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Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail 
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Post Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail



Tue Dec 10, 2019 3:29 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
I still struggle a bit with Hume's statement that reason is and ought to be the servant of the passions. (I need to read some Hume.) It seems that he anticipated Damasio's research that is mentioned, that "gut feelings and bodily reactions were necessary to think rationally," and without it people have a hard time making decisions. I wonder if that is essentially what Hume had in mind, without having much knowledge of the brain.

But aside from the necessity based on how are brains are wired to use emotions in this way, I wonder how much we ought to try to bring in reason more. Surely we don't want to entirely base our morality on our "gut" and Haidt is not suggesting we should? Does a gut reaction in itself give us a reason to doubt our reason if it's in conflict? Is it because we're just not very good at moral reasoning?



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
Dexter wrote:
I still struggle a bit with Hume's statement that reason is and ought to be the servant of the passions. (I need to read some Hume.) It seems that he anticipated Damasio's research that is mentioned, that "gut feelings and bodily reactions were necessary to think rationally," and without it people have a hard time making decisions. I wonder if that is essentially what Hume had in mind, without having much knowledge of the brain.

But aside from the necessity based on how are brains are wired to use emotions in this way, I wonder how much we ought to try to bring in reason more. Surely we don't want to entirely base our morality on our "gut" and Haidt is not suggesting we should? Does a gut reaction in itself give us a reason to doubt our reason if it's in conflict? Is it because we're just not very good at moral reasoning?

Maybe Hume intuitively understood that we make snap judgments based on emotion—before reason can kick in. And to pretend that reason rules the day is delusion. Maybe that's where the "ought" comes in. We ought not pretend that we are purely rational beings.

Indeed, here's a more complete version of the same quote:

"Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

But it would be better to get it straight from the horse's mouth. This is Hume's Treatise on Human Nature.

I think Haidt will say that reason can sway the elephant at least in some circumstances.


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
Hi everyone... Happy New Year.

The only Haidt book I've read is The Happiness Hypothesis.

Checking in on this discussion.. pretty interesting.



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
ant wrote:
Hi everyone... Happy New Year.

The only Haidt book I've read is The Happiness Hypothesis.

Checking in on this discussion.. pretty interesting.


Welcome back! Check out the Wizard and Prophet discussion too. I read the first two chapters and it really is excellent!


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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
geo wrote:
ant wrote:
Hi everyone... Happy New Year.

The only Haidt book I've read is The Happiness Hypothesis.

Checking in on this discussion.. pretty interesting.


Welcome back! Check out the Wizard and Prophet discussion too. I read the first two chapters and it really is excellent!

Yeah, jump in and answer Dexter's question, because I can't!

I don't think I quite finished Happiness Hypothesis, but this book is a continuation of that one's ideas, applied to our politics.



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Post Re: Ch. 2: The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
Perhaps the "ought" in Hume's judgment of the subordinate position of reason can be understood better by Haidt's substitution of "only fit to be" (49). Another Hume quotation JH cites also might clarify the "ought." "And as reasoning is not the source, whence either disputant drives his tenets; it is in vain to expect, that any logic, which speaks not to the affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder principles" (48). The quotation also indicates that here Hume is using "logic" as equivalent to "reasoning." That's the way I think of reasoning, too, although I have the impression that in Hume's time "reason" (contrasted with the mental action of reasoning) was a very broad faculty not restricted to logic and empirical fact. In this instance, however, Hume's use of "reasoning" appears aligned with Haidt's "moral reasoning," that is, the verbal explanation we offer for our intuitively based conclusion.

Hume's words "tenets"and "principles" also helps me understand that he's talking about just the kind of thing that JH is, our stances on various important (read moral) questions.

There's a lot else I have to digest in the chapter. I'm not sure I really did the first time I read the book.



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