Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) – Part II

The rider and the elephant

The rider and the elephant

We’re completely rationale and objective beings. Right?

I know that you can detect the fallacy of that statement. We are all, to a greater or lesser degree, ruled by our feelings, whether we acknowledge it or not. You probably know someone who believes himself to be completely rationale and objective, but whom is instead ruled by emotions and biases just like everyone else.  You may think, as I have for many years, that though that person can’t see their biases, you are completely free of bias and are completely rational and objective.

In our defense, we can’t help it. We’re hard-wired to behave this way, according to Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind. Haidt contends that we’re ruled by our inner emotional ‘elephant’ instead of, as we believe, the rational elephant rider. We make emotional decisions (via the elephant) but the rider then rationalizes the decision after the fact. This dynamic pretty much makes us all hypocrites according to Haidt since we are constantly defending the irrational.

Since Haidt pretty much blew my mind with this concept, I have attempted to be more observant about the thoughts and assertions of mine and others. Am I being a hypocrite again? How do I feel versus what do I believe? When I take a step away from my defensiveness, I have to admit that the thoughts and feelings don’t always jibe. In other words, sometimes when I really stop and question the rationality of my own assertions, especially when someone is looking at me in that “are you serious?” manner, I find that my own justifications just don’t hold water.

As a result, I’ve begun to modify my stance on the ol’ Myers-Briggs T vs. F dynamic. I used to think it was far superior to be a T, i.e. making decisions based on thoughts instead of on feelings (F). However, since we all make decisions according to our feelings, I’m starting to think/feel that a T is really just more likely to rationalize those feeling-based decisions compared to an F.

I don’t have the slightest bit of evidence for this theory, but to the degree this seems to be true, I feel absolutely embarrassed on behalf of all the other T’s in the world!

In the end, I believe the Aristotelean philosophy that finding the right balance is the what we call wisdom and the T/F spectrum seems to be no exception. I’m not ready to eschew my T side, but perhaps find more balance for what was probably an over reliance on T on my part.

That feels right to me. How about you?