One of the perils of blogging procrastination is that by the time you write something another writer may have already covered your idea, making you appear a copycat. In my current case I am not sure what feels worse, that I look unoriginal, or I look unoriginal while copying David Brooks.
Perhaps what worries me is not so much that I appear to be copying David Brooks, rather that I actually had similar thoughts to him. I mean, it is hard to be original in this connected age; whatever you say has likely already been said by the millions of bloggers, writers, and commentators, I would just prefer that when I appeared unoriginal it was not to a purveyor of safe conventional wisdom. Of course, as Steve Sailer sharply noted:
The public doesn’t want new ideas, they just want to be told that their old ideas are new ideas that have been discovered by brain scans.
On re-reading Brooks’ column, I realize that my thoughts while not so similar, sadly are also not blindingly original. The unwritten post cluttering up (even while largely remaining out of sight) my brain was about the importance of emotion in both making decisions for ourselves and making decisions about others.
We may all claim to be rational, and indeed may well be, but all decisions basically entail trying to feel good now or in the future; saving for retirement may be rational, but it has the pleasant side-effect of avoiding unpleasant feelings (poverty) in the future. At some level it is fear or hope that drives all our decisions.
Brain science shows that within our brain the emotional and rational parts work together more as a unit than competing forces. The dopamine, or so called pleasure center, pathways in our brain provide both feedback of current and forecasting of satisfaction with future decisions. Some studies (simple button pushing experiments) have shown that our mind is made up before we actually make up our mind (areas of the brain related to movement “light up” seconds before the subject makes their decision).
I suppose an essay should have a point so I will try to bring this ramble to a destination. I see this “rationality” error in arguments that focus on “the facts” and “consistency.” It may be rational to be inconsistent or even, heaven forefend, “irrational”; we make decisions to feel good not win some debating contest. I see the error when corporations or policy makers treat humans as simple factors of production, units of consumption. They become caught up in ideologies of free-trade, the bottom line, socialism or mercantilism. I see the error with globalists and multiculturalists who refuse to acknowledge the perfectly healthy “irrational” feelings for kinship and shared identity.
It is not a choice between head and heart, there is no battle, no fight to be won by one side or the other; it is a joint venture, you need both.
This was a blending of two posts I had rattling around my brain: one was the perils of ideology (foolish consistency) and the other was the need to balance emotion and logic. I fear that the result while perhaps avoiding foolishness was neither consistent nor crisply logical. I hope, at least, your emotions received some enjoyment from it.
I realize that some multi-culti types do have a shared identity as transnationals, they would describe it as “surmounting the petty chattels of nationalism” (or something).
I suppose that this post could be an example of Sailer’s observation about old ideas and brainscans.