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"Feel" vs. "think"
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2008/03/10
4:01pm
felixblackcat
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One of my biggest language pet peeves is when people use the word “feel” when it’s really thinking that’s involved, usually in a form like, “I feel that …” I think this is a dangerous mistake, as it tends to blur the lines between rational thought and emotion. That’s an important distinction to make, since I’m sure that all of us have had times when we’ve done incredibly bone-headed things out of emotion that we’re mortified by when we later think about them more rationally. So, I think it’s very important that we maintain that distinction, rather than end up with very muddy discussions. For example, look at the “debate” that Clinton supporters and Obama supporters have been having lately. Their arguments tend to be almost entirely emotion-based, while most real thinking they offer tends to be offered only to justify their emotional choice. Whenever someone uses phrases like, “I feel that …” around me, when the opinion they’re expressing is one that would require thinking, not feeling, I’d like to say something like, “Really? I just feel things like happiness, sadness, etc., but you can ‘feel’ those incredibly complex emotions about the illegal immigration issue [or whatever else is being discussed]? Wow! I bow to your emotional mastery!”

The only time when I could understand this use of “feel” is when the speaker just has a hunch / intuition about something, or a tentative opinion that they haven’t thought out particularly well yet.

2008/03/10
6:58pm
Wordsmith
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The only time when I could understand this use of “feel” is when the speaker just has a hunch / intuition about something, or a tentative opinion that they haven’t thought out particularly well yet.

It could be that there are just alot of hunches going on, as opposed to “real thinking”. As a general rule, I try to state what I feel and to say what I have with feeling. “Feeling” is more than tactile sensation. If we use language to move others yet feel nothing ourselves, then what’s the point? True, alot of phrases are made more shmaltzy by adding the word “feel”, but that doesn’t negate the usefulness of expression by way of “feeling”. Our feelings (be they emotions, or hunches, or whatever) are what motivate us to speak in the first place. Otherwise, why say anything at all…

2008/03/11
1:12am
felixblackcat
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Wordsmith said:

It could be that there are just alot of hunches going on, as opposed to “real thinking”. As a general rule, I try to state what I feel and to say what I have with feeling. “Feeling” is more than tactile sensation. If we use language to move others yet feel nothing ourselves, then what’s the point? True, alot of phrases are made more shmaltzy by adding the word “feel”, but that doesn’t negate the usefulness of expression by way of “feeling”. Our feelings (be they emotions, or hunches, or whatever) are what motivate us to speak in the first place. Otherwise, why say anything at all…


Well, you may be motivated by emotion, and you may say something “with feeling,” but that still doesn’t make it accurate to say that you “feel” an idea. We think ideas and feel emotions. That’s my point.

2008/03/11
1:58pm
Wordsmith
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And my point is that sometimes those two areas (sc. ideas and emotions) can (and often do) get crossed. Guessing involves “feeling” an idea (hunch). We don’t think an idea with our fingers any more than we feel an object with our brains. But, do leave room for a little figuative speech and poetic license every now and then.

Martha? Grant? Whaddayou think (or feel ;) )?

2013/11/10
4:16pm
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I think if was in the 80’s that the counseling profession was focusing on feelings. It became common to argue that no one had the right to question your feelings. It appears that is has become common to use ‘ I feel ” over ‘ I think ‘ as a way to avoid conflict or further discussion on a topic.

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