Rationality VS Emotions


Which one is applied in our lives?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Sociology scholars argue that majority of labels that are given to ideologies, individuals and groups are derived from religious doctrines, as the notion of US and THEM is present in most religious scriptures. The social conducts of societies toward others is usually ethnocentric and based on principles and norms adopted by the majority that have common and mutual ground. Therefore, labels like Evil, Good, dangerous and others are assigned or given to anyone or any group that looks, thinks and talks different. In addition, these sociologists think that even though a society might be tolerant to others, the notion of acceptance is entirely different than tolerance and co-existence, which is why co-existence has become the essence of social fabric. Therefore, subconsciously individuals tend to label others as evil, dumb, criminals and terrorist, racist, abusive or any other negative label, which they would use for their enemies or nemesis.

Max Weber’s rationalization theory, which refers to replacing traditions, values, norms, emotions and personal motivations with calculated rationales, suggests that bureaucratic ideals responsible for presenting and developing rationales for decisions. However, other sociologists have suggested that the notion of bureaucratic ideals is also used in religions to rationalize a certain label for a certain individual, group or an ideology. Although Weber argues that due to increased rationalization inherent in social life, especially in western societies, individuals are trapped ‘Iron Cage’, scholars use the same notion for religious bureaucracies. Therefore, individuals that follow a certain ideology or religion become trapped in their own created Iron Cage, which makes them unable to accept others, but at the same time mandate them to co-exist.

Rationality VS Emotions

Although it is argued that rationality through bureaucratic ideals is used for social structures and tendencies adopted by individuals, the theory of ‘affectual action’ suggests that emotions are the driving force behind all rationalities. Emotions such as hate, love, fear, loyalty, insecurity, security, dependency, independence, anger, gratitude, hope, curiosity, panic, desire, aversion, pride and frustration are the rationales behind almost all actions and decisions taken individuals.

Therefore, the following wondering as raised, which questions the argument presented by sociologists: Religions are developed and delivered to direct the emotions of individuals, as desires and emotions of people vary in kinds and levels, which means that rationalization is not necessary the primary goal of religions. In addition, if rationality was the purpose of religion, the criteria and bases for good and evil would have been formed in accordance with populist tendencies rather than the current common comprehension of good and evil. Therefore, why would religions be responsible for the social labels used by societies toward groups and individuals or ideologies?

There is a famous quote by Imam Ali, where he states: “People are the enemy of what they don’t know (or comprehend)’. Therefore, the emotions triggered by ignorance can vary from one individual to another, based on geographical position, interaction, past experience and grievances. These emotions are satisfactory to form an unorthodox and unscientific view about an individual, a group or an ideology, which can become a social norm or emotion that is adopted by a large portion of the society.


Racial profiling, ethnic profiling and any sort of labeling used for others is a type of categorization that is used socially by individuals to distinguish themselves from anyone who is different. However, categorization is present and evident in the best idealistic case of equality and just environment.

  • Ignorance VS Knowledge
  • Powerful VS Weak
  • Ugliness VS beauty
  • Disability VS Healthy

These are some of the categories that would still exist regardless whether social acceptance is present or not, which will still be a sort of profiling a certain group within a society. Therefore, why would it be any different, when a certain ideology or a religion presents its own set of categories like believers and non-believers? Why would it be different when a religion outlines the criteria, which identifies good and evil based on its own principles?

The notion of categorization and profiling has existed since the beginning of creation, or as some theologians suggest, categorization has been a divine methodology that is used in creation. The notion of hell and heaven, the notion mortals and angels, the notion of prophets and random people are all examples of categorization outlined and created by the almighty. However, these categorizations are emotion-free, as they are bound by the will of a divine entity that cannot have emotions. In addition, the categorizations created by mankind have been affiliated with emotions and struggles since ancient days. The notion of elites and peasants, the notion of devoted and infidels, the notion of social classes (Upper Class, Middle Class, Lowe Class, Bourgeoisie, and proletariat) and many other categorizations have been catastrophic in many cases. These categories are affiliated with progress and conduct methods that are full of emotions and motivations driven by desire and need.


Regardless of faith and believe, the principles of good and evil are outlined by a set of criteria and guidelines that are universal. Therefore, a believer and a non-believer both agree upon the atrocity and benefit of certain actions and deeds. In addition, unorthodox action or decision that profiles and labels others or confiscate their rights and will or supresses them, doesn’t need rationality, as no rationality can be presented for such notions. Therefore, religion bounds emotions with rationality, and not the other way around.

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