Feeling smart Why our emotions are more rational than we think

Eyal Winter

Book - 2014

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Subjects
Published
New York : PublicAffairs 2014.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Hebrew
Item Description
"Published in 2012 in Hebrew in Israel, by Zmora Bitan."
Physical Description
xx, 262 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781610394901
1610394909
Main Author
Eyal Winter (-)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Economist Winter looks at the relationship between emotion and rationality in this study, and if the results do not fully answer the questions he raises, he still gives plentiful insights into the many factors that govern our choices. The book's central thesis is that being emotional and being rational are not the diametrically opposed states people often assume them to be, and that, far from clouding judgment, instinctive feelings play an essential role in guiding it. Winter draws on the classic Prisoner's Dilemma to illustrate this point, applying a mathematical model to the apparently unsystematic process of decision making. Even anger, within this framework, is persuasively shown to have an instructive purpose. Winter struggles, however, to tie all of the examples covered to the central theme of emotion. In particular, an extended passage that examines and questions clichés about gender and sexuality (such as "Men, more than women, seek physically attractive mates" and "Homosexuality provides no evolutionary advantage") wanders far afield from the emotion-reason dichotomy. But even if the book doesn't completely fulfill its goal of collapsing the divide between feelings and reason, we can at least begin, with its help, to reason with our emotions through their inherent foundation of rationality. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Dec.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem—bringing together game theory, evolution and behavioral science—explores our intuitions, emotions and passions, which sometimes are considered flaws in our brains.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Argues that emotional thinking and decision-making can be beneficial rather than reckless, using game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to re-examine how humans think.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Which is smarter -- your head or your gut? It's a familiar refrain: you're getting too emotional. Try and think rationally. But is it always good advice? In this surprising book, Eyal Winter asks a simple question: why do we have emotions? If they lead to such bad decisions, why hasn't evolution long since made emotions irrelevant? The answer is that, even though they may not behave in a purely logical manner, our emotions frequently lead us to better, safer, more optimal outcomes. In fact, as Winter discovers, there is often logic in emotion, and emotion in logic. For instance, many mutually beneficial commitments -- such as marriage, or being a member of a team -- are only possible when underscored by emotion rather than deliberate thought. The difference between pleasurable music and bad noise is mathematically precise; yet it is also something we feel at an instinctive level. And even though people are usually overconfident -- how can we all be above average? -- we often benefit from our arrogance.Feeling Smart brings together game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to produce a surprising and very persuasive defense of how we think, even when we don't.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Which is smarter—your head or your gut? It's a familiar refrain: you're getting too emotional. Try and think rationally. But is it always good advice?In this surprising book, Eyal Winter asks a simple question: why do we have emotions? If they lead to such bad decisions, why hasn't evolution long since made emotions irrelevant? The answer is that, even though they may not behave in a purely logical manner, our emotions frequently lead us to better, safer, more optimal outcomes.In fact, as Winter discovers, there is often logic in emotion, and emotion in logic. For instance, many mutually beneficial commitments—such as marriage, or being a member of a team—are only possible when underscored by emotion rather than deliberate thought. The difference between pleasurable music and bad noise is mathematically precise; yet it is also something we feel at an instinctive level. And even though people are usually overconfident—how can we all be above average?—we often benefit from our arrogance.Feeling Smart brings together game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to produce a surprising and very persuasive defense of how we think, even when we don't.