David Brooks in his TED talk, The social animal:
For centuries, we’ve inherited a view of human nature based on the notion that we’re divided selves, that reason is separated from the emotions and that society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions. And it’s led to a view of human nature that we’re rational individuals who respond in straightforward ways to incentives. And its led to ways of seeing the world where people try to use the assumptions of physics to measure how human behavior is. And it’s produced a great amputation, a shallow view of human nature.
David believes that
… emotions are not separate from reason, but they are the foundation of reason because they tell us what to value. And so reading and educating your emotions is one of the central activities of wisdom.
And he credits the French for our current worldview:
We are now children of the French Enlightenment. We believe that reason is the highest of the faculties. But I think this research shows that the British Enlightenment, or the Scottish Enlightenment, with David Hume, Adam Smith, actually had a better handle on who we are that reason is often weak, our sentiments are strong, and our sentiments are often trustworthy. And this work corrects that bias in our culture, that deep humanizing bias. It gives us a deeper sense of what it actually takes for us to thrive in this life. When we think about human capital we think about the things we can measure easily things like grades, SAT’s, degrees, the number of years in schooling. What it really takes to do well, to lead a meaningful life are things that are deeper, things we don’t really even have words for.
I agree. Albert Einstein probably would have as well. As the famous sign hanging in his Princeton office read:
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
In an era that makes counting nearly every tangible thing possible, it’s more important than ever to question whether we’re counting the right things.