Emotional reasoning is considered a flawed form of reasoning because you essentially believe in something because you feel it to be true. But isn’t this the case for any question in philosophy?

For example, why do most of us believe the external world is real? I can’t think of an answer to this except the fact that it just feels obvious. But that would just be a feeling. Any other justification can be infinitely asked the question why until you arrive at certain axioms that are simply believed. But isn’t any axiom asserted simply because one feels it to be true?

Is all of philosophy a form of emotional reasoning?

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    If everything is believed on feeling, then isn't, "Everything is believed on feeling," itself believed on feeling? Or then, "Feeling-based beliefs are essentially misguided (even if accidentally on point at times)," is this feeling-based too? Is the concept of feelings, or talk of emotions, etc. clear enough to serve such a dialectical purpose so much in abstracto? Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 4:38
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    I don’t think they are clear enough but I think from atleast an experiential point of view, there is a clear difference between thoughts and feeling. Each of these feelings has a specific experiential signature. Thoughts although they may imply a signature themselves don’t need one since the thought itself usually only includes the language containing it and the experience of thinking it
    – user62907
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 4:46
  • 1) Emotions don't follow logic (e.g. I feel I need to smoke, so I do it, even if it increases my probabilities of dying). Rational thinking is precisely about using logic (I better don't but cigarettes, so I avoid temptation), which finally has the goal of survival. Philosophy is a form of rational thinking. Now, you choose. 2) "Emotional reasoning" is an oxymoron. Emotions are the opposite of reason.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 6:06
  • After reading your other question just now, I wanted to write a question asking if any form of Philosophy is mainly based on feelings. We meet in the middle of the island.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 9:45
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    While the question is closed, it might help to think of philosophy as extending thinking from intuition, emotion, and shallow reasoning to systematic reasoning about knowledge, things, and the general nature of what can be thought. In this, sense, no, philosophy isn't only emotional reasoning.
    – J D
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


Descartes applied such scepticism about the world and it's nature. He concluded you can be certain of

"I think therefore I am"

even in the case

"I suppose there exists an extremely powerful, and, if I may so speak, malignant being, whose whole endeavors are directed toward deceiving me"

(which we group into 'Brain In A Vat' discussions in modern philosophy).

Emotions typically are unreasoned impulses, linked to evolutionarily derived responses. So, responses that served our ancestors, on average. The world has changed a lot since then. We associate impulse-control with maturity, which can be linked to how our neocortex which seems to have evolved primarily for social purposes doesn't fully finish developing until about age 25, and during the teenage years experiences we have of threat and risk have lasting impacts on our outlook (ie the immature impulse-control relates to being more open to learning).

I would argue philosophy is still, about the pursuit of wisdom. And that involves reconciling short and long term goals, impulsive desires and reasoned aims, and through an active practice of reflection coming to understand the integrated centre of our concerns, and acting from there. Discussed here: Wisdom and John Vervaeke's awakening from the meaning crises?

Philosophy then is exactly different to impulsive reasoning. But it isn't a fixed method either. Instead there are tools philosophers have developed, which we can bring to our own lives, towards understanding how to act with wisdom, in ways that serve us fully and which we won't regret.

  • I'd like to argue that emotions are themselves are a form of reason, however: stable states of logic, a lookup table, found by brute-force (or other - evolution, learning, etc) search over the course of growth of both species and individual. If there was no logic, the stable state would not have been possible to be reached, as any state would be equivalent to another. The states may not be entirely correct, but they are more correct than the baseline. Then these states may assemble themselves into further, more (or sometimes less) correct, stable (lacking counters) states, recursively.
    – user369070
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 16:32
  • I think most of what we learn becomes habit and we just unconsciously choose the 'wise' thing eventually. Wrong responses are pruned from the repertoire and only good choices are left. I think this is what most people feel that morals are for: to guide us toward a safe unconsciousness in life. Studies show that only a small percentage of people are actually self-aware, although most people think they are. (If they were, they would know that they weren't.)
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 23:33
  • @user369070: See 'Can emotions be logical? And can logic and emotion co-exist?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/91990/…
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 6:10
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    @ScottRowe: We can choose to cultivate good habits, or not. I don't like your way of thinking. It implies 1 mould for all, 1 way to be 'self-aware' however that is defined & whatever it implies. There is a quote that the job of a politician is to 'go around stirring up apathy', which is like Zizek's point that successful governance allows us to completely ignore it - things just work. I don't see that as being a zombie, but as freeing up attention. You say the same for morality. There is some validity to that. But times change, society changes, challenges change. We must update.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 6:26
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    I guess it is about keeping enough attention free to handle the next... Look out! Duck!!!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 13:19