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Gut First, Reason Later
Why You Should Initially Trust Your Gut Over Reason
One late evening, after arriving at the subway station where I’d parked, I was walking to my car when I got a feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t aware of what caused me to feel this way but I also didn’t want to wait around and find out. So I quickly walked to my car and drove the fuck outta there. When I got home, I read some philosophy, vaped a bit of ganja, ate a pomegranate and, finally, went to bed feeling like a champ.
In the morning, I drove back to the station and noticed the parking lot was cordoned off by police. So, I rolled down my window and asked an officer if there’s anywhere else I could park? The officer told me to park over at the next station, so that’s what I did. I then hopped on the subway and took out my phone to check up on things.
On social media, I read about what happened the previous evening. Tragically, someone was ambushed and shot in the parking lot of my subway station. This happened shortly after I was there and so I felt like my gut feeling was vindicated.
Now, I have absolutely no idea how a gut feeling is supposed to work but, given that someone was gunned down not long after I felt it, I think my belief—that something wasn’t right—was justified.
That’s easy to say after the fact, but I also think my belief was non-inferentially justified the moment I felt something wasn’t right. Why? Because it seemed to be the case that something wasn’t right and that seeming to be the case is what justifies my belief that that is the case, which in fact it was.
Now, some will object that my belief cannot possibly be justified in this way. And they might go on to say that I’d first need to gather more information (i.e. provide reasons) before I can possibly be justified to believe such a thing, but this is ridiculous.
According to one view, known as Phenomenal Conservatism, which I accept (as should everyone else), you are justified to believe what seems to be the case, unless of course you have a reason not to. Moreover, I’d argue that when your gut alerts you to potential danger, you really shouldn’t then stop to seek reasons for why your gut might be wrong or right. The only thing you should do is haul ass, until that feeling in your gut subsides.
Am I overreacting? Well, not when you consider those cases in which people may’ve ignored their gut.
A tragic example from close to home is that of a married couple, both medical doctors (one of which was a world renowned neurosurgeon), who were going through a rough patch in their marriage such that a divorce was imminent. One of them confided in friends that she felt worried about her husband’s reaction to news of a divorce. Her friend reported her saying that: “If I ever go missing, or if something ever happens to me, you will know who did it”.
Though I can’t be sure, it sounds to me like she had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right and, for whatever reason, she might’ve ignored it. Unfortunately, her husband went on to confirm her worries by murdering her. That’s why if your gut tells you something isn’t right, you ought to remove yourself from the situation and keep your distance. No matter what reason you might find or be given to ignore your gut and believe that everything will be alright, now you see that it might not. So, trust your gut!
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