28-29.1.17: Primary research


Worked on research and the panoramas for Monday’s presentation over the weekend.


(see bibliography at end)


I’m exploring the psychological correlations of the rational and emotional mind and their psychobiological (The study of the biological foundations of the mind, emotions, and mental processes) connection to instinct and natural selection.

[Emotions function within practical reasoning, are not just spurs to it. They are not separate or alternating, but are inextricably linked.] (Kirman, A et al, 2009).

  1. Emotions drive rational thinking, but more than that, it is necessary to it.
    • Emotions create a guide for how we use our rational mind.
    • Famous case in neuroscience – a man’s brain was damaged and stopped him feeling emotions. However he could never make up his mind, he would debate the pros and cons of a situation that would normally take a moment for hours.”When this neural connection is severed – when our OFCs can’t comprehend our own emotions – we lose access to the wealth of opinions we normally rely on. It’s impossible to make decent decisions. This is why the OFC is one of the few cortical regions that are markedly larger in humans than they are in other primates. While Plato and Freud would have guessed that the job of the OFC was to protect us from our emotions, to fortify reason against feeling, its actual function is precisely the opposite. Humans are the most emotional animal of all.” (Lehrer, J. 2009)
    • Advertising – advertisers use a combination of the functional and sentimental to sell products and complete tasks.
    • Emotions help us progress in life. Past learning and anticipations stem from envy and regret.
    • Contemporary philosophy of emotion attempts something stronger, however, in according emotions a role in practical reasoning. Making this an integral role – understanding emotions as functioning within practical reasoning rather than just as spurs to it – means interpreting emotions in normative terms, as providing and expressing potential reasons for action, and as themselves subject to rational assessment and control, contrary to the traditional view of emotions as ‘passive’ phenomena.
    • This issue should provide fuel for this debate on the relation between emotions and rationality, and all the views expressed by the contributors suggest that even the most resistant of the social sciences, economics, can no longer resist the trend in psychology, the neurosciences and philosophy to avoid treating these two phenomena as separate or alternating but rather to consider them as inextricably interlinked.
  2. The more strain on our minds, the more vulnerable our minds are to make decisions emotionally.
    • Procrastination is a key example – under a lot of stress and number of things to do, it’s really easy to procrastinate. This is your emotional mind taking the reins because the stress is too much for our rational minds to cope.
    • “Vending machine rage” (Brainpickings, 2016)
      “Notoriously, however, people sometimes get angry when they are frustrated by inanimate objects, which presumably cannot act wrongfully… In 1988, the Journal of the American Medical Associationpublished an article on “vending machine rage”: fifteen injuries, three of them fatal, as a result of angry men kicking or rocking machines that had taken their money without dispensing the drink. (The fatal injuries were caused by machines falling over on the men and crushing them.)”
  3. Natural selection/survival of the fittest
    • Emotions evolved to facilitate decision-making (using the energy from emotions for rational reasons).
    • Physiological reactions, such as an animal’s instinctual habit – is that influenced by emotions or rational thinking? Are their primitive antics based on survival of the fittest – is that an emotional reaction to survival or a logical one? What is the difference between emotional and rational thinking and instinctual reactions?
    • Humans have emotional capacities that resulted in social norms, contrary to animals.
  • “Emotions have their reasons, and are not limited to instinctive traits selected by evolution that trigger basic and urgent reactions. They can also guide deliberations based on the relation between past learning and anticipations. ” (Kirman, A et al, 2009)
    • If we look into emotional and rational thinking in terms of psychopathy – psychopaths lack an emotional mind. They understand, for the most part, society’s emotional mind and individual reactions, but it is not a distraction from their logic-driven behaviour.
  1. Variations of emotion/psychology
    • Social norms, responsibility, risk (mixed emotions such as ‘elated relief’, ‘humble pride’), time (expanding and contracting), influence, all affect our decisions and balance between emotional/rational mind.
    • ‘self-poisoning of the mind’ (Eister 2010) – in an attempt to alleviate the emotion of envy, one might put down another person who has achieved success. Catch 22 though – they will never achieve their objective. > emotional/rational minds disjoined.
    • Using emotion to improve one’s rational decisions, such as social learning. Envy, regret > future betterment.
    • The ultimatum game

Relevant quotes and images:

"Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action."
 - Saatchi & Saatchi (British advertising agency)
"The distinction between means and ends [...] gets back to the distinction between reason and emotion."
 - Gittins, R. 2008, Sydney Morning Herald
" Darwin's preoccupation with emotional expression suggests recognition of the importance of the social context, for the expression of emotions can only be useful if someone else perceives it."
 - (Kirman, A et al, 2009)
“Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions”
 - David Hume (18th century Scottish philosopher)
“I felt a funeral in my brain,
 And mourners, to and fro,
 Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
 That sense was breaking through."
 - Emily Dickinson


Self-portrait of Van Gogh (he had seizures, which apparently improved his creativity –> re: irrationality in art).

‘The Scream’, Edvard Munch. In reading about the inspiration behind this painting, it seems the painter experienced panic attacks and intense anxiety. I liked this for the reason that he forgoes rationality in his art, because it is purely about the emotions).

‘The Irrationality of the Rational Mind’, by Edonna Nome. I found it strange that when remembering this painting after first seeing it, I remembered it as a boy whose features was not rotated within the face, he was perfectly normal. Seems accurate to the title.

The venn diagram refers to a philosophy, ‘Wise Mind’, that states that only when you’re equally reliant on the emotional and rational mind are you wise and able to make good decisions.

Oil and water – reflects the dichotomy between the emotional and rational mind.



Van Gogh, V. 1887, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/67.187.70a/ >.

Munch, E. 1893, The Scream, Lego Menon, weblog, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://legomenon.com/meaning-of-the-scream-1893-painting-by-edvard-munch.html&gt;.

Nome, E. 2008, The Irrationality of the Rational Mind, Saatchi Art, viewed 28 January 2017, <https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-The-Irrationality-of-the-Rational-Mind-IRM/20820/792069/view&gt;.

Wise Mind [diagram], Brainstorm, WordPress, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://brainstorm.tammyrome.com/dbt-mindfulness-three-states-mind/ >.

Oil in water [photograph], Joseph Clark, Getty Images, viewed 28 January 2017, <https://www.reference.com/science/don-t-oil-water-mix-5fa85ae059405d10 >.


Stitched panoramas:


I blended the elements of rigid, static forms, representing the arthropod woven over with fairly fluid shapes to represent the siphonophore. I wanted to convey a sense that both the emotional and rational mind work at the same time, with sometimes the emotional mind taking the majority of control, sometimes the rational. I really liked the intercut photos that I made next to Helen’s woman with the contrasting hands and Lou’s “forest”. I think the parallels give a cool jarring effect (especially when the rest of the space isn’t so crowded, hence the version below).


Mostly just made this second version for aesthetic reasons. I thought concept-wise the top one works but it’s just quite messy. Which I guess is like the mind anyway. But I like how clean the bottom version is. It has a nice flow of movement throughout it too. It could be more dynamic though. Images with more salience with the arthropod figures more interrupting.



Ciraldo, J. 2012, ‘Rational Mind vs. Emotional Mind’, blog post, 20 September 2012, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/siowfa12/2012/09/rational-mind-vs-emotional-mind.html >.

Gittins, R. 2008, ‘Rational thinking and emotion: one without the other is a dangerous thing’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://www.smh.com.au/business/rational-thinking-and-emotion-one-without-the-other-is-a-dangerous-thing-20080608-2njy.html >.

Kirman, A., Livet, P., Teschl, M. 2009, ‘Rationality and emotions’, The Royal Society, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/365/1538/215 >.

Lehrer, J. 2009, ‘Feeling our way to decision’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 February, viewed 29 January 2017, <http://www.smh.com.au/national/feeling-our-way-to-decision-20090227-8k8v.html >.

Nirshberg, G. 2010, ‘Emotions and Rationality’, Cognitive Philosophy, weblog, viewed 28 January 2017, < http://cognitivephilosophy.net/ethics/emotions-and-rationality/ >.

Nome, E. 2008, The Irrationality of the Rational Mind, Saatchi Art, viewed 28 January 2017, <https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-The-Irrationality-of-the-Rational-Mind-IRM/20820/792069/view >.

Popova, M. 2016, ‘Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on Anger, Forgiveness, the Emotional Machiery of Trust, and the Only Fruitful Response to Betrayal in Intimate Relationships’, brainpickings, weblog, viewed 27 January 2017, <https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/05/03/martha-nussbaum-anger-and-forgiveness/ >.

Shabi, K. 2013, ‘Meaning of The Scream (1893) Painting by Edvard Munch: Art Analysis’, Lego Menon, weblog, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://legomenon.com/meaning-of-the-scream-1893-painting-by-edvard-munch.html >.

SmartDataCollective 2017, Rational versus Emotional Decision Making, Industry Dive, viewed 28 January 2017, <http://www.smartdatacollective.com/garycokins/23935/rational-versus-emotional-decision-making >.

Van Praet, D. 2013, ‘The End of Rational Vs. Emotional: How Both Logic and Feeling Play Key Roles in Marketing and Decision Making’, Fast Company, weblog, viewed 27 January 2017, <https://www.fastcocreate.com/1682962/the-end-of-rational-vs-emotional-how-both-logic-and-feeling-play-key-roles-in-marketing-and- >.



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