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Unread July 9th, 2006, 09:38 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Posts: 106
Default Emotions versus Reason?

People have worried about the emotions / reasons debate
Kinda like people have worried about the nature / nurture debate
Clearly we have both!
And clearly both are important!
What is left to be done is to work out the relative contribution of each.

So...

I found it interesting how Damasio had this notion that emotional consciousness was primary and other varieties of consciousness are sort of layered upon that. Does he talk about pain at all or am I moving to another theorist about now???

Pain... In the beginning (well near enough for my purposes) there was pleasure and pain. Precisely what constituted the organisms 'good' (its pleasure) and its 'bad' (its pain) was to be figured out by natural selection. Basically, the organisms that approached the 'bad' didn't fare so well, and similarly for those that avoided the 'good'.

So this kinda looks like a functionalist story...

object -> internal state -> action

Precisely when the internal state got to be conscious (as opposed to an unconscious reflexive mechanism) is kinda up for grabs...

But it is fairly important to be able to QUICKLY process information that represents objects / states of affairs that importantly bear on the organisms welfare. Important to duck incoming bricks BEFORE thinking about ones possible options and prioritising them and WACK!!!!! So the emotional 'low road' from amygdala to motor production seems to provide a 'quick and dirty response' to aspects of the environment that need to be processed FAST. Dirty? How come I say dirty responses? Some features can be processed at the amygdala. Coiled objects... Will result in a fear response. After a few loops of the cortex we realise that the garden hose isn't going to bite us, however. More detailed features (features that enable us to tell garden hoses from snakes) aren't able to be processed in the amygdala. Hence... Dirty responses.

(Interesting the role of cognition... If I judge it to be a garden hose then will sudden movement from it result in my jumping or will my prior judgement be able to inhibit my low level fear response???)

Interesing that consciousness does seem to be embodied, however. Philosophers tend to worry more about visual perception as the paradigm of conscious experience. Some worrying about pains. But those do seem to be embodied states. The trouble with functionalism is that it works from the input to mental state, internal role from mental state to mental state (from perception to belief for example, and inductive and deductive reasoning processes), and mental state (and other mental states) to action. But... there is always the further question / problem of whether there is anything it is like to be in that mental state and what on earth that might be for. If you start from the phenomenology of the consicous experience you might be able to get to the functional role from the consicous experience. Conscious experiences REPRESENT the world (because they are typically caused by) and they MOTIVATE adaptive action (because those who didn't act adaptively were culled). Hence... Consciousness could function as the link between the world our needs and our acting in it...
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