Friday, November 22, 2019

But, That's How I Feel!

America is awash in feelings. This means that we are now living in a therapy culture, where we coddle feelings, where we respect sentiment and where we disdain rational thought. After all the ultimate in idiot therapy questions is: But, how does that make you feel?

If your therapist asks such questions, you should fire him. He is telling you to blind yourself to fact, to reality, to evidence, the better to get lost in your mind. With any luck your feelings will take on a life of their own and you will not have to deal with other people or with real world dilemmas.

Lance Morrow calls it the autocracy of feelings and he is right. When you engage in debate and when you employ your rational faculties you allow your thoughts and even your feelings to be judged by reality, by empirical evidence, by real outcomes. You humble yourself before reality.

When it comes to your feelings, however, you are the world’s leading authority. The idiot’s response to contradictory evidence is: But, that’s how I feel. To which one is tempted to respond that he has just said nothing. He has just asserted his authority over nothing of consequence.

When a student takes a test, there are no longer any right or wrong answers. As long as he feels that something is the case, then it must be the case. Feelings rule.

Clearly Morrow is correct. I have often warned against this modernized version of eighteenth century sentimentality. Morrow sees it at work in serious places, like the American Congress and the American news media:

“How did you feel?” the staff counsel asked the ex-ambassador during last week’s impeachment hearing. The envoy said much that was creditable and professional, but they kept asking her, “How did you feel?” She repeated that she was “shocked and devastated.” She was “appalled” to be told she was being recalled from Ukraine. The feathers of the commentators were also ruffled. They poured out their feelings. “If you were not moved by the testimony,” Fox’s Chris Wallace said, “you don’t have a pulse.”

Marie Yovanovich was fired from her job. The president had the right to do so, for whatever reason. And yet, it hurt her feelings. It especially hurt her feelings that no one proclaimed how wonderful she was. Ah yes, Chris Wallace was moved. But seriously, Wallace does better not to engage in such girl talk.

Morrow continues that we feel our feelings so deeply that we can no longer engage in very much consequential thinking:

A democracy needs as much thought as it can get, but today the world’s greatest democracy runs too much on attitude and emotion and impulse. At a Trump rally or on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” feelings are the medium and the message. Only the styles differ.

Of course, American life has now become therapy. The dominant autocracy is the autocracy of feelings. Morrow continues:

The 21st century’s amazing alterations in American life—the advance of new normals on every front—have been promulgated by a vast autocracy of feelings. The changes haven’t been all bad, but many have come without benefit of responsible thought: history as therapy.

The risk in a democracy is that issues are dumbed down, to the point where the least educated and least intelligent can sorta understand them. And we even have members of Congress now who are certifiable imbeciles, and who do not know how to govern or even to reason, but who rant and rave, without having a clue about what they are talking about. At least we know that they feel very deeply.


Sam L. said...

I have no feelings about this. If anyone's interested. Can't think WHY anyone would.

n.n said...

Appeals to empathy are relativistic. It is the basis for diversity, political congruence, selective-child, and other progressive liberal policies.

Blick said...

Whitney, It has long been my contention that Civilizations rise in the masculine and die in the feminine.