Using emotions as tools of cognition: Pain is nature’s way of telling you you’re getting something wrong.

’Tards gonna ’tard. Don’t let them do it to you – and don’t do it with them!

Photo by: JD Hancock

I’ve spent six months, now, pummeling The Ayn Rand Institute. This is precisely as fair as Donald Trump picking on poor, pathetic Jeb Bush: An aggressive attack from a Driven personality will always cow the Cautious, since the Cautious temperament cannot react without planning.

And where normally I would pull my punches for de facto retards, in this case I say none so deserving. Rand’s remnants are an existential menace – and not just to those many thousands of dead babies and their many thousands of self-annihilated parents.

I pointed out the other week that the official-Objectivist admonition that “emotions are not tools of cognition” is obviously, stupidly wrong. Today we’ll take a different tack: Demonstrating how emotions provide crucial evidence about the internal state – and underlying empathy strategies – driving your emotional responses – and those you see coming back to you from other people.

So: Apprehend this chart:

If you make a claim I think is truthful, and I like that, I’m going to feel satisfaction. If I think the claim is false, but I like it anyway, I’m going to feel an internal disquiet. If I think the claim is truthful, but I don’t like it, despite that, I will feel annoyance. And if I think the claim is false and I don’t embrace it, what I will feel will be indifference.

This is not to imply than any of those emotional reactions is a reliable guide to epistemological correctness in the world outside your mind. The chart is simply an illustration of how you will react when the world outside your mind intrudes on your internal presuppositions – essentially on your DISC profile.

The reason for this is that your emotional reactions emerge from the parts of your brain that are incapable of reason. This does not make them non-existent, and it does not make the information value of their existence irrelevant or dismissible. Too much the contrary! What that chart does is illustrate for you how your emotional reactions will lead you to error, if you are not careful, or to truth, if you are.

So: Disquiet and annoyance are both species of cognitive dissonance, attempting simultaneously to hold mutually-contradictory premises. When you feel the need to self-justify, it’s because you yourself think your position is wrong. When you burn with the need to rant, it’s because you know you cannot defend your position dispassionately.

If you feel satisfaction or indifference, this does not imply that your position is necessarily epistemologically and morally correct, but it does attest that your values are in alignment with the claim you are hearing. The Bandwagon Fallacy, among others, lies this way, so you still have to mind your Ps and Qs, but emotional pain is nature’s way of telling you – beyond all doubt – that you’re getting something, either your facts or your values, wrong.

We can quantify this chart for number-line purposes: Satisfaction = 1. Indifference = 0. Disquiet = -1. Annoyance = -1. The first two have nowhere to grow – this because there is nothing more to be said. What you do about the latter two can be hugely consequential. To indulge the disquiet or annoyance is to make things much worse, and, possibly, to induce an accelerating self-destruction loop. What is vice, if not the persistent indulgence of disquiet? What is rancor, if not the externalized expression of annoyance?

Accordingly, how you react to the claims you hear from other people – and from your own mind’s ear – will tell you a great deal about your self, over time, if you pay attention to your behavior. If you feel disquieted often, you have a problem. If you are annoyed all the time by some – or all – other people, you have a problem. Meanwhile, when you feel the need to externalize either of those emotions, you are scourging your self in an attempt to cauterize your emotional pain.

What should you do instead? Think!

You are in error in some way, and until you identify and correct that error, your pain will persist. If you insist you can exorcise it by ever-greater displays of self-destruction, all you will achieve in the end will be: Self-destruction.

In the same way, when you are the inbound target of other people’s ugly displays, they are telling you less about the truth of the world outside your mind and much more about the turmoil inside theirs. Truth does not require an emotional defense, but emotional defenses almost always jettison the truth along the way. When someone responds to you aggressively, in self-justification or by brow-beating you, that person is telling you that he himself thinks his position is fundamentally in error, but that he does not intend to correct that error.

And that claim is wrong and you don’t care for it, so what should you feel about it? Pity, if you are Sociable, merely indifferent otherwise. But what you should not do is respond to self-destruction with self-destruction. And while deliberate, willful, self-destructive error is often comical, except for The Ayn Rand Institute and Jeb Bush, it’s cruel to laugh at self-made retards.

The wise thing to is to shrug your shoulders and press on regardless. The dump is littered with error, obviously, but your values are best cultivated in the gardens of truth.

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