The battle of the rational and intuititve


The extreme western, classical, rational, empirical, logical mind has a very sure way of finding out very little (the scientific method, from bottom up approach). People who are good at this bring us the information age, finances, science, modern (western) medicine.
The extreme romantic doesn’t dissect but has a holistic, top down approach. He has a much better chance to find out something of high complexities (which tend to be the important stuff, like finding the right wife/husband), but will very rarely have a sure way to find out if it is true (or true for others, or for other times). Holistic medicine, all forms of art are examples of this.
Both approaches lose some complexity that the other one can grasp. It is like a expeditioner trying to design a new country. The romantic will fly over the terrain in a Cessna, where he/she gets a very good feel/idea where water is, where people could be, good layouts of cities, etc. The rational guy will walk around for years, carrying out soil analysis, measure the climate, etc. They both can design roads, places for people to live, but they would be making very different choices. Both choices will be better in some regards and worse in others and both camps will be blind to the advantage of the other until they lived in the city designed by the other for years.
The rational approach suffers from being too slow, easily becoming irrelevant (for instance, if there are five arguments for something, and a couple against, the complete rational is likely to make decisions on the basis of an argument that anyone with intuition would recgonise as the least relevant). He needs someone with a big picture-this is where the persepective from the Cessna is important. On the other hand, the romantic, on his own, would never get to these obscure arguments and therefore is missing out on the whole picture in a different way. Rational though is a jackhammer that (given time) goes through incredible hard rock, but it needs intuition: hands and eyes to direct it. Rational thought is a telescope, revealing incredible detail, but it needs intuition: a mind to direct it to the right spot in the sky.
Their only chance to achieve something useful is to get these two camps working together, and in some fields (such as architecture) they are forced to co-exist, but on the whole, the relationship between the rational and romantic is more strained than that. In fact it is a war ATM.
Their contribution of these two sides to society has seriously been out of balance lately- favouring the rational. You make money if you are in a rational carrer. The school’s budget has oriented away from art and human sciences towards natural sciences. Those degrees are also the hardest to get into. These are all signs of an underlying current that is flowing to rationality.

Maybe this imbalance has been made possible by some seemingly unrelated groundwork. You see, if we agree to evaluate the worth of contributions to society in ways that:
-concentrate on ones where we can put numbers to and calculate (average real disposable incomes up 10%, say)
-accepting knowledge/worth only if proven with the scientific method, even though the resarch field is complex and we don’t understand everything about it (say, medical research)
-give human made changes a black and white worth (say, TV with remote or quicker travel is better)
then the romantic has already lost, even if nothing can be seen yet. How can the romantic prove that real value isn’t as simple as to be described by numbers? Only few would understand. How can they show that we might not be able to derive higher truth, much less higher value, from lower principles? To say we can’t find out anything on our own would fly into the face of human vanity. How can they argue with the master of arguments? The rational IQ already has a widely accepted measure. The rationalists even venture out and create an EQ (emotional quotient) in a shameless act of land grab from the romantic, even though we cannot quantify the range and depth of emotions and what they mean. On the other hand, an artist can’t (and would hate to) create a scale and test for “artistic ability”. All the artist can do is argue the hard case that higher IQ is not necessarily better, as IQ on its own doesn’t achieve much.
A lot of people complain that even thouh we supposed to live better, things turn machine- like and the soul/quality isn’t there. R. Pirsig pointed out correctly that Quality is the first thing to be sacrificed at the altar of Reason, as it is hard to define and remember.
Quality, or anything else, to a classically inclined mind doesn’t exist as it can’t put a number on it. Any field that is complex enough and hard enough to model (which includes anything to do with life: medical research for example) suffers. So, if a farmer produces 600kg of corn full of the best nutrients per acre or 3.6 tonnes per acre of the stuff with absolutely no micro- nutrient in it, he gets the same price. Gues what? They all produce the empty stuff, and we get weird diseases as a result, then make drugs to treat first these health problems, then the sideffects… “such is progress”.
My feeling is (that word again) that we have to torchure ourselves with this machine the rational mind has created (economy, science, progress, efficiency) much more before we revolt and return to the more intuitive realm of the romantic.

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