Questionable Motives

December 2, 2009

What constitutes reasoning?

Feelings, intuition, and insight are part of our evolutionary endowment–functions of the brain that helped our ancestors survive. They are problematic only when we rely too much on them. Demagogues like Hitler manipulate people through emotional appeals. Intuition can mislead when, for instance, it tells us that just as watches and skyscrapers are the product of intelligent design, the origin of the species might follow the same pattern. For every insight that inspires a work of genius, there are others that are simply mistaken. When experienced as revelations, faulty insights can be the seed from which dogmatic religions grow.

This is where critical thinking is essential. We shouldn’t ignore emotions, intuitions and insights, but we should evaluate them critically when possible. The problem with the faithful is not that they make use of the non-logical powers of the brain, but that they fail to filter them through critical thinking.

From an article at New Humanism here.

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