In my experience, emotion is the beginning, the end and the motive for morality. The human brain likes to rationalize its impulses and emotions to the point that, after the moral decision is made, it can categorize its moral decision as one of those clever rational stunts it normally uses to solve problems. Morality is based on what is beneficial or pleasurable to the individual, but benefit and pleasure are products and inputs of emotional states, so reason, logic and rational process is merely the means for the mind to get from one emotional state to the next.
The idea that moral decisions can be made rationally is a socialization trick. We argue that moral decisions are rational just so we can justify our actions, convince others, who might not share the same interests, to agree with our course of action and operate socially, or put pressure on someone, who reacts emotionally, to act in accordance with our wishes and goals. So how does this all tie in with the importance of emotion’s relation with reason? Both are tools that work in concert for achieving life’s necessarily common end.
Some human ends or instinctual effects will quite necessarily favor life while others will not to some degree or may even have no effect either way. Intense emotions can undermine a person’s capacity for rational decision-making, even when the individual is aware of the need to make careful decisions. When people are angry, afraid or in other elevated emotional states, they tend to favor symbolic, viscerally satisfying solutions to problems over more substantive, complex, but ultimately more effective ones. I have this friend, aged 16, who once had this choice of whether to go home or to stay out late, after midnight.
She chose the latter because it was the day immediately after her exams and as such, she wasn’t feeling really good because she quite messed it up. And as such, she went out partying with her friends despite numerous warnings by her parents not to stay out after 11 pm. On her way home, she was faced with a flasher and was scarred for life. From this, we can clearly see her decision making skill was clouded by her sadness as well as fear for her exam results and thus making the wrong decision to stay out late that night.
Emotion is from the realm of the imagination, the part of cognition that we share with animals. Everything is imaginable, that is the imagination thinks in concretes only, and no abstraction is possible. It includes our dreams, our art pieces and all the fictional shows and books. A clear example would be religion; it is also from the realm of the imagination. What we believe in comes from our faith and neither from what we are able to see nor what we are able to go through.
In religion, we are always required to have faith in the things that we can never see, and as such, all we can do is to use our emotions to imagine what God might seem like or what the Bible tells us. Reason is from the realm of the rational. This is the part of cognition which separates us from animals. In this state everything is abstract. In the imagination, there is no reason for the sun to rise again the next day simply because it has every previous day. In the imagination, just because a cat scratches us for getting too close today has no bearing on whether the cat will scratch us tomorrow.
The rational mind quickly makes up for this deficiency. It recognizes patterns much faster than the imagination will. For example, I once was questioned by my mother if I was gay just because I told her I liked the colour pink a lot. This can be seen as a form of reason, as the usual pattern is that girls were the ones who could and were supposed to like pink, not guys. And as such, this pattern is clearly portrayed single-mindedly by my mother, who portrayed these reasons onto me. The interaction of the rational and imaginative functions of the mind is in sensation.
The imagination absorbs all sensation and processes it into what we can consider coherent. For instance, when I see a brownish, flat surface with 4 legs, my imagination immediately groups those experiences together into one whole. My rational brain takes that information and says “table” to me. Thus in conclusion, I am proud to state that reason is the psychological component which governs emotion, while emotion is the component that gives impetus. However alone, they both share the same severe consequences and are unable to resolve any issues thrown to them.