If you’re looking for a yes or no response, then you don’t need to read the whole article!
Yes, logic and emotions can co-exist. In fact, not only can they co-exist, there’s no way for them to exist without one another!
Now if this piques your interest, then let’s explore together the relationship between logic and emotions.
Logic and emotions always co-exist as logic is made up of thoughts, and every single thought has an underlying emotional charge. Similarly, every single emotion almost immediately leads to the creation of thought. Thoughts and emotions are inseparable from each other, thereby, logic & emotions are inseparable unless there’s some physical damage to the brain structure.
Then why do people make comments like, “Don’t be an emotional fool! Think logically!” or “Listen to your emotions, and not just dry logic!”
It’s because many of us don’t understand what logic and emotions really mean, or how they relate to each other, or what “thinking logically” really means.
What Is Logic?
Oxford Languages says logic is “reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity”, and reasoning defined as “the action of thinking about something in a logical way.”
Thus, we can say, the smallest unit that makes up logic is thought.
Thought, it says, “is an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind.”
So logic really is a chain of thoughts (or actions of thinking) looked at in a certain way (or according to strict principles).
What Is Emotion?
According to the APA (American Psychological Association) Dictionary of Psychology, emotion is a complex reaction pattern that involves experiential, behavioral, and physiological elements.
They also state that emotions are different from feelings as emotions have the element of engaging with the world, while feelings don’t.
I don’t think emotions and feelings are different. For instance, when I feel happy, the dominant emotion I’m experiencing is happiness.
How are feeling happy & happiness different other than the fact that one’s a noun & the other’s a verb?!
Anyway, I do concur that emotions are complex – we never have only one emotion at any given time. And that emotions involve a subjective experience, and elements of behavior & physiology.
If logic is thoughts, and emotions are subjective experiences, then what’s their relationship?
Relationship Between Logic And Emotions
Murray “MJ” Blehart, writes in Medium, “…logic and emotion seem diametrically opposed… yet, they do both exist in everyone.“
What does it mean when we say, “Think logically”, or “___ is a logical person”?
There are facts, and then there are thoughts. Logic is when we think through facts and come to a certain conclusion.
What statements like the ones above really mean is – make decisions based on facts; ___ makes decisions based on facts.
However, as mentioned above, logic is not just facts. It’s facts & thoughts. And thoughts are inseparable from emotions.
An Example Of Logic And Emotions
For instance, let’s say, in a given situation, the fact is person A cheated on person B & person C. Person A then apologized for it, and said it’ll never happen again. Both persons, B & C, are logical people.
Person B comes to the conclusion that given the fact A cheated them, and the fact that they know that people who cheat once can’t be trusted, they should no more do business with A.
Person C comes to the conclusion that given the fact A cheated them, but then also apologized, they should reset expectations and be more attentive in future business with A.
Neither B nor C seems agitated about their decision. They both think they’ve been “logical” about it by considering the current facts & their experiences.
Whose decision would you call logical or illogical? Just like B & C reached different “logical” decisions, similarly, different readers here would draw different conclusions.
Why is it so? If the facts are same, then “logical” conclusions must be the same, isn’t it?
Unless there’s something here that we don’t know. We don’t know the kind of past experiences that B & C have had.
Maybe, B has had multiple experiences with being cheated on in the past. that has left a bad taste in their mouth. C, on the other hand, may have learned from their past experiences that people can change when given a chance, maybe C was such a person in the past.
These past experiences would have had noticeable emotions. The emotions and their respective thoughts together created learning that they carried with them and used in the current situation.
So, were these “logical” decisions really devoid of emotions? Or were these decisions based on facts, previous experiences, and how they felt about their previous experiences?
If you were to truly pause and analyze your own mind you’ll observe that every single thought has an underlying emotional current under it.
And if we have evolved to have both “logic” and “emotions”, then there must be a reason for it.
There is no thought without emotion and no emotion that doesn’t lead to thought.
What Does It Really Mean To Think Logically?
All that thinking logically means is to consider as many perspectives as possible before reaching a decision. These perspectives will always involve how you feel, a.k.a., emotions.
The reason many people struggle between logic & emotion is that they try to focus on/ get stuck in one or the other.
The way out is to learn how to work with both intact.
I really like the way the writer of an Inc. article, The Most Essential Traits for Making Smarter Decisions, has worded it:
“Perhaps what I’m saying is treat your emotions logically, and your logic emotionally, and you’ll develop really amazing cognitive, judgmental, and philosophical capabilities.”
Emotions are always present – you can’t cut them out. They may be cut out if there’s a physiological issue, like in alexithymia.
Why Don’t I Feel My Emotions?
Frankly, the answer to this for most people is not alexithymia, but the fact that they haven’t been able to learn the skills needed to understand and work with emotions.
A review on alexithymia in the National Library of Medicine says, “Alexithymia is characterized by an impaired ability to be aware of, explicitly identify, and describe one’s feelings.“
While some of us may experience these characteristics at various points of time in our lives, alexithymia in my understanding is directly related to physiological issues in the brain.
Basically, they’re claiming that the physical brain structure is definitely involved, likely damaged, if you have alexithymia.
My sincere hope here would be you think of horses when you hear hoofbeats and not zebras!
P.S. If you are of Indian origin, assigned female at birth (woman + LGBTQ+), and have tried many different things to build emotional wisdom – have learned a few things along the way, but find that nothing is resolving things for good, and are now ready to go deeper, then Rooted In Chaos might be apt for you.
- Logic and emotion should not be mutually exclusive and work best when used together.
- Thinking logically simply means considering as many perspectives as possible before reaching a decision.
- Every single thought has an underlying emotion, and every single emotion has an accompanying thought.
- For most people, the reason they struggle between logic and emotions is that they don’t have the effective skills to work with them.
So? What do you think? What’s your experience been like in being able to separate logic and emotions?
Any other thoughts, questions, or suggestions? Feel free to drop them in the comments section below.