Are we that different from (irrational) animals?


Well, up to now I'm pretty sure I didn't find anyone who can ignore feelings. I do try my best since I do think that they are the irrational thing we have, but of course, I still have them. Fear, anxiety, attraction, all of these things i see as instincts.

When our species was evolving, probably the ones who felt love/attraction and would mate would have offspring. The ones who would stay a life time with only a partner would have a higher chance of it's offspring live. The ones that would run from all spiders and snakes, would have a better chance of not dying poisoned.

If we were emotionless would we be more or less (irrational) animal like? If we don't do what we feel, and think instead, aren't we more "human" (rational) than ever? Since some people say that love is what makes us human, even though a lot of animals will display the same "love" for others? Fight for, help, or even die.

(also remembered about an experience that was made some years ago, where they locked random man in a prison, where some were prisoners and others guards, and the guards acted like true "animals")

(I'm not the best person maintaining a train of thought. If I'm wrong just tell me, so I won't be anymore) Thanks in advance


Posted 2015-04-26T16:06:17.443

Reputation: 3

Question was closed 2015-04-26T23:47:15.927

Possibly it's a mistake to seperate emotion and reasoning in such a clear way. – Mozibur Ullah – 2015-04-26T18:19:11.723

2There are legitimate questions about how emotions work and how they relate to reasoning. But it seems like the main question here is would being less emotional make us more or less like animals. And to answer that seems like something that's going to have us offering pure opinions. – virmaior – 2015-04-26T23:48:23.623

1i didn't know that the animals are particularly irrational. – robert bristow-johnson – 2015-04-27T23:01:33.967



Physiological evidence suggests that removing emotion (not lowering its level, but breaking the mechanism that accesses it) limits one's ability to apply logic to situations. E.g. the case studies of Antonio Damasio, simplified here: and interpreted in his book "Descartes Error".

The reason for this seems simple and direct, to me.

I would like to point out that the only way we have of realizing that we have decided or admitted that something is logical is a subjective feeling of clarity. So I would contend that our sense of logic is, in fact, an emotion of its own, and therefore, any preference for acting logically is an emotional decision. If you accept that, there is only internal competition between emotional forces, not some competition between logic and emotion.

Feeling calm and competent is a feeling, just as feeling shattered and angry is. Choosing to impose one state over the other is still choosing to be emotional. By choosing to 'ignore your emotions' you are really choosing the emotional state that has gotten you the best return on your investment in the past, not choosing some state that is not emotional.

I skipped the answer: Based on this, I am assuming that if we were really emotionless, we would not be able to function rationally. (I am not sure that would make us more like animals. To me, animals seem, in their own limited way, more rationally motivated than humans. After all when it is perfectly logical for pig to kill off some of its children, it just does so, with an emotional equilibrium few humans could muster.)


Posted 2015-04-26T16:06:17.443


Instead of bickering with jobermark in the comments, please create a market of ideas by supplying your answers – virmaior – 2015-04-28T22:55:59.597

The "case studies" referred to are not easily found from the link given, and what is linked is scientifically dubious (and certainly doesn't show that "breaking the mechanism that accesses emotion" has happened, though an experiment which somehow did that would be suggestive). The idea is plausible, but it has not been made clear that evidence supports it in a meaningful way. – Rex Kerr – 2015-04-29T00:12:57.530

3@virmaior How are we supposed to do than when you flagged the question closed? – Mikey T.K. – 2016-02-16T13:44:09.403

@RexKerr "He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn’t make decisions." This is not proof, but it is support. Stop insisting anything other than a controlled experiement is not science so that psychology can be possible (or stop talking to psychologists.) – None – 2016-02-16T17:25:12.627

I have no problem with suggestive evidence being described as such. In this case, though, the primary literature isn't easily found, and what I did find didn't even seem to support the characterization in the article. (And now the link seems dead, so it's even harder to check back on what I found before.) – Rex Kerr – 2016-02-16T19:14:45.577

Physiological evidence suggests I quoted the suggestive part. The book exists, you can go read it. I said what I said, and you want to claim I said more so you can dismiss that I said anything. I just followed the link to find the quote, so it is not dead. You really glory in dismissing anything the least bit creative. – None – 2016-02-16T19:35:28.280

All I see is an article claiming some results with a dead link to the author of the study, not a citation of a book. I have searched on PubMed for the author and found various papers of his which do not really address the point made by you or the article. To be perfectly clear here my objection is not to suggestive results but that I can't find the results at all! When the evidence is only suggestive it is especially important to make it easy to find so the reader can weigh the strength of the evidence for themselves. – Rex Kerr – 2016-02-17T23:19:00.763

OK, so I gave the name of the book. PubMed is not the right place to look for the kind of sources one would reference here. This is not a professional arena where one generally demands primary sources of peer-reviewed science. Since this man has only one widely circulated book, this is not an obstacle to ordinary follow-up. – None – 2016-02-18T02:03:42.250

Physiological evidence is usually collected in the context of doing science, and the reason we should listen to Damasio at all is because he's been doing related neuroscience, so it is not unreasonable to expect that the primary literature will contain support for the claims. The reference to the book clears up where to look--thanks! – Rex Kerr – 2016-02-18T04:52:35.060

No the reason we should listen to him is that he frames something with an intuitive appeal that fits together with normal experience, and connects thoughts in a useful way, and just happens to accord with his neuroscience. This is a philosophy forum and not a place where folks vet science. The point is making sense, not fitting the data. I am going to stop giving references to science altogether if they are just going to be taken out of the spirit of the group, which is, by the way, about philosophy and not science. – None – 2016-02-18T16:29:31.223