Emotions and neural events [Was: Re: fools]

From: Max More (max@maxmore.com)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 12:23:05 MST

At 12:54 PM 3/2/00 +0000, you wrote:
> > I usually see this attack directed at some form of matieralism
> > can't explain emotions.") The answer for that is "Yes it can, emotions are
> > patterns of neuron firings in the brain." (c.f. Dennett, Hofstadter).
>I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm sick of seeing such basic and
>grevious conceptual errors as the above being made.

I don't think this is an accurate characterization of Dennett's view
(though it's been a while since I've read Dennett). He's a functionalist
not an identity theorist/reductive materialist, so this doesn't sound like
his view.

Same with this typical Dennett-drivel above. The firing of neurons BRINGS
>ABOUT emotions. The firing of neurons twaddle explains NOTHING about what
>the resultant emotions actually *ARE*.
>Is this blatantly obvious to anyone else?

Well, emotions clearly are more than neural firings. Other things are
involved such as levels of neurotransmitters, hormonal levels, and bodily
responses. But if you include those, then I would say that when we
experience emotions that is what we are experiencing. (Since I'm a
functionalist, I'd agree that we could experience the same things with
functionally-equivalent but physically different hardware.) I'm not sure of
your view from what you say, but I'd have to answer: No--it's not obvious
at all. I don't think these neural and chemical activities BRING ABOUT
emotions--they ARE the emotions (or, rather, the instantiation of these
emotions). What else do you think emotions are? Some non-physical stuff
floating around in the brain? Or perhaps you reject substance dualist but
go for some kind of strong property dualism? (A position I've never been
able to make sense of.)

I'm curious since I'm currently discussing this very topic in two of my
classes right now.

Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute. www.extropy.org
CEO, MoreLogic Solutions. www.maxmore.com
max@maxmore.com or more@extropy.org

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