Monthly Archives: August 2016

The death of rationalism & the rise of passion

President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to —

Lewis Rothschild: They don’t have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.

American President, 1995

All the elegant, nuanced reasoning in the world will not make an iota of difference to the average Trump supporter. In fact, given Trump’s anti-intellectual stance, shared by those who want him in the White House, such nuanced arguments are much more likely to bolster their support for Trump than lead them to reconsider.

I find this a terrifying notion. Reason has always been subservient to emotions (as Scottish philosopher David Hume indicated), and the antagonism between these two states of mind has been well-documented since Plato. Yet the prevailing view among philosophers has been that reason is the guiding principle to which we strive. A rational life, philosophers have stated, is a fuller life.

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