Between Feelings and Thoughts

The link between emotions and language has been questioned since the ancient Greeks. The minute you start articulating emotions in words, they start changing. Nietzsche once said: “Be careful of the demons you fight lest you become them.” In a variation of that I like to remind myself: Be careful of the words, lest they become you. Isn’t it more authentic to just let the emotions be? Isn’t that “truer” than trying to analyze them and creating something new in the process? For when we feel, we don’t feel in words. Why corrupt the process?

The cognitive revolution in this sense was so important. For although cognition and conscience are not one in the same by any means, they affect and effect one another. So even if you let those emotions “be,” they will be unconsciously tainting your thoughts and words. You may be speaking about something completely unrelated, yet the underlying pessimism will be coming from a place you are completely unaware of. I’m not one to try to pretend to understand what’s actually going on here, and if I start thinking too hard about it I start getting a little dizzy, it ends up building paradoxes upon paradoxes. All I know is that it helps, and perhaps this is the beauty of science, in it’s empiricism. It has been shown to help people, and why CBT (cognitive behavorial therapy) has become the main form of therapy. It works.

So what of the question of truth then? I recently completed On Love by Alain de Botton, and in one of the chapters he discusses how until Nietzsche philosophers had been obsessed with the idea of finding the truth, but not on the word itself, that is, what is the value of truth? You say a car is red as opposed to saying it is truly red, what does the “true” here give? It becomes transparent and doesn’t give an extra meaning, it imparts no extra knowledge, so that it could easily be done away with. Unlike Nietzsche and perhaps the author I still believe in the idea of Truth, the search for it included, but when “truth” becomes a way for us to play mind riddles rather than seeking solutions to very real problems, perhaps it is best to lay it to rest.


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