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  #11  
Unread July 13th, 2006, 07:40 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

No problem with access to stanford.edu . I plan to read the article this evening. Thanks for the link.

>>Me: Many animals have beliefs.

>Alex: 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).

Inserted aside:
Quote:
Me: I am trying to paint a picture of a different paradigm of how the mind works. To do that I am challenging the definitions that we commonly use - the conventional wisdom on these things - because those conventions impose their own paradigm. They were largely created to support it. Just as I'm doing by re-defining some of those definitions now to support my new paradigm.

Please look at my proposals as hypotheticals - as part of a larger provisional picture that I am saying will offer a better explanation for how we humans make behavior decisions. Think of them as as if propositions.
When you say belief requires that we have concepts, I disagree. I am proposing that belief only requires that an entity expects a certain relationship to be true about the world. Remember, I used the example of my cat expecting her dish to get filled when she whines. She developed that belief through operant conditioning. She tried several things and her whining behavior was reinforced. (Scratching the sofa was not.)

That is a form of knowing that doesn't require a conceptualization of the objects and relationships involved. Yet, the emotions produced by that concept-less belief now provide the motivation for her to whine when she is hungry (according to my paradigm of animal behavior).


Alexandra said,
Quote:
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).
I agree. But you still agree they can learn many things. I am saying that whatever they learn is a belief. It is knowing something about the world that did not come in their genes (instincts). But, like their instincts, learned beliefs are capable of generating emotions that cause behavior choice. In fact, I'm proposing that in animals that have a complex CNS, like most mammals, that beliefs are a common source for behavior selecting emotions. I suspect that the more complex an animal's CNS is, the more that the emotions generated by its beliefs govern its behavior choice - and the less emotions generated by its instincts govern its behavior choice.

That's because beliefs are completely adaptable. They allow an animal's behavior to be fine tuned to its environment. An animal that can learn beliefs not only has a better chance of surviving in an environemt that is significantly different from that of its recent ancestors, it has a much better chance of surviving in an environment that changes during that animal's life-time - like the appearance of a new predator, for example. Certainly that's a huge survival advantage over animals that are restricted to mostly instinctive behavior.

I am proposing that the mental development of animals with a complex CNS is largely a matter of developing (learning) accurate beliefs about the world that are appropriate for their genotype and the environment they must cope with.

My cat does not like loud noises. She'll protectively find a hiding place if she's scared by a loud noise - an instinct that produces a useful emotion directly tied to survival.

What if she learns from a few bad experiences the belief that a particular neighbor dog loves to chase cats. Isn't it easy to see how that belief can produce a similar emotion of fear and cause a similar reaction, hiding? Still, no conceptualization is necessary.

In fact, after thinking about this last night (thanks for your thougtful posts that caused me to lose some sleep last night BTW ) I'd go further and say that it's likely that concepts can not generate emotions at all. It's likely that they only change our behavior (from what it would be without having the concept) by modifying or changing our beliefs about something.

Prior to today I had proposed that our intellectual conclusions were another source for our behavior decision emotions. I am now proposing that our intellectual conclusions (made possible by conceptualization) serve to edit and refine our beliefs about a particular subject. They allow us to refine our beliefs about something in our world so they are more accurate and nuanced and more predictive. It is then the emotions enabled by those refined beliefs that actually motivate our behavior.

I am proposing that our powerful human intellect did not evolve as another source for behavior emotions (as I previously proposed). I am saying our intellect evolved as a support system for our beliefs. It likely evolved to allow us to have ever more accurate beliefs about the world for our behavior decisions.

It's easy to imagine how the first animal that developed a slight ability to learn even the simplest beliefs about its world - the simplest learned expectations about the things in its world that could harm it or help it survive - eventually led to an explosion of new species into almost every environmental niche - displacing most other animals in those niches that had less ability to learn such beliefs about the world.

Looking through this window it's also easy to imagine how a little bit of this ability (to develop beliefs about the world) - inexorably led to the evolution of animals with even more of that ability - probably it led to humans and our ability to conceptualize - at this time the ultimate belief support system created by evolution.

But, be careful. Conceptualizing does not always lead to better beliefs because of logical errors, insufficient data, etc. And, I'm sure the provisional beliefs we devise / modify using our intellect must still be tested empirically before we fully accept them. We are probably justifiably cautious with newly created or revised beliefs that can seriously affect our survival or well-being.

That cautious behavior is no doubt, caused by emotions that come from an instinct. For example, that's why rats and mice are very cautious about new food sources and are fairly difficult to catch in a baited trap.

Thanks, Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 13th, 2006 at 09:38 PM.
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  #12  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 01:28 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

> Me: I am trying to paint a picture of a different paradigm of how the mind works. To do that I am challenging the definitions that we commonly use - the conventional wisdom on these things - because those conventions impose their own paradigm. They were largely created to support it. Just as I'm doing by re-defining some of those definitions now to support my new paradigm.

Okay... Trouble is that the current paradigm has been incredibly fruitful in terms of productive theorising and interesting experimental results. People typically need jolly good reason to switch paradigms. Usually the reason is that there is anomalous data that can't be explained by the current paradigm and another paradigm can explain everything the other paradigm could explain as well as the anomalous data.

Do you have any experimental results that your paradigm would predict that would be anomalous results for the previous theory?

Are you trying to do science or are you trying to tell 'just so' stories?

You are of course free do define and use terms any way you want to. The trouble with redefining terms, however, is that other people need to accept your definitions in order to communicate with you. I'm having significant difficulty understanding what you mean by your terms because you are using them in ways that diverge from the ways they are used in the psychological / philosophical literature. Also because I'm not at all sure that you understand the way that they are typically used in the standard psychological / philosophical literature which makes it hard for you to say how your position is similar or different to the standard one in certain respects. Im not sure you understand the motivations for the standard definitions either.

For example, I think you define 'emotion' in such a way that that maps on to what is typically considered to be 'motivational states in general'. If you mean 'motivational states in general' some of your claims are trivially true, whereas if you mean 'emotion' in the way that the term is standardly used then I think some of your claims are very unlikely to be accepted (because there are obvious counter-examples).

> When you say belief requires that we have concepts, I disagree.

The way the terms are standardly used (thus the terms in which the debate has been traditionally conducted) there is a distinction between:
KNOWLEDGE HOW and
KNOWLEDGE THAT
Know-how is a kind of skill or ability. I know how to ride a bike. I know how to catch a ball. Your cat knows how to get some food (by making a noise by her bowl). Know-how doesn't require beliefs. Know-how doesn't require concepts. I can know how to ride a bike without having the concept of a 'bike' and without having any beliefs about bikes whatsoever. Animals and infants know how to do a whole heap of stuff.

Know-that is typically glossed as propositional knowledge. It can be glossed as knowledge that a certain proposition is true. Propositions are typically glossed as abstract entities that are (roughly) the meanings of sentences / utterences / thoughts. Here are some examples of propositions (so you can sort of get what I mean).
it is raining
particles have spin
fido is a dog
i have brown hair
Know-that is knowledge of the form 'I know that p' where p stands for any proposition at all. I can know that it is raining, I can know that particles have spin, I can know that Fido is a dog etc etc. Knowledge-that entails belief. For me to know that p I must believe that p.

Belief is a propositional attitude. It is an attitude that we can take towards propositions. There are other propositional attitudes. One can desire that p, fear that p, hope that p, wish that p etc. So desires, fears, hopes, wishes, beliefs can have propositional contents in common. They differ in being different attitudes that one takes towards the proposition.

Propositions are structured arrangements of concepts. The above examples of propositions have concepts like RAINING, PARTICLE, SPIN, FIDO, DOG, BROWN, HAIR. In order to entertain the proposition (under any propositional attitude) one is required to grasp the concepts that the proposition is composed of.

'it is raining' (a statement in language either written or spoken)
IT IS RAINING (a thought / belief)
rain (a state of affairs in the world)

There is a logical structure in common between language, thought, and the world. Logic describes that common structure.

To say that beliefs aren't propositional attitudes (to say that beliefs don't require concepts) is to undermine the explanation for their structural isomorphism with language and the world. There are good reasons for saying that beliefs require concepts... I can grant that infants and animals know how to do a whole heap of stuff... But they lack the cognitive sophistication required for belief. To have a belief entails that one believes that p. To believe that p entails that one has the concepts that are involved in the proposition. Animals lack the concepts therefore they can't have beliefs. They don't have states that they can manipulate according to the rules of deductive and inductive reasoning... They don't have beliefs.
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  #13  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 01:35 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Though... It might be possible that they have 'proto concepts' or something like that... coarse grained concepts. Some theories of concepts say that to have a concept involves being able to manipulate the concept according to the rules of logic / inductive / deductive reasoning etc. Other theories of concepts have a much more minimilist view of concepts where to have a concept is merely to have some kind of behavioural ability or capacity. I guess it is the latter line that you are thinking of... These behavioural abilities or capacities seem to be imporantly different from concepts that can be manipulated according to the rules of logic / inductive / deductive reasoning etc, however. Some have said that they are more 'proto concepts' or know how than know that...
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  #14  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 09:28 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Quote:
[Alex to MM:] Do you have any experimental results that your paradigm would predict that would be anomalous results for the previous theory?
Oh Alex, don’t be silly—of course not; for as MM has acknowledged, she believes that she/everyone believes only what “feels good” to her/them, and uses her/their “brains to justify it.”

Quote:
[Alex to MM:] Are you trying to do science or are you trying to tell 'just so' stories?
Let’s face it Alex, even the latter is a stretch, since MM believes that she/everyone believes only what “feels good” to her/them, and uses her/their “brains to justify it.”

Quote:
[Alex to MM:] You are of course free do define and use terms any way you want to. The trouble with redefining terms, however, is that other people need to accept your definitions in order to communicate with you. I'm having significant difficulty understanding what you mean by your terms because you are using them in ways that diverge from the ways they are used in the psychological / philosophical literature. Also because I'm not at all sure that you understand the way that they are typically used in the standard psychological / philosophical literature which makes it hard for you to say how your position is similar or different to the standard one in certain respects. Im not sure you understand the motivations for the standard definitions either.
Be assured Alex—for as MM has acknowledged, she believes that she/everyone believes only what “feels good” to her/them, and uses her/their “brains to justify it.”

Fred’s theorem regarding circular BS: It’s circular BS.
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  #15  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 09:56 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Why do you post those kinds of posts Fred?

Margaret, I'm sorry if what I said sounded harsh... I didn't mean to be... There is a lot of dispute... I'm just struggling to understand what you are trying to say...

It seems to me that you are seeing things through the lens of emotion

Whereas traditionally people saw things through the lens of belief / rationality

And it seems to me that some middle way between them is what is most likely to be true

But communication is hard... I don't even understand what other philosophers are talking about half the time...
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  #16  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 11:19 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Quote:
Alex: Okay... Trouble is that the current paradigm has been incredibly fruitful in terms of productive theorising and interesting experimental results.
We could disagree on that. I think that the field of psychology, splintered as it is into several competing sub-paradigms, each with its own poorly described model of the mind, really explains very little about human behavior choice. And what explanations there are tend to disagree with the other camps. Pick any three major thinkers in this area and you'll find three explanations for behavior choice that have little in common.

Quote:
Alex: People typically need jolly good reason to switch paradigms.
Well, yes. A paradigm is a meta-belief, a framework for knowledge. Changing paradigms is extremely difficult because a large number of one's most important beliefs will have to be rejected and replaced. This is especially difficult for professionals whose whole educational experience has been a process of becoming intimately steeped in the arcane knowledge and especially the terms, the language of the current paradigm.

Quote:
Alex: Usually the reason is that there is anomalous data that can't be explained by the current paradigm and another paradigm can explain everything the other paradigm could explain as well as the anomalous data.
I think you're talking about hypotheses and theories. Paradigms are invisible to those who live in them. Designed experiments assume the paradigm is correct. Unexpected results are not seen to question the paradigm. Instead, scientists will look hard for within-paradigm explanations. They'll propose alternate hypotheses and are rewarded by their peers when they find within-paradigm explanations - criticized when they don't.

Psychology is full of data that can't be explained by the current paradigm. That's why psychology is so splintered. Each sub-discipline is an attempt to deform the existing intellicentric paradigm around the edges just enough so that certain kinds of data will fit better.

Let me try this again. The current paradigm asserts that we are the thinking animal. That we use our reason, our intellect, to make behavior choices. That if we make bad choices, that means we don't think good. Probably it also means that our emotions got in the way and prevented us from thinking clearly. In this intellicentric paradigm emotions are side-effects that add spice to life. Those who behave poorly are accused of seeking those emotional rewards too eagerly and ignoring the better advice from their reason when making behavior choices.

This is the paradigm of dualism - a world of enlightened thinkers and evil brutes who seek their own pleasure regardless of the consequences - often in the same body. It is the paradigm of gods and devils, of Dr. Jekyls and Mr. Hydes, of yin and yang forces battling for control of the soul. In this world the concept of free-will is created as the inscrutible agent in us, that ghost in the machine that tells us which path to follow.

My emotion-centric paradigm says that we are emotional animals just like all the others. We do the things we do because of the emotional rewards built into our CNS for pursuing behavior that generally increases our survival and well-being - and because of the emotional punishments we generally experience when we pursue the opposite behavior. It says that animals have two primary sources for the emotional rewards / punishments that guide our behavior - instinct which provides built in emotional responses to certain stimuli - and beliefs, which allow more highly evolved animals to learn things about its world through experience and attach appropriate emotions to those objects, events and relationships that could affect its survival.

Quote:
An aside: I have carefully defined belief as a learned expectation about the world that does not require conceptualization. (Although we can use our intellect to justify or examine the rationality of our beliefs.) Your resistance to provisionally accepting my definition (for when I use the term in my posts) tells me that you are feeling discomfort at being forced (by my definition) to consider this different paradigm. Your preferred definition for belief is completely tied to intellect. I prefer my definition because it does subtly force the user into this new paradigm - to implicitly accept the possibility that intellect has a secondary supporting role in human behavior choice.
Humans, with our very large and complex brains, depend mostly on beliefs - with instincts providing little behavior guidance except in very emotional situations - like sex, war, childbirth, etc. Because of our dependence on our large elaborate belief systems we've evolved an additonal tool, conceptualization, that allows us to logically expand and edit our belief system, hopefully to provide objectively appropriate emotional rewards and punishments for almost any imaginable circumstance we encounter - or imagine that we'd like to encounter.

Belief-mediated behavior choice is a very powerful adaptation. However, the emotional forces of our old instincts are still largely intact. Civilization has greatly reduced the emotional intensity of our everyday lives. It has eliminated the extreme dangers that early humans faced every day. That has greatly reduced the need for instinctive response and it allows us to live our lives mostly according to our acquired beliefs. In fact, I'd propose that without this ability (to learn beliefs about the world and test them first logically and then empirically) society (beyond extended family clans where instinctive emotions can still be pretty useful) would be impossible.

However, this is not the rational utopia one might imagine. When we face an extremely emotional situation those instincts that lie just beneath the surface come alive and flood us with behavior choice emotions that are usually much stronger than those from our beliefs.

That's why armed men who grew up in a very enlightened environment with access to a good education and all the civilizing influences - could rape and kill a fourteen year old girl and then kill her father, mother and younger siblings and burn their bodies, for example.

Another problem is that our enlightened intellect is not as powerful as we like to believe. And, we may use it just as often to justify existing beliefs that may provide emotional rewards for inappropriate or anti-social behavior - as we use it to examine the rationality of those beliefs to start with. (However, different persons have better or worse abilities to use their intellect to examine their beliefs - and in different contexts.)

Quote:
Alex: Do you have any experimental results that your paradigm would predict that would be anomalous results for the previous theory?
I do but I'll put those in a following post.

Quote:
Alex: Are you trying to do science or are you trying to tell 'just so' stories?
Ah, the ultimate put down - used by human nature scientists whenever their own beliefs are challenged.

To me, the greatest just so story ever told is the one about how we humans in 200,000 years completely rewired our brains and evolved a totally differerent behavior control system from every other vertebrate that ever existed - a control system that unplugged the emotions that guide the behavior of all other animals and gave those emotions a role as provider of our spice in life - so that our newly acquired intellect, that thinking thing that we are consciously aware of in our minds, could become the new director of operations, confirming the pleasurable conclusion that we are each just as consciously and intelligently in control of our behavior - as our conscious minds always imagined ourselves to be. Now, that's a good story.

I don't take offense at this put down because I think I understand why you feel compelled by your emotions to make it. I have questioned the whole framework of your understanding of human nature. No-one said science was supposed to be easy.

I don't really expect to change anyone's mind either. I'm mostly interested in seeing the quality of any arguments against my view. My posts are thorough to give you lots of targets. I'm well aware that those who challenge the CW don't make many friends but I do appreciate your engagement.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 15th, 2006 at 02:02 PM.
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  #17  
Unread July 14th, 2006, 01:35 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Quote:
Why do you post those kinds of posts Fred?
Come on Alex, I essentially just corroborated what you posted.

The bottom line is that by MM’s reckoning—that everyone believes only what “feels good” to them, and uses their “brains to justify it”—no matter what you say, or whatever evidence or proof you provide, if it’s different than whatever she herself happens to believe at that moment, she’ll simply inform you, essentially, that you believe only what “feels good” to you, and use your “brains to justify it,” or that she understands why you “feel compelled by your emotions” to say what you say, or believe what you believe. There’s no getting thru to someone like that—I think she truly believes her own BS.
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  #18  
Unread July 16th, 2006, 05:35 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

While I'm working on the post that will discuss experimental results regarding the intellicentric vs. my emotion-centric paradigm, I saw this (Courtesy of Daily Kos: ) which I thought worth noting to anyone following this discussion:

Anne Kornblut wrote a column in the NYT for today titled:
Quote:
Clinton, in Arkansas, Says Democrats Are 'Wasting Time'

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, returning to her red-state ties, chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects.

Without mentioning specific subjects like gay marriage, Mrs. Clinton said: "We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base."
However, Clinton was actually chastizing the Republican controlled Senate. Clinton actually said,
Quote:
Wouldn't this be a good agenda for America: safeguard America's pensions; good jobs for Americans; make college affordable for all; protect America and our military families; prepare for future disasters; make America energy independent; make small business and healthcare affordable, invest in life saving science; and protect our air, land, and water.

You know, Blanche Lincoln has a bill to make healthcare affordable for small business, I have a bill I was talking to you about with respect to energy independence, we have legislation sitting in the Senate to address these problems.

But with the Republican majority, that's not their priority. So we do other things, we do things that are controversial, we do things that try to inflame their base so that they can turn people out and vote for their candidates. I think we are wasting time, we are wasting lives, we need to get back to making America work again, in a bipartisan, nonpartisan way."
I highlight this as an example of emotions not only directing our concusions - but to show that they can do so by subtly editing our perceptions, the data that we reference when forming a conclusion. I don't believe Anne Kornblut intended to deceive her readers. She read Clinton's words and to her they meant what she already believed them to mean before she started reading them - or perhaps what she wished they meant while she was reading them. In any case, from that point on I'm sure her conclusions just rolled off her word processor.

I think we all are subject to this type of editing-the-data error. This is a good example of how smart persons can do very illogical things. Of course, this doesn't prove that her emotions caused this. However, Kornblut has revealed her animosity (negative emotions) for Democratic pols in the past - so it seems likely that these emotions emanate from somewhere in her identity belief zone. It's quite an obvious and serious error in any case.

Added on edit: I now see that many far left blogs are piling on to Clinton in agreement with Anne Korblut. I never claimed that irrational emotion-based behavior decisions were the exclusive domain of the far right. In fact some here might note that my premise is that everyone does this.

My premise however, is more subtle than that. I have also asserted that different persons have different identity beliefs. In some persons, (especially some scientists) their identity beliefs include a strong respect for rationality - they have developed a bias against the use of strong emotions in their own personal and professional behavior decisions.

That's not an easy path to follow in life but some have seen (reasoned) that there is great value in that for both themselves and the the society they live in. They have purposely weighted that approach to life with positive emotions - and they consciously try to pursue that process in their lives by following those beneficial personal values they have adopted.

Anyone who can pursue the path of reason in these contentious, emotion-filled political times - deserves my admiration.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 16th, 2006 at 06:22 PM.
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  #19  
Unread July 16th, 2006, 08:10 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Quote:
MM: In some persons, (especially some scientists) their identity beliefs include a strong respect for rationality - they have developed a bias against the use of strong emotions in their own personal and professional behavior decisions.
And how, MM, will you ever “know” this, in any real or objective sense—that “some” scientists “include a strong respect for rationality”—if indeed, as you assert, you and everyone believes only what “feels good” to them, and use their “brains to justify it?” Hello?

Unless you’re beginning to see that we humans are capable, after all, of discerning objective truth, certainly objective mathematical truth, and using that truth to understand the reality we find ourselves in; and making choices based on truth and reality (Ledoux’s downward causation, more or less), rather than making choices based only on what “feels good” to us and then “using our brains to justify it?” . . . certainly “not an easy path to follow,” as you’ve opined . . . OMG MM, are you evolving? Oh happy day.

But what really makes me happy, MM, is that if you really are beginning to see that we humans are indeed capable of discerning objective truth, certainly mathematical truth, and using that truth to understand reality, then you’ll soon also realize that it’s highly unlikely that Libs understand truth and reality b/c most of them are so terrible at math. In which case you’ll probably want to switch from reading Daily Kos to reading Power Line.

Last edited by Fred H.; July 16th, 2006 at 08:25 PM.
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  #20  
Unread July 16th, 2006, 09:47 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Fred asks,
Quote:
And how, MM, will you ever “know” this, in any real or objective sense—that “some” scientists “include a strong respect for rationality”—if indeed, as you assert, you and everyone believes only what “feels good” to them, and use their “brains to justify it?” Hello?
I have explained this exhaustively but you are so emotionally committed to the idea (your belief) that I am taking intellect out of the behavior question - that you don't see what I have actually said. It shows that you have made no effort to understand what I have said. This is very much in the same way that Anne Kornblut was so certain that Hillary Clinton was criticizing Democrats instead of the Republican Senate.

As I have said, we make behavior choices in order to optimize the emotional payoff - to feel better about our decision and the results of our behavior - than if we had chosen another alternative.

Rational persons (in any particular context) are simply those for whom rationality provides sufficient emotional rewards (in that context) for them to follow their rationality - rather than other sources of emotion.

More specifically, this means that their belief systems are populated with beliefs that have been tested rationally. Irrational beliefs have been largely edited out - over the course of their lives. When they call upon their beliefs then, the emotions they provide are more likely to support rational outcomes, for whatever behavior choice is being considered.

Scientists are generally drawn to science as children where they internalize a respect for what scientists can do and accomplish. If they pursue science in school they will learn that scientific accomplishment is mostly the result of a strictly practiced and institutionalized rationality.

While human belief systems are amazingly capable of compartmentalization - it seems likely that someone who develops a strong respect for rationality will be able to extend that respect into more belief compartments than their vocation. That seems to be verified by the small number of scientists, even non-biologists, who profess a belief in divine creation, for example. (1% or so are the figures I've seen)

I have great admiration for those who apply rationality in their behavior decisions, scientists or not - especially knowing the many irrational decisions I have made in my life. It's not so easy because non-rational beliefs can provide such huge emotional rewards.

But, some rationalists persist, despite the odds, in seeking that most practical rational balance in their own and in human affairs. Just as some scientists spend their lives searching for objective truth - and not in some emotionally fulfilling quest to affirm their ideology, like Behe and Dembski.

I have mentioned these two before. I have an admitted emotional dislike for scientists who use their professional credentials to support irrational beliefs. That is the whole strategy of the ID movement - to insidiously use science to discredit any science that so obviously reduces the notion of God to a quaint superstition. This is the dilemma faced by the left generally these days. It's similar to the question of how, if you hate bigots and their bigotry, you are not a bigot yourself. I won't try to answer that one here.

When I say we make behavior decisions to optimize the emotional payoff - I am describing the decision-making process, the things that get weighed on the behavior-decision scale. My hypothesis sees rational behavior choice as the difficult to achieve ideal. It only works consistently in minds that have been tended with that purpose in mind. I admire those who organize their belief systems that way.

I'd feel much more secure sharing my world with these folks than any true-believers.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 16th, 2006 at 09:57 PM.
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