Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Feel" vs. "Think"

Yesterday at lunch i habitually switched on the radio to check in on the news. As usual, there were no big stories that grabbed my attention. A caller to the Neal Boortz show did say something that i'd like to address, however. He said that liberals don't think, they feel. That's something you hear on more doctrinaire conservative shows like Rush's and Hannity's, as well.

What gets me thinking is that you can hear the same statement in reverse from liberal commentators. We don't get AirAmerica in my town, so i don't hear them. We do get Sean Combs' show, but i think he's just as much a hack as his hacky partner in hackdom, hack Hannity. So, i don't bother listening to either of them. (These days i listen to very little talk radio period, but that's another subject.) Where i have encountered it is on liberal podcasts, where i've heard it said that conservatives don't think, they feel.

What gives?

1. Both assertions are wrong. Both liberals and conservatives think. There are reams and reams of studies, commentaries, analyses, etc. filled with more or less rational arguments for and against all sides. A small number of these are even sincere. The assertion that one group or another doesn't employ their brains is easily refuted.

2. Both assertions are correct. Both conservatives and liberals (and libertarians, and anarchists, etc.) base a lot of their arguments in emotion.* More than a tactic, emotion is often the foundation of our political worldview. We often choose a side based on how we feel, then construct rational arguments to justify our feelings. Assessing things in a truly objective manner is extremely difficult. (Even objectivists have a hard time at it!) Because we're, you know, human beings with emotions, not incorporeal minds floating in an ether of pure rationality.

3. Any commentator who relies on this poor argument ain't to be trusted. It's just an excuse for dismissing the ideas of a broad category of humanity.

*Fear is the favorite emotion of those who wish to rule. With it they can make people afraid of terrorists, corporations, crime, illness, immigrants, racists, democrats, republicans, ad infinitum. And once they've got the people scared, they can get their money, their liberty, and their adoration.