Emotions Happen, But Don't Let Them Cloud Judgement

let’s revisit that initial encounter in The Sign of Four, when Mary Morstan, the mysterious lady caller, first makes her appearance. Do the two men see Mary in the same light? Not at all. The first thing Watson notices is the lady’s appearance. She is, he remarks, a rather attractive woman. Irrelevant, counters Holmes. “It is of the first importance not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities,” he explains. “A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor.”

But Watson won’t have it. “In this case, however—” he interrupts.

Holmes shakes his head. “I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.”

Holmes’s point is clear enough. It’s not that you won’t experience emotion. Nor are you likely to be able to suspend the impressions that form almost automatically in your mind. (Of Miss Morstan, he remarks, “I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met”—as high a compliment from Holmes as they come.) But you don’t have to let those impressions get in the way of objective reasoning. (“But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things,” Holmes immediately adds to his acknowledgment of Mary’s charm.) You can recognize their presence, and then consciously cast them aside. You can acknowledge that Jane reminds you of your high school frenemy, and then move past it. That emotional luggage doesn’t matter nearly as much as you may think it does. And never think that something is an exception. It’s not.


Another example using Watson and Holmes.

Folksonomies: emotion mindfulness

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Critical thinking (0.981818): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Psychology (0.880103): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Sherlock Holmes (0.823831): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Mary Morstan (0.740644): dbpedia
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John Watson (0.597792): dbpedia | yago
Exception handling (0.556142): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Konnikova , Maria (2013-01-03), Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Viking Adult, Retrieved on 2013-03-21
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: psychology mindfulness


    23 MAR 2013

     Mental Discipline

    Memes on mental discipline, from fictional characters to scientific virtues.