Reason and Emotion: A note on Plato, Darwin, and Damasio

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. Modern dual-systems models of judgment and decision-making are Platonic in the sense that they endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion. The activities of one system are automatic and often emotional, whereas the activities of the other are controlled and never emotional. The automatic system gets things done quickly, but it is prone to error. The controlled system’s mission is to keep a watchful eye and to make corrections when necessary. Like a watchful parent, this system reins in our impulses and overrides our snap judgments.