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  #31  
Unread July 17th, 2006, 02:35 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

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MM: Now, weren't you going to explain to us just how it is that your free-will allows us to choose one behavior over another.
Well, among other things, it’s the sapience in Homo sapiens sapiens. Nevertheless, MM, I of course can understand how you yourself “feel compelled by your emotions” to “believe” that there can be no “free-will” (or moral responsibility) allowing us to choose one behavior over another, and that believing that is obviously what makes you yourself feel good, and, using your “axiom,” you’ve “used your brains to justify it.”
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  #32  
Unread July 17th, 2006, 02:42 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Quote:
MM: Now, weren't you going to explain to us just how it is that your free-will allows us to choose one behavior over another.
Quote:
Fred sed: Well, among other things, it’s the sapience in Homo sapiens sapiens.
OK then, who put the Ram in the Ramma-lamma-ding-dong?

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 17th, 2006 at 03:55 PM.
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  #33  
Unread July 17th, 2006, 10:11 PM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Yes Fred. If I had more time I would post shorter posts. May seem paradoxical but the process of clarifying and editing and saying things simply is the most time consuming of the lot...
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  #34  
Unread July 17th, 2006, 10:49 PM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

> saying that there is a rationality in emotion misses the point entirely.

I meant a fairly loose sense of 'rationality' as 'appropriateness'. If you feel intense fear because the garden hose moved then there is a sense in which your fear is 'irrational'. If you say that you know the spider can't hurt you but you continue to feel fear there is a sense in which your fear is 'irrational'. We can come to understand why the response is there. The amygdala can't distinguish one coiled object from another, and history of reinforcement can explain phobia, but there still seems to be a sense in which these responses are irrational. Understandable, yes. Rational, no.

> Neither cognitive behaviorists nor evolutionary psychologists can explain, just how it is that we make a choice to do one thing and not another. Cognitive behaviorists don't explain how our mental representations of behavior alternatives cause us to choose one or the other.

Representations (cognitions) aren't thought to be motivational. Desires, preferences, urges, etc are supposed to be motivational. I reccomend Kim Sterelny because he is the world leader in philosophy of biology. While he focuses on beliefs in the first half of "thought in a hostile world' he also considers such dilemmas as 'why does the ant forage?' The behaviorists talked a lot about drives too... About drive reduction. About push me vs pull me theories of motivation. Goal selection is a problem. There is also what is known as the 'frame problem' which is a can of worms. To introduce the frame problem (as simply as possible) how is it that we stop cranking through beliefs and make a selection and act? Some have asserted (Damasio, I think and maybe Le Doux) that emotions are the solution to the frame problem. There hasn't been an adequate account of them as yet, however... Need a theory that is detailed (and clear) enough to be programmed... I just mean to say that while it is true that that whole issue has been passed over for a long time there are theorists currently working on it. There has been a literature accumulating. Beliefs (or representational states) were never meant to be the whole story about action. Motivations (or urges or goals or desires) are indeed meant to be the other half.

There have been experiments as to how emotion affects cognition. Salience is an interesting phenomena. Pop out. Unconscious processing of emotional significance. Intense emotions disrupt cognitive processing. Emotions facilitate memory etc.

> How counterproductive it would be if I dismissed her and told her to come back and talk about those things only after she learns to use the right musicological terms.

I'm sorry - I didn't mean to come across in that way. I just meant that I think there are distinctions that you might be missing. Like how the conversation on free will didn't progress until we had come to a common understanding of 'libertarian' 'compatibilism / incompatibilism' 'determinism' 'natural' 'emergent' etc. One might start out arguing not seeing the distinctions between libertarianism, soft determinism, and hard determinism. But they are distinctions. When you make assertions about whether we have free will or not it is important to be clear on what sort of thing free will is.

I'm understanding you better... And I guess what I want to say is that there is a literature on this stuff. Cognitive psychology text books and neuroscience text books touch on this stuff. People like Le Doux and Damasio have done more work still... And Prinz...

I'm actually writing my thesis on emotion. Aspects in terms of evolution (which I haven't started yet). I've been side tracked into writing on emotional consciousness and the conscious experience of pain and the conscious experince of visual perceptions. Is experiencing fear more like feeling pain or seeing read? How much can representationalist theories of consciousness account for the motivational aspect to conscious experience? IMO not very well... Hence that is what I'm writing on. But I do need to write with reference to stuff that there is a literature on (where people are more likely to be able to understand what I'm saying). Hence... Compare and contrast emotional consicousness with the experince of pain and visual perception.

> If a new idea does challenge one of our existing higher order beliefs, if we decide to accept it (say due to its compelling logical validity) we will have to change many of our lower order beliefs that depend on it. We don't do such things lightly. By the time we are adults, it takes a major life-changing event for us to change any serious higher order beliefs - like a belief (or disbelief) in God for example - but that sometimes happens.

Quine talks about this in the web of belief. Our beliefs are in a network... There are some beliefs that are closest to the periphery (ones formed on the basis of perceptual experiences or 'surface stimulations) and ones that are more toward the centre (the belief that a bachelor is an unmarried man) for example. He thought that in belief revision we revised near the periphery before making changes more in the core (which would entail that we revise a large number of our other beliefs). The principle of conservativism in belief revision is the principle that we should adopt the belief that requires the least pervasive changes throughout the belief network so as to retain consistency.

I did some work on delusions. One theory is that they adopt 'observational adequacy over consevativism' or they accept bottom up perceptual info over top down rationally considered evidence. I focused on... The notion that delusions seem to be responses to certain kinds of anomalous affective experiences and affective experiences can be modular or cognitively inpenitrable (so that fear persists despite the judgement you aren't in danger). Kind of recasting delusions (paradigmatically doxastic - beliefs) as a disorder of affective response rather than cognition.

I think we may be more similar in our thinking...
I also think... That we may be more in line with current work than you think...
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  #35  
Unread July 17th, 2006, 11:45 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Alex, While I'm digesting your last concept-rich post, I found 2 books by Prinz that might do the job.

Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (Philosophy of Mind Series) by Jesse J. Prinz (Hardcover - Aug 12, 2004) $39.95

Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis (Representation and Mind) by Jesse J. Prinz (Paperback - Sep 1, 2004) $24.95

There's also a Wolfgang Prinz but Jesse seems to be the one you had in mind.

Have you read both of these? Is one more on-topic for this discussion? Or, is one more suitable for my level of un-education? Or, should I read Sterelny first maybe?

These are expensive books but I just got an Amazon gift cert from my son for my birthday. Perfect timing it seems.

Margaret
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  #36  
Unread July 18th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Quote:
Alex: Yes Fred. If I had more time I would post shorter posts. May seem paradoxical but the process of clarifying and editing and saying things simply is the most time consuming of the lot...
I agree it’s not paradoxical that it takes time and thought to say/write/form things clearly and concisely, to be at least somewhat rigorous and consistent, to provide ideas, concepts, and questions that are actually worthy of consideration by others—and often, just adhering to the general rule that “less is more,” can be helpful. Try it, you may like it, and find in the long run that you’ll accomplish much more.

I tend to strive for such myself, and I suspect that that’s a reason some here are apt to get flustered whenever they attempt to push their half-baked BS—when I respond, I tend to be clear, concise, rigorous, and consistent, and I tend not to sugarcoat the reality that their half-baked BS is half-baked BS, that their baby is ugly. Go back thru the various posts of various threads, and I think you’ll agree that my posts are generally more interesting and consistent and make better points than most others, although mine typically have an edge; but then that makes them more interesting and worth reading.

Regarding somewhere in your last post where you consider, “Is experiencing fear more like feeling pain or seeing red?”—Difficult question, maybe even a stupid question, but what the hey, I’ve considered it myself on occasion, and, so far anyway, here’s what I’ve come up with—

“Fear” rarely, if ever happens in a vacuum, and generally seems to be accompanied by the other primary emotions of anger and perhaps sadness, and possibly disgust. Also, the so-called secondary emotions of shame, guilt, despair, etc., generally seem to accompany fear, so all in all any specific “experiencing fear,” or any specific “feeling” of fear, seems to be difficult, if not impossible, to isolate. Nevertheless, I do recall a time in my adolescent years, having just done something I shouldn’t have, and having been found out by some random adult and chased—as best I recall, “fear” was the only emotion that was triggered in that instance, a pure fear if there is such a thing (unhampered by anger, shame, despair, dread, etc.), and the energy that I got from it, probably adrenalin, along with an available escape route (I didn’t get caught), resulted in an exhilarating feeling —my “fear,” and I suppose the escape route, enabled me to survive and win. (If there had been no escape route, other emotions like anger, despair, shame, etc. would have kicked in, which, I think, many confuse with the experiencing or feeling of fear.”)
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  #37  
Unread July 19th, 2006, 12:18 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

Yeah it is expensive ("Gut Reactions") because it hasn't come out in paperback yet. I'm not sure about buying it... Prinz is interesting at providing a 'big picture' view which is interesting, but some of his arguments aren't very carefully articulated or well thought out. You can download sample papers from his homepage:

http://www.unc.edu/~prinz/

(Click on 'research' then scroll down...)

There is a paper on emotions that summarises his view.
Bodily change theorists (James, Lange, Damasio) have trouble explaining how emotions get to be about things in the world.
Cognitive theorists (what used to be the mainstream view in philosophy) considered this to be a fatal objection.
Damasio backs down and says emotions are bodily states coupled with judgements.
Prinz tries to say that Damasio didn't need to back down to there. He attempts to explain how body changes can be about things in the world.

His book does all this in a lot more detail, but it will give you some indication as to whether you are likely to find it interesting or not...
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  #38  
Unread July 19th, 2006, 07:08 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

< often, just adhering to the general rule that “less is more,” can be helpful. Try it, you may like it, and find in the long run that you’ll accomplish much more.

There is a difference between my academic work and my posts on online forums. If I spent a lot of time editing and revising my posts on online forums... Then I would be giving away for free stuff that I might be able to get published (and properly acknowledged) for. I offer what I offer. I spend more time here than I probably should (workwise)... I am what I am, same way as you are what you are...

> when I respond, I tend to be clear, concise, rigorous, and consistent

You tend to call people names, write off what they have to say by sneering at a caricature of it, and otherwise poke fun without taking the time and effort to clarify before running it down. You also tend to sneer instead of providing reasons for your dismissiveness. You might consider that to be 'intellectually honest' but I have to say that I consider it to be dismissive and hostile most of the time. I think that you have greater problems with interpersonal communication, however. Also I appreciate that I can't see your manner / tone of voice. It might be that you are joking / being tongue in cheek. I have no idea. But I'm determined not to rise to what sometimes seems to be 'baiting' in the absense of any real issue.

Basically... Reinforce the behaviours you want to see more of, ignore the behaviours you want to cease. If Fred pokes fun then control yourselves and ignore him. When Fred has a good point reinforce him taking the time to actually engage in the real issues by responding to him. That is the strategy I've decided to take (I post it for the benefit of others). And on that note:

> Regarding somewhere in your last post where you consider, “Is experiencing fear more like feeling pain or seeing red?”—Difficult question...

> “Fear” rarely, if ever happens in a vacuum, and generally seems to be accompanied by the other primary emotions of anger and perhaps sadness, and possibly disgust.

That might be so, but surely it is possible that one can experience fear without experiencing other emotions. Though... Depends on how you carve up 'kinds' of emotion. Anxiety might be a kind of fear. Or fear might be a kind of anxiety. I think it is possible for creatures to feel fear without being able to feel anger, sadness, and disgust. Maybe snakes? Not sure on this...

> Also, the so-called secondary emotions of shame, guilt, despair, etc., generally seem to accompany fear

Though not in rats and other 'lower' mammals. Shame, guilt, despair etc tend to be thought of as more paradigmatically human emotions.

Regarding the feeling pain / perceiving question... The notion is that:

- 'Pain' tends to refer to the phenomenology / feeling.
- 'perception' on the other hand, tends to refer to properties of the object that is perceived.

E.g., 'I am in pain' is true when and only when I have the phenomenology of pain (and what nerve damage I may or may not have is irrelevant to the truth conditions of the utterance).
'I see a red square' is true when and only when there is a red square that causes me to detect it visually (if there is not a red square in front of me then the utterence is false).

The problem of focus is why perceptions seem to refer to the state of the world whereas pain seems to refer to the phenomenology. Are emotions more like pains (so emotion terms refer to phenomenology) or more like perceptions (so emotion terms refer to bodily changes / brain state changes)?
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  #39  
Unread July 19th, 2006, 10:21 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

I'll be offline for a few days and just wanted to thank everyone who has been participating positively in this discussion over the last week or so. It's been very rewarding for me as it always is when I can see my views evolving. Thanks Alex (please tell me if you don't like this shortened form of your name) for the book suggestions and fresh perspectives and thanks Tom for the good feedback.

BTW Alex, that thing I said about philosophy was one of my major all-time emotion-driven bloopers. I have nothing but respect for the field of philosophy and those who seriously immerse their minds into that difficult zone - even if my materialistic mind misses much of what's going on.

I hope this thread is still going strong when I get back.

Margaret
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  #40  
Unread July 19th, 2006, 01:33 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emotions versus Reason?

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Alex: The problem of focus is why perceptions seem to refer to the state of the world whereas pain seems to refer to the phenomenology.
When you ask why “perceptions seem to refer to the state of the world whereas pain seems to refer to the phenomenology,” I guess you’re referring to emotion versus pain, and I’d agree that the pain system certainly seems more “primitive” or “simple” when compared to the not quite as primitive subcortical, subconscious emotional neural systems.

I think the quick answer to your question is this: Pain deals with damage that has/is being done to the organism, whereas emotions, e.g., fear or anger, deal with potential damage, or threats. Here’s how I look at things based on what I’ve learned from guys like LeDoux and Damasio—

As nerve fibers detect tissue damage and initiate behavior (e.g., withdrawal of your hand from something hot), after which the perception that there is tissue damage and the “feeling” of pain enters your consciousness; so too subconscious neural structures detect (a “quick and dirty” detection) threatening stimuli, initiate behavior (e.g., running from danger), after which the perception that, in the case of fear, there is some sort of threat (e.g., a snake) and the feeling of the emotion(s) triggered enter your consciousness.

Although a difficulty in this comparison is that while the feelings of pain (and behavior initiated by it) seems to be more or less monolithic (although it certainly can vary in intensity); while the feelings of emotion entails many different emotions, feelings, and behaviors; I’d say that the two mechanism are similar in that they both deal, subconsciously and almost instantly, with damage, in the case of pain, and with potential damage (threats) in the case of emotions like fear, anger, etc., to the organism, instantly initiating appropriate behavior, after which we consciously become aware of the damage/threat (and usually also “learn” so as to modify future behavior.)

So I’d say that’s why, using your phraseology, “perceptions [i.e. the feelings of emotions triggered by “threats,” and the various conscious perceptions/thoughts that those feelings cause as one of the inputs into our conscious thinking process] seem to refer to the state of the world, whereas pain [the feeling of tissue damage that has already happened] seems to refer to [just, more or less] phenomenology.”



Quote:
Alex: You tend to call people names, write off what they have to say by sneering at a caricature of it….
Unless you can show otherwise, I rarely, if ever, call people names, and rarely, if ever cast the first stone. OTOH, if your baby is ugly, I suppose I’m inclined to tell you it’s ugly, especially if you insist otherwise and provide no evidence to the contrary. For example, unless you’re actually doing real neuroscience research, I’d not be terribly concerned about “giving away for free stuff that [you] might be able to get published (and properly acknowledged) for”—guys like LeDoux and Damasio have almost certainly already thought of it and written about it. OTOH, if you’re trying to get published, I suppose you might get lucky and pick up something here. Regardless, I’d still strive for the “less is more” ideal.

Last edited by Fred H.; July 19th, 2006 at 02:59 PM.
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