I Feel, Therefore I Think (Or Something Like That)

Many philosophers have divided us up into thinking and emotional sides – each often at war with the other. But “for more than a decade, neuroscientists armed with brain scans have been chipping away at the Cartesian façade. Gone is Descartes’ lofty Cogito, reasoning in pristine detachment from the physical world. Fading fast are its sophisticated modern incarnations, including the once-popular ‘computational model,’ according to which the mind is like a software program and the brain like a hard drive. Lately, scientists have begun to approach consciousness in more Spinozist terms: as a complex and indivisible mind-brain-body system. The philosopher anticipated one of brain science’s most important recent discoveries: the critical role of the emotions in ensuring our survival and allowing us to think. Feeling, it turns out, is not the enemy of reason, but, as Spinoza saw it, an indispensable accomplice.”