Posted on June 23, 2012
Are You Noetically Handicapped?
The idea that emotion affects cognition is by no means a recent one in history. Aristotle himself believed that emotions had the power to rival, weaken, or bypass reason. He taught that emotion challenged reason in all three of these ways, and that our feelings often compete with our reason for control over our actions. Indeed, Aristotle believed that our emotions rob our faculty of reason of its full acuity, thus leaving us noetically handicapped. Further, he thought that our passions made us impetuous: “the impetuous person does not go through a process of deliberation and does not make a reasoned choice; he simply acts under the influence of passion.” [cited here] For Aristotle, this means that the influence of our emotive faculties over our cognitive ones is such that there are times when our reasoning process does not enter into conscious reflection until it is too late to influence our decisions.
Do not misunderstand: I am not advocating beliefs without emotion or repudiating the role of personal experience in our faith. I wholeheartedly believe that our experience and our feelings function well to passionately fuel our God-given desires to serve Him. But God designed our faculties for functioning in an integrated, holistic fashion.