Do we need emotions? Do they make us human? Are they holding us back?
I put a lot of thought into this topic lately, and I came to the conclusion upon research that they are in fact holding us back and no they don’t make us human. Animals also have emotions, and they aren’t human either so the first myth is already busted.
Why am I so concerned with emotions? On one hand because they are holding us back and on the other hand I guess because I have a hard time to understand them. I feel the reactions and the signals my body receives, but the problem is I often can’t pinpoint where it’s coming from, and it drives me nuts so I’m very fond of the idea just to get rid of them since they are holding us back anyway.
Whenever I discuss my view on emotions, that they are preprogrammed neural connections, that we should strive to rid ourselves entirely of such basic instincts, and to attempt to be as rational as possible.
I get at least one person saying something along the lines of. “Do you want to become a mindless robot?”
Here’s my response.
After doing some research, I found out that the reptilian brain is very primitive. That it does not and can not invent new pathways.
This process of forming new connections is limited to mammals.
The neural connections the reptilian brain holds, are all formed, due to genetics, not the environment. Which means, the reptilian brain is all instinct.
Even more interesting is that when species evolved over time, they did not get rid of the old brain; they simply built on top of it. This means, that you, and I, both have a part of our brain, that is the same as the reptilians.
You see, it is your emotions that are the very thing that makes you no different from the mindless robot you were thinking of earlier.
It is the reason why people are so easily manipulated. Because they are so easily, predictable.
So do I want to become a machine? Yes, but I won’t be mindless. What’s not to love about being a very productive rational and logical being, pumping out ideas, producing stuff and being conductive to society? I can’t think of anything better than that. Maybe you can convince me otherwise in the comments below.
What are emotions?
Although emotions and instincts appear to be different, they are not. Instincts are automatic emotions.
Take a look at fear for example. Would you consider fear an emotion or an instinct? You can have the emotion of fear, but sometimes you experience fear immediately as a consequence of an event in an instinctive fashion.
This also applies to many other emotions.
The difference between emotions and instincts is that you can still be somewhat rational with emotions while instincts are immediate, irrational, innate and exist in many different species.
As I said emotions don’t make us human since other animals have emotions as well.
Your emotions/Instincts are also irrational, for instance: When you feel fear adrenaline is released, your heart rate increases, and you are more prone to put in less thought into your decisions, you just act without thinking. You’ve no control during that process.
You didn’t tell your body, Release X amount of adrenaline right now!
Does irrationality = bad? Not necessarily and if we take a philosophical look at it, then there is no such thing as good or bad to begin with. But that’s another topic.
For example: When a bunny is in the presence of a hungry fox then it doesn’t have the mental capacity, nor the time to think about what a fox is, why the fox is chasing it, and it can’t attempt to comprehend the concept of hunger.
In this situation, irrationality is quite useful, evolution does all the work and fabricates the needed neural networks for you, and also sets the stimuli that will activate these instincts.
So what exactly is the problem with emotions?
The problem is, instincts were made to deal with static environments that would not change for hundreds of thousands of years.
Humans, on the other hand, change the environment constantly, from an evolutionary perspective, very rapidly. Far faster than any species can genetically evolve to keep up with.
From this perspective, we can start to see how our irrational emotions, would not work well in our human-made environments.
Especially because we have no natural predators, and how most problems we come across require intense thought and mental processing. You can start to see how our once vital irrational instincts, have now become detrimental.
Which means the rational thing to do would be to get rid of our emotions, or at least replace them with new ones that would work better with our environment.
Emotions such as fear, jealousy, and anger are no longer needed and are some of the emotions we would benefit from the most when removed.
Though some would still argue, that emotion make us human, well as I stated before, we are not the only species with emotions.
Also, if there was anything that would be an indicator of us being human. It would be our rationality; it would be the fact that unlike any other species on this planet. We are the only ones that make cities, technological advancements, and wonder why we are even here.
So what do you think. Should we keep our emotions even tho they are more of a hindrance than anything else? Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.