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Unread July 13th, 2006, 02:05 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 106
Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Hey. I'm sorry I don't have the time to put more thought into my posts. If I had more time I would try and edit them more for syntax and spelling and clarity and succinctness... I really am sorry about that.

I guess there are questions about what emotions ARE and about what emotions DO. They kind of go together.

>as I understand Damasio he is saying that our awareness of our emotional state is not necessary for an emotional state to occur in us.

Yes, that is what he seems to be saying. I guess what I'm interested in, however, is the question 'But is Damasio right'? I do hear what you are saying about cold, but I disagree that feeling cold is an emotional state. There are a variety of related (though different states) and typically feeling cold is classified as a bodily state such as pains, tickes, itches, orgasms, and feelings of cold. How those states relate to emotions is controversial (and that is what I'm writing on now, as a matter of fact)
:-)

> The emotional state of being cold, such as might cause goose bumps, may not be consciously noticed. Yet, we may interrupt reading a book momentarily to pull a blanket over our bare legs without realizing why we did it - or even noticing that we did it.

Yes. And when I have a headache for a couple of days I presumably don't feel the pain ALL the time. My attention may be distracted from it when I am asleep or when I have my mind on other matters, that seems true enough. There is a sense of 'pain' in which the term refers to the conscious state so that I am in pain when and only when I feel pain. There also seems to be another sense of 'pain' in which the term refers to some kind of soft tissue disturbance / damage, however. In the latter sense of the term 'pain' unconscious pains are possible. You can tell a similar story in the case of emotions. Some of the controversy is over whether emotion terms refer to the consicous feeling of emotions (Freud and James seemed to think so) or whether emotion terms refer to the bodily state changes (Damasio and Le Doux seem to think so).

> It seems that the greatest proportion of human behavior is not consciously controlled

Yes.

> The word emotion is related to the root motive. I believe the early philosphers that described emotion were accurately describing that force within us that compells us to do the things we do.

Here you seem to be talking about desire. Desires are related (though distinct) phenomena.

> Perhaps it is my physics background, but my mind likes definitions where some force causes an action. Where there is an action I look for some force for explanation.

Yes. Magnets as a model for attraction / repulsion.

> But, many of us will stand and recite anyway. In my view they do that because the competing emotion of not wanting to be seen as unpatriotic by others was stronger than the emotion compelling them to be true to their own beliefs.

Emotion or desire? Can you have desire in the absence of emotion? Can you have emotion in the absence of desire? I still think you are subsuming all the motivational states (bodily sensations, drives, preferences, motivations, motives, urges, goals, intentions, pleasures, pains) into the term 'emotion'. Most people think 'motivational state' is the general header and these other states are different kinds or classes of motivational state. Like you have the general header 'representational state' and there are different kinds or classes of representational state such as memories, perceptions, beliefs, etc. Emotions are typically thought to be interesting (as are bodily states) because they seem to cut across the traditional representational / motivational divide. They seem to contain both representational and motivational aspects.

> Many animals have beliefs.

That is very controversial... To have a belief requires that one has concepts. It is arguable whether animals have the conceptual sophistication required for belief. Same goes for infants. Some theorists have concluded that infants and animals can't have emotions either because evaluative judgements 'that dog can hurt me' are necessary causes of emotional states and animals and infants are thought to lack the cognitive capacity required for the evaluative judgements. Depends... Whether you think that evaluative judgements are necessary for emotions (I don't think so).

> My cat, through instinct and trial and error, has learned (developed the belief) that sitting next to her empty bowl and whining will generally result in me filling it up.

I grant that she has learned that. I'm not sure that her learning consists in propositional knowledge (the belief that 'if i wine then i'll get some food') because I think she lacks the concept of 'wining' and 'food' and also the concept of hypotheticals (if i do x then i'll get y). Animals have some basic understanding of causal connections but that doesn't entail they have the concept of causation. Animals can learn many things but I don't think their learning is propositional / belief-like in form. Because... They lack language and the cognitive sophistication required for langauage like ours (with syntax).

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotion/

(Hope you can access... I'm getting a 'please convince your university to donate to maintain these pages note' so it is possible that my access is only possible because I'm using a university computer).

Let me know if you can't access and I'll see what I can do...
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