Re[2]: Re[2]: Protean Self-Transformation

Guru George (
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 11:07:01 GMT

On Wed, 02 Apr 1997 12:29:23 -0800
Andrea Gallagher <> wrote:

>At 11:08 PM 3/30/97 GMT, Guru George wrote:


>But isn't it all a matter of where you decide to draw the boundary between
>mind and other? What do you see the limbic system doing, processing input
>and turning it into emotion, or packaging input into a form that lets the
>brain turn it into emotion? I don't really know much about the limbic
>system, so it may well be true that a lot of the necessary processing for
>emotion gets done there.

The rule of thumb I always use is this:- you know how we *seem* to have
emotional communication with our pets, like our cats and dogs, and
it*seems* like it's reciprocated? Well, there really*is* emotional stuff
going on there,and it's precisely the limbic system which we share with
our pets that allows us to communicate in that way. (It may not be as
fully anthropomorphic a communication event as pet lovers imagine, but
it's definitely there.)

As I understand it, the limbic system controls all those *bodily
reactions* (e.g. tears, flushing, anxiety, excitement, etc.) that go to
creating the complex entity we call an 'emotion'. For us, certainly,
there are lots of 'thoughts' strictly so-called mixed in with all those
bodily reactions, so we as humans can hardly think of emotions separately
>from thoughts, but as the pet example shows, that is not a sufficient

Emotion in the strict (cross-species) sense *is* those bodily reactions
to external stimuli. They *are* cognitive - especially they are
cognitive in the sense that they serve to allow mammals to cognise the
'internal states' of their fellows - I believe that is their main
evolutionary raison d'etre. Empathy co-ordinates.

(If you think about it, mammals are much more social creatures than
lizards and such - even cats have a high degree of sociality, though not
as much as dogs, which are pack animals to the core. I mean 'social'
while being highly complex as individuals too, of course - birds and
fish are highly social too, sometimes, but are not nearly such complex
creatures as mammals.)

They may also be at the root of mimicry, which is the foundation of

>I regect Gregory's arguement that emotion is non-cognitive, distinct from
>"thought". I suspect that what Gregory is calling "cognition" is only the
>stuff that he is aware of, that sounds like language in his head, that
>seems coherent and algorithmic. Cognition is really a matter of
>multitudinous processes acting on a wide variety data input, much of which
>never percolates up to what we call consciousness. If vision is part of
>this process, there's no reason to think that emotion isn't. Emotion is
>just one way the mind/brain chooses to represent and respond to some of the
>input it gets. If we replicate the brain, I bet we replicate emotion.

I agree with you. I think Gregory is right that emotion is part of
fully human experience, and would need to be duplicated somehow in any upload
-capable system that claimed to replicate human experience; but since
Anders' reply to my post, I now see that replicating emotion would
actually be a good place for AI researchers to start, primarily because
it is, in fact, a primitive form of cognition- it's like, just as they've
discovered how valuable it is to model simple cognitive systems like
those of insects, as things progress, they will move onto modelling reptilian
control systems, then lower, then higher mammalian control systems, and
only then will they be starting to get some handle on the way the
neocortex functions. (Who wants to bet that it's Darwin machines all the



Guru George