We live in turbulent times. Politically, accusations of lies are thrown in both directions. A new term has entered our lexicon to capture this idea: Fake News. Everyone seems to bemoan the lack of truth in our conversation.
We want truth, from our politicians, from corporations, from family members. But can we recognize truth when we are exposed to it?
It has gotten to the point that two different people can observe the same event, and have different beliefs about what occurred. How can these two viewpoints be reconciled? Is one “true” and the other “false”? Or are they both some combination of true and false? And if so, how can you hope to convince each that the other is right, at least a little bit?
We live in a complicated world, and making sense of it with information coming from a variety of different sources is a new challenge, unique to this era. Before we are able to separate out a factual statement from a lie, we have to know what “truth” is, how to recognize and evaluate it, and how to store and share it with others.
Does truth depend on what you already believe? Is it relative, or absolute? What is truth?
Related questions: How do you know who to trust? When is a lie justified? How much of our thoughts are our own? What is necessary to change your mind? When is doubt helpful? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?
Emotion can be good; emotion can be bad.
Being emotional is what makes life worth living. The happiness you feel in the presence of a loved one. The satisfaction of a job well done. The beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring stars on a clear night.
All of these experiences are dependent on emotion. You can be inspired, feel joy, suffer from heartache. Without feelings, life would be dull and uninteresting.
And yet, emotion can also lead us astray. Being passionate can blind you to a necessary choice. Grief can overcome you and lead to depression. Extreme feelings can make you easier to manipulate.
It’s not about “good” feelings, like love and joy, vs “bad” feelings, like anger and fear. You will experience negative emotions over the course of your life. It is not practical to pretend they don’t exist. Negative or bad emotions are just as much of a fully-realized emotional life as positive ones are.
No, the real trade-off is between emotion and logic. Logic might help make better decisions, but feelings give flavor to existence. There must be a middle ground. It is important to balance some emotion with some reason.
But how can you find the right balance? How can you make the most of your feelings and fully live your life, but also make rational decisions and think analytically?
What is the right amount of emotion? How can you tell if you have too much? What mechanisms allow you to increase or decrease the emotion you feel every day?
Related questions: Why does music evoke emotion? What is necessary to change your mind? What do you do that you shouldn’t? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?