The Rational vs. The Emotional
#1

From an article called "Decadence," found at American-Interest.com:

From article Wrote:T.S. Eliot, too, claimed that a shift of similar consequence occurred in the early 1600s, which he termed the “dissociation of sensibility.” Whereas thought and feeling formerly had been experienced together, the cultural transformation of the time separated them into unconnected “rational” and “emotional” states, a dichotomy of consciousness that has continued ever since. Flaubert depicted this shift in Madame Bovary by revealing Emma’s consciousness as severely one-dimensional as a result of her infatuation with the genre of popular romance novels.

I found that very interesting and am wanting to learn more about the genesis of this dichotomy. Anyone have any ideas as to books or articles on the topic? Any thoughts about it? Anyone know much about the Catholic view of the emotional world -- its purpose, meaning, etc.?


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#2
(09-01-2013, 06:39 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: From an article called "Decadence," found at American-Interest.com:

From article Wrote:T.S. Eliot, too, claimed that a shift of similar consequence occurred in the early 1600s, which he termed the “dissociation of sensibility.” Whereas thought and feeling formerly had been experienced together, the cultural transformation of the time separated them into unconnected “rational” and “emotional” states, a dichotomy of consciousness that has continued ever since. Flaubert depicted this shift in Madame Bovary by revealing Emma’s consciousness as severely one-dimensional as a result of her infatuation with the genre of popular romance novels.

I found that very interesting and am wanting to learn more about the genesis of this dichotomy. Anyone have any ideas as to books or articles on the topic? Any thoughts about it? Anyone know much about the Catholic view of the emotional world -- its purpose, meaning, etc.?

I read a good book recently by Conraad Baars, a Thomist psychologist, who argues that the emotions/passions in the philosophy of the Angelic Doctor are seen as 'motors' for action, which are to be ordered by the intellect rather than bludgeoned. Actually Dr Baars has also written a lot about the abuse scandals, and suggests that part of the problem stems from a mixed-up understanding of emotions, which generations of Catholic seminaries, convents, schools, etc, taught had to be repressed rather than ordered. The book i read was Healing and Feeling Your Emotions. I read it on Kindle, and could provide some quotes if desired.
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#3
i've read conrad baars, too.

i have feeling & healing your emotions and healing the unaffirmed.  i thought of conrad baars when i first read the original post.

yes, baars emphasizes that the emotions are extremely important.  they must be accepted.  but healing comes from the top down, as it were, through the core of our spiritual being, the intellectus.  (called the nous in the eastern church.)  it is that part of our being which receives truth directly and, in a sense, touches god. 

bl. julian of norwich calls this 'our substance' (as opposed to 'our sensuality,' which includes the lower intellect and feelings, which, again, are not bad, just lower).

i wish that christian anthropology were better known.  (what that is, is discussed here:  http://www.catholiceducation.org/article...ph0032.htm.)  i will mention also Fr. chad ripperger's tome, introduction to the science of mental health.  a "child" subforum was set up on fisheaters to discuss it a few years ago, but the discussion stalled.
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#4

I would LOVE some quotes, LiberaNosIesu! Please!

I need to get my hands on these books...
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#5
(09-01-2013, 07:37 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: I would LOVE some quotes, LiberaNosIesu! Please!

I need to get my hands on these books...

Certainly, I will type some up later today or tommorow. I also have Fr Rippergers book, and will have a look via the Index to see if I can find anything which is relevant to this particular question. Dr Baars is - as Guacamole rightly says - very insistent on the truth that the intellectual and appetitive (both sense appetites and rational appetite) should be in union, wherein the intellect is sovereign. Indeed he is keen on the point that whilst previous ages have emphasised the intellect to the detriment of a healthy emotional life, this age does the exact opposite, with devastating consequences.

I was both delighted and surprised to learn that Dr Baars (R.I.P) was fully behind Humanae Vitae.
More to follow soon!
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#6
Why the dichotomy though? Are emotional people necessarily not rational or reasonable?
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#7
(09-01-2013, 10:23 AM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: Why the dichotomy though? Are emotional people necessarily not rational or reasonable?

I'm a very emotional person, but would like to think of myself as very capable of logic. The two aren't necessarily dichotomous at all. The intellect and the emotions need to be "in synch," which is where we have problems today. Like  LiberaNosIesu said, "whilst previous ages have emphasised the intellect to the detriment of a healthy emotional life, this age does the exact opposite, with devastating consequences." There's no way to be emotionally healthy when your intellectual premises are that we're just a bunch of glorified monkey meat, a random bit of chemicals that came about in a meaningless universe. And knowing otherwise brings joy, an emotion.
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#8
Thanks for the great explanation, Vox. I'm a very emotional person myself. Interesting that many early Church Fathers displayed great emotion in their writings, even theatrical. Maybe that was the style then. Later theologians did not emote. I used to see a trend in some Fisheaters, the suggestion that emotion = a weak character, lacking reason and therefore true faith. It used to drive me CRAZY!  LOL
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#9
(09-01-2013, 10:51 AM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: Thanks for the great explanation, Vox. I'm a very emotional person myself. Interesting that many early Church Fathers displayed great emotion in their writings, even theatrical. Maybe that was the style then. Later theologians did not emote. I used to see a trend in some Fisheaters, the suggestion that emotion = a weak character, lacking reason and therefore true faith. It used to drive me CRAZY!  LOL

That drives me nuts, too, SCG -- esp being an Italian-American female LOL  We ignore the emotions at our own peril, especially because that's what motivates most people most of the time. That isn't how it should be, but it is what is, and if you're not dealing with reality, then you're ineffective.

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#10
Hello, here are some quotes. let me know if you would like these on a Word Document. I thought about sending you them like this so you could distill them anyway, but perhaps there are others who would benefit from the whole lot!

Basic ideas in the introduction

Neuroses come from the repression of the emotions.
Restraint is equated by contemporary society with neurosis or emotional retardation.
“ignorance about how to deal maturely with our sexual feelings, together with continual suppression and repression of our so-called “negative” emotions – especially anger in all its variations and nuances – as well as generalized confusion about the role of emotions and feelings in our lives, are responsible for the me-first culture of self-fulfilment and the new narcissim” (Introduction)

Chapter Two “Emotions – Mans Psychological Motors”

“An emotion, on the other hand, is primarily a psychic reaction to stimuli from the world around us. As we are part of that world, too, we can also feel an emotion in response to our own thoughts, memories, and bodily feelings. It is a response to whatever information our senses provide concerning the goodness, lack of goodness, usefulness or harmfulness things and beings have for us” (Chapter 2)
He then distinguishes between the concupiscible emotions (love/hate, joy/sorrow, desire/aversion) and the irascible (courage/fear, hope/despair, and anger).
“Emotions, in and by themselves, exist for the benefit of the one who possesses them. In this sense they can be said to be selfish; they serve the owner, first and foremost. Only under the growing influence of the intellect, which provides man with much more information about the world than the primary sources of our emotions – the senses – can ever give us, the emotions also become oriented toward the good of others” (Chapter 2)
“in a mature and healthy person the last word will be spoken by our higher faculty of the will”
“but the will cannot dictate or determine what we feel or should feel. Our psychological motors, our emotions, stimulated by what we sense, imagine, know, or believe is good, bad, useful, or harmful for us” - this is crucial, I think, because it really implies that our emotions will be healthy and triggered by the right things if our intellect is healthy. i.e. If our intellect is twisted to the extent that we think that wealth is a good thing, then its absence will stimulate in us desire, and its attainment a momentary joy, whilst if we think that virtue is a good thing....
“it is possible for a person to live and act almost exclusively on his rational/volitional level (i.e. on his thinking/willing level), without being emotionally involved [but] a truly mature existence demands a harmonious integration between emotions, thinking, and willing”. There is an example here of why a man might hit someone who stole his wallet: having been driven to mete out justice by feeling angry, or simply by thinking that the perpetrator needs taught a lesson. IN the latter instance, the victim might have taught himself, or been taught, that it is not acceptable to feel angry, but act anyway on the basis of some belief.
“we cannot possess the full truth of anything unless we know it on both the intellectual and emotional levels of our existence” (because the emotions enhance our sensitive grasp of a thing)
“Unless we clearly differentiate between emotions and behaviour, we will never overcome the confusion, fear and suspicion surrounding the topic of man's emotional life. What you feel is one thing. What you do when you experience that feeling is an entirely different matter”.

Chapter 3: Fables and Delusions about Emotions

“If in the past the investigative spotlight was focused almost exclusively on man's reason, will and spirit, and his “lower nature” taken more or less for granted, if not actually downgraded, the reverse is true in modern times. It was only recently that I read an article by a young pyschiatrist entitled The Reality of the Human Will: a Concept Worth Reviving”.”
“Man's 'lower' nature was thought to have fallen more than his “higher” nature, whereas in fact, his nature as a whole had been weakened or wounded by original sin”
“Young women aspiring to become religious sisters were constantly admonished from the first day in the convent to “rise above their feelings”, and to ignore their emotions...the impact of this fearful attitude toward the emotions on the secular society was enormous”
The point is then made that children must also be taught to have an emotional reaction to the good, rather than simply fearing the consequences of doing evil.
“Each time the priest absolved [the child] of his sins [of angry feelings] the notion that angry feelings were sinful would become more deeply ingrained in his conscience. To this day many persons continue to suffer from a variety of ill-effects of these childhood impressions concerning one of their Godgiven psychological motors”.
The point is then made that young people over the last centuries have been given the impression that fear of desire is the path to chastity, rather than love of the good.
“For it was Calvin who viewed all pure feelings and emotions, no matter how exalted they might seem to be, with suspiction...thus Protestant asceticism turned with all its force against one thing: the spontaneous enjoyment of life and all it had to offer”

Chapter 4 “How our Psychological Motors Run”

“Our emotions are tools or faculties of our human nature which, when properly respected and used, aid us in living a truly human life. They contribute in their own way to our capacity for experiencing the happiness for which we have been created by God. It does not make sense to distinguish between “good” and “bad” emotions”
“to see hate for what it is, a good emotion (sic), it is necessary to distinguish between the emotion of hate and the will to hate (i.e. not to will anothers well-being)”
“Man's emotions have an innate need to be guided and directed by reason. That is to say that by their very nature they need and desire to be guided . Of course this implies that this guidance could not be given properly unless reason first of all respects the emotions, listens to them, and accepts them for what they are – psychic motors that provide the energy necessary for the many varied situations in which man finds himself”
“When an emotion receives its proper guidance, it is satisfied and is then disposed to submit to the decision of the will as to what course of action should be taken. Regardless of what the will decides, the emotion will subside and lose its intensity until the normal equilibrium of calm that prevailed before the emotion was aroused has been restored...in our day people are so fearful of repressing their emotions and becoming emotionally ill that [this] course of action is seen as a repressive act. [It is not].
“As long as people do not know the difference between rational guidance and neurotic repression of their emotions, and do not want to become or remain neurotic, they are left with no other alternative than to express and gratify all their emotions [since] the concept of rational restraint is unknown to a large extent”
“If past generations had had any idea that man's emotions are his friends and want and need to be guided by his reason, they would not have directed all their efforts and training methods at suppressing, if not completely eliminating (“mortifying”) them” N.B. This is not to be taken as impying that vice and concupiscence are not to be mortified, but that the identification of emotion with vice/concupiscence causes us to mortify what instead should be ordered!
“it is true that we were taught that we must control our emotions by reason and will. However, this teaching often conveyed, if it was not explicitly stated, that “You must control them, for if you don't, they'll cause you to sin; you must suppress your feelings at all costs, you can't trust them; if you don't mortify them – kill them – they'll get the upper hand [...this...} creates an emotional climate in which the emotions cannot develop toward maturity and integration with reason and will.”
“Telling a child “your emotions need and want to be guided and directed by reason, and we will help you bring this about by our own example and sensible teachings”, enhances the growth of the emotions and their ultimate integration with the higher faculties”
“For centuries we have been wasting precious energy in promoting and enforcing a continuous battle between emotions and the higher faculties, instead of using this energy judiciously for the purpose of establishing an ever greater and ready state of cooperation and mutual support.”
“[I am referring to] the philosophy – based of course, on the belief that our emotions are enemies of our higher faculties and the spirit – which holds that man's will must be trained to act against his emotions, if he is to suceed in living a virtuos life. This voluntaristic (from the Latin voluntas – will) philosophy, which considers the will as supreme, has dominated centuries of churchmen's attitude and religious training. For the past two centuries it was further encouraged by the teachings of the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who considered all human feelings as pathological.”
“[St Thomas] stated explicitly man's will was not the absolute and supreme principle of human conduct as was generally believed. The will, he said, was not to be trained to overcome and master our suspect and “dangerous passions”, but rather to rule them democratically, i.e. to listen to them respectfully and together with them strive for good. He called the will a “moved mover”, moved by reason which shows us what is truly good, and moved also by the emotion of desire for that good...[good appeals to the will through the emotions of love and desire through the senses”
“actually, however, the will was trained and forced to do the moral good without the aid of the feeling of desire for that moral good. Clearly, such “forcing of the will” is inferior to the real will power that is derived from will and desire cooperating together”
“[therefore] the cultivation of the emotions is as important as the thorough education of reason and the strengthening of the will in development of the virtues”
The point is then made that the cultivation of the desire for the good of temperance (given its form, for St Thomas, by the good of charity) strengthens the virtue of temperance itself.

Chapter Five “The Ecology of Human Emotions”

Concerns the 'psychological birth', including the nurturing of the child's good – and goodness – in the womb; emotional nourishment; the dangers of emotional 'junk food'; the dangers of prohibiting certain feelings (e.g. anger, sadness); a discussion of healthy sensitivity contrasted to over-sensitivity;
“The core of man's emotional life consists of the emotions of love, desire, and joy. If this core remains undeveloped it is impossible to attain the happiness for which we are created by God”
“What I do stress is that all emotions must be felt when aroused” (but not necessarily acted on!!)

Chapter Six “Spotting Emotional Malfunctions”

“When a child is deprived in infancy, childhood, or puberty of the most fundamental element of emotional nourishment, namely, the unselfish, mature love of an adult person, he remains incapable of experiencing joy and happiness”  This discussion then continues at length, as well as an anaylsis of the conditions which result from such a deprivation.
The claim of Freud that all neuroses result from repression is challenged by the idea that deprivation produces particular neuroses as well. Baars claims that the amount of people with neuroses rooted in repression falls with the culture of repression, but that the disorders caused by deprivation rises all the time (and is heightened by the culture of self in parents!).
He then highlights the culture of self-affirmation: “Self-affirming persons are unnafirmed persons who try to attain by their own efforts the feeling that they are good and loveable and significant, even though important people in their early lives failed to give them that feeling” The distinction is then drawn between being loved on the basis of what we do and on the basis of what we are.
“The absence of emotional disorders in primitive societies suggests strongly that neurotic disorders are the product of technologically more advanced societies”
He then discusses how disorders can develop because one emotion – most probably fear – is used to repress another, perhaps anger (“I am afraid to be angry”
“IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IN SOME INDIVIDUALS THEIR LIFELONG INABILITY TO RESPOND TO THEIR EMOTION OF ANGER IN A MATURE AND EFFECTIVE MANNER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CAUSE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYMPTOM OF DEPRESSION”
“My (Baars') anger stimulated my adrenal glands to provide me with energy to survive hard labour, a starvation diet and other hardships. Though I could never display my anger in any form, neither did I repress it”

Chapter 7 “Healing Emotional Afflictions”

This is a discussion on the measures Dr Baars recommends for emerging from the disorders caused by emotional deprivation.
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