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  The causes of ones emotions.








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  A brief excerpt from Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand


...Emotions are states of consciousness with bodily accompaniments and with spiritual — intellectual — causes. This last factor is the basis for distinguishing "emotion" from "sensation." A sensation is an experience transmitted by purely physical means; it is independent of a person's ideas. Touch a man with a red-hot poker, and he unavoidably feels certain sensations — heat, pressure, pain — regardless of whether he is a savage or a sophisticate, an Objectivist or a mystic. By contrast, love, desire, fear, anger, joy are not simply products of physical stimuli. They depend on the content of the mind...

...When, as a college teacher, I would reach the topic of emotions in class, my standard procedure was to open the desk, take out a stack of examination booklets, and, without any explanations, start distributing them. Consternation invariably broke loose, with cries such as "You never said we were having a test today!" and "It isn't fair!" Whereupon I would take back the booklets and ask: "How many can explain the emotion that just swept over you? Is it an inexplicable primary, a quirk of your glands, a message from God or the id?" The answer was obvious. The booklets, to most of them, meant failure on an exam, a lower grade in the course, a blot on their transcript, i.e., bad news. On this one example, even the dullest students grasped with alacrity that emotions do have causes and that their causes are the things men think. (The auditors in the room, who do not write exams, remained calm during this experiment. To them, the surprise involved no negative value-judgment.)...


...What makes emotions incomprehensible to many people is the fact that their ideas are not only largely subconscious, but also inconsistent. Men have the ability to accept contradictions without knowing it. This leads to the appearance of a conflict between thought and feelings.


Objectivism is not against emotions, but emotionalism. Ayn Rand's concern is not to uphold stoicism or abet repression, but to identify a division of mental labor. There is nothing wrong with feeling that follows from an act of thought; this is the natural and proper human pattern. There is everything wrong with feeling that seeks to replace thought, by usurping its function.

If an individual experiences a clash between feeling and thought, he should not ignore his feelings. He should...




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