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Unread September 29th, 2006, 01:08 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Posts: 271
Default Re: Relationship with mother leaves its mark on the brain

Fred, Your post wasn't quite as absurd as most lately so I will offer a reply. Also, there still seems to be a few persons "viewing" these threads so at least someone might find this of interest.

You have adopted several incorrect assumptions about my premise - no doubt because they feel good to you - regardless of the amount of distortion you have to apply to my meaning. Your misunderstanding of the place of belief and rationality in my premise is probably the most flagrant - though not nearly the only distortion you have appiled.

Among other things, you are suffering under the existing paradigm - that places rationality and emotion at odds with each other - in constant competition for our overt behavior. I am saying they are part of the same system. We wouldn't be human without our tightly-coupled emotionally-driven, intellectually-supported, behavior control system

I am proposing that a rich mix of emotions are constantly arising and diminishing in our minds - almost always subconsciously - and that these provide the "motive" forces in our minds that cause us to do the things we do. Also, that these emotions do compete for control of our inner processes (including intellect and cognition) and produce the overt behavior that is the result of those processes.

Only when emotions become noticeable enough do we recognize them as feelings. But I am proposing that they are pervasive, constantly at work guiding our behavior - and almost completely un-noticed. I am in no way saying that cognition and intellectual rationality are not part of this process - a very important part in humans.

One of the behaviors these emotions produce, one of the more significant tasks of these emotions, is intellectual activity. People differ in their emotional makeup - as to which types of problems will elicit their intellectual focus. Just as people differ in their skill of using that faculty. But, once an intellectual conclusion is reached, we will give that conclusion an emotional "confidence" tag - that will represent how much we trust our intellect in the context of that problem.

For example, watching a magician perform, it may seem completely logical that somehow the magician managed to pull a dove out of a hat that was shown to be empty moments before. As a child I remember seeing such a performance and I remember believing that there must be such a thing as magic - because I had just witnessed it and grownups seemed to be going along with it all. Today however, when I see such a performance I simply wonder which particular sleight-of-hand the magician used.

You could say that as a child I harbored a skeptical but temporary belief in magic - just as I believed in god for while. As I matured however, I modified that belief as better evidence became available.

The point is that we learn to be mistrustful of our intellect - because it is often wrong. The whole field of science is based on that fact - and provides an institutionalized method to test scientists' intellectual conclusions.

When we make behavior choices we are attempting to predict the future - which of course is not physically possible. That is the basic struggle of life for all living things. We are constantly predicting (emotionally) that every behavior choice will make us happier than all the alternatives.

In most cases we make behavior choices without using our reason. Driving a car is a good example. We can drive for miles down the freeway, listening to the radio, talking on our cellphone, etc. - all the while adjusting our speed and controllong the vehicle safely with almost no intellectual input.

In cases where we feel a greater risk, our emotional system elicits our intellect to double check on a course of action. We might check intellectually if the next offramp is the one we need to exit. We then might follow our original emotional conclusion - or we may negate it and follow a different intellectual conclusion - depending on the emotional risks and confidence we feel regarding those choices in that context.

If we follow our intellect in that case, and not our original emotional inclination, we will have developed a temporaray belief, that in this case our first emotional conclusion was wrong and we need to take a different offramp. In that sense, our beliefs are always in charge of our decisions. Every behavior decision is based on a temporary belief - an emotional prediction - that we will be happier (than otherwise) as a result.

Beliefs are simply relationships about things in the universe that we believe (emotionally) to be true. Belief is always an emotional process. We don't have to understand intellectually why our beliefs are true - although some will apply that standard wherever possible - or at least in some areas of their beliefs more than others.

We adopt beliefs for one reason, because they make us feel better - usually for the reliable conclusions they produce for us. But, we can derive good feelings from our beliefs for reasons other than that. Sometimes they make us feel good directly - just by contemplating them. Sometimes. we get approval from friends or authority figures for adopting (or at least saying that we adopt) some "preferred" beliefs.

Becoming a mature adult can be viewed as the process of populating our minds with a large set of useful beliefs about the universe - that will (hopefully) provide reliable emotional signals that will guide us to a long and happy life.

One way to do that is to intellectually recognize the difference between beliefs that feel good because of their predictive value in our lives and those that produce happiness for other indirect reasons.

Strong beliefs that provide secondary good feelings (apart from their predictive value) are like drugs - producing an illusion of happiness on the cheap - and many people allow their minds to become addicted to those drugs - actually, the neurotransmitters those beliefs produce.

By referencing a healthy belief system we will make better decisions that result in greater happiness. The more that happens with a belief, the stronger that belief becomes - and the more reliable are the subconscious emotional forces that it provides when we reference it in a behavior decision.

Our minds are correctly designed to make choices according to what works for us - what has made us happier in the past. The whole amazingly complex system of belief evolved for that purpose. For that reason, I don't believe in god and you do. That's cool. That works for you and it works for me. The main difference between us is that I have a hypothesis that explains why you believe in god and I don't - and how that affects our behavior.

Finally, the emotional system in our minds is like the CPU that regulates the flow of information in a computer. The information, the bits in our computer that are constantly being compared, added subtracted, etc. are our emotions.

Our belief system is a large decision data-base. Intellect is like a math-coprocessor. The emotionally driven CPU calls on it for some classes of problems, like where there are scant data-base entires available - or when our conscious mind notices a danger or risk and sends the CPU an emotional signal to engage our intellect - either to verify an emotional conclusion or perhaps to creatively find a new solution to an intractable problem.

But even then, the CPU makes the final behavior choice (output) - incorprating the math conclusions in its decision according to the algorithm embodied in the program code (a form of belief). The math coprocessor does not control the computer directly but it's results can be dynamically incorporated according to a set rule - that is if the emotional tag produced by that conclusion is stronger than any set of existing emotional tags from other sources in our mind at the moment that a behavior choice is requied.

That alogorithm, which is obviously based on a different set of beliefs in each of us - causes me to try patiently to explain my premise in a way that is understandable to others (and me). Your's causes you to reply with snarky comments and ridicule. You may now proceed.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; September 29th, 2006 at 06:59 PM.
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