The control of animal inclination by thought, reason, and will; is what makes us human.
Rene Descartes, Passions of the Soul
I was surprised to find this line in a book by Damasio that I read earlier today. I wasn’t even really putting a lot of mind into the reading (I was still replaying Clamp’s manga scenes ^__^ 私の好きな人 was a good book) but this line jumped into me. Somehow my last entry was titled with Descartes’ utterance, and a few days afterwards I read this random book with this line… I’ve always believed in chance occurrences, that two random events that happen together must mean something.
I’m just surprised at how different our interpretations are.
I have always thought that cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”) is the summation of Western thought.
I’ve just been a living proof of how different my perspective is… I would never have defined reason as the distinguishing factor. For me, it would be emotions, agony, joy, dreams, hope… but never reason.
Social conventions and ethical rules might have “existed to control behavior so our pre-programmed instincts don’t get the better of us in situations where it would be counter-productive”. But how would emotions be explained? How would you curb unbridled passion, how would you quench insatiable desire, how would you comfort unsurmountable agony? Never is reason the answer.
I don’t think social norms are always for our good. Does it make us animals, then? Superego, Freud’s most developed structure of the Self, is only the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath is ego, our raw and innate emotions.
I feel most alive when I’m feeling those intense emotions. Be it sadness, jealousy, anger, or contentment. When we’re “feeling blue” or sinking into “lethargy”, it is the absence of those emotions that make us descend into those states, not the absence of reason.
(I think I’m writing too much already)
Although the reverse could also be said, that emotional excess leads to psychological dysfunctions, I would till hold on to my stubborn selfish view: it is emotions, not reason, that defines our human worth.
PS: My apologies to those who want to but can’t read my previous post. I’m too lazy to translate it into English… maybe later…