Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random Thoughts on Thinking vs. Feeling

From The Speculist comes this comment about the 1927 science fiction movie Metropolis:

Because it deals with a murderous robot and an upper class exploiting a working class, Metropolis is often viewed as a warning about technology or capitalism run amok. However, I think such characterizations have more to do with making the film fit into neat categories than they do with articulating the philosophical message at the heart of the story. That message, which is repeated throughout the film, is that the heart must be the mediator between the mind and the hand. When the heart does not act as a mediator, suffering is the result.

Then there's this Walter Williams commentary over at Wall Street Journal Online:

He earned his doctorate in 1972 from UCLA, which had one of the top economics departments in the country, and he says he "probably became a libertarian through exposure to tough-mined professors"—James Buchanan, Armen Alchian, Milton Friedman—"who encouraged me to think with my brain instead of my heart. I learned that you have to evaluate the effects of public policy as opposed to intentions."
Both brain and heart, in moderation. What's the correct balance in this circumstance?

"In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help some French refugees," he says. In objection, "James Madison stood on the House floor and said he could not take to lay his finger on that article in the Constitution that allows Congress to take the money of its constituents for the purposes of benevolence. Well, if you look at the federal budget today, two-thirds to three-quarters of it is for the purposes of benevolence."

I'm reminded of this Davy Crockett story, although there's debate as to whether it's true or apocryphal.

To bring this around to our current political system, conservatives are on the "thinking" side of the spectrum and liberals are on the "feeling" side of the spectrum--this helps explain why liberals go ballistic when you point out the flaws in their feel-good plans. Balance is what's needed, balance between thinking and feeling, between brain and heart.

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