“Emotional” Doesn’t Mean “Irrational”

Richard A. Posner, in his review of Animal Spirits, writes:

The word "emotional" has overtones of irrationality, but actually emotion is at once a form of telescoped thinking (it is not irrational to step around an open manhole "instinctively" without first analyzing the costs and benefits of falling into it) and a prompt to action that often, as in the case of investment under uncertainty, cannot be based on complete or even good information and is therefore unavoidably a shot in the dark. We could not survive if we were afraid to act in the face of uncertainty.

Indeed. It is incorrect to view emotions as wholly harmful to rational, sound thinking.

Here's my old post The Role of Emotions and Feelings in Decision Making as it applies to concocting a new business idea.

1 comment on ““Emotional” Doesn’t Mean “Irrational”
  • I think rationality carried too far limits the growth of an individual because it ringfences your mind with the sum total of your knowledge or awareness in a context at a given decisive moment. It doesn’t allow externalities to enter and rock the boat. But by freeing awareness you can allow yourself to learn anything of value. You can recreate yourself in any moment.

    Having invested few years to get a degree or being stuck with the same job for years, you don’t have to assume those academic/occupational identity. These are boxes (of reason) that block you from making choices you would otherwise make if you were a free thinker; to make new choices and become aware of a new existence.

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