7 SEPTEMBER 1934, Page 19


[To the Editor of TIIE SPECTATOR.] Sin,—:May I endorse the eloquent plea of Dr. C. Delisle Burns (in his review of a pamphlet by Mr. C. E. M. Joad in your issue of August 24th) for a proper understanding of the relations between reason and emotion ?

In the last 150 years the human brain has been developed at the expense of the emotions. With what disastrous results we see in the world today. Our reasoning power is certainly important. But one thing the researches of modern psy- chology have taught us is that we use that reasoning power, as a rule, not to seek the truth but to find reasons for believing what we want to believe or doing what we want to do. The will is the decisive factor. And that means effecting a proper harmony—or combustion—between the emotions and the intellect. That intuitive vision of a situation which is often possessed by illiterate peasants is sorely lacking in those who set up as leaders of modern thought. I need hardly dwell on the consequences in the political sphere of applying eighteenth-century rationalism. But I should like just to say that in ascribing the contemporary chaos above all to "our lack of emotional training" Dr. Delisle Burns is enunciating a valuable and much too neglected truth. " Democracy " and "Liberalism," as conceived by the flower of the French intelligentsia a century and a half ago, have precious little relevance to "the emotional currents" of today. It is for the democratic tradition to bring itself up to date before those of us who still hold to it become indig- nant with those who have thrown it over.—! am, Sir, &c.,


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