Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Gregory Houston (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 00:45:55 -0600

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> The fact that
> you experience physical sensations at the same time as your cognitive
> state of emotion provides no evidence of which is cause and which is
> effect, nor does it prove that there is anything necessary about those
> physical sensations to achieve the cognitive state.

I believe your difficulty here lies in your assumption that emotions are
cognitive states. They are not. That is why we call them emotive rather
than cognitive. Cognitive --> cogito --> think, e.g., cogito ergo sum, I
*think* therefor I am. Emotions may influence thinking (abstract
thought), and thinking may influence emotions, but they are not one in
the same. They are qualitatively different.

Quantitative aspect of emotions: The neurochemical content of the
central nervous system.

Qualitative aspect of emotions: Sensations felt in the body, e.g.,
changes in blood pressure, heart rate, moisture in the skin, breathing,
body tempature, sensitivity, arousal in erogenous zones, etcetera,

Computers today can emulate the quantitative aspect of emotions. They do
not however have the proper embodiment to experience the qualitative
aspect of emotions. They cannot feel. Thus computers today cannot
experience emotions ... no matter how much programming is involved. They
may have the potential to experience emotions, but they cannot until
they have appropriate hardware.

Emotions are physical feelings that usually have corrolating thoughts.
For example, a person with depression will have a particular kind of
neurochemical content in their CNS. Those neurotransmitters will then
cause certain emotive feelings in the person and certain cognitive
thoughts in the person. However the person may seek a psychologist for
help, and learn to think in new ways, and though the person is thinking
differently it may take some time before the person *feels* differently.
Changing the cognitive thought won't necessarily immiediately change the
emotive feeling. That same person may instead choose to see a
psychiatrist who then prescribes prozac. The prozac acts then directly
upon the CNS effecting both the emotions and the thoughts of that

Emotions are irrational because they are not cognitive. Cognitive things
are rational. Why do so many people associate love with the heart rather
than the brain? Because emotions are not cognitive. Emotions can
influence the cognitive, and vise versa, but they are not the same.

> What is the common cognitive process that occurs when a blind man
> hears a beatiful piece of music, and a deaf man sees a beautiful
> work of art? They share /something/ in common we call "beauty",
> but it cannot be the mere sensations that evoked it; it must be some
> mental state that we can recogize and express.

We appreciate beauty because it makes us feel good. Not because it IS
good. This is called synesthesia. There is no appreciation without
sensation. My computer has absolutely zero ability for appreciation. No
computer has the ability to appreciate. Do not confuse error statements
with disastifaction. Those statements are coldly objective. You can make
your computer error ceaselessly and it will never feel discomfort.
However, if your computer felt a painful sensation everyone time it
encountered an error, then it would feel discomfort, and it might feel
anger, and those feelings of anger might then provoke violent thoughts
in the computer. But it must be able to feel, and to feel it must have
physical sensations.

> Cameras and audio
> recorders "see" and "hear" the same things, but they do not have
> cognitive states. A computer does. To assume that a computer
> can't recognize, experience, and express that same state from
> whatever inputs it has is groundless anthropocentrism.

Recognize perhaps, express [emulate in an artificial way] perhaps, but
theres no way in the world it could experience an emotion without the
proper hardware.

> If a computer
> tells me that the bit-pattern I just entered into its front panel is
> beautiful, who am I to tell him otherwise?

Him? The computer can only determine beauty based on the criteria the
programmer programmed into it. The computer cannot determine beauty
based on its own experiences of emotive affect. It may *know* what
beauty is supposed to be, but it has never experienced the emotive
sensations of beauty.


Gregory Houston                 Triberian Institute of Emotive Education  
phone:    816.561.1524
cellular: 816.807.6660          snail: PO Box 32046 Kansas City MO 64171

"Empowered, impassioned, we have a lust for life insatiable!"