Tuesday, July 06, 2010

On Emotion and Opinion

Today is Monday, 5 July 2010.

“weinerdogzrule” made the following comment on “More Terror”: “I notice that your writing reflects opinions that are certainly sincere and heart-felt. I believe that it would be far more persuasive to others (who else?) were your style a bit less inflammatory and emotion-laden”, and was joined by “Reader: “I am a regular reader of this blog and completely agree with weinerdogzrule. Opinion, written in a calm tone, is more often received well by the reader. Opinion written in an inflammatory and emotion-laden tone clouds the reader's ability to fully appreciate and grasp the writer's meaning and intent.”

The distinction I would make is not between emotion-laden and inflammatory (yes, I’ve tried the Icy-Hot Patch) in themselves (an sich) and non-emotional. Rather, I would distinguish between emotion which originates in irrationalism, and emotion which is generated by reasoning which is carefully thought through.

Much of Tea Party emotion is of the first variety. They demand smaller government which delivers monster benefits, a patent contradiction (and a clear violation of the political laws of thermodynamics). This isn’t reasoning, but the tantrumic yowlings of a pre-rational child. (And still would be even if delivered in tones of absolute dispassion.) On the other hand, if one produces a clear course of reasoning as to why, say, capital punishment is immoral, then the resulting passion (it is a matter of life and death) has a reasonable origin.

In every case, the reader should not begin with the fact of an emotional component being present or absent, but with the rationality or irrationality of the thought process from which the emotion derives.


Blogger weinerdogzrule said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the last paragraph. Very well said...

My point was only that name-calling, hyperbole and overly inflammatory writing tends not to be as persuasive to readers - whether the premise and rationale are well-reasoned or not.

7:13 PM  

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