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“The Feeling of Knowing: The complex relationship of emotion and reason”

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Sunday, March 8, 2015 - 4:00pm

The Salon on Sunday, March 8, at 4pm: "The Feeling of Knowing: The complex relationship of emotion and reason." Why do some people persistently believe in the existence of impossible supernatural entities? Or reject well-founded science? Or vote against their economic interest? Or put America’s children at risk for measles? Or blindly ignore evidence in favor of fallacious reasoning? A common answer is that in such cases, emotion has overwhelmed reason—e.g. “politics of fear.” Since Jeffersonian times, important parts of our culture have believed that we can be reasonable only when we suppress emotion. Other parts of our culture want to elevate emotion above reason, at least some of the time. Both of these views assume that reason and emotion are opposites or even enemies. But recent brain science, as revealed in books read by the Jeff Center and Brain Books discussion groups, fairly blows this model out of the water. Emotion and reason are intertwined—in all of us, pretty much all the time. Sandra Coyner, as moderator, will lead us to share our experiences with this complex relationship of emotion and reason. She will also present a brief introduction to some evidence-based explanations of how we “know,” leading us perhaps to increased humility, and appreciation of our own flaws and of others’ integrity.

Sandra Coyner earned a Ph.D. in History and pursued a long career in college-level teaching and administration in history, women's studies, critical thinking, and honors in universities from Syracuse to SOU. She published in several academic fields and was elected by her peers to the Presidency of the National Women's Studies Association. Always engaged in her community, especially feminist activities, since retiring in 2008 she has also been engaged in several Ashland organizations and issues, with emphasis on reducing income inequality. She has been active in the Jefferson Center on a number of committees, currently serving on the Board, as coordinator of the Book Group, and chair of the Action Committee. She enjoys recycling and gardening as much as aging joints will allow.