http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-flaws-of-logical-thinking (first post)
The best bits:
"The real solution to the prisoner's dilemma is not to be illogical, but
to play with an illogical person."
"Emotions are a signal for strategic irrationality. What is anger anyway? It is a signal to the other person, "I am going to start acting illogically now. You had better rethink your strategy because I'm about to disregard my own interest and thereby become really dangerous....How do you really win the prisoner's dilemma? Play with someone for whom you feel mutual, wild, illogical love. How do you keep people from challenging your authority or trying to steal your stuff? Go into flights of periodic, self-detrimental rage to let them know you won't take their shit. How do you believe in Santa forever? Develop an overpowering illogical emotion called "faith".
"As generations go by, there is an emotionality arms race. On one side,
there are fakers getting better and better at signalling a false emotional
states. On the other, there are emotional people getting better and better at
making their emotional tells into subtle, subconscious cues, and also getting better at picking up on them. People who fall behind in this "emotional intelligence" battle wind up penalized in all their interactions throughout life."
Assuming you buy it, it suggests a strategic logic (and perhaps evolutionary rationale) for emotions. It also puts into words this discomfort I've always had with people who take a very narrow view of rationality - it just doesn't seem to produce optimal outcomes, despite its stated mission of doing just that. It also presents a hypothesis to explain why John Kay's theory of obliquity - that sometimes it's better to come at a goal indirectly - might be right.
Emotions seem like a somewhat primitive tool, though, for building confidence and trust in others. Emotions are not fully controllable and largely chemical in effect. They also tend to be ephemeral. I may love you today but how will you know if I will love you tomorrow? Nature was kind enough to give everyone this basic toolkit but I think we can do it one better.
I propose that the answer might be principles or values embodied as identity - which is in essence the synthesis of conscious decisions that were shaped by our emotional responses, and then held relatively stable by the interplay between our willed commitment and our emotional attachment to our identity. "I choose to love you because I couldn't help loving you, and I continue to love you because I made that choice and I am the kind of person who keeps my commitments." It is a hybrid of choice and emotion, and with potentially the robustness that comes with hybrid vigor.