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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Response to Austin Rogers: On Emotions

1) Emotion is part and parcel with experience. In my opinion, it is misguided to divide how we perceive a situation and how an experience makes us feel (or how we feel a situation). Instead of thinking that 'emotions affect how we experience life', think that emotions are part of that experience. 
2) I see the distinct emotions as different modes of thinking an experience. 
3) Though one can carry an emotion beyond the initial, there is something in the situation that is translated into emotion. It could be danger or romance possibilities.
4) Emotions can be put into language which other people of like minds understand similarly.
5) One does not have had a particular emotion before to understand the emotion express in language. For example, music easily carries in it organized sounds which convey emotions that I never had about longing, distress, pride, solidarity, etc...
6) It is hard to number how many modes of thinking an experience (i.e. emotions) there are. When you read a lot of books, there are so many complicated emotions that exist. I am a fan of existentialism, and that kind of literature might be the most complex to convey in the pseudo-rationalism we try to limit our writing to.
7) When I said in my earlier papers that motion becomes emotion, I mean that the emotion of which I am describing is very much based in movement. Our actions outward toward others and our projects convey emotions. The actions towards us by others and things convey emotions as well. I argued that there was a transference of emotion via motion between the individual an his or her environment and that is necessary for human life. If a child is sense-deprived, the child dies. Cover a persons eyes long enough, and they become blind because that part of the brain dies.

Austin Roger's response:
1. I agree that emotions are part of the experience. Wouldn't you agree that because emotions affect how we perceive a given situation that the emotions become part of that experience? Because that's all I'm trying to say in this regard.
2. Though, [unlike thought] every emotion has pre-programmed physical responses, and these responses are involuntary. How can emotion be a mode of conscious thinking if emotions are involuntary reactions? I'm not saying I disagree with you, I may just be misunderstanding.
3. Ok, I can agree with that.
4. I disagree, I do not think emotion is as one-dimensional as language. In my opinion, emotions are primarily characterized by the chemical reactions, hormone changes and the immediate thoughts that follow-- this would be very hard to covert into language.
5. I agree with that.
6. Interesting.
7. That makes sense. How can this be tested though?


My second response: 
1. I cannot say that emotions affect your experience because that would suggest that that emotions act separately from a persons experience. 
2. I do not believe in free will, but I understand what you are saying. There is a difference between thinking through a problem and having an emotional response to a problem. The nature of that difference is beyond my understanding.
4. I do not think language is one-dimensional and that is why include music as a kind of language. Because I see the brain as something like an organic computer, I believe organized sound can convey complex thoughts in emotional modes.
7. How it would be tested is a hard thing to say. I am rather emotionally sensitive so I have a strong aesthetic for the little things that I do and things that happen to me. This point is rathermy personal point of view, which I understand if others do not have such a rich emotional reaction to playing in the rain or writing a paper.

My Third Response:
A) I think it should be clear that emotions do not affect experience but are simply part of the collage we call experience. But you keep saying emotions are outside expierence (causing experience) while I am saying something causes emotions which are inside experience. 
B) For me, personality is an affinity for different emotions and ways of thinking and reacting. There is physiological basis for why people feel certain way in different situations. For instance the color blind cannot see certain colors, so those colors are absent from experience. Unlike colors, there is lots of diversity in the affinities for emotions (perhaps due to a lack of evolutionary conditioning).
C) One experiences his or her own thought, so this distinction between ones own thinking and sensory data is not a problem for my theory of emotions. Yes, there is a qualitative difference between self-stimulation and environment stimulation. As David Hume argues, the memory provides only faded or simplified versions of impressions received through sensory data. If I never experienced the color red I cannot have an idea of that color. Emotions have some similar qualities. I cannot have an accurate idea of how it feels to have an emotion I have not had. I can however experience emotions for the first time. From where do these emotions come?
-If they are placed into predestined categories, there is no big difference between the limitation of our species to categorize different colors and these categories of emotions.
-If emotions have infinite variations or numerous degrees, my intuition is that our brain changes to accommodate new emotions that could not be preprogrammed in our genetics.
D) The ego synthesizes and guides action, and by guiding action, I simply mean plays a crucial causal role in the interaction between an organic cognitive system and its environment. Emotion is something to be experienced or, in terms of the ego, synthesized. The maturity of human beings depends of the development of this ego.
                -Through emotional variance, the human becomes capable of a nuance understanding of the causal relation between environment and emotions. Some things make one sad, others make one angry.
                -Humans are natural dualists, so at a very young age, they have a theory of mind that applies to creatures like them. In rare cases, however, a child is born with a different set of natural assumptions. This is especially true of children with autism. When interacting with their environment, some children with autism have trouble associating the actions of humanoids with intentions. Some find it easier to attribute thoughts and intentions to nonliving objects like vacuum cleaners. This I learned from reading some of the diagnoses of Erik Erikson.
E) To say completely caused yet still free is a common assertion among philosophers, Austin. It is important to my theory that people cannot just choose to feel a certain emotion, just as one cannot stop thinking. If asked the origin of their thoughts, people will have a lot of difficulty. For instance, if I ask you to pick a number between one and ten, what makes you choose one number over another. By not knowing the origin of our thoughts, it indicates to me that there is something beyond our conscious experience that is important to this story of the will. Psychoanalyst have suggested a subconscious. I am not well-versed in psychology so I am just going to make the educated inference that it there is some link between the world of experience and the world of impersonal causation.
                -This is not to say that what I think is impersonal, since that would contradict what I mean by personal (i.e. in ones experience).
                -This is not to say that a person is passive in any way. I simply am saying that we need not reject our children (our thoughts and actions) in order to accept our parents (this impersonal causal story that leads to our personal thoughts).

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