This view, too, falls apart in the light of history. We find a breathtakingly different story: Human nature, far from being fixed, is read differently from age to age. These different readings give rise to totally new ideas for institutions. And these new readings and new institutions seem to reshape us. Often, what works out in practice would have seemed impossible on the previous views. Furthermore, the traits we are supposedly balancing — autonomy, collective responsibility, equality, etc — are themselves changing. They, also, are expressions of one view of human nature or another.
Another myth is the hysterical person — usually a woman — whose feelings don’t mean anything about what’s important to her. The myth is that she should ignore her feelings — either through retail therapy, or toughing it out, or achieving equanimity, depending on her subculture.
The more dynamic your life — the more you deal with a variety of people and challenging situations every day — the quicker you must be at feeling through. The most important skill for leaders is this: quickness in feeling through things. Such a person is discerning or wise.
And feelings help us reevaluate how we’re doing with what we value. Positive feelings remind us embrace or notice what’s important to us. Negative feelings do more: a negative feeling signals a conflict between our values that we have to think about:
Wisdom refers to the slow accumulation of personal values that work well for people living in different kinds of ways. In ideal circumstances, each generation can reconsider the collective wisdom from the previous generation, discarding some values which no longer serve (due to changes in ways of life or because even better values have been found). In these conditions, wisdom accumulates.