The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Of Representation Systems

The British philosopher Keith Stenning not only thinks that emotion and cognition cooperate (not interfere) but even that emotions are the foundation of our mental life (not just an accident of nature or an evolutionary leftover). Emotions are a way to abstract situations. Similar emotions are used to classify situations and objects into concepts and categories. Semantically speaking, emotions are the ultimate meaning. The solution to Wittgenstein's famous paradox (we all know what a "game" is, but there is no simple definition of what a "game" is) is simple: we know what a "game" is because we know what the emotion related to a game is. Anything that elicits the same kind of emotion is a "game". We don't need to find a definition for the word "game".

By the same token, communication is but the articulation of emotions through the development of adequate representations.

By the same token, the reason it is so easy for us to learn something so difficult as language (with all its idiosyncrasies) is that language is structured according to our emotional systems. It reflects the way our emotions work.

Stenning rediscovers an obvious truth: we are not only weird systems that build representations but also weird systems that have emotions about them. His explanation for this oddity is simple: emotions "are" the implementations of those representations in our minds.

 


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