Monday, November 9, 2015

The Integration of Facts and Feelings

Hostages of Amydala?

For hundreds of years the argument has raged; Facts vs. Feelings.  One path is described as the way of faith, the other reason. Advocates and opponents point out perceived and actual differences between the two. What if it's all just a war of words that grows out of the subtle differences in the way that all of us perceive and process information? Are we all hostages to our amygdalas?

Whether your philosophical preferences are towards facts or faith, the fundamental truth is that your brain has two parts, one associated with thoughts and the other feelings.  In your daily experience you have to deal with both. The path of faith passes thru the parts of our brain that feel. The path of reason runs thru the parts of our brains that think. Our best and most creative choices are made when there is no conflict between the two.

In order to come up with solutions based on both feelings and ideas we have walk both paths. This is the true power of "Design Thinking." It's cyclical process applies both theory and practice, thought and action, emotions and facts. Beginning with questions (Empathic Inquiry) proceeding thru thinking and experimentation, (rapid prototyping building, testing), reflection and analyzing, we pass back and forth between our internal and external worlds, the past, present and future, going thru every aspect of a problem, using both "mind" and "heart" to address the technical, emotional and fiscal aspects of the situation until we arrive at solutions which are achievable, humane and sustainable.

The path of faith calls for prayer and reflection, the path of reason calls for thinking and reason. Both are trying to relieve the stress associated with not really being able to know everything about anything.

Standing as we do in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and in the midst of the Information Revolution, it might be well to consider the observation of Carl Jung that the rapid growth in our technical progress has far outstripped our growth in social progress.

Which brings us back to the question; How can we be at our individual and collective creative best in the midst of the "fog of war"?

Ed Catmull is a really remarkable guy with a lot to say. Pixar is still on top of their game and Ed has given a lot of thought to how they stay there. It boils down to three things; Safety (Feeling), Openness (Thinking and Communicating) and Curiosity (Learning);
  • Creativity is the blending of art (feelings) and technology (stuff).
  • It must be safe for everyone to offer ideas. (feelings)
  • Everyone must have the freedom to communicate with anyone. (thinking)
  • We must stay close to innovations happening in the academic community. (learning)
You can read the rest of what Ed had to say in 2008 here;  How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

We've all seen the tragic consequences of ignoring either the thinking or the feeling parts of being human. Perhaps there is not only room, but a requirement, for using both faith and reason. 

Isn't it time to up our collective game and use all the tools in the toolbox?

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei

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