Thinking and Feeling
Here once again we are seeing a non-valued duality that some people want to proclaim as valued. There are rationalists who see feeling as an inferior function or mental illness; there also are people who equate rationality with coldness, dryness and nastiness that are not necessary features of rationality at all but rather results of its misuse. The first group begets the second group according to its own nature. In fact, romantic attitudes are a logical next step to rationalism, and for a very obvious reason.
It turns out that reason’s own inquiries into what it by itself would see as inferior (nature, universe, and of course human brain and its capacities) leads to an understanding of the same that leads one, logically, to awe before the same. The mind is contemptuous of nature until it actually studies nature and finds in its workings the mechanisms far more intricate and intelligent than any that it itself has yet known how to contrive. By the time the science can actually create anything of similar quality or complexity as a living being, it has full respect for natural life; at which point it can learn to build on it, improve on it, create sustainable agriculture and development, recreate some of what was blindly driven into extinction, and even create new life. Similarly, the mind has contempt for - "instinct," feeling, passion, eros, sexuality, nurturing, reproduction - until it actually studies the mechanisms of these things long enough to find in them similar intricacy and intelligence - at which point it realizes the extent of its complexity as being superior to anything that it itself knows how to create. At which point it likewise develops respect for what it would by itself see as inferior function, and then actually becomes capable of creating and building and even improving upon humanity. True natural science, like true psychology, build understanding enough to achieve respect for what they study. And it is only then that they can replicate and even improve on these givens. At this point, the mind becomes an intelligent creator instead of a dumb destroyer. And then - only then - can man's rationality be said as itself having legitimately earned respect.
The error that keeps creeping into psychology, despite the actions of Rogers's and May's and Fromm's of the world, is that of projecting the method used to understand the mind, onto the mind, and then judging the mind rather than understanding it in case its own methods differ. Allow me to explain what I'm talking about. The scientific method is a path toward understanding things; that requires a particular kind of logic. In studying things other than mind, it is fine; but when one approaches the mind FROM THE POSITION OF the scientific method, he is easily subject to this error: Comparing the mind's processes to the process (scientific method) he uses in studying the mind; and judging them when they are inevitably found to be run by a different logic, the way one would judge other-than-scientific approach within the laboratory.
Which leads of course not to exploration but to judgmentalism. Anything that is run by a logic that either is not of the scientific method or that the scientific method cannot be found to understand, becomes an "issue." The logic of science gets interjected into the mind, squashing its own processes in the process. Compassion goes; so does imagination. And the result is misrepresentation and misformulation of what is studied, resulting in great violence done to the same.
Given the nature of reason - as something that builds on premises – it is frequently inadequate for understanding of matters that are of different nature than what one has been taught reason to be. I have been finding it necessary at many times to suspend reason from its premises and let the feeling take over and understand it later, while letting the experience enrich my understanding and giving me knowledge that I would not have had if I had operated from the position of building upon existing premises.
I furthermore see that it is through combination of reasoning and emotion - experiencing from within; assaying from without; letting the two perspectives integrate - that full picture of a feeling, or (on another level) of a person or of a culture or of a mindset - can be created: One superior to the merely objective (which by itself tends toward coldness and cruelty) or to the merely subjective (which by itself tends toward lack of awareness of external effects).
But rather one that combines experience with observation - the internal with the external - and thus creates a more complete picture.
Thinking and feeling is another non-valued duality; another natural pair of existents that gets wrongly seen as a valued duality by different interests. One error is the anti-intellectual "hey-mr-smartie-pants-who-do-you-think-you-are" crowd – the people who compensate for their intellectual inferiority by claiming that someone who has a mind can't also have a heart. The other is the emotionally repressive rationalists, reductionists, logical positivists, behaviorists, "skeptics," eliminativists, and others who want to deny the validity of anything intuitive or heart-involving. These compensate for their emotional inferiority by claiming that those who have a heart can't also have a mind. Both are in grave error.
In effect, there are good hearts and bad hearts at every level of intellect. There are brilliant scoundrels like Freud, Hitler or J. Edgar Hoover and brilliant great men like Jefferson, Franklin, Gandhi or Martin Luther King. There are good-hearted dumb Forrest Gump types and there are stupid creeps who rape 9-year-old black girls and think that they are doing their country a favor. The dogma on both sides of this is not in tune with reality, and to be able to see things for what they are it becomes necessary to be free of that dogma.
The heart can in fact produce insight and wisdom; and there are people of all intellectual levels who found, from going to significant lengths to develop the heart, that they came in possession of insight and understanding that they had not possessed previously. It is also possible through development of the mind to come to the place of the heart - to the place of appreciation and wonder before the universe as its mysteries are deeper and deeper fathomed - to the place of respect for what has such intricacy, complexity and beauty; to the place of seeing the next person enough to empathize with them; to the place of fathoming the magnificence of the world enough to love it. Where both mind and heart merge into insight, compassion, understanding and love, is the place of wisdom. Which, like light that is both energy and matter (both wave and particle), becomes the point of intersection of mind and heart, where they exist together as one at the place of embodied infinity.
Many genuine scientists and mathematicians (as opposed to "skeptics," "rationalists" and others of similar persuasion) develop kind hearts, as that is the appropriate logical reaction to genuinely beholding magnificence of the Universe. Many people who work with the matters of heart develop very sharp minds, as that is what it takes to adequately fathom, nurture and resolve matters of human experience for existent and long-term benefit.
The mind can therefore be a valid path to the heart, and the heart to the mind.
It therefore follows that an effective path to take is the integrative one of mind and heart feeding into each other and growing each other as well as themselves into both mentally fathomed and emotionally experienced wisdom.
People are incomplete when they are lacking in either thinking or feeling. And it is when both are developed and feed into each other that truth is attained the fastest and most potently. Both are legitimate; both are capable of both positive and negative outcomes; and the two can interact in positive manner, in negative manner, and affect each other positively or negatively.
Reason is valid when it adds to people’s existence, not valid when it sabotages it. Feeling is valid when it is life-affirming, not valid when it becomes weapon of hysteria or oppression. The hysterical attitudes against intelligent solutions such as cloning and stem-cell research are a case of feeling being used to negatively impact reason and detract from its fruits, in the same way as portraying feeling as an inferior function or mental illness is the case of reason being misused to abuse and oppress. Whereas reason and feeling working together on such matters as creating a viable future for humanity is the case of thinking and feeling feeding into each other to create an outcome positive to the world.