Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Emotions are the elementary forces of the mind



“If we resist our passion, it is more due to their weakness than our strength.” summed up the French philosopher, Francois de La Rochefoucauld. But only recently have emotions gained scientific reputation as the major contributor of intellectual abilities. This is not without reason. While difficult mental tasks can be reproduced by simple calculators, the basic task of what it feels like to recognize a certain color, or a friend we have not seen for a long time, is beyond the ability of every artificial intelligence. It is emotion that remained the most elusive task for robot designers. A dog stays away from a person who mistreated him in the past because of the emotional nature of memories. Emotions give unusual power to animals, giving them ability to make decisions based on feelings, subjective and hardly describable mental products. Feelings direct the life of animals that have them, giving them decision making ability, far superior to any artificial intelligence. It is not only the blind that ‘feels’ his way around the world, all emotional creatures do. Emotion makes consciousness an incomputable process, completely different from the physical processes that accompany it. Emotions help distinguish the face of the perpetrator from the police lineup, recognize the fence of the childhood home and the overture of a classical opera.

Of course, what scientifically very difficult to propose and prove philosophers and artists intuitively knew for a long, long time. For example music is an international language that communicates about emotions. A Chinese folk song, an opera sung in Italian has a power to affect our mood, because we recognize the emotions in them as our own. This is because music is purely an expression of feelings. Songs are often written about love, but never about the stock market, or the global economy.

Emotions are not just some luxury that birds and mammals (and crocodiles) acquired during evolution, but they are the basic motivation of the animals that have them. Emotions are evolutionary survival tools. With them dangers can be overcome, opportunities found. We are good, generous, trusting because of our emotions. We betray others, we commit crime, and we feel remorse because of them. Emotions are much more powerful than we acknowledge and we cannot even recognize the extent emotions play in our lives, because we identify with our emotions constantly. I am proposing that the elementary forces of the mind are emotions. This leads to the many consequences of mental operation, as shown in the book, The science of consciousness. Sign up for my mailing list to never miss a post. 

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