An over simplistic view of human nature

March 8, 2011

We emphasize things that are rational and conscious and are inarticulate about the processes down below. We are really good at talking about material things but bad at talking about emotion.  This growing, dispersed body of research reminds us of a few key insights. First, the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind, where many of the most impressive feats of thinking take place. Second, emotion is not opposed to reason; our emotions assign value to things and are the basis of reason. Finally, we are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out of relationships.

This article on The New Humanism from David Brooks in the New York Times is a welcome addition to research, conversation, business literature on the relationship between the emotional and the rational.  Brooks argues for a new humanism that sees reason and feeling as intertwined and in conversation with each other.  This is in contrast to the traditional view of emotion as something that’s purely ‘personal’ and left at the door of our organisations.  Business is an emotion generating environment – not attending to this element of our selves is asking us to deny a rich source of individual and systemic intelligence.  This is why the I do the work I do.  Talking about how we feel isn’t only or always therapeutic, as Brooks says

Who knows, it may even someday transform the way our policy makers see the world.




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