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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - Emotions

Emotions

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Emotions

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:56 pm

Gaia Cassia Longina
 

Re: Emotions

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:18 pm

Salvete philosophi!

The belief that positive emotions are helpful in regard to ethics while negative emotions are harmful is in itself an emotional judgement. Love, compassion and benevolence have a nice sound to them and create positive and pleasant associations when we think about them. Hate, anger and jealousy on the other hand create unpleasant associations and we develop an immediate negative feedback to them. Therefore we judge the former ones positive, while we judge the latter ones negative.

However the problem with emotions is that they do not lead to the same answer to the same question in different people and under different circumstances, only rationality does. Therefore emotional decisions can never lead to a consensus. They will necessarily lead to conflicts. And this is true for so called "negative emotions" as well as "positive emotions".

Let me give you an easy example:
If a judge has two suspects in a crime, one a beautiful woman, the other one an old man, and he is driven by the supposedly "positive emotion" of sympathy, then he will be biased towards the girl and even ignore evidence against her. Love and sympathy may appear positive to us, but they are incompatible with the principle of justice.
The same is true for compassion. One might be inclined to help a blind beggar, but then this money is missing for feeding the own family.
Or a more modern, but probably controversial example: If a European government spends billions of Euros for Syrian refugees based on compassion with their ordeal, then there need to be budget cuts in the welfare system or the infrastructure for their own people.

Positive emotions always have their negative side. If I love one woman, then I have to reject another one. If I give favors to one, I have to refuse it to another one.

Only rationality can be the basis of ethics. Positive emotions are just as bad and harmful as negative ones. Emotional decisions can never be agreeable to everybody involved. There is no way to reach a consensus based on emotions, let them be negative or positive.
Rationality on the other hand can be understood by everybody. And even if we are emotionally inclined against a decision made based on rational arguments, as human beings we have the ability to understand why it was made and we can accept it.
When we make decisions,then as Stoics we have to suppress so called "positive" emotions just as rigorously as we would do with "negative" emotions.

Only reason is a valid argument in ethics.
Di vos incolumem custodiant.

Valete!

C. Florius Lupus
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Re: Emotions

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:49 pm

Wonderful answer Lupe! I quite agree with you - we want positive things because, well, they make us feel good. In that sense, can negative emotions help us in some way? Besides steering clear of things that make us uncomfortable?
Gaia Cassia Longina
 

Re: Emotions

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:44 am

Well, "negative" emotions like anger and hate are supposed to make us better soldiers, fear and anxiety are meant to protect us from danger.
However soldiers driven by anger and hate are pretty difficult to control by their superior officer and would be less efficient, since it would be hard to implement any tactics. Fear and anxiety prevent us from taking action, when action is required.
Therefore I think emotions of any kind are always bad advisors. It is better to remain always calm with a Stoic attitude. We become more efficient and more reliable for others.

Valete et io Saturnalia!
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Re: Emotions

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:26 pm

Io Saturnalia omnes!

I agree - but let's say someone is not a solider but afraid. How can this help them? Certainly some of us may be experiencing the loss of ataraxia, but we cannot say this is a beneficial thing at all! For this, I think that they are remnants of our evolutionary past but could also help us figure out what to avoid, like you said.
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