Emotion. Reason. Riot. Revolution.

Wednesday 06 May 2015 at 19:21

Consider the optic nerve and the optic tract.

Optic nerve, optic chiasm, thalamus, and visual cortex.
Original image is from: biology-forums.com gallery

Light strikes the retina and signals fire along the optic nerves, through the optic chasm, through the optic tracts and into the left and right thalamus on route to the visual cortex at the back of our brain. Before the signals reach the visual cortex, they must first pass through the limbic sections of the brain, that is, the emotional center.

By the time our brain has started to gather the shape and color and symmetry of whatever we see, long before we have words for what our eyes have met, we already have an emotional reaction. The language cortex and prefrontal cortex are almost literally the last to find out what's going on.

Riot or revolution?

When we see violence in the street, the word that appears in our mind reveals our emotional position to that violence. If we see a "riot", our heart is with the establishment. If we see a "revolution", our heart is with the protestors.

The same general principle applies for all of our senses. We are emotional creatures first and only occasionally have fits of reason. There really is no such thing as "being reasonable." We rationalize our emotional state, but we are not actually rational.