Monday, March 30, 2020

Pandemic - The Difference Between a Fact and an Emotion


A "fact" has nothing, essentially, to do with an emotion. 

An emotion concerns a person, not a fact.

A fact does not vary from person to person. A fact describes a state of affairs that obtains. If that state of affairs obtains, then it is a fact for everyone, where or not they deny it or affirm it, whether or not they are even aware of it. Emotions, on the other hand, vary from person to person. Facts are objective (if not, then it's not a fact); emotions are subjective.

Facts are true or false independently of any emotions they might elicit.

Consider this fact: There is a Norway spruce in my front yard. What emotion is a property of this fact? The answer is: no emotion is a property, or attribute, or quality, of this fact. Emotion has nothing, essentially, to do with the fact.

What emotion do you feel when you hear this fact: There is a Norway spruce in my front yard. Not sadness, right? Not joy, correct? Certainly not fear, agreed? Facts are disconnected from emotions. Otherwise we would have this: A Norway spruce is a fast-growing evergreen coniferous tree that produces, in addition to cones, the emotion of fear. Or joy. Or whatever. Which is nonsense.

The nonsense involves associating facts about the pandemic with the emotion of fear. It may be true that most people feel fear when they hear of these facts. But the fear is different from the facts. 

This is not to minimalize the importance of emotions. It is simply to put emotions in their proper place.

This means a person can hear facts about the pandemic without feeling fear, because there is no necessary inference from a fact to an emotion. And the lack of fear does not mean a person will not act upon hearing the fact. In fact, the emotion of fear could immobilize a person from acting in the face of this fact.

This explains how Psalm 23:4 can be a reality.

Even though I walk through 
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.

The fact here is: I, or someone I love, is facing death. But the emotion of fear does not accompany the fact.