Take the advice of philosopher John Stuart Mill: weigh each side equally, do the research, and then decide what you believe. Mill believed that often an opposing viewpoint can teach us to better defend our beliefs.
An example: abortion. If you are strongly pro-life because your religious doctrine demands it, you need to look at both the arguments of the pro-life camp as well. You'll then learn how to defend your point with concrete examples or, if the pro-life argument becomes more rational as you research, you may change your belief entirely. But, you'll never know what lies in the enemies camp unless you study it, experience it, and learn why it is the way it is.
You should, in any situation, be able to defend what you believe in a concrete way, not using buzzwords and emotion, but with facts and research, which are the independent tools of a rational mind.
Never just sit back and believe something because you feel that it is right or wrong. When you do that, you succumb to the whim of your emotion, which can lead you down a path of irrational behavior and hedonism.
Our Toddler-Elect may not think that he needs intelligence briefing, but he'll find soon enough that emotion is not a justification to an action. Whether you are The President of The United States or a mere mortal, you can and should be taken to task and made to account for the steps that led you to believe something.
God forbid, the one thing this country doesn't need is people thinking like politicians...
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In this episode, Jack (The Vegan) and Steven (The Objectivist) welcome the new year by discussing questions asked by three fans of the show involving Ayn Rand's alleged homophobia, her theory of art, Donald Trump's Golden Showers, and Jack finally answers the ultimate question: Does The Vegan hate Ayn Rand?
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Filed under: Philosophical Opinion