Emotions

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2007-12-28 09:34

Consider these statements

A B
1. I feel cold. 1. I feel sad

2. I feel pain. 2. I feel elated

3. I feel hungry. 3. I feel angry

4. I feel bitterness. 4. I feel bitterness
(after eating almonds) (I lost my job)

5. I feel sick. 5. I feel fear

In both columns "A" and "B" I brought examples of what we describe by single word: feelings.However, as a matter of fact, examples in column A are opposite to those of B.

"A" represents sensations and "B" represents emotions. And there is huge difference between them.
Sensations are inputs of our sensory organs. They are innate, self-evident irreducible primaries. We have no choice about to feel or not to feel pain as long as our neural system is intact.
Emotions are different cup of epistemological tea.
They are output of our subconsciousness, reaction to certain stimuli. They are automatic but not primaries. Emotions are our response and this response is secondary to the content of our mind. Consider the situation in which one is facing a danger. (Say poisoning snake).Before one responds with any emotion-like fear or anger one has to recognize the danger. If one never learned about snakes he won't feel anything toward it. If in the process of encounter one will learn that this snake is actually harmless his fear will disappear. Our emotions are responses to previously integrated knowledge, time-saving device of automatic value-judgment. That means that emotions can and should be controlled by conscious mind. It would be preposterous if one will continue to fear the snake after he'd learned that this snake is not dangerous. It would be silly to carry on loving the person who proved that he/she doesn't deserve love etc...and so on.
The problem (which I think is mainly linguistic since we describe emotions and sensations by the same word "feelings) is that we often confuse emotions and sensations and treat emotions as irreducible primaries-like sensations. That removes emotions from the supervision of our consciousness and therefore prevents adjustment of our emotional response to reality. Since emotions are value-judgment, emotional response depends on one's code of values. If his emotions are inadequate he should consider reviewing his values.


( categories: )

Philosophy and neuroscience or philosophy of neuroscience?

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"Unless you believe that with Rand the Book of Knowledge has been written . . .
This book,indeed,has been written by Rand.Every philosophical book is,since philosophy means love of wisdom. But according to her every knowledge is hierarchial and contexual.New knowledge could and should be included in noncontradictory way.Einstein didn't refute Newton,he incorporated his physics.If Antonio Damasio's book presents this kind of knowledge I'd be glad to read it and you can advice me about this book's main ideas. In any case I'm going to follow your advice and try to check it on Net.I don't think I have misconceptions about Rand versus science. Objectivism doesn't have such a dichotomy.Quite contrary Rand thought that her philosophy of Objectivism is pertains to reality and therefore presents sound basis for science.Neurophysiology is complicated modern science.Not every professional biologist can easy acquaint himself with this highly technical discipline.I,who have quite sound biological and physiological background and understand professional language wouldn't dare to claim that I can become familiar with this science without expanding very serious time-consumping effort.So what is happening is that amateurs take on faith conclusions made by other amateurs about issues which they cannot exploit first-hand.This kind of second or third hand knowledge I'd definitely try to avoid.Besides,as I mentioned before,I don't think that science shoud guide philosophy. Philosophy is fountainhead of every science including neurophysiology.

Sketching and painting and neurobiology

William Scott Scherk's picture

Leonid:

The problem (which I think is mainly linguistic since we describe
emotions and sensations by the same word "feelings) is that we often
confuse emotions and sensations and treat emotions as irreducible
primaries-like sensations
.

I recommend to you Antonio Damasio's latest book, "Looking for Spinoza." Damasio's work is an integrative one, and 'Spinoza' relates his latest speculations on emotion (which is his focus).

He makes a distinction between feelings (mental images) and emotions (automated bodily responses). Reading this book would do two things for you, Leonid: clear up any confusions you have about definitions by reference to neurological research; help break any misconceptions you may have about Rand vs. Science.

If I get a chance this coming fortnight, I will give you some quotes from 'Spinoza' that are not only congenial to Rand thought, but also a goad to further discussion. I urge you to acquaint yourself with present day work and speculation. Unless you believe that with Rand the Book of Knowledge has been written . . .

 

WSS

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